Back when I was a college Christian, there was a lot of talk about living your life as if for an “Audience of One,” which was a nice way of saying “God is watching your every move, kid, so you better not doing anything to mess up. Like get drunk, or have sex, or even think about lying to your parents.” It was pretty terrifying if you think about it, that idea that you’re always being monitored (which is probably WAY less scary for kids these days, with all the social media monitoring and such). But for someone with an anxiety disorder, the thought of measuring up to some golden standard, and that I was never truly alone, always being watched by some less-than-benevolent Creeper in the Sky.
I’ve had some rousing conversations and thoughts in the past couple of weeks on the topic of writing. Just this morning my dad, who’s visiting for the weekend, and I were talking about writing a book and how different people approach the process. Like most things in my life, I am waiting for a zap of inspiration, which I know goes against every writing book ever written. But it’s my truth. These conversations, though, have made me think about the idea of an audience. Who do we, as writers, bloggers, journallers, write for?
I know that when I write by hand, especially if it’s in anything similar to a journal, it is for myself only. My ideal self, maybe, or my higher self, but definitely I’m writing a letter of sorts to myself. This writing can be taken and turned into something for someone else, but it’s a translation process. Sure a reader could come inside my journal and read what I wrote, get it in its raw form, but I prefer that doesn’t happen, just like I prefer for nobody to read my mind. Because I enjoy the art of censoring my own self and deciding what exactly others are given access to.
When I write, here, I imagine an audience of faceless other moms who might stumble across my words. I forget that, at this point, there are 300 something ‘followers,’ and that the people I know who actually follow along are people I really know in real life. I rarely think of them when I put words down on the page, though, and think that blogging is much like journalling, but with that added little censor or self-filter that wouldn’t happen with a pen-to-paper journal.
The thought of writing, though…really writing, like my favorite dashboard saints do, is daunting. Who is THAT audience? When JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, she had an audience in mind, right? She imagined young people reading her story. I doubt she thought it’d be as popular with adults, but I imagine she had some sort of reader in mind. C.S. Lewis is said to have created his stories for a young child in his life. He wrote the stories down for her, and they could relate to others. But who is my audience? Who am I writing these (yet to be written) stories/memories/vignettes for? If I wrote a book, who would it be for?
The further I get away from the overwhelming life changing feeling of the first few months/years of motherhood, the less I feel inclined to write to other struggling moms as my audience. My thoughts and experiences and feelings and memories cannot be boxed into that mommy-blogging idea.
The other day I posted on Facebook that I wanted a typewriter. I know it’s merely fantasy, but it’s this idea that I would type (and thus eliminate the pen-to-paper journalling feeling, skipping toward a less censored self appearing), without the instant publishability of a blog post, without the distraction of being online and in-touch to the internet world. I don’t seem to have the self-control to just type in a word document on the computer, without getting onto Facebook or WordPress. Maybe it’d feel like the accountability, to myself, of writing with fewer distractions and instant gratification. Or maybe it’s just a pipe dream.