Who knew that my current purpose in life, writing, could lead me so far afield.
I should recognize by now when I am off-center. After all, I’ve gained another three pounds, taken 4 weeks to paint three rooms (not finished yet) and shopped for and returned at least 5 items to TJ Maxx. Even a simpleton would get it! But no,
1. I talked to myself about ego and rationalized it away.
2. My daughter was my Dutch uncle* ONE MORE TIME, and I heard only what I wanted to hear. (More than once.)
3. One of my blogger favorites hit me alongside the head with a post and it only spun me in wider circles.
So the story begins:
I know my mission. And at this moment in time, my writing serves my mission.
And I know why I write. (When I forget, I should read my own pages.) My primary goal is to communicate with my children, grandchildren, friends and family. Sometimes I have a special message for them. And sometimes I’m into sharing who I am and why I am the way I am.
Note: To my readers who are not bloggers, this may take some explanation. On my blog “dashboard” I can have a minute-by-minute update: how many people have subscribed; how many people have visited my site and what they have read; and even what search terms they typed in to find me. These statistics lead to the bonus of reading other blogs, subscribing to them for fun and insightful reading, and watching how the greater world lives both in and out of the blog world. Blogging actually becomes its own world within a world.
Back to the story:
One morning as I surfed my morning blogs I followed one of my favorite writers to a new site, Vision and Verb. I upped their statistics that day, reading a ton of posts and studying the individual sites of the contributors. There was a lot to admire. So I mustered my courage, communicated, and was thrilled to be accepted as a “guest blogger”. How fun is that?
Well, I can tell you, it was great fun! I still love the concept of my writing and photography nestled in with that of gifted women. And when they commented and gave approval? I was over the moon.
I can pinpoint my first whisper on the day that post was published. I consciously thought about words of Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra on “ego” and “self-referral”. I shushed the whisper, their voices, and basked in the approval of my peers. What could be wrong with that?
Only that I was tied to my “Dashboard”, spending most of my day at my computer. I skipped my walk. No cooking. I ate only chocolate, nuts and Dave’s Killer Bread with honey on it. I thought about writing, but, really, I just moved between my own statistics and the Vision and Verb site. I was captivated by the number of “hits” I received on my blog. When I followed the visitors and and links to their own blogs, I was dazzled by their ingenuity, their inventiveness and my own ideas of how to be more like any number of writers.
I was hot on the phone my writer-editor-grammarian daughter. I had questions, exciting news, questions, visions of grandeur and other irritating reasons to interrupt her workday.
Are you bored yet?
Well, a few days ago I was bounced back in my computer chair by a post on Kana’s Notebook. With her capacity to get to the heart of it, she perfectly described my addiction to my statistics. But that wasn’t all… She also cited her own statistics in the post. I was decimated and deflated.
So lets go back to my purpose for a moment. When I write for my children, etc., I am still thrilled when they read it. And I love it, too, when strangers read my blog. (I know there are strangers because I don’t have enough family and friends to account for the statistics.) A comment from someone who was touched by my words is an extra bonus. It serves my mission. I am fulfilled.
That is a bit different, however, than my fixation with my own statistics. It isn’t the reason I was determined to find a way to up my readership. That was competition, plain and simple.
I could be a contender.
And my daughter, once more, listened and responded. She seemed a bit more tired of me this last time. Like a mother who has repeated the same instruction so many times that she has given up on being heard and comprehended. “Mom, you should always ask yourself why you are writing and what you want from it. What are you trying to accomplish.”
Didn’t I figure that out long ago? Didn’t I write it in my own words for all to read?
So I am discarding all of the false trails that I have followed in the past couple of weeks. After all, I’m not trying to get a job as a writer. (Oprah’s book club is a thing of the past and I didn’t make it.) I have a steady income that is not affected by my readership. I can’t think of a single person who cares how many people have read my latest post.
So I have gone cold turkey. I haven’t looked at my statistics for two days. I’m thinking maybe once a week is plenty. I’m taking time for my friends. I’ve sent a text to each my grandchildren and talked to my son on the phone.
And if no one ever read my blog again in my lifetime, I will still have left a legacy of answered questions that my children won’t think of asking until I am gone. I will continue to have a means of expressing my deepest feelings and my silliest thoughts through my fingers…into the internet…for ever… or until China repossesses the US and we no long have blogs.
I love it here in the center of my being. Hope it lasts for a few days.
*Did your parents talk to someone like a Dutch uncle? I actually had an uncle from Holland but he never talked to me like my parents when they were giving the “straight” talk. It was a verbal finger shaking that carried a huge impact.
The stats . . . sure I follow them, but then I check my bank account everyday even when I know there will be no change. It’s a personality quirk. Do I get a “jolt” when something big happens in the stats? Oh, yeah. I have my happy dance. Does it change my life? Not really. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve learned a hundred ways to “jack” the numbers. Do I care if I have 500, a 1,000 followers? Not enough to go out and “round ‘em up.” I couldn’t possibly keep up with that many blogs. I’d rather have followers that I enjoy and respect enough to follow back and that comment and participate in the free-for-all that is MDR. Do I want to have thousands of hits? Again, it doesn’t matter. There are ways of generating hits. What does it really mean? Somebody looked. That’s all.
