On A Writer’s Relationship With Their Readers

I have written before that as a reader, you get to know a writer extremely well if you pay attention. You begin to see their habits and their characteristic flaws, you might notice a pattern in writing styles or grammatical errors, and you understand their most intimate views on the most intimate of topics. And here is the thing: the writer doesn’t know you at all; the writer does not know your story and how you might relate to what you are reading. The relationship of a reader and a writer is generally one-sided. The reader might grow an attachment to the words on the page and imagine that they have an intimate relationship with the writer. As an avid reader myself, I feel that connection with many of authors with whom I felt a deep connection with when I read their stories…and they don’t know that I exist.

For most blog authors, their audience is tens of thousand of strangers. For me, I average about 80 readers a day. This average includes the past two days after I finally linked my Facebook to the blog and opened my writing to a bunch of people who know me through various means, be it from work from years ago, grade school, the gym, ex-boyfriends, old Marine buddies, friends of my husband’s, and extended family. They are used to a relationship with me that is extremely surface-level. Those who do not know me well and who have not had late night existential discussions with me are suddenly thrust into a completely different view of who they think I am.  And that is nerve-racking.

I decided to get rid of my anonymity after I had floated some of the stories I have to people I trust. I have received both good and bad feedback, but mostly really good. I honestly hope my discussions of PTSD and anxiety help some people overcome their own battles, because people I know are still killing themselves, even in the last 24 hours.

The hardest thing about using a blog as my medium is that people jump around the posts. They don’t read things chronologically, which can affect their opinion of me and how the stories are meant to be delivered from me to them. As a writer, I need to remember to reference other portions of the blog that might explore something in more detail. It is scary to know that people read this stuff and then see me in person. But I have no idea what they have read, or what they might think, or what their relationship with me is in their head. Luckily, the few people I have seen have been fantastic to me and haven’t treated me like a leper, which makes me think they haven’t read the entire blog! Haha, but seriously, those who do this, thank you so much for continuing to accept me.

Some people have read a few posts and then reached out to thank me for my strength or courage and how proud they are of how brave I am.

I am none of those. Keep reading.