“The desire to be loved is really death when it comes to art.” (David Cronenberg, interviewed on Q, June 7/12)
A writer friend passed on this quote in response to my last post on blogging. I love it. I think it sums up perfectly what I’ve been needing to hear, and also reminds me of what I already know.
Recently I got in a lot of trouble for a post I’d written. It was deemed highly offensive by some people I care about greatly. Their interpretation of what I’d written was very different than what I’d intended. It was a real eye-opener into the different ways people read things and I felt terrible once I understood their viewpoint. Apologies made, it’s now behind us, but I’m still reminded of that experience every single time I sit down to write.
As a result, much of the steam has been taken out of my blogging. I feel sluggish, discouraged, and wary of saying anything even slightly controversial. I don’t want to offend anyone else, nor do I want to make readers uncomfortable. Yet, reminding myself of every single person who might read a post and subconsciously trying to tailor it to their liking is, as Cronenberg said, ‘really death.’ My creative juices dry up, the thoughts stop flowing my fingers refuse to move. I’m left stretched thin while trying to please everyone, and ultimately end up pleasing no one.
The more I write, the more I’m think I’m beginning to grasp that balance of remaining accessible to readers (i.e. not alienating them by being too controversial, too offensive, too opinionated) while staying true to myself (i.e. saying the things I feel strongly about, that I think need to be said, that delight me, that make me laugh).
Not only that, but having one big blow-up over a post can’t undermine my dream of becoming a professional writer. Writers, throughout all of history, have challenged the status quo, been movers and shakers, made people uncomfortable, scandalized others. They’re a necessity to the intellectual betterment of society, to the collective imagination, even to a society’s lasciviousness. Without writers, where would we be?
My husband is my most supportive reader. When something’s a bit too intense, he’ll warn me: “You won’t make any friends with this post!” I sit down and edit; he rereads. I’ll stumble along this road of creativity, making plenty more mistakes along the way, I’m sure, but hopefully the journey in itself will be satisfying, fulfilling, and rewarding enough to get me through the tough spots.
It already is.