I’ve been blogging off and on for almost four years. I write because it is an important part of who I am. I have been writing all my life and long before there was an Internet. I’m going to write whether anyone looks or not. The blog is a place to keep what I write safe. I have lost so much of my writing to the chaos of life, it seemed to make sense. What I found is community. I have built relationships that range from my closest, dearest friend to people I nod to as we cross paths on the blog highway. I was even traumatized by a blog event enough at one point to I quit.
What have I learned . . . use the blog, don’t let the blog use you. If building an empire is what you want to do, it’s not hard. If you want to leave a legacy for your loved ones, you were doing that before the hoopla. If you want something somewhere in between, you may just find you get more out of it than you expect. But never, ever judge your blog by someone else’s yard stick. I’d hate to see WordPress turn into Facebook. I’m sorry, nobody has 1,000 friends. This is not a popularity contest. It’s a community of artists.
Well, we’ve come to the same conclusion…I just had a bit too much adrenalin on the way for my particular happiness. And I agree, too, about our community of writers. It is a pleasure and a blessing to be buoyed up by great thoughts expressed in photography, prose, and poetry. I love that they are little tidbits that I can enjoy during the reading moments of my day. Thanks for your thoughts.
Miss Demure Restraint ( she always does) hit exactly the message we probably all needed: use the blog, not the reverse! 🙂
I’d already begun to regret having mentioned numbers in that post at all, particularly after some people responded as if I’d been offering “strategies to get readers”… When what I meant to say is simply that I like to READ BLOGS (and a side-effect is bloggers finding me back)… The satisfaction and growth to be treasured here is in the reading-and-writing cycle–which is precisely the wisdom you’ve just shared. I’m having mixed emotions about my own post at the moment–but I thank you for yours! 🙂
Oh, Man! Please, no regrets. I LOVE your post. What I take from your writing is for my own journey. I’m not critical of anyone else and their blog, no matter how they get their traffic. Everyone has a purpose and we all follow our own path. Your writing (to me) often carries a weighty message delivered with huge doses of humor and sometimes a small bit of self-deprecation. It works for me. I can see why it works for a lot of readers. And, (although I’m smiling as I type this) I tend to take myself a bit more seriously (or is that serious?). That’s not really quite as much fun. Hmm…haven’t I written about that?
P. S. The next thing I’m going to worry about is my grammar in my comments. Sometimes I get on a roll and I refuse to edit my off-the-cuff comments.
Thanks for the reassurance. And yeah, I’m right there with you– my occasional bouts of self-seriousness are among the LESS fun times in my head… 😉
Your post made me smile – I think we all have times when it is good to ask why do this? At times I feel deflated when no one seems to read something I have poured my heart and soul into, at other times I feel exposed and awkward when people have read but don’t seem to quite hear what I am trying to say. But in the midst of all the murk I sometimes read back and know myself a little better for my posts – that in itself is a blessing in a time of change and flux that sometimes leave me wondering who I was last week!
Yes, I think if my writing is from my heart and soul, that is the most important. I feel validated when someone else hears me. Really hears me.
Oh yes, the evil stats monster. *sigh* When I am in my desired frame of mind, I think of blogging as a journey with many lessons. Some we write about, some we read about. Thank you for dropping by my blog because it brought me here to this post that reminds me, I enjoy writing best when my purpose is heartfelt.
LOL, I think most bloggers can relate to this, because we secretely all have a little narcissist inside of ourselves. When I had less time for blogging by the end of the last year, my daily page views decreased by 75 %, and at first, this bothered me a little. Now I’m more relaxed. I have 80+ followers, and I know most of them are spammers because when somebody new suscribes to my blog, I get a message from WP telling me “XY and 30 other people are now following your blog.” 😀 So what. I know I’m a small candle out there, but a small candle also brings some light (do you hear the little narcissist as I write this? ;)), and I want to keep it burning. Every now and then, I get a comment from somebody who’s really moved by or thankful for something I’ve written, and that’s what keeps me going.
Search terms by that people find my blog often refer to recipes I’ve posted, especially the porridges I made. (All of them were experiments because I usually don’t eat porridge because of my blood sugar issues with grains. But probably I’ll try more porridges again now that those got better, and then rock the world, lalala. :P) Probably one of the most successful ones is “pressure cooker explosion”, because my old pressure cooker was almost blown up, and I blogged about it. Heh.
Hi. I haven’t looked at how many followers I have lately. It hasn’t been a huge number. I’m like you, tho. When I get a word that someone enjoys or is touched by what I have done, I am gratified. Pretty normal, I think. Would I like the whole world to love me? Yes, but then what would I do with that? Be overwhelmed and unable to respond and buried in the guilt of “shoulds”. Yes, life is great the way it is.
I wish there were some way to tell…overall…what is the most highly read post. Maybe there is a way, but I haven’t wanted to know enough to follow up.
Cheers on the recipes, Kath. I’m with the crowds on that one! xxoo