My girlfriend would read my poetry in high school. I would write it for her in study hall and then show it to her during lunch. It was the quick of a turn around. I would write and she would read. Sometimes the poems would upset her because they were about her, and sometimes they would make her blush for the same reason. This feedback loop was easy as well as easy to understand. I didn’t get hung up on where all of it was going or how everything fit together because I knew that the only person that mattered would read it in a few minutes.
It’s not so easy now.
Now, I look at everything and try to find a common thread. Now, I look for the principles that guide the writing and the thought process. I try and figure out just how the pieces are supposed to fit together. Do they at all?
Am I writing for a businesswoman, an educator, a technology specialist, or just a father trying to cope with newly found breadwinner status? I know that at this point, I should have figured it out. I should be able to say that a given demographic is my target. I should be able to write for that voice. The direction should be assured.
And yet, I find myself looking for balance and not absolute coherence. The words aren’t coming out as a well wrapped thesis with the benefit of organized support. They aren’t the same today as they were 100 days ago or 100 before that. The audience isn’t a girlfriend filled with passion for the immediate gratification of reaction. It’s too important to be only that. It is too fulfilling to try and only pursue one point of view.
The audience is my wife, who lived each day with me.
The audience is my children, who will one day ask these questions too.
The audience is my closest friends, who motivate me with their own writing and send me longform articles about the way in which Mr. Rogers prays.
The audience is the teachers who first asked me to put pen to paper and prove something.
The audience is my parents, who never told me I couldn’t finish something.
The audience is my entrepreneurial mentors, who made me see every question as an opportunity.
The audience is each person who told me to leave my job and for each person who tried to convince me to stay.
The audience is the geeks who spend their time figuring out how to print from their cell phones or jailbreak their eBook readers.
In short, these audiences are my inspiration. They are the people that have given me purpose. And now that I can see the end, I wonder what the love note will be like to thank them. I know that they are the only thread that has carried through. They are the unspoken rhythm to each sentence.
But, they are not singular. Each one gets some of my voice. The stories are mine, even if they are a bit schizophrenic. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.