Could someone be hurt? Possibly. Could I be considered disloyal? Probably.


I came home from a three-day writer’s workshop a couple of weeks ago with a fresh idea: if I write the story of my childhood without any intention of publishing it, perhaps I’d talk about it less and write more.

A couple of weeks later, a one-day workshop conducted by the same instructor (Jill Swenson of Swenson Book Development), convinced me that this was the path I’d need to take if I were ever to make any progress.

I’d written hundreds of pages and thousands of words about what went on inside the walls of my childhood home. But I’d never been brave enough to put much on paper. I generated words, sentences, and whole paragraphs in my head. But I didn’t write them down. Could someone be hurt? Possibly. Could I be considered disloyal? Probably.

Then a friend gave me an article from the New York Times by William Novak: “Writing Books Very Few Will Read.”

“Private books don’t demand complete structural consistency,” Novak says, thus freeing me from an editor’s need to see a polished story arc.

So why not just keep a diary or a journal, you ask. Good question — except that something about the journal format doesn’t work for me, probably because journaling reflects a spur-of-the-moment, unedited thought process. I’m after something more

But most important is the freedom I gain with the knowledge that no one will be hurt nor will I be considered disloyal.

And who knows? Perhaps after the potential for hurt feelings is no longer be part of my writer’s block (after all, people do die), and perhaps if I do a good enough job (after all, there’s always the potential for improvement), I’ll look for an agent.

For now, it’s enough that I’m writing again.


Author: Judy Westergard

Retired English teacher, self-taught painter, inveterate reader and still lovin' my Kindle!

2 thoughts on “DOES AUDIENCE MATTER?”

  1. Judy…oh, so very much to say, so little time but will try: YOU matter to your audience, an audience like myself who also has struggled with issues that are painful…issues I was terrified of revealing, was told (obliquely) would unfairly devastate others. No mention was made of how devastating the experiences and memories were to ME…or to you, or to any of us who NEED to hear that we were/are not alone in these fears, silent and enduring. Terrible things have always been done in the name of “For Your Own Good” (the title of one of Alice Miller’s penetratingly insightful books).

    WRITE, Judy! And know that those who are incensed most about whatever you might say are simply warding off knowledge of their own pains. My favorite Aunt dismissed things about my father; said she knew it wasn’t true because Deane would never do anything like that. Fine. I was there; she wasn’t. I let her have her comforting view. It protected her from things I knew about her own childhood.

    Write. Do it for yourself, but afterwards, let it be read by Others who need our examples to support their own quavering voices.

    Want me to send you a copy of my first published account of being a birth mother? The lies and myths of adoption? I was scared to death to put it out there–but enough women like myself found comfort to far outweigh those it threatened.

    I love reading anything you write. You are such a fine person. It comes through…so clearly, and is a joy.


    1. Food for thought, Diane; yours is a POV that matters. All I know right now is that I can’t write well with those imaginary critics looking over my shoulder. So for now I’ll write, plan on never publishing, and see where it goes.


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