Today, I began reading Writing Is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor. I don’t remember the last time when a sample of a book attracted me so much that I purchased it right away. I connected deeply with the experience and struggles that Theo was sharing about her writing journey. Or specifically how she found her writing voice. Of course, her struggles were far more severe than mine, given her profession as a storyteller, working for many publications.
This specific passage had me nodding all along.
The main problem was that on most topics I had no opinion whatsoever, and if I did have an opinion, I was so worried what others might think of that opinion I could barely remember what my opinion was in the presence of another human.
I strongly resonate with Theo’s struggle. I read from many people who confidently opine on anything and everything they read or hear. But they don’t just stop there; they also sound confident and unambiguous. They know what they want to say. They have found their voice to say that.
I, on the other hand, vacillate between being too assertive and too feeble. “What others might think” is the biggest hurdle in writing for introverts and overthinkers like me. While I write, I am already thinking about the comments or feedback I will receive. Or worse, am I worried I wouldn’t receive any?
In that regard, this space is safe. I know I won’t receive instant feedback on anything I write here because none of these posts reaches a place where responding is easy—a timeline with some way to reply. I haven’t enabled the option to comment, either. I write only the stuff I am not expecting any interaction on. Because when I do that, I always think about the reader first, which is ineffective. Here’s what I observed about this behaviour around a year ago.
You are reined back by the voice — you write for someone else. The response you expect from your readers provides you the lead. You write not what you like, you write what you think your reader likes.
A year since, and I still struggle with this. Does that mean I don’t like interactions or don’t want any feedback from the readers? That is not the case. But I want to find my writing voice first without the added pressure of anticipating the reader’s reaction.
I am going to use this space to achieve that.
To you, that one reader who has stumbled across this space and wants to respond or connect - you are welcome to do so. As much as I dread responding to quick comments, I love to take time and respond to people via email.