Narcissistic gratification (hello, San Jose!)

I’m not, truth be told, a writer.

I write a lot, sure. I write here, and elsewhere. But while I’ve made money as a result of things I’ve written, no one ever has paid to read even one word of mine. Unless someone managed to charge them for it. (I never have received one penny for one word I’ve written.)

I’m not, truth be told, that big of a reader, either. I read a bunch, sure. But as between writing and reading, I choose to write far more often than I choose to read. I have a pressure inside of me, all these words aching to get out, most of the time. Not always – if you look at the number of posts per month over to the right (if you’re reading this on a desktop – it’s down below, I think, if you’re on a phone), you’ll see that there have been long stretches of time where I didn’t write (here) so much. Generally, when I haven’t been writing here, I haven’t been writing anywhere, so you can see that there are exceptions to this rule. And, in those periods of time when I’m not writing, I often am reading more.

So.

I’m not a writer. I don’t write for money. I don’t, really, write for readers, even. I write to relieve the internal pressure of the words trying to get out.

And yet… I derive tremendous narcissistic gratification when people enjoy my words. Recently, I discovered that someone spent four hours reading nearly two hundred posts on this blog. In one sitting. Holy. Shit. When that happens? I feel good. Of course, I can’t know what the person was thinking – maybe, “This is a fucking train wreck and I can’t look away!” Or maybe, maybe, something more positive.

Anyway – it never ceases to intrigue me the way my mind (and yours, natch) work/s. What is it about this, about this stranger, someone I’ve never met, almost certainly never will, devouring my words hungrily, that somehow makes me feel sated? Do published authors feel this? Does John Irving get a little thrill knowing about each person who spends six, seven, ten hours of their life reading The World According to Garp (which apparently is forty years old this year)? (I read Garp and Hotel New Hampshire the same weekend, in one chair, in 198x. Did John Irving feel a tingly sense of satisfaction when that happened? Would he, knowing that I did that?)

Some of this, for me, has to do with my deep, deep shame. There’s something relieving, gratifying, soothing, about knowing that someone finds me… ok. Still. More than fifty years into my life. After years on the couch. Years writing here. I still feel better when someone, anyone, finds me ok.

Some wounds cut really deep.

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