My mother, a self-taught and talented painter, watched as a budding artist’s skillful brush strokes effortlessly turned a white canvas into an astonishing beautiful seascape. She marveled at the excellence of his work, admiring his detail and color choice. She praised the young man, profusely.
Humble, he bowed his head and smiled sheepishly before taking a knife and scraping the canvas clean. The drudging of wet paint quickly washed away his work. Confused and appalled, my mother asked why. He simply replied he wanted to paint a new picture.
Assuming that it was the cost of canvas, my mother offered to pay. He refused. She tried to convince him to sell his paintings. He refused.
What my mother couldn’t understand and what I still struggle with is that he didn’t need someone to buy his painting or even see his painting. He created for the joy, the pleasure, and the passion. He painted just to paint.
As writers, musicians, and painters, do we need an audience?
At the core of every artist (inclusive of musicians and writers), is the inborn desire to create. A passion of expression beautifully intertwined with the need to convey a thought, a feeling, or a belief. The essence of every artist is an unexplainable passion for the art itself.
Most writers will readily admit that an audience for one’s work translates into book sales, which garners authors the necessary monetary gain to continue the pursuit of their passion.
I would wager, however, that there are many writers who would also admit that an audience is much more than a means to a gainfully employed end. An audience gives meaning to our work.
The relationship between a reader and a writer is symbiotic. Writers create stories. Readers give them life. Just as writers impart ideas and feelings to the reader through their stories, readers overlay their thoughts and perspectives onto the stories. The multitude of various view points give books texture and depth that can’t be born just from the writer’s mind.
Years ago, as my hands held my freshly printed novel with untouched pages, I wondered, does my story exist if no one is there to read it? Or does it become a soundless tree felled in the forest?
So do writers need an audience? Yes. Why?
Writers need an audience so that our work has meaning. Readers are a way that our stories, ideas and beliefs can live beyond our minds.
Although I do write for the joy of it, I don’t want my words to stay sheltered inside a drawer. I want them to live in the minds and hearts of the readers who find as much pleasure in reading these stories as I had in writing them.
Most importantly, writers need an audience so that when their story is read, there is someone to hear it.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.