"I love it! Wow. Do you have any idea how talented you are? I re-read your poem today. That's some good stuff."
I read the email over and over again. I teared up every time I read it. My vision blurry, I would smile and hold my phone to my heart. Those 22 words are forever seared into my soul.
When you write something, who do you write for? Besides yourself, of course. But who is the person you picture on the other side of the screen/page? Who do you hope your words will touch?
Do you ever feel connected to them even when you're apart? Do you write to inspire them? Wound them? Inform? Do you choose your words carefully? Or just let your fingers take over? Do you show them your work or pitch your words into the universe in a spirit of giving, hoping they find their place?
Who do you write for? It's a different question from why do you write, and the answer isn't always the same, though it can be.
I write because I might burst if I don't. The thoughts and words swirl in my mind, searching for a home, burrowing into every nook and cranny. But I don't write for me. Whatever pleasure I derive from writing isn't for me, at least not initially.
It's for my #1 cheerleader. The sender of the email. The person who encouraged me from the moment I was born. The person who gave me life. Who never doubted me. Who reads my words with an open mind and a loving heart - and laughs in all the right places. The person, though he would never admit it, gave me the words in the first place, the ones that matter, absorbed through blood, sweat, tears, laughter, and love. A beautiful writer in his own right, each word succinctly and thoughtfully chosen.
Even when I don't show him everything I write, he's still my audience, clapping from the balcony of my subconscious, beaming with pride. Giving me the nod that says, "I'm proud of you, kid. You did good."
I hope you know who you write for, or that you discover it for yourself if you haven't.