One of my favorite writers, Bill Simmons, said at the launch of his new website, “Writing is a fundamentally lonely thing. It's just you and a blank Microsoft Word document. The process can drive people crazy.”
I write first and foremost with the hope of being entertaining. When an idea strikes me I open up that blank Word document and start thundering away on the keyboard with the intention of throwing my thoughts out into the wide world.
Now, mind you, I put a good deal of thought into what I want to say before I even start typing. However, my thoughts are never fully formed until I’ve begun to put them on paper, so to speak. Once I begin writing I don’t stop until I reach the conclusion or exit point of what I initially wanted to say and it is rarely a predetermined destination. Here’s where the real fun ensues. I read and re-read what I just wrote. I add things as I feel inspired and remove sentences that don’t flow well or words that are redundant. I proofread over and over again until I can go through my draft without making corrections (even after all that my wife usually catches a typo or grammatical error that makes me want to throw myself through the nearest window).
Once the piece is deemed acceptable I post it online. And thus begins my slow descent into madness (okay, further into madness).
I advertise my latest work through popular modern technological methods such as facebook, twitter and email. While writing certainly is a lonely process, sharing said writing can feel even lonelier. I wait for a response, a comment, a retweet, anything. I check back to count page views like the Mervyn’s lady desperately waiting for those doors to open.
Immediately I begin second guessing myself. Was it clear and concise enough? Does it read well? Will they get it? Why hasn’t anybody commented? Why am I being such a freak? I’m a fraud. Stop talking to yourself, you sound crazy.
Publishing your writing is a bewildering mix of emotions somewhere between parental angst and walking down a public beach wearing only a thong. [scrub all you want that mental picture isn’t going anywhere] You feel all the pride and joy as well as the fear and trepidation that come with putting your child out into the world. At the same time you’ve exposed a part of yourself that is normally private and while you hope people will appreciate it, there is a very real possibility of a backlash.
You’ve prepared yourself for either eventuality but a ‘no comment’ feels like crickets chirping in your soul.
You don’t have to write 850 words describing your neuroses to understand what I’m saying. With the advent of social media we’ve all throw out a line or an anecdote to the deafening sound of silence.
Personally I do not comment on everything I read. The fact is your comments holds value. The less of them out there the greater the value. I do not purposely withhold comments to keep their value high but if I don’t feel I’ve got something to say I’ll say nothing. When occasion warrants I will without hesitation let somebody know that they’ve amused, entertained or informed me or that I appreciate their efforts to do so. Commenting on every blessed thing you read devalues your comment to the point it becomes a textual version of white noise. It is folly to dole out your comments like a coupon for 10% off your next purchase of hand lotion. Sure people will take it but it only gets discarded moments later when they pass the nearest trash receptacle.
Not to belabor the point but you’ve got to treat your comments like Oprah’s favorite things show; it’s only cool because she doesn’t do it all the time and you never know when it’s coming. If she did it every show it would eventually become mundane. [Oprah voice] “You get a comment and you get a comment. EV-ERYBODY GETS A COMMENT!” It wouldn’t be long before she looked like a crazy person getting so excited over something everyone knew was coming. You don’t want to trivialize your comments. I get it, I really do.
However, that knowledge does not quell the overarching desire to be validated but you, my reader. Is too much of my self esteem tied to whether or not you take moment of your time to write a note of gratitude or a thoughtful reply to something I’ve written? Yes. Does this piece I’m writing right now make me sound needy and insecure? Yes. Do I have a point to this line of self questioning? No.
Everyone wants to be validated, to feel valued. For a writer they send their word filled children out into the world while strolling down the beach half naked; their only validation comes either from their own self worth (which is fragile at best) or feedback they receive on their work.
I guess what I’m saying is, tell me what you think of my thong.