I grew up in a family of educators. My dad was my high school English teacher. I must have inherited the grammar gene from him. My mom was my Kindergarten teacher and by the time I was ready to go to college, she'd taken over as the elementary media specialist. I'm positive I inherited the love-to-read gene from her. From both, the gene that controls creativity was passed on. Several extended family members were educators also, covering a variety of disciplines. Unfortunately, none of them passed on the mathematics gene!
These people were my first audience. They would listen to me read, would listen (or at least hear) the made-up stories that I would spin. They were my encouragers, always telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to, that I should follow my dreams.
Once you grow up and go to college - or off on your own, for that matter - you tend to lose touch with that audience. Or maybe you simply don't experience the encouragement as often as you did in the past.
When I graduated from high school, my godfather handed me journal and said, "Tell your story." I wasn't sure I wanted to write private thoughts in the book; what if someone else read it? I didn't realize that I was my own audience until I started college and a composition teacher told us that even if nobody else reads your work, you read it and you are the audience.
I wrote off and on, filling five journals during a twenty-year period. No feedback except from myself. And I was OK with that.
Then, my work started getting published. It was an interesting curiosity to me when I'd open my email program and receive letters from people who had ready my work and offered kind words. Sure, some of them were from family members, but most were from strangers. A new audience to write for!!
Now, I blog daily about my opinions, my writing career, and life on the dairy farm (city girl goes country). It replaced my hardbound journal, but I sent the link to a few family members - those early encouragers - and they would comment.
But I wondered how many people read my ramblings. Was I simply writing for myself? I found a program which tracked visitor paths. Yesterday, alone, I had hits from spots all around the world: Texas, France, Nebraska, New Jersey, Brazil, Spain, New York, Thailand, Canada.
And the interesting thing about the counter: many of those visitors had previously read my blog.
A world-wide audience! Wow! I'm still in awe that someone in Spain would stumble upon my blog and read, and read, and read. But it certainly opens up the possibilities for topics.
My parents are retired now, but they still encourage and support my writing habit. My dad is my clip master. He gathers extra newspapers or magazines and cuts my clips for me. And my mom volunteers at the local library and spearheads the 'Friends of the Library' committee. Recently, she invited me to speak about freelancing and read a few selections for a "Brown Bag at the Library" lunch program. I wasn't sure what to expect, but about 15 people (the town has 800 citizens) showed up and listened, and talked about writing wishes they had.
I offered encouragement.