I’ve been in a slump. After cranking out 10K words on a non-fiction book, after publishing several newsletter articles, one flash fiction story and one poem, but not much else during the past year, despite lots of submissions, I was worn down. I decided to take a few weeks off. I re-started my writing practice, trying for a new attitude, one that focuses on the creation, not the outcomes. I was happy with that. Then came a major boost. An acceptance? No. A fan letter? No. An invitation to speak? Again, no. It was a new follower on this blog, a fellow I’ve known for years, whose writing I respect.
Why was this such an emotional lift? Maria Semple, in her novel, Today Will Be Different, has a passage that describes what the artist faces. Her main character, an artist herself, says, “What the world is, more than anything? It’s indifferent.” She goes on to say that as an artist, “You sign your name anyway. That’s the risk. That’s the leap. That’s the madness: thinking anyone’s going to care.”
Gaining a new follower, an actual person, not a bot, puts a dent in the world’s indifference. Choosing to follow a blog, or otherwise read someone’s work, requires action, not passivity, and I am grateful to everyone who has done so. Someone out there is reading.
As writers, the truth is, we reach only one reader at a time, whether it’s via a book, a story, an article or a blog post, online or in print. A new follower reminds me to write for that one reader, the only one I really have.