Your Best Reader May Be Yourself

We’ve all wondered how Emily Dickinson could write her poetry in near-complete solitude.

It’s less commonly known that even Emily sought an important reader, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and once wrote him that he was “The Friend that saved my Life.”

The two only met twice, and Higginson is said to have told others that he never met anyone “who drained my nerve power so much.”

Yet they maintained a correspondence for 25 years until her death in 1886. She sent him almost a hundred poems, with their strange punctuation and penetrating power.

Higginson was famous as a man who hated capital punishment, child labor, laws depriving women of civil rights, and slavery. Emily was a radical in her heart and mind. Higginson was radical in his speeches and published writing and even took a little action. 

So yes, even Emily Dickinson sought one person who could understand her.

For years I resisted blogging. I had been trained to think that one should allow the public to see only highly polished work, and only after spending years honing your craft with a small circle of confidantes. 

The world changed. I am now a blogger, and like all bloggers, I’m excited to see my stats. Sometimes I get large numbers of “views”—unheard of numbers of potential readers judged by our pre-Internet standards.

But the real joy is in the one-on-one connections that can be made, heartfelt responses.

That one-on-one connection can be with yourself. In my own life, the appreciation that has most surprised and gratified me has come many years later–from myself. I read my stories and poems from years ago and feel comforted by the wisdom of that child. She knew me.

And that’s when I understand how Emily was able to go so long in near-solitude.

Writing is a form of love. Self-love and love of others, and as we see in other relationships, the two intermingle. We love ourselves through our love of others. We love others through our love of ourselves. 

So yes, we write to be read. And when that reader is you, you are not alone.


One thought on “Your Best Reader May Be Yourself

  1. Blogging has become a passion of mine since February this year, more philosophy-society-driven than anything else. I can definitely relate to the views aspect! I check mine daily but you’re right, the comments stating how valuable an article was is by far my favorite part!

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