Random Thoughts: Public or Self?

Some days—make that most days—I have these random thoughts floating around in my head. One day, I locked on to this one: Why not share my random thoughts? Someone else might be thinking the same thing—or the opposite—and want to commiserate. I’ve decided to follow through with that thought—at least once, maybe more often.

I must give fair warning, though. My thoughts run the gamut from positive to negative, pithy to convoluted, serious to satirical, ad infinitum. So, you would be well advised to read at your own risk. Nod in agreement, shake your head in dismay, or laugh at my idiocy. Dismiss my thoughts or take away a thought for the day. Now for today’s random thought.

As I edited the final draft of my recent release, most of my thoughts, random or otherwise, were about writing. I was not surprised when I remembered a quote I had run across some time back attributed to Cyril Connolly: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Hmm. On the most basic level, I agree. However, I take issue with both sides of his wisdom.

My stories are in my head. I know the stories. If I’m to be the only one who reads them, why write them down?

I write to share my thoughts, words, and stories. To me, my stories are one side of a conversation. They are an expression of my own self that I want to share with others. I don’t contrive my conversations. Why should I contrive my stories to fit a prescribed mold? On the other hand, if no one reads them, I haven’t shared them. If I cannot share them, I cannot have that conversation.

I do strive to write my stories to the best of my ability. I do try to adhere to the rules of storytelling. I try to correct all of the spelling and grammatical errors. Must I do more? Must I change a story to avoid offending sensibilities? Must I make a story fit someone’s arbitrary template? Must I force someone else’s agenda onto my story?

If I must lose myself, lose my story, to write for the public, I’m faced with a self-imposed conundrum: Do I write for the public or for myself? On a more superficial level, do I write to earn a living or share my thoughts? Can I do both?

To recapitulate, Mr. Connolly, if I have no public, why write a story I already know? If I dare hope to have a public, should I write the story that comes to me, or should I tailor my story to fit a display window mannequin?

Readers, would you prefer a story from the heart or a story that fits a template?

Writers, for whom do you write? Do you sacrifice the story from your heart for form or other dictates? Do you think it’s always possible to write from the heart and follow all of the dictates?