As the person who is writing the book, you may wish to discover more of who you are through the process of writing. If you are really here for it, you have a good chance of drawing others into that “deep conversation,” too.
“I was a hidden treasure, and I longed to be known.”
The Divine, it has been said, longs to be known through us. When we create in a way that allows us to make contact with our deeper Self, it is not a struggle or a burden: it is a pleasure. We feel enlarged, restored — whole. And while writing the book of your heart is not the only way to attain this intimacy and wholeness, it is certainly one special and cherishing way.
Yet to please yourself is not always so easy. First of all, you have to believe that this is permissible. We rarely are conditioned to consider such a thing in writing a book (or much of anything else). Instead, the emphasis is on pleasing someone else.
What the Popular Marketplace Tells Us
These days, most book-marketing experts advise writing to please your reader — to do the market research beforehand, know your target market, and write to that audience from the outset. One piece of advice I came across is, “Write your back-cover copy before you even write the book.” The rationale is that you’ll sell more books when you know who you are selling to.
There may be some kinds of books where this turns out to be helpful. If, for example, you want middle-aged women who are interested in delaying aging to read your book on skin care, you would fail to serve your readers if your writing didn’t address some sense of what’s important to that demographic.
Yet even the word “demographic,” here, takes the writing out of the realm of your own presence and discovery, and turns it into a marketing tool. And while I am in favor of getting a wonderful book out into the world (I even help people self-publish) and taking attuned actions to ensure that it reaches readers who will appreciate it—
if, when you wrote your book, you weren’t really there for the experience . . . then, when the human beings who fit your desired demographic open up your book and give themselves to it, what of you will they be missing? And, as a consequence, what of themselves?
Why It’s Worth Making Yourself the Intended Reader (at least to start with)
If you write primarily to please the reader, you may be successful in that way, and yet be nowhere present in the book. It’s like doing a good job of something without actually being there to enjoy it and get something from doing it. The goal has subsumed the intimate experience of learning to be with yourself in the process of giving voice to something that you care about.
You can always declare a direction, an outline, a format — but that’s not the same as finding your way into what’s true, what’s resonant, what gives back to you as you give to it; what adds to your life.
For that, you need courage: the courage to listen to yourself and take whatever steps are internally indicated.
You Can Be True to Yourself and Your (Real) Readers
We have been taught that what we want in our writing is secondary, at best, to what we need to give our readers. And I agree that considering only yourself in writing a book isn’t enough to also interest other people.
Eventually, your work will need to translate to other people’s frames of reference. You probably will need to give enough details — both external and internal — for your readers to willingly enter into your writing and come out with something relatable, even precious.
But let’s let go of our culturally conditioned “either-or” lenses. Why not hold the possibility that you can please yourself and also speak to your readers? Perhaps it’s the very act of pleasing yourself that makes it possible to really engage others.
For when you are fully present on the page, that presence vibrates through your written words. And this is what is transmitted to your readers.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you written something for others, and found that maybe it worked for them but your heart wasn’t really in it?
Have you written for yourself and found that it didn’t make the kind of impact on your readers that it made on you? That for you, understanding was implicit, while others perhaps needed to be given more details that would let them into the experience?
Have you ever written something just for yourself and found that it also worked for others reading it? If so, what did you do that worked on both levels?
What would you need in order to please yourself in your writing, and also to connect deeply with your readers?
I welcome your musings, comments, and questions. Email me at naomirosedeepwrite (at) yahoo.com.
If You Could Use Some Help . . .
I work with people for whom the inner life really matters, helping them write the book or shorter work of their heart. I even work with people who want to express what lies within them in a form other than writing (Creative Midwifery). This is my gift, and also my privilege. It’s a wonderful thing to help someone bring forth what’s in them that wants to be known.
Since you’re already on my website, why not look around? Stop and smell the roses. See what scent wafts your way.