Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why I Blog: A Friend Wonders

Adam and EveImage by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

A friend writes:

You're a good blogger. I can't get past the mental barrier that one is writing in a black hole, and the singularity is ego, a dark force in the world, sometimes I think the darkest. But maybe that's the force behind all writing. I don't know. An opinion? What do you like best about blogging?

And I reply:

Well, thanks. My blogging falls into two chunks – the first couple years when I thought it would somehow turn into something, that it would become a way into other writing opportunities. (I wasn’t exactly sure how. I imagined something I wrote would go viral, and the rest would unfold with iron inevitability.) After I realized that wouldn’t happen, I thought the blogging would wither away. But I found I still liked to do it because it was a creative release – and I don’t have one, or maybe I should say I am too lazy to work at *really* writing something and getting it published.

For real. For money.

Because I keep track of the number of my daily visitors and how they are referred to my blog, I have a keen sense of how my readership has dropped. Five years ago when I was writing long and posting frequently, I was able to drive my daily visits up to 100. But since then, I have seen the daily hit rate steadily drop to about 20, the majority of whom are accidents, not regular visitors. This is oddly liberating. The fact I am throwing my words out into the void seems brave/ironic/self-consciously futile. No one is reading me *but I soldier on anyway*.

If I described my justifications tomorrow, I would probably describe them very differently. My rationale is variable. But the truth is that I get some kind of sensation out of writing to no one – maybe it’s a kind of “lottery ticket” thing: Knowing you won’t win doesn’t mean you can’t win if you know what I mean, though I should probably say if you *feel* what I mean.

It’s odd. My blog is a kind of commonplace book that helps me keep track of the march of time. (Now that I’ve plugged Twitter into the blog, it’s even more so.) It’s also a personal journal that justifies the effort of typing, not writing by hand, by the fact what is so neatly typed is published – sort of. In fact, one of the pleasures of my blog is all the little “self-publishing” flourishes, all the links and pictures and debris I can throw against the wall.

Somehow it shows I haven’t given up. Well, actually I have. But this is my “apron of leaves.” If I were to blog this, I could link to the quote and maybe to a picture.

I think I *will* blog this. (Maybe the multi-purposing is part of the draw.)


KB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KB said...

Thank you for such a generous answer. I like the notion of a personal journal whose pages, like leaves, might blow into the world, where someone might pick them up, and be moved.

Peter Moore said...

How do you do that checking on your vistors thing? I've always wondered

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Ah, Grasshopper. I use Sitemeter. You can see my cumulative hit total on this very page, to the left and down. If you click it, you go to a results page that shows my daily hits, hits and actual time spent on the site, entry page and some other interesting data. The "domain name" of each visitor comes up, and I have so few that I think I can figure out who some are. You are, are you not? Referrals are also interesting. I went through a period when I was getting 25 hits a day because I had linked to a picture of a protractor in a post and the picture of that protractor was at the top of Google search when you queried protractor and if you then clicked on the picture of the protractor I had merely linked to, you arrived at that blog post.

I grieved the day that link was lost.