Writing: for self or for the public?

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. ” – Cyril Connolly

A few days ago I came across this quote. It got me thinking.

Many authors, poets and novelists throughout history have written great works of art, some published and others not. Some, like Cyril Connolly for instance, have taken pleasure in writing yet failed to garner a reading public. Others, interestingly, like Emily Dickinson, never had the slightest intention for her writing to be scrutinised by the public. Yet, her poems were published after she passed away. I guess that in a way, this conveys a message.

When writing for my own eyes, I write freely and without hesitation. After all, there’s no one to judge. However, when writing for a public, things are different, even if by the slightest bit. It feels like with so many pairs of eyes you just can’t be truthful.

I guess I just don’t want to lose the sense of authenticity and originality that comes with the process of writing for but a single set of eyes. Writing is an art, but it’s also a business, especially in today’s world. We have Journalists, Writers, Editors and so on. All of these professions require using writing as a lucrative business. Sometimes I ponder, how often do people in these professions, with a ‘public’, lose their ‘self’? Would striking a balance equate to holding onto one’s ‘self’ and ‘public’? Or would it result in us all becoming a miserable mess, having lost ourselves?

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8 thoughts on “Writing: for self or for the public?

    1. Writing to publish definitely requires more polishing and editing than writing we do for ourselves. I guess it’s more of the written content that’s different for me!

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  1. I write stories and poetry for myself mostly. Sometimes I attempt contests, but not often. I polish my work because I am a perfectionist. I may put the work out into the world eventually, but I never do any of it for anyone else. If people like what I write, great. I hope the words give them joy. If they don’t like it, that’s fine also. 😉

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