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To Share . . . Or Not To Share December 20, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, Writing & Writers.
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150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Linda wrote a beautifully expressed post about her desire to share her novel with readers, The Desire of a Writer’s Heart.

Most commentators expressed a similar desire to share their words with a wider audience.

One commentator opined that artists who refuse to share their gifts are being “selfish.”  She concluded her comment with a question:

“If we are given these gifts should we not share them with the rest of the world?”

After considering her comment, I responded:

Not necessarily.  True gifts do not come with strings attached.

Some artists enjoy the journey of writing or painting for the journey’s sake and don’t wish to share their work or words with others.

That’s who they are. They are being true to themselves . . . as we all should be. Life is not one-size-fits-all.

“It is not selfish to do what we want to do . . . it is selfish of others to expect us to do what THEY want us to do.”

So, if we want to “share,” we should share. 

And, if we don’t want to “share,” no one should pressure us into accepting THEIR view of the world.

Most writers want readers . . . and lots of them.  I understand that.

But I also understand writers and painters who don’t crave an audience for their creations.

I’ve written two novels. I’m not inclined to seek out an audience to read them.  I expect it’s because I value my anonymity more than the potential for applause, and my autonomy more than the possibility of accolades.

Fame comes at a price.

As writers, we should be guided by our desires, not by the expectations of others, in deciding whether and when to share our words with the world.

Related posts:  Life . . . A Journey, Not A Destination *  Our Field Of Dreams * Our Internal Compass * Fame At What Price? * Five Easy Writing Tips

Comments»

1. Cindy - December 20, 2010

Different strokes for different folk, choice is her own.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Yes! We are not clones of one another. It is not “selfish” of us to play our own kind of music ~ on or OFF the stage.

In an analogous fashion, several people accused us of being “selfish” for choosing not to bring children into a world already bulging at its seams ~ selfish?

There’s plenty of reading material around without me adding to the heap. 😉

True “artists” play be their own rules . . . they don’t blindly adopt the “party line” by playing “Simon Says” and “Follow the Leader.”

2. Barbara Gunn - December 20, 2010

There are pros and cons to every question. I love to share, but I have to ask myself if it has anything at all to do with ego?

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

That has something to do with my reluctance to share, BG.

If I found a cure for AIDS ~ or something else that would benefit mankind in like measure ~ I would feel compelled to share it with the world.

But my words, as lovely as they sound to my ears, are certainly not a life or death matter to anyone else on the face of the planet.

So I ask myself, “Who will benefit if I release these words into the world?”

If the only answer is “ME and MY EGO” . . . 🙂

3. Maggie - December 20, 2010

Some stuff you write is just really personal and meant mainly for therapy – it’s just not meant to share.

Writers write for the joy of writing, whether they end up sharing their work with others or not.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

I agree. I breathe to stay alive and I write to feel alive.

Some of what I write, I want to share. Other things I don’t.

I don’t see that as selfish. I just see it as me being guided by MY preferences rather than playing “follow the leader” through life.

Some people want an audience for everything they do ~ as proven by the banal status updates on FB and the constant Twittering.

Others don’t need to live every aspect of their life in a “fishbowl.”

4. andalibmarks - December 20, 2010

Yes, quite right.
Fame does come at a price, a rather high one at times.
One must feel that one is ready to ‘face the music’ at it were should one decide to seek recognition for one’s work.
Although, at other times, there is a feeling of pride at receiving acknowledgment for work that has been published or even simply read by others.

Double-edged sword really, isn’t it?

Completely my point of view.

*#*

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

It’s not just a question of being “ready” to face the music . . . it’s deciding whether there is any “reason” to face the music at all.

If I don’t see any benefit to be gained from sharing my work with others . . . then I’m content to leave it sitting in a file.

I’ve been published in 3 anthologies and felt better writing those essays and poems than I did seeing them in print. The books arrived, I glanced at my entries, and I stuck them on a shelf.

I expect I would feel the same way about my novels ~ the process of writing them, delightful, the desire to share them, minimal.

