For this week’s Blogging Insights prompt, Dr. Tanya has given us a quote about writing and asked us for our reaction to the quote.
The quote is from Cyril Connolly, who was an English literary critic and writer. He said…
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”
My initial reaction to this quote is whatever floats your boat. If you don’t care about attracting a large public following and want to blog for your own satisfaction and fulfillment, good for you. You do you. If your goal is to amass a huge following, and that means catering to your public, that’s cool to. I personally believe you can attract a following and be true to yourself at the same time.
I started blogging in 2005 because I felt compelled to write and someone suggested that I start a blog for my writing. It started out mostly as a personal journal where I posted about whatever was on my mind. Most of my early posts were long, meandering posts and I wasn’t really expecting others to be interested. I was writing exclusively for myself and there literally was no public reading my blog. Not even members of my own family.
In July of 2013, I moved my blog to WordPress. By then I had learned to write shorter, less meandering posts. I also started experimenting with flash fiction and responding to WordPress and a few other bloggers’ prompts. And I was thrilled when other people started reading my posts, commenting on my posts, and following my blog.
My writing has continued to evolve. I respond to more prompts from WordPress and from other bloggers. I now host a handful of prompts myself. I continue to write relatively short posts (possibly due to writing on an iPhone), and I’ve tried, for my own mental health and wellbeing, to be a little less political.
But through it all, I still write for myself. Yes, my blog has lots of followers. Yes, my posts get a decent number of views, likes, and comments daily. And that’s great. But even if it went back to what is was like when I first started blogging and I had no “public,” I would continue to write. After all, my most important member of the public is me, and if I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when I write and re-read my posts, I can say that I haven’t sacrificed myself solely to generate a larger public following. With my blog, what you read is who I am.
So back to Cyril Connolly’s quote, I don’t think writing for the public and writing for yourself are — or need to be — mutually exclusive.