Alain de Botton wrote in The Consolations of Philosophy:
“Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to”.
This comment follows a quote from French philosopher Michel de Montaigne who wrote “Many things that I would not care to tell any individual man I tell to the public, and for knowledge of my most secret thoughts, I refer my most loyal friends to a bookseller’s stall.”
I know exactly what he means. Writing for me is a form of self-expression and whilst to many people it may seem self-absorbed and of no interest to them, to me it is a means of stating who I am and my realtionship with the world. This is easy to see in my non-fiction and poetry but even in fiction, where I may assume various personae through my characters, imagining myself into their lives, their heads and hearts, everything I write has a piece of me, a portion of my understanding, my prejudices, my history. If I can make that interesting for other people to read, that’s fantastic.
Let’s face it, success as a writer is measured by how many books we sell, how many good reviews we get, how many personal recommendations. But for me it is more than that; I write because I have to, because I cannot not write. I feel success when I’ve accurately captured in words a smell, a feeling, a sound, or conveyed an imaginary world or character that can be seen and breathes. The outer trappings of book sales are important, but having something to say and saying it well, to be able to talk to people through the written word and express myself without censure, that’s what I find really important.
It’s not that I don’t have anyone to talk to, it’s that in writing I can fully be who I am, say what I want to say without contradiction, and maybe share a little of myself with someone else. Books certainly enable me to do that but as the social media has to a certain extent replaced more traditional forms of communication I’ve found an outlet for my outpourings in my blogs. Hopefully those who read them will enjoy them.