Acknowledgment and recognition from others is not nearly as important to me as enjoying the journey and “doing my own thing.”

5. Alannah Murphy - December 20, 2010

Stands up and claps 🙂
Totally agree, it’s up to us to decide IF we want to share and HOW. I definitely want people to read about my boy, but I’m not dying for fame, far from that. I hate the thought of being “famous”. I’ve met plenty of musicians who have been ruined by it. Not sure why people think fame is so great…

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Some people wake up each morning, throw open the blinds, and shout out, “Look at me, World! Look at ME!”

I wake up each morning and close the blinds. 😉

Alannah Murphy - December 21, 2010

Yeah, I don’t even open the blinds (the sun…it burns…) only joking 😉

nrhatch - December 21, 2010

I love the sun . . . but try to avoid the “peeping toms.”

6. gospelwriter - December 20, 2010

I completely agree with your point of view and others expressed here – to each her own… I have a voice – whether I ‘sing’ just for self, or for immediate friends and family, or for the world at large, should be entirely up to me. Thank you.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

I love how you expressed that, Ruth.

I often sing for myself ~ in the shower, the car, at my desk, and even in the grocery store ~ just for the sheer joy of creating music.

I don’t feel the need for a stage just because I want to SING.

Thank you.

7. Julie - December 20, 2010

If you don’t first write for yourself, then your writing won’t be worth sharing. It’s okay if you never get to the second step – sharing it with others. Put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others!

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Good point, Julie.

Maybe if I ever write a novel (or children’s book) that will help others “breathe easier” . . . I’ll want to share it with them. 🙂

8. Joanne Fruin - December 20, 2010

Meaningful post and questions posed — and answered — here… One thing that has driven many of my decisions to share or not to share is the challenge I’ve made to myself to face ALL of my fears — mainly fear of others’ opinions of me…

E.g., if I have feared that (respected) others would think of me as “full of myself” for sharing my singing and songwriting, then I’m compelled to go for it — no matter how unprofessional sounding it may be from my “wanna-be home studio”…

I find that I’ve spent that time wisely using whatever resources I own — however low tech they may be — to hone in on my skills and work my craft, also reminding myself of the pleasure I’ve gotten from what I’ve felt were genuine expressions of appreciation from some of my audience… Is it really sheer Ego or the satisfaction of knowing it wasn’t just for me…? Hmmm… I’ll need to reflect on that one…

How many times I’ve been blessed by song or by the powerful messages of lyrics in song… If this is one of my “pointless” raison d’etre, then I might as well enjoy the feeling of exhillaration just for fearlessly putting myself “out there”…

My M.O…? The practice may come in handy one day when I might have to do something that really could save the world (LOL) and I’ve already conditioned myself not to care what others think of me 😀

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

For many, fear of disapproval is a powerful motivator for both acting and refraining from action. That fear is one reason why so many people let others (the church, the government, their families) do their thinking for them. They accept and adopt the party line rather than consciously thinking things through for themselves.

I’m not holding back out of fear of disapproval. Of that, I am certain. 😉

I’m a firm believer in the saying, “What you think of me is none of my business.” If something I’ve painted or written resonates with me, it makes no difference if I’m alone in that assessment.

I just choose NOT to share my novels, just like I choose NOT to eat meat. Personal preference vs. Societal conditioning.

Joanne Fruin - December 20, 2010

Nancy, I know that this is true about you… I’m not completely sure I’ve burned that feeling totally out of my own thought patterns yet…

I believe I have done that in many cases, but because being part of society is still a huge part of being a communal being, I still often find remnants of those “insecurities” within myself…

Just being honest here… The difference being that in my more mature years, I’ve been able to spot them easier and to work through them with the tools I’ve acquired through self-reflection.

