I Am the Only Person I Write For

Hello, writers! Hopefully everyone is savoring the best parts of summer – spontaneous ice cream runs, iced coffee, shorts. To think that autumn is just a few short weeks away, and I was just shvitzing in my car on the way to Starbucks. I’m currently content, however, in the air conditioning, sipping on my iced Americano and enjoying my lemon pound cake.

I’m Joshua Wallenstein – a senior, majoring in Human Development – and I’m thrilled to be starting as one of the Fall 2015 Binghamton Poetry Project Interns. As a Binghamton native, I’m so looking forward to working with a community that has given me so much, and that has so much to offer.

I started to take writing seriously partway into my sophomore year of college. A few summers ago, I’d written a few non-fiction essays that sat collecting dust in My Documents. Feeling that they were going to waste – not to mention taking up what limited memory I had remaining on my hard drive – I decided to create a blog. A portal into my domain of heartbreak, love, and other misfortunes.

I slowly leached my essays onto the blog, and one at a time, shared them on Facebook. The only people who read it – or who I knew for a fact read it – were my mother and a friend or two that I would bribe with coffee to read it when an hour had passed since its debut on social media and it had zero likes or comments.

After a month or two of this process, I’d become completely deflated. I began second-guessing everything I posted. Does it have too many Taylor Swift references? Or perhaps not enough? Does it mention one too many romantic comedies? Is it too personal? And finally the dreaded, maybe writing isn’t for me.

Before long, the blog was down, and my prized essays no longer taking up space on my hard drive.

I recently ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen for the longest time, except on Facebook where he posted videos of himself performing songs he’d written. I applauded his bravery, and his lack of inhibition with sharing something so personal with the world. I couldn’t help but wonder, however, how it wasn’t discouraging when a particular song didn’t receive the appreciation and attention and reaction that he anticipated.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “You shouldn’t share things for other people. You should share them for you.”

Every morning I sing in the shower. No one can hear me, but I still sing. Because I love to sing. Because the songs I sing mean a lot to me, and because if I don’t, my soul isn’t happy.

Maybe no one will hear me when I write. Maybe this essay will be a baseball thrown into the abyss. It will be me, screaming underwater for rescue.

I don’t second-guess my writing anymore. I edit, of course. And edit, and then edit some more. But I don’t edit to appease someone. I don’t write because I want people to hear me. Because I want them to like or comment on my post about my angst and my quest for love. I write because I like reading what I’ve written. I write because I love to tell stories, and because I love the air conditioning, and my iced Americanos and lemon pound cakes, which I’ve determined have zero calories, as they aide in the creative process. I write because the joy that it brings me is unsurpassed by most everything else. Because I have to.

Maybe writing isn’t for me. Or maybe it’s only for me.

Who are you writing for? Are you writing for yourself?

Joshua

Fall 2015 Intern

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3 thoughts on “I Am the Only Person I Write For

  1. Pleased to meet you, Joshua. Thanks for writing this blog post!

    I do write for myself first, unless I am corresponding with someone, in which case I am writing to them. In these past couple of years, it has become increasingly important to me to share my writing with others, some of whom I know and others of whom I don’t. I have a blog on which I write frequently and have begun to share my poetry through Binghamton Poetry Project and a bit of non-local publication. In a way, it feels as though I begin to write for myself, but the revision process is becoming more oriented to writing for others, trying to reach my target audience in the most effective way that I can.

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