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.