At the moment, I’m still struggling with “survival” issues and how to release them to the Universe — wondering how I can earn my way through this life doing what I enjoy doing, while still responsibly providing for my daughter and myself.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

I suppose it’s not completely eliminated from my life either ~ I still find myself accepting invitations of no interest to me just because it’s easier than saying “no thanks.” 😉

Doing what you LOVE to do WHILE getting paid to do it is an awesome goal. I wish you success with your music ~ both in finding the right audience AND in getting paid enough to provide for you and your daughter. 😉

9. Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 20, 2010

What a wonderful post! It really got me thinking, and pondering the reasons why anyone writes, much less myself. I think perhaps what I took from your post, as well as the other comments, is that we need to delineate the differences and/or the similarities between blogging, journaling, and writing for publication. Obviously, the reasons for each of those are different. First of all, I feel that blogging is a useful way to experiment with publication, a way to ” test the waters,” and also to get feedback which can be very helpful in our quest to become better writers. Journaling, I believe, is a very private exercise. It has benefits which are similar to blogging, but different in that it opens ourselves to comments, but those comments are self-generated. Journals are, or can be, especially useful for looking back on, and reflecting upon, the changes, (or lack thereof!), that have occurred in our thinking and our lives.

Quite different from the two previous styles, is writing for publication. The venue for the sharing of this type of writing is totally different, but the motivations can be similar even though they’re open to public review and criticism. I believe you’re absolutely correct in saying that one of the best reasons for writing for publication is if we feel it can be helpful or of interest to a wider audience. One of the ways I have always used to share my own insights and epiphanies has been through letter-writing. That is the way of limiting my audience to those people I am fairly certain would be interested.

Whether to share or not to share your artistic endeavors is not at all an issue of being “selfish” OR “open and generous.” Most of our friendships, (IMHO), are created for the purposes of sharing with one another – both our strengths and our weaknesses. Of such things are friendships made, and all friendships are, I believe, incomplete without it. I have lots more thoughts on this post, and I really thank you for “sharing” it with us all, and leaving yourself open to our comments.:-D

I got about three concurrent hours of sleep last night, so as you can see, Sonya is revived somewhat. However, this lengthy comment has tired as both out (my fault completely!). Once again, thank you for your encouragement and have a great day!

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

She’s back! yay!

Glad you got a bit more sleep last night ~ a good night’s sleep is a true blessing that those who do not suffer from insomnia may take for granted.

And I love the differentiation you’ve made between blogging, journaling, and writing for print publication.

When I read blogs, FB status updates, or Twitters on topics that seem best left private (e.g., how many times I farted last night), I want to buy the person a journal and explain to them the concept of sharing T.M.I. (too much information). 🙂

I love blogging and sharing tidbits with the world. I write. I share. I move on to something else.

Novels are different . . . especially if they gain acclaim. If Dickens returned to life today (like Marley’s Ghost), people would STILL be asking him about A Christmas Carol ~ 170 years AFTER he finished writing it.

I don’t know about C.D., but I would find fielding questions NOW about something I wrote 170 years ago (when I was a different person) to be a waste of time and talent.

Maybe that’s it . . . it’s not a fear of disapproval, it’s a fear of constantly being dragged back into the past to discuss something that I’m no longer interested in discussing.

Even if it’s only an audience of “one” who’s asking. 🙂

10. Carol Ann Hoel - December 20, 2010

I do want my novel to be read someday, but I have writing I don’t share. I agree that the author should and does retain the privilege of ownership and readership.

Ask me why I keep some writing private, and I’d answer the way my mother used to answer me when I pressed her on a subject she didn’t have the answer for: “Just because.”

I’ve clicked comments into existence which, on second thought, I wished I could take back. I empathize with commentators casually expressing an opinion, not intending or expecting it to offend. I think I may speak on behalf of the commentator in focus here, because I know her heart. She wouldn’t purposefully offend anyone.

Like my writing, not all of yours is private. You write an admirable blog. Blessings to you…

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Thanks, Carol Ann. I wasn’t so much offended by the comment, as surprised by it.

As I read through the comments, everyone seemed to be of like mind ~ wanting to share their novels with the world.

If they are being guided by their own desires, that’s exactly what they should do.

But, in my opinion, there are legitimate reasons for wishing to withhold certain works of creation from the world . . . and I don’t believe that artists who make that choice are being “selfish.”

They’re just strolling to the beat of a different drummer.

11. Sana Johnson-Quijada MD - December 20, 2010

yes. and temperament plays a part. must say, i’m tempted to oust your novels and snuggle down w them for a good reading!

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Thanks, Sana.

Who knows? Maybe someday the Spirit Within will urge me to share them with the world. 🙂

I have learned to enjoy the journey one step at a time and allow Spirit to lead the way.

12. SuziCate - December 20, 2010

Good post. Writing is extremely private, and a lot of thought goes into what is to be viewed or not to be viewed. I started my blog under a pseudo and did not post to my FB account because I did not want people I knew to read me…then one person emailed my blog out to the other family members and friends, so I ended up going public. I don’t think the style has changed so much, but I do give more consideration before I publish. I have a few poems, essays published, but have not sent out other manuscripts…as you say publicity comes with a price that I’m not sure I’m willing to pay (not that mine are good enough for publication anyway!) but I like my privacy.

nrhatch - December 21, 2010

Thanks, SuziCate. I agree.

My anonymity is one of my most treasured possessions ~ along with my autonomy, my sense of humor, and my common (or not-so-common) sense. And, once lost, it can never really be reclaimed. So I will not part with it lightly.

13. 4minutewriter - December 21, 2010

Great post, hadn’t really thought about it. For me, blogging is the first time I’ve shared my writing with more than a very small number of people.
Sometimes I post writing from a notebook I’ve had for years. I am very choosy about the pieces I select. Some are too personal and some would be taken the wrong way read out of context so I choose not to share them.
The choice is in the hand of the writer.

nrhatch - December 21, 2010

I feel the same.

There’s a cologne commercial on just now that ends with the male model saying: “I’m not going to be the person I’m expected to be any more.”

We don’t have to be who they want us to be.

14. Linda Cassidy Lewis - December 21, 2010

Nancy, thanks for the link to my blog.

Like Carol, I too know Laura and believe, at least in part, she was saying she enjoyed her friend’s work so much, she didn’t understand why her friend wouldn’t want to share it with a wider audience.

Except in a classroom or critique group situation, I don’t think any writer is forced to share their work. I think they share for various reasons.

When I wrote my first novel, I did it just for the fun of it. To see if I could. When I wrote my second one (first as a short) I did it for myself and a friend, but then it nagged me until I grew it to novel length. It received good feedback from a few readers, and partly from their urging, I’ve entertained the idea of trying for publication.

At first, I questioned the egotism of that because my novel is not “important” or “life-changing.” But then I realized I don’t read fiction for those reasons; I read to be entertained, to escape my real life for a while. I think my novel could do that for others, so that’s why I decided to share.

nrhatch - December 21, 2010

When we follow our heart . . . we rarely go wrong.

When we listen to others, we often do.

If I wake up tomorrow and feel compelled to share my novels . . . I shall do so without hesitation.

But just as “fear of future regret” is not a positive reason for having a child, neither is it sufficient motivation to share my words UNTIL my heart pushes me to do so. 🙂

The reason I commented as I did to Laura was not to be critical or judgmental of her POV or her use of the word selfish, it was to offer her a different POV, one that maybe she hadn’t considered.

We see the world behind our eyes ~ when we share our perspective with others, we enlarge their POV . . . perhaps to the point that they are able to see that a desire NOT to share our creative endeavors is not selfish at all.

It’s just a matter of personal preference which need not be put up for a vote. 🙂

Thanks for your wonderful comment and best of luck in getting your words out to a wider audience.

15. M. Howalt - December 22, 2010

I find this a very relevant topic for writers. Thank you for bringing it up! I think every writer has to consider the question, and … Well, I have, or am as it is, and I think I’ll make a post about it soon. Thank you for the inspiration!

nrhatch - December 22, 2010

The more mindful we are of the choices we make, the closer we come to realizing OUR dreams (rather than the dreams of others).


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