This Newsletter Was On My To Do List

This newsletter was on my To Do list, right above "pitch" and below "second draft", so naturally I'm writing the piece that takes less time to cross it off with a satisfying snicker-snack.

Much of what I'm working on, both contracted and on spec, I'm unable to talk about with you. Sometimes, I struggle to come up with topics that are meaningful to you, both as writers and readers, unless I have something to announce.

Starting with this newsletter, I like to change that by focusing on a specific aspect of the writing life. I've had the chance, during the pandemic, to navel-gaze off the page and identify both my accomplishments, the bits I'm proud of, and my mistakes. Erm, there's a lot of the latter, I'm afraid, but the phrase "personal growth opportunities" comes to mind. Sadly, if my "personal growth opportunities" could be depicted by a plant? Well, I'm a dandelion. A sunny, sunny, proliferate dandelion.

I want to talk to you about one of those mistakes today. You see, I'd always known how to answer the question "Why I write", because I am a writer. For the purposes of telling a story in one form or another, I enjoy and examine human nature through the lens of my identity, experiences, and research--even when that story or setting is proprietary. Sometimes, my work is contracted. Sometimes not. Sometimes, the demands of capitalism get in the way. Sometimes, I revel in the joy of writing without any baggage or expectations.

Except, saying to myself: "I write, because I am a writer!" sounds like something Monty Python might joke. It skirts around a blistering truth: There are a lot of unknowns in the entertainment industry, and while we can, as writers, take actions to help ourselves--a successful outcome, according to whatever benchmarks you deem appropriate, is not guaranteed.

From my vantage point, those outcomes are even less predictable now.

"What" I write is a marketing conversation. I recently wrote about this decision for an upcoming essay. The harder question I forced myself to ask was: "Who (or what) do I write for?" My family? My audience? A future audience? Money? Acclaim? Legacy? What?

I struggled to answer that for weeks, because I kept trying to pin my career on someone or something else. I had to excavate all of those external factors and remove layers of crud to find out who or what was at the bottom.

Quelle surprise: It was me all along. The answer to "Who do I write for?" is "Myself."

That might not seem like much of an ah-hah moment for you, but for me? Once I realized that I was writing for me, it helped me let go of everything I've experienced up to this point--the great, the awful, the poignant, and the utterly forgettable--to start fresh.

How about you? Have you asked yourself why you write and who/what you're writing for? How has this changed your writing practice?