By: David Haznaw, Author
The two most important things for me as a writer/author are:
1. I must always write for myself. That’s how I do my best work.
2. The audience determines if my words are meant to sell or live beyond my scope.
I continue to be surprised by the things that resonate with readers. Sometimes, it’s a
complete essay where someone will comment on how it brought back memories from their
life. Sometimes, it’s a short sentence that struck them; something I wrote almost as a
“throwaway” and never gave a second thought.
There are also times I think my words are extremely profound, thoughtful, creative or funny,
and they seemingly fall flat. (That may be an exaggeration since just because people don’t
comment on or reach out to me, it doesn’t mean they didn’t connect … but that’s the world we live in.)
The way something hits us when we experience it – or when I write, how it hits my audience -- depends on mood, age, place in life, and the circumstance in which readers find themselves. In other words, it depends on their readiness and willingness to accept something and be influenced or entertained. And in that moment, there’s nothing the creator can do to make someone want to consume that piece of work.
It can be frustrating for a writer, because our role is to plant seeds for ourselves and others. Those seeds are the work we create and share. And like all seeds, some will grow, and some won’t. And occasionally, some of those seeds will thrive at a time and place we never expected, and maybe, never know.
What does that mean? For me, it means I must continue to sow those seeds – to keep writing and sharing my work, the work I’m creating for myself – and to see when and where they will blossom and grow.
I can control the first part, but I must release control of the second part to my audience and
hope they come along for the ride.
As writers and authors (as well as musicians, filmmakers, painters and all other artistic types), we want our work to resonate with an audience, and we also want to succeed; to sell books,
paintings, songs, works of pottery, etc. Garnering attention and accolades for our work is the ultimate goal.
But if we lose sight of why we’re creating -- if we focus on selling units, or telling people what is good, entertaining or influential -- we’re missing out on the best part of all this: the process of creating something new and uniquely ours.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love nothing more than to be recognized as a best-selling author, traveling around to book signings, reading and speaking engagements. But if that’s how I approach my craft, I’m not giving it – or all those who came before me, those whose words resonated with me – the respect, honor, time and effort it deserves.
The best and also the most frustrating part of influence is that often, we don’t get to experience the moment when someone has been moved by your words, images, actions or ideas. And that’s exactly why we need to keep putting things out to the world, and letting our audience determine our level of influence.