Let’s all be honest with ourselves for a moment. There’s not a one of us who doesn’t want to influence the world around us in some measure. While it’s true the vast majority of us never have great influence outside our small sphere—be it home, office, neighborhood—we wish we had more.
Such a desire is not about control; it’s about worldview. We hold to a philosophy of life we feel is a good one, whether religious, political, or ideological. Though we may not believe ourselves superior, there is an inherent feeling within us all that we have at least figured out what’s best for us so it must be good for others.
This attitude can take all forms. There are the selfless ones like Mother Theresa who live out the Golden Rule and give everything they have to help those less fortunate than themselves. At the other end of the spectrum you will find any number of dictators who feel what’s best for the world is to bow and serve their own selfish desires, using humanity as a natural resource.
For both good and ill most of us are plainly average, falling somewhere in the middle of the scale. A mixture of darkness and light lies within us all and we struggle for balance through our daily choices. Either way, our sphere remains small unless we decide to expand it ourselves.
Writers strive to widen their sphere through the simple expedient of putting words to page. Throughout history writers have been among the chief long-term influencers of thought and practice. Look to the major religions of the world and imagine their lessened influence on history had there not been an authoritative set of scriptures for adherents to follow. Neither Mao nor Marx could have had the lasting influence they’ve enjoyed had not their thoughts been printed and widely distributed. Even the shadow of Julius Caesar would have been much shorter if not for his annals.
I will openly admit I write to influence. Every writer does, even if they’ve never consciously thought about it. For some their desire is nothing more than simple entertainment. If the reader puts the book down at the end and says, “That was good,” then the author considers themselves a success. For others raw capitalism may be at work. The writer hopes to influence you to spend your money and earn themselves a living.
Money is a measure of influence, but it’s not the only currency. Some writers take to the internet and post their words on blogs. They’re paid in the form of visitor count and comments. Every visitor is someone who is being influenced, even if their reaction is to disagree by posting their own written words in response.
Of all the clichés ever penned, the one about the pen being mightier than the sword has been proven over and over. Kings and priests have all come and gone, but the words written both for and against them have remained. Works such as the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence became greater than the sum of their meanings because they were products of pen and page.
I write to influence you. These words I’ve created by tapping keys on a keyboard are meant to elicit a response. The very fact you have continued to read gives credence to the amount of influence I’ve been able to inflict upon you. You have become my willing partner in this journey of words forming ideas creating ideals. You will never be the same after reading this creation of mine. While these words may not be life altering, I will have been successful in planting a seed which will grow in your mind, ready to bloom into a hybrid consisting of both your thoughts and mine at some time in the future.
I write to influence change. I want to change your mind, your heart, and your consciousness. I want you to laugh, cry, love, and hate, but according to my desires not just your own. I want you to think and feel about things outside your own self, experience, and knowledge.
I write to influence you to read my words, and if you read, I am a success.