Is it for us or for them? Is it okay if it's both?
I have an ongoing series on Medium where I basically write up conversations between my wife and me. I've never had a post go viral or get noticed by the Medium algorithm, but I will get half-a-dozen or so comments from folks, and sometimes I share links with friends on FB. I write for me. And my wife, because she gets a smile when she reads them.
I'm definitely looking for pleasant stories about good people.
My Rocky Point newsletter on Substack has a tiny audience but it provides me a way to remember parts of my life while also keeping to an aggressive schedule so that I get better at my writing gig. At this golden point in my life, I want to focus on lighter topics. I save my rage rants for when I misplace my keys or glasses or forget why I came into a room.
Writing and reading about “normal,” day-to-day life is cathartic and validating. Sprinkle in a few spicy stories or memories and you’ve got the recipe for relatability.
My mother did this beautifully for decades with a newsletter about cooking, family and her life on an island. I decided to reboot it to keep that vibe alive and this “work” has been far more enjoyable than I could have imagined!
We run into real problems as writers when we try to write what we think our readers want to read and not what we need to write (that is, unless we only have one reader -- and it's our mom...).
Who are our readers? And how could we possibly please all of them?
I've spent some 35 years putting words together for someone else and I am WAY over that. The work paid the bills and it saved me from having to do many more unpleasant jobs. But it wasn't writing.
Comfort reading - maybe that explains my reading choices these days. About a year ago I discovered cozy mysteries - short stories, engaging, and typically with happy endings. I had never heard of them until about a year ago and now typically end my day absorbed in one. It is a very different choice for me - and I didn't understand. Hmmm. However, to answer your question, I say both - my writing helps me manage the feelings I would otherwise hold inside and my hope is that sharing my experience will help others in similar situations.
I'm such a fan of Nick Offerman. He just makes me very happy. I'm not a big fan of audiobooks, generally, but I've liked a few, and I think at the very top was listening to him read his first book, Paddle Your Own Canoe.
I don't feel as though I have much choice. If I'm not writing what I want to write, I'm not interested in writing. Doesn't bode well for a successful second career as a freelancer, does it?
In all seriousness, I launched Chicken Scratch to keep a promise to myself (and a few "love-me-no-matter-what" fans). I didn't want to look back on my life having never tried. Whether it goes anywhere important or not, I've fulfilled that mission. That's not to say I'm unfazed when a piece doesn't land well, and the feedback is minimal. I am always buoyed knowing that I've written something that resonates for a few folks. But, first, it has to resonate for me.