To celebrate my day off, I made every effort to write a blog post without self-editing and over thinking as I write. Here are the results, edited, of course, because I don’t expect people to read total slop.
As in institutional communications worker, I consider all kinds of implications when I’m composing a newsletter article or announcement. Who are the audiences? How can I get their attention without being obnoxious? (Click here to change your life forever! REALLY!!!) How might they misconstrue the message? How many messages can I cram into this communication and still make it readable? What heinous typos and crimes against grammar have I committed?
I wish this kind of thinking stopped as soon as I left work. But it doesn’t, because when I’m writing for myself, as myself, the stakes seem even higher. What audiences is more important that my friends and family? How might I confuse or offend them? If I don’t protect my own interest, who will?
So, weighed down by all these considerations, I sink into a silent hole. While it would be foolish to deny that these questions matter, it is disastrous to let them constrict me as much as they have recently. I have a lot to say, but I rarely write about any of the ideas that I’ve been chewing on for years. Fortunately, there are a few people who are already saying stuff I’d like to say. They are saying it much more eloquently and reaching audiences much larger than I ever could. There’s some consolation in that (when it doesn’t make me a bit jealous). But there’s a lot of other stuff that remains unsaid. And this stuff could be important.
Writing about some of these unsaid things might help other people like me. What if someone had managed to convey this stuff to me when I was young? If it’s possible for me to share what I know with some whippersnapper, surely I should give her the encouragement that might get her through the formative years of weirdness and spare her much unnecessary pain and confusion.
I used to spend a lot of energy thinking about how people unlike me would interpret what I had to say. Now I am much more interested in writing for others who face the same situations I face. Everyone else seems to have plenty of entertainment and information produced for them anyway. Writing for people like you can devolve into preaching to the choir, but it can also be a revelation. So often have I heard someone describe their relationship with a breakthrough artist by saying, “The first time I read/heard/saw _________, I was so excited. Finally, someone like me was talking about experiences I knew.” Everyone loves to see themselves reflected in the expressive work of others. If fulfills our desire for belonging. Even when I see honest works by and about people who aren’t the least bit like me—works rich with specific details and acknowledged perspective— I find them easier to relate to than universal stuff made for some imaginary average audience.
So who is like me? Damn few, as they say. (I’ll probably wind up saying that again very soon, since it’s a theme that comes to my mind frequently.) I won’t bother listing the demographic categories I fit into now. Instead, I’ll focus on writing about what I see and what I care about. Maybe that will reveal who I am and attract readers who are like me in a way that no label can. (Although some labels wouldn’t hurt. This is the internet here.)