…is wonderful. Not being read stinks.

All right, I’m about to expose myself.

We write because we think we have something unique to say…something different and worthy to communicate. That need to express ourselves requires a receiver–and that puts us into a fragile position. We are often left expecting, hoping, to be read by those who never get around to it. We create heartfelt work that goes “criminally undernoticed” (as a kind person described one of my books.) We create a daily platform for our writing that may never go as far as fast as we would like. Together, these are a kind of torture for a writer. They are water that never slakes a thirst. Food that does not feed. The voice that echoes, but doesn’t resonate.

Writers live to be read. Not being read…it is a place attended by bad thoughts…by the gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments. By profound and painful self-deprecations and doubts. By copious self-pity. By impatience with self and others.

In short, not read = not good.

Writing is the purest and best essence of ourselves. It is our path to appreciation, from self and others. Indifference is the enemy. It is anathema. Slow soul-death. The dream killer. the ego-deflater. And it can leave us with a massive uncertainty when we’re not sure exactly what to do to bridge the gap between where we are  and where we’d like to be.

I will lay bare a past foolishness of mine that illustrates the joy and the need at once. When I was first published, I rode the subway with the author-photo facing out–a proud and silly gesture; a hope that someone would ask “Is that you? Did you write that?”  Occasionally, a person would ask exactly that, and my day was made. Nowadays, FaceBook and WordPress are the equivalent of the outward-facing dustjacket…and the source of frustrated anticipation that is worse and faster to arrive.

I know where this angst coming from…it springs from walking through the Death Valley of having no all-consuming new work at a stage that will let it take the place of the old. The mental idle hands that give the inner devil a plaything. As I wait for readers, I am the foot-tapping, pacing person I don’t entirely love.

As I wait, everybody suffers. They suffer the Me. The one who lives in the hope of Being Read.

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