There are some writers who aren’t too worried about having an audience. Only a handful of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published during her lifetime, possibly without her permission. Her fellow Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins felt publication conflicted with his vocation as a priest.
The rest of us want as big an audience as possible for our work. I’m about to have a book published. It made me think – why do we work so hard to write things that we want other people to read?
When the first human painted on a cave wall (the first publication?) perhaps they thought they were changing the world. Or making a statement about existence.
Or maybe they just liked the attention it got them. George Orwell said writing came from the “desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.”
A professional writer would probably say, “I write because people pay me,” but it’s more than that. As a journalist the satisfaction of seeing my byline on a story wasn’t just financial – the words had escaped and were somehow “out there.”
My first time in print was as a teenager on the letters page of 2000AD, a British science fiction comic. The joy of being acknowledged by Tharg (the fictional alien editor) still thrills me to this day.
If you have any idea why you write, please leave a comment.