Monday, April 09, 2007

Now With More Lint!

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Know by the Smiths because, really, who better to take us down my path of self indulgence than Morrissey?

Today I am making a brief foray into the land of naval gazing. "What do you mean "a brief foray"? This is a blog, isn't naval gazing all you ever do?" you say in your head. And yes, dear reader, you are correct, a blog is really, first and foremost, a vehicle for my gigantic need for attention.

So, this leads to a question, if a blog is unread, does it actually exist?

A friend asked me a little while ago why I blogged. I gave him my general explanation that I need an outlet and until I get off my butt and try to get some stuff published, the blog helps provide me with an outlet to get my work read. He rolled his eyes (well, I am assuming he rolled his eyes, he was on the phone) and made a comment about how all girls think they are writers. While I felt pretty annoyed with him for being so dismissive of an entire gender and, more to the point, so dismissive of me, I kindof understood what he meant. Over the years, I have met a lot of people who say, when I tell them I am an actress and a writer, "oh how fun. I have always thought I'd be great at that," as if this is somehow supposed to make me respect them (it doesn't. My feeling is that you should go do it and you may find you are good at it. You may find out that it only looks as easy as switching to Geico.) But, really, what makes me a "real" writer anyway? I rarely submit my work anywhere, so I am as virtual and phony as anyone else when you get right down to it.

I used to just blog and not care if people read. Well, that isn't true, I cared intensely, but I told myself that just because people hardly ever left comments didn't mean they weren't reading. After all, this blog wasn't a popularity contest. But then, in a moment of insanity, I attached the code for sitemeter. And discovered that people were, in fact, reading (I also discovered that sitemeter was intercrack). Not many people, but some. I found bloggers I loved who made me think about things in a new way and, I hoped, I was doing the same for other people.

Then, about two months ago, I wrote a piece about the passing of Anna Nicole Smith and posted a photo. I was terribly proud of the piece I wrote, I felt like I touched on some important topics relating to feminism, sexuality, and commodification, and yes, I was very honored by some of the comments people left. But sitemeter has told me this post has hijacked my blog. I am getting more visits than ever before because people want this picture. And, sitemeter tells me, no one actually reads my blog anymore.

Which really shouldn't matter, right? I mean, readers come and readers go and I don't write for an audience, I write because I have something to say, even if no one reads it. It is only my ego that minds if my blog remains unsold in the bargain bins of the internet and my ego should not be indulged. Right?

Well, yes. And no.

I am starting to wonder what the hell the point is if no one is actually reading. Sure I get to work out some ideas I have and "get my writing out there", but if no one is reading, isn't blogging then just an extension of the problem I have as a writer, namely that I don't actually make any effort to get my work published? So this blog gets to join the novel, the play, the numerous short stories, and hundreds of pages of poetry sitting on this very hard drive. It isn't the same as having an unread novel because, well, people had to read your novel and believe in it in the first place in order to get that book on the shelves. An unread novel is sad, but an unread blog is truly pathetic.

I tell myself that if I want readers, I should work harder at promoting this blog, but I have really no idea how one does that. I tell myself I should write more posts, that I should be wittier and more sparkly, but things have been stressful lately and, the truth is, I don't really see the point in posting much if no one is reading.

I hadn't realized that blogging would start to tap into all my insecurities, my feelings of general unworthiness, that I would once again be plagued with the feeling that people just don't like me very much. I really don't think it is about blogging or the internet at all. I mean, it isn't like people like me much in real life either. (You see, there was a reason I picked Morrissey as your musical guide.)

I am not saying all this for sympathy (well, not much). I am just making an observation (albeit in a fairly self-centered and self-pitying way) about the nature of blogging and how, maybe, it is impossible to change who you are, even in cyberspace. If you feel compelled to say something snarkfilled or tell me all the things that are wrong with this blog, please do so, but have the gonads to sign your name (because nothing says total lack of courage like anonymous nastiness).

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7 Comments:

Blogger Jen said...

I had popped in here some time ago, probably from Karrie's blog, and it's a poor oversight on my part that I haven't been back more often. The Church! Morrissey!
The writing stuff? As someone who talks a good line about submitting things but never actually does it, I refuse to believe that publication a writer makes. There's just too much crap published out there for that to be true!

12:16 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Dawn said...

I am beginning to think that the key to building a readership is doing two things: 1) writing something every day 2) commenting on other's blogs as much as possible

I have found that when I do those two things my readership builds. If I slack off for a few days or a week, I practically have to start all over again. And I don't think it has anything to do with how "sparkly" your posts are. Honestly, people don't always need sparkle. Real life, and what most people identify with, is not that way all the time.

You have a great style and a voice that should be heard. And even though I LOVE your blog, if you don't post for a couple of days I stop checking for a while. It is just the nature of the beast I suppose.

I hope you are able to find the motivation and the courage to pursue your dreams to completion. When that book is finally published, I will certainly be in line for my copy. :)

All the best,
D

3:34 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger Judy said...

Well, I love to read you, and if I don't comment much, it's either because I don't have anything witty to say (me? witty? notsomuch) or I have babies crawling all over me.

As the wife of a writer, whose friends (his, not mine) are all writers, I know way too much about how the publishing world works, and Jen is so right about too much crap being published, and too much really really good stuff being thrown in recycling bins or returned-to-sender, unopened.

And if blogging had been available to them, Thoreau, Whitman and Emerson would have been blogging away. "I went into the internet because I wished to blog deliberately." Okay, that was awful, but you get the picture.

I started my blog for my family, then a few others started reading, and then I got panicky because I felt like I needed to say something interesting every once in a while. And then I did, and I pissed off my family, and so I quit. The sitemeter is addictive, but I'm just glad, now, to have a way to keep up with friends and family.

But keep on writing, here and elsewhere. Sometimes you will be read, sometimes you won't, but it's out there and available, and I think that's what matters.

8:12 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger alimum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:31 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger alimum said...

Thank you to everyone who has responded. I was serious when I said I wasn't asking for sympathy, but sympathy is always appreciated even when we aren't necessarily seeking it out.

But Dawn is right that I do need to write more even when I am not feeling witty. And Judy is right that I need to just write and not care so much (and to remember that the publishing world is not to be trusted as an arbiter of talent.) And Jen is right that The Church are worthy of blog visitations. Woohoo. I take it all back. The people who do read my blog are brilliant and aren't just here for pictures of dead Playboy playmates! Thank you for reminding me.

And look, Karrie nominated me for one of those awards. Now I feel really silly.

And the good news is that some of the major real life problems (stuff too mundane to discuss) have been solved, so while I still am overwhelmed with a toddler, I have more mental energy than I did a couple of days ago.

8:52 PM, April 10, 2007  
Blogger boodafli said...

d00d. that bit on your sitemeter, like, every day, or so, from AOL SOUTH CAROLINA? that's me. i read. and i even kept checking your knitting blog, even though, apparently, your thumbs have atrophied, or you've gone gangrenous around the elbows, because, anything else would be just a silly reason to not knit...at any rate. i read. on the regular.

12:02 AM, April 11, 2007  
Anonymous Two Knives said...

This post really hit home with me. I've been back and forth with the same questions and no answers. I also fight the ups and downs associated with the traffic numbers and links. I hate it that I get discouraged when I don't get comments. But I'm working on it.

A real writer, however, is someone who writes. And that is you. And me. And everyone else out there who is giving it a shot. Dawn is correct with her points. I've found some help reading the blog Finding the Money, even though it pretends to be about making money with your blog, it's really about writing and has been very helpful to me. Check it out.

And keep up the good work. P.S. They aren't toddlers forever and it does get easier.

10:52 AM, April 11, 2007  

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