| September 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

I don’t really worry THAT much about whether any of you are devoted readers of my (occasionally) semi-brilliant columns. Such fretting would be such a burden; as any columnist knows, it’s quite enough to figure what to write about, than to pine over the size of one’s readership.

Still, I can’t help but be thrilled – THRILLED – when up popped my international readership:

United States – 3038
Russia – 52
United Kingdom – 41
Germany – 28
Malaysia -27
Israel- 26
Mexico – 24
Latvia -12
Slovenia -11
France – 10
Latvia – 2
Canada -7

Who knew I could be big in Britain? Of course! I was there once. Who knew the Russians SO love my stuff? Their country is half my heritage. Readers! Embrace me!

Has there ever been an interview with a prolific or famous author in which he/she does not say “I love to write?” It’s a lie. What writers mean is, we “love to be read!”

This is historic. Mark Twain dedicated his first book to “John Smith,” an everyman name, in the hope of attracting more readers. (You get this, don’t you?)

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro published his six-hour speeches, but even under threat of imprisonment (or worse) for not reading them, his hapless subjects took the risk. Craving an audience, he switched to haikus.

We writers today just don’t like anonymity. At most, said Robert McCrum in NewsWeek, “publishing anonymously is only an emotional game, designed to tease.” (“The Story of O?”) He cites Shakespeare, Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot among others, who, a few centuries ago, published their work anonymously. But then, you could get drawn, quartered, ex-communicated, hung. for your craft. Today – at least in America – the worst is to be … ignored. (Singapore, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Thailand are just a few countries still imprison their writers.)

It’s possible I take this whole attention thing too seriously.

“I write because … I like to eat,” says sportswriter Barry Bloom, among the miniscule number of writers who actually make a living at it (mlb.com).

Mimi Brodsky-Chenfeld writes for teachers and children. If she hadn’t fallen in love with Jo March (“Little Women,” “Little Men”), who scribbled away about everything in life – she herself might not even be a writer today. “Without my words, places, people, names, plots, my random thoughts would be lost!” she says.

But who, exactly, would miss them? Ouch.

Yes, when Louisa May Alcott was writing, people took time to read. Now, David Carr (NY Times), noted the “Web’s ferocious appetite for content – you are only as visible as your last post.”

“It’s not that writing is easy work,” sighs Peter Jensen. “‘Writing’ implies opening one’s veins with Mont Blanc’s Meisterstuck fountain pen.”

That’s the problem; we labor so long, so hard over every word, nuance, direction, we feel we’ve earned. Indeed, we hunger for your devoted attention.

There are limited exceptions. Allan Retsky has been an international commodities trader; now he writes fiction. His “Vanished in the Dunes; A Hamptons Mystery,” is newly published (Oceanview Publishing). But go figure. He offers not one word about craving to be read; an unusually balanced writer: “Writing provides a rejuvenation process that rekindles creative juices, it’s exciting to create your own world… but the bigger high comes from the journey.”

I don’t begrudge him his lack of need for attention, so go ahead, and buy his book.

But only after you’ve read all my columns.

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