You can build an audience by passionately talking to them.
You know what that means? That what you have to say is valuable. That what interests you does interest other people. That your writing is worth reading, your voice is worth listening to, your opinions can make a difference. All you have to do is be a little bullheaded.
When I was a child, I never really thought about the future. I did, however, write short stories when I ran out of Goosebumps novels to read.
When I was a teenager, I had a stock answer for when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. Writing this, I can suddenly remember how proud I was when one of my Dad’s colleagues was the first person ever to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. What did I want to be? A teacher like my Dad? No, I wanted to be a lawyer.
Fast-forward about fifteen years from that first when-I-grow-up conversation, and, well, I’m not a lawyer. I tell people I work in web design, but what that really means is that I know far too much about dyno tuning and what a vehicle roadworthy does and doesn’t tell you about the state of your car than I ever wanted to. Someone I used to know, however, is a lawyer. He’s a law clerk at a university, and when I read that about him – when I finally clicked the little button on LinkedIn and admitted, yes, I do know this guy – the jealousy curled in my gut. For a moment I couldn’t breathe. This guy is everything I thought I was going to be. He has a politics degree. He topped our Arabic class. He topped his Italian class. He has a Juris Doctor. He’s a law clerk. And I’m in web design.
We knew each other so briefly, and yet knowing what he does for a living – knowing, deep down, that if I’d knuckled down and had a little more faith in myself, that that could have been me? I hate it.
I wish I could say, now, that I’ve had a sudden change of heart. That I’m going to apply myself further to a career in web design or online content writing, or that I’m back to uni to follow my heart now that I have the faith in myself to do it. But I can’t. I’m still reeling from the realisation that in millions of parallel universes, I’m in this exact same position, just because I never had the stubbornness to go for what I wanted.
So maybe I’ll work on that – stubbornness. On having faith in myself, and in the decisions I make. On knowing that what I know to be true is the truth, and what I know to be valuable has value.
On not being afraid to speak into the void, because I know that if I speak for long enough, my audience will come, and I’ll no longer be speaking to no-one.