The flashing curosr blinks upon the screen, and my hands sit poised as my mind searches for topics, ideas, words. Just write, I tell myself, but nothing comes. I try to remember that time when I wrote for myself, for the simple joy of stringing words together, no matter who saw them. How long ago was that?
Before the pull of publication reached me, the heady thought of seeing my name in print. I read no longer for info or joy, but with the question, “Could I write this?” Those who read this writer’s words—would they read mine? And so I sit before my computer, an editor in mind, and try to picture what he would like. Yet each attempt fails to measure up to that imaginary editor’s approval, and when my attempts did pass the imaginary editor’s approval, they failed to meet the real editor’s approval.
Before the beginning of blogs, when each word I wrote could be put before readers for comment. Yet those comments failed to come. Was no one reading? A site meter revealed how many read, but failed to reveal what they thought of it. Was I boring, stupid, silly? I read other blogs, trying to find how they attracted readers who commented. And again and again I tried to write, only to wonder—will they like it?
I doubt I am the only writer who inspiration has been killed by desire for accolades. And yet I wonder what the world would be like if we wrote only those things that gained applause. I think of the group of writers who put their years of work into clay jars and hid them in caves. They wrote not for worldly approval, but simply with the knowledge that they had something to say. They never knew their work would someday be known around the world as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I think of the writers whose words are not hidden in vases to be turned to dust or discovered by chance, but whose words are met with anger or derision or laughter. From Jeremiah to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writers wrote words that found only disapproval. Yet still they wrote, and it is their names that now call up our approval.
So I stare at my blinking cursor, and consider my hunger for that approval. Does it matter so much that my name appears on a book or website or in a newspaper or magazine? Does it matter how many hits my blog gets? Or does it matter that I wrote what God called me to write, for the person whom He knows needs it, whether I even know it or not.