I’ve been blogging for over a year, but I’m still not used to this concept that my writing has an audience. What’s even more weird is that I can’t really pinpoint my audience. When I write a post, who am I writing to?
Sometimes I’m writing directly to teens. I know I have a lot of teenage followers and readers. Some of them are my most prolific “likers” and “commenters.” They take my words and participate with them, just like my students would in a classroom. I love this interaction. I thrive on it, just like I thrive on the give-and-take of real life teaching. Teenagers are at the heart of my professional passion, why I consider my career so much more than just a way to make money. In teenagers, I have an opportunity to make a difference, and that drives me more than anything else. So I write to the teens. I believe in them and their potential, intelligence, and strength. I know some will ignore my words, but some will read them, appreciate them, and maybe even learn something from them. I love that.
Sometimes I write to my fellow educators and other professional adults. I speak about the needs I see in the classroom, or I write book reviews as an adult speaking to other adults. Speaking to an adult is inherently different from how I address teens. Our life challenges and issues are different from those of adolescence. Our frontal lobes have developed and we see the world from a different perspective. I take a slightly different tone in the posts I write to adults, but I do so knowing the teens are still reading those words. I trust them with that. Teens are on the cusp of adulthood, so I’m OK with letting them glimpse our minds and adult-world struggles, challenging them to reach up, join our discussions, and see the world from our perspective for a bit.
Sometimes I’m writing to my own adolescent years. I write those posts knowing that people are reading them and I hope they’ll get something out of it, but the truth is that I’m writing for my own sake. I write to a decade past and ask those years to reveal their secrets to me. I speak to a time when I actually blow-dried my hair every day and wore four-inch heals to compensate for being surrounded by guys so tall they had to duck to go through doorways, a time before I’d discovered my place in the world and the core of my identity. I insert myself into the other side of the teacher’s desk and see my 17-year-old self as a student. I observe the men and women who were my own teachers, understanding better both their greatness and their humanity. I wonder what I would have done in their place.
And sometimes I’m just writing to write. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the sheer pleasure of putting words to paper (or screen, in this case). If I find a topic worth pondering, I play with it, mold it, and give an idea shape through the craft of writing. It’s like any other fine art – singing for the sheer joy of the music, painting for the love of creating beauty, or sculpting to shape complex detail out of lumps of raw materials. I feel the words beneath my fingers, coming through my pen or my keyboard, taking shape before my eyes. Just twenty-six letters and few punctuation marks, and life explodes into ideas. I love the art of it, and for that kind of writing, I am the audience. I am watching the creation of a paragraph through the dance of words. If other people happen to read the result, I’m OK with that. If they appreciate it, even better.
I’ve hit a good stride in my blog in the last few months. My audience is increasing daily, which is incredible! I feel like I should do something with the momentum, but I don’t know what. The niche I’ve carved for myself isn’t very specific. Sometimes I’m trying to draw attention to a unique idea, while other times I’m just one voice in a bigger conversation. Sometimes I’m telling my own story, and sometimes I’m advising and encouraging young people in their lives and challenges. As a writer and educator, I have my exits and entrances and many parts to play, and so, dear Audience, forgive me for not knowing exactly who you are yet. Thank you for sharing in my journey, and maybe we’ll figure out where I’m going with all this together.