“What is wrong with these people?”
Granted, I asked the question somewhat joyfully, as the number of viewers of my blog skyrocketed. (OK, slight exaggeration; my daily views were headed for my all-time high, 81, on that date.)
The reason I was so incredulous was because two days before I’d published an insightful, introspective piece that had attracted a mere 38 views. That post (“How pride squelches our talents…”) had taken me a good two weeks of thought, some deep literature and a deeper look into my own heart and soul. The post drawing my all-time high I’d written in the hour or so I’d sat near a steamy, slightly ajar hotel bathroom door tapping on my keyboard, waiting impatiently for my colleague to awaken … and wondering “When did I become an old fogie?”
Obviously, there’s no accounting for taste.
I like to be liked. My blog likes it too. It also loves comments so much it records them word for word.
I also like to be seen (if I’m having a good hair day and I’m wearing makeup, which I certainly wasn’t at the time of my “old fogie” post’s photo shoot). My blog likes being seen so much it tallies its numbers of viewers every day.
But I can’t for the life of me figure out what draws those likes, and comments, and numbers.
I started my personal blog in January 2012. In March that year, I had a sudden surge in readership — up to 60. I had written a piece on the Trayvon Martin case March 25, 2012; when numbers starting going up that day, I envisioned being chosen “Freshly Pressed” (the handpicked highlights from the WordPress.com editors, my blogsite hosts) and garnering news show gigs to discuss my introspective account of the incident.
Nope. I had not been discovered.
When I first started blogging, every time I wrote a blog (OK, another slight exaggeration), I thought it worthy of being Freshly Pressed. After about a year of checking the page of “the chosen” blog posts and not finding my amazing work there, I stopped looking. I found it frustrating. (How could those WordPress editors not choose me?)
When I published on a Sunday morning before slipping off to church this summer, my day’s views finally broke my Trayvon Martin post high: 74. Woohoo! Since it wasn’t a particularly impressive piece of prose, I thought maybe the magic formula was to publish early on a Sunday.
Then I tried Saturday morning. Then I tried just being regular — posting at the same time or same day every week. I tried to note a pattern in view count. Perhaps humorous posts draw more? Maybe writing about my mother? Maybe shorter posts? Maybe clever titles? I could find no rhyme or reason as to why certain posts receive more views or comments or likes than others.
In my first post for NaBloPoMo, I warned my followers that I would be participating in daily post writing for an entire month — and I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t lose followers because I annoyingly contributed to their email box every day. I believe I actually asked them to bear with me for the month when I would return to my usual weekly post.
But I think I’ve gotten addicted to writing. I prefer it to sleeping, actually, and find myself getting up early — like 3:30 or so — to get my posts done. (I am late today.) But I still haven’t figured out what draws people in to read. (Actually, I face the same dilemma in the English classroom with my juniors and seniors.)
Apparently, publishing every day is good for numbers — even when I feel some of what I publish is inferior.
At the health club yesterday, I ran into one of my step aerobics classmates. We chatted for a few minutes about her health (she’d been sick a few weeks), and then she said:
“I have been enjoying your blog. Now that I’ve started reading it, I can’t stop. I have to find out what Sara is up to today!”
I’ve gotten more followers, more likes, more comments. It’s rather addicting.
On Tuesday, when I posted a somewhat snarky look at the rapid romance between my husband and I, I got a sort of warning message from WordPress. Apparently, the high traffic had raised some virtual eyebrows. I had 120 views by 10 a.m., and I was almost giddy with joy.
But at the end of day, when my views totaled 249, I was almost sad. What could I do for an encore?
I wrote the next day anyway, from my heart, and I realized that I can’t write — I don’t write — for numbers, though they are encouraging. The Bible says, “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). I can’t write to fit some formula of success. (And not just because I haven’t figured out what the formula is!) I just get ideas that drop into my head and heart — and flesh them out in blog post form. My blog is an extension of me — which makes me rejoice in comments such as this one a few days ago from “English Teacher”:
I don’t know what to say, as I type through tears. You are blessing me daily as you allow me to walk alongside you through your life.
I can’t write to be discovered. I already have — yes, by you, my dear readers — but also by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God sees me and knows me right where I am, and that is what really matters.
And if I can glorify him through my writing, I will write my heart out.
(And I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading what I write. Even when I blog about blogging — is that lame, or what?)