In an email to friend P. yesterday, I mentioned, half-lamenting, “I’ve finally come to understand at last how important it is for a writer to be read. Part of the whore-ish need of it, I guess. In a nice way. I hope knowing that fact will make it easier.”

Which, of course, raised a question (doesn’t it always?):

What is it in the writer that requires a reader to make him or her complete?

Friend P, generous as always, replied in this way: “Why should an author’s need to be read be considered ‘whore-ish’ or needy any more than David Beckham’s need to bend one into the goal?  How’s that for philosophy?”

As comforting as that response was, perhaps the answer is not as simple as it would seem. At least to me. A writer needs a reader. Duh. Without one, does the other exist?

Writing is, clearly, so much more than the ordered and artful arrangement of words, thoughts, ideas, emotions. It is an act of adoration, of “must”, performed in solitude and, often, in silence.  It is compulsion. The living-out of a living fantasy.

Another friend, years ago (one who was largely responsible for my taking the impossible, undreamed-of step from being a writer to being an author) told me ‘If you say you’re writing just for yourself, you’re lying; and you’re just jerking off.”  Inelegantly stated, perhaps, but true.

Yes, writing-for-one’s-self is the necessity to fulfill some inner need; to create a reality that your own is lacking, to call imagining into a place that seems very, very real. It’s the me that fills in the me-space.

Yet, writing without a reader is like a lover without the beloved. Like a can of food without a can opener (talk about inelegantly stated!) It’s a need to share  that’s grown from a deep place.

That need makes us needy. The filling of that need makes us whole. And maybe P. was right: The need grows from our natures. Reader and writer—we fulfill one another. Not such a bad thing after all.

Maybe it’s the reason I’m so extraordinarily delighted that you’re reading this right now.

Advertisements