Musings of an ordinary blog writer

To write a blog is to agree to go through the nail-biting crunch of getting your book published. Only, here it comes with every blog post.

In an attempt to explore the feelings of blog writer, I’ve written the musings of a fictitious writer of a fictitious blog. Any resemblance to anyone, blogging or retired-from-blogging-to-tend-to-a-broken-ego, is purely coincidental. If you find you can relate to one, some or all of the thoughts of Bee, our heroine, join the club. If you do not, ask yourself this, “I am really blogging?” If nothing here really applies to you, consider patting yourself on the back for being a hard-boiled egg.

———————


I gently rub the tips of my forefinger and thumb together, clockwise and then counter, to ease the tension whenever I am feeling it. Any hand will do. Sometimes I am holding my tea cup with one, which is what I am doing right now, and ease the tension with the other. So, the cup in my right hand, the tips moving counter-clockwise of the left finger and thumb, I am set to make blogging history. Fingers crossed.

The morning sun is filling the kitchen table. There is more life in the rays than usual. My email inbox for blog notifications, when checked 10 minutes back, was painfully parched. As always. The site stats showed a routine meagre 16. Will Lucy have found time and read my latest post? Perhaps I should go and check. Maybe she’s even left a comment. The tea cup is on the kitchen table, and my hands are on it, too. No rubbing of fingers and thumbs. Am I addicted? Vishal seems to think so. His iPad is on the counter top, ready to use. The news on it is “Drowning in debt, EU hits a moment of truth.” Virtual reality in any form can be addictive. Only some, like Vishal, seem to think that everyone else is dependent on a virtual “high”, while they aren’t. He is quite convinced he is just doing his job. That he is “simply manning stocks for the trading market, and getting loads of profit from it.”

Things were different a year back. Vishal was safely employed at a hotel. I was a demure housewife, tending to our little Asha and our cute apartment. She is four now, already quite independent, Vishal is a day trader, I am an avid blogger, and the cute apartment is the hub of our little, addictive world.

The bar shows 17. One more visit! Do I sound pathetic and desperate? Well, you’re free to interpret my obsessive desire for a teensy bit of popularity as desperation. I am one of the many, who think everyday, possibly every hour (or even more often) about their blog readers. Or the lack of them. I am one of the few in my circle of bloggers, who do not have visitors and responders to compete with the Louvre. I have 31 subscribers. Thirty-one. Amanda has 215. Jeremy 85. Derek might have at least thousand, judging by the number of people who respond to his posts every week. What am I not doing right? Why not me?

“Why not me?”

“People like all sorts of worthless things these days. This shows you’re good,” Vishal reasoned.

“You have a twisted sense of logic,” I spat with a relieved smile. Perhaps he is right, I thought.

That was yesterday.

This is now. My post, timed precisely for when people are supposed to be free from the day’s routine and get down on to the computer to read, has not even attracted enough interest for one comment. And I’d day dreamt of a Freshly Pressed for this one.

Who selects Freshly Pressed posts, anyway?

I used to be a devil-may-care back in school. The clothes, I wore, the chewing gum I chewed, the songs I listened to, were all carefully selected to please and comfort me — not the self-proclaimed authorities on style and coolness. What has changed now? Why do I look for appreciation and popularity?

“Bee, I need a black coffee. Please?”

Vishal has had a way