We’ve talked about how I got into writing music:
But I write a lot more than just music (evidently, I write blog posts). But there is an infinite amount of content that will never grace the internet. Songs that I write for just myself, songs that I write for other people, journal entries and short stories and rants that I use to clear my head. Even if none of this turns into anything, I’ve always said I’ll continue to write. Why would I stop something that makes me so genuinely happy?
And in writing as much as I do, I’ve learned to categorise things in my head. One of my most distinct methods of categorisation is “for” vs. “about”. Who am I writing this piece “for” and who am I writing it “about”? Which can all seem like an abstract concept. Aren’t they the same thing? Sometimes yes, but often no. If I write a song about my ex, it’s likely not for him, it’s so I can explain things to myself. It’s for me. If I write a blog post about how annoying parents are, I’m writing it so younger people can get a good chuckle in, I’m not writing it for parents. But if you’re still lost, I’ll use a more concrete example.
The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Handmaid’s Tale is an INCREDIBLE book by Margaret Atwood (which led to an equally amazing TV show). The book is about a dystopian future in which women are subject to a harsh patriarchal society, and our main character’s name is Offred. However, when you open the book and flip through the first couple pages, you find the dedication Margaret Atwood wrote:
For Mary Webster and Perry Miller
And then the book begins. So, this book is about Offred, and follows the horrors that unfold her in life, but was written for these two people, Mary and Perry. Mary and Perry are never mentioned in the book, Margaret Atwood simply wanted them to know that this stroke of brilliance is for them.
Every piece of my writing works this way.
“But that can’t be true, Victoria! Not every piece?” Yes. It does. Every blog post, song, journal entry, sticky note I write has a “for” and an “about”, and often they don’t line up. Not only are the “for” and “about” often different, but they can find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum. The best example of this is a blog post of mine that has become quite infamous.
This piece is so clearly about boys. I air out my grievances and explain why I am frustrated and, well, you’ve read the piece. However, I never wrote it so boys could see it, I wrote it for the women in my life. For every time my friend called me frustrated in tears. For every time my sister wanted to bang her fist through a wall because of something a boy had told her. For every heartbroken ice cream tub I ate with girlfriends while watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. It was about boys, but for girls.
And this is not the only paradoxical example. Most of the music I write is about someone else but for myself. I write music to get stuff off my chest, to explain situations that seemed fuzzy and unsure; I write about stories, but I write for myself. I write what I would want myself to know, if I could go back, if I could see everything with a clear head, if I could think through things logically. I write to clear the air for myself, not for anyone else.
And sometimes, when you’re the listener or the reader, finding this distinction can be difficult. You can be reading something or listening to something and be convinced someone is telling your story. They might be. But just because you’re a part of the story doesn’t mean that story is for you. You can convince yourself that I’m Margaret Atwood and you’re my Mary Webster and Perry Miller, when in reality, you’re my Offred. You’re simply the vessel that I use to tell the story, you’re not the motivation. You’re simply a character in a larger story, you are the “about” not the “for”.
Which could be enough for you. I hung out with a guy once who desperately wanted to be my Offred, be the center of a story I told and that was enough for him. He wasn’t a muse. Simply a topic sentence, a concept that would lead to bigger and better things. However, I know people in my life who are my Mary Webster and Perry Miller. People who fill my life so completely I can’t help but dedicated pieces of my life to them. And there are moments where the two concepts line up. Where the “about” and “for” are the same thing. An example of that is my song “West”, which is both about and for a group of friends. It can be the same, it just often isn’t.
In writing this, I’ve tried to figure out why this is all so important. Why do the “for” and the “about” even matter? In some ways, they don’t. If you find something enjoyable, that could be enough. When I share my content on a public platform, I’m taking a risk. And I can beg you to see more, I can beg you to see the larger picture but it’s not up to me what you decide to take away. So, if you want to simply see the “about” for the rest of your life than you do you.
But I am still going to ask you to think about the “for”. I think it makes life more enjoyable. Thinking more about what you consume, thinking about why it was written, not just what it was written about. And honestly, this applies in much broader contexts. Even if you never pick up a book or a pen or even open up the notes app in your phone, you’re constantly writing “for” and “about”. You tell funny stories for your friends about your day to make them laugh. You tell sad stories for your siblings about crappy people to make them feel better. Whether or not you want to admit, you’re constantly writing “for” and “about”, and people are constantly writing “for” and “about” you. That’s part of living in a society. I guess you just have to decide whether you want to be Offred or Mary Webster and Perry Miller.
From me, with love, to you,
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Here's a place where I'll try to keep you updated on what's going on in my life and with my music to keep you connected.