A Question of Motive

[estimated reading time 2 minutes]

I have received a fairly large amount of odd comments of late on my blog posts. Some of them have been positive, which is always pleasing to see, yet a few have been intensely critical and intentionally hurtful. I really just have one question — why would anyone be so interested in what I write here that they would take the time to read something they don’t get any enjoyment out of and compound that by writing vicious invective in a public forum directed at me? This is not an open discussion forum or the international print media. It’s my personal writing blog.

Some people will certainly justify this by saying that I’m a public figure, a respected Canadian author and poet who has a public persona and that makes me an open target. While I don’t agree that anyone should ever be such a target, the question of motive arises.

I write books, mostly poetry, and those are edited, published and refined for a particular audience. I know who my target audience is and those people are invited to buy or not buy, to comment or not comment, as they wish. When I put something out there for serious consideration and — and here’s the important part — sell it for money, the motive shifts from “what I want to write” to “what you want to read”.

What I write here is a writing exercise. I do this to demonstrate, mostly to my students, that frequent writing doesn’t have to be painful, doesn’t have to be damaging to the self or an exercise in constantly-modified tedium. You can just write and you will gradually refine your prose style. Good writing isn’t about saying something. It’s about saying nothing well. Our job as writers is to capture your attention and hold onto it. It’s not our job to tell you something, to convince you of something, to speak the truth. The truth is important in life and irrelevant in writing. If I happen to fall into the truth, it’s a happy accident and has no relationship to whether what I write is quality work. This is a demonstration to my students just like I create on the board in class, on the fly.

So here’s the takeaway — if you are enjoying what you’re reading, you’re more than welcome to keep doing so and you’re encouraged to share it with anyone else you think might. If you don’t enjoy it, what in the name of all that is good are you still doing here? I’m not writing for your pleasure. I’m writing for the pleasure of those who actually take pleasure in it. So if you don’t like my writing, that’s fine. You’re certainly entitled to disagree, to dislike my style. There’s a lot of writing out there and much of it is free.

Today, read things that you enjoy. Not because they’re classics or accepted as amazing work. Not because they’re by your friends. Read what brings you enjoyment and never stop doing it. Don’t take time to criticize others. Just read what you like. You’ll thank yourself later for it.

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thank you for reading. your eyes have done me a great honor today.