By Angela Noel Lawson
April 29, 2019
Something’s been on my mind and I think it’s about time I share it with you. Being a friend or family member of a writer can be tough. We writers are always publishing, posting, promoting . . . And though we try not to overwhelm you, I don’t think we always succeed. So, I’m here to tell my people: It’s okay if you don’t read my writing. Really, it is.
If I ask you if you’ve read my latest essay, it doesn’t hurt my feelings if you say no. I’m only asking because I don’t want to tell you the same story you might have already read. Believe it or not, I’m trying NOT to be annoying. Inevitably, though, I worry. I worry you’ll think I’m expecting you to read everything or anything. Truthfully, I’m not.
You have many demands on your time. Liking or reading my work is not a condition of our friendship. If you aren’t reading, it just means you don’t have time, or don’t like reading in general, aren’t online much, or prefer cat videos to essays about parenting, leadership, personal development, life, equality, or relationships. That’s totally okay with me. You are still my friend. You are still my family. I love you no matter what. My biggest fear in this whole writing thing is that I exhaust you. I don’t want to do that. You matter more to me than anything. And I never, ever want you to feel like you have to read what I write to show me that you care.
Honestly, I’m just like you. For example, let’s say you like camping gear. Let’s say you go to great lengths to find the most perfect camping gear in the universe. Now I like gear just fine. But, if you want me to admire your gear as much as you admire it, well, I probably won’t. And that’s fine. That’s good. You can have your camping stuff and I can have my essays and we can still love each other. Neither your gear nor my essays are more important than the other. They’re simply artifacts of our unique experiences.
And yet . . .
Why I write . . . and why I hope you read
Don’t get me wrong, I still want people to read what I write; people, not necessarily you, exactly. I write for the same reason a sculptor sculpts; I see a vision and I want to make it manifest. Words are my art. They help me describe the world the same way a great piece of visual art makes a kind of statement about who we are and what the heck we’re doing here on this planet. I write for myself, because it makes me happy to create. But, I also write for readers. I think by sharing our stories and our insights, we drive discovery for each other. My way of doing something, or my conclusions, may not be yours, but my goal isn’t to change your mind or prove myself correct. Instead, I want to contribute to the conversation–the human conversation.
So, friends and family, please read what I write if it speaks to you. Please let the words be part of a conversation either between you and I, or between you and someone else. It makes my day to hear from people in my life who’ve been reading my words and found them worthy. But, it’s not your job to make my day. It’s your job to make your own day. And if you happen to read what I’m sharing with the world, that’s awesome. But don’t do it because you think I expect it of you. And don’t let the fear that it might upset me to learn that you aren’t reading drive a wedge between us. I understand, I really, truly do.
The rest of you, though, the readers whom I’ve yet to meet in person, this writing is what we share. This is our lifeline to each other. And until we meet in real life, I hope you stick around. I hope the words on this page are a bridge between the person I am and the person you are, and the people we’ll become. Maybe we’ll never meet. Or maybe we will. Until then, thank you for reading. I’m delighted we get to share a few minutes together even if we’re separated by space and time.
By the way, I think you’re great. I do. If you’ve met me, you’ve probably heard me say that to you in one way or another–because it’s true and because you are. Happy reading . . . or cat video-watching . . . or camping gear-collecting. I hope I see you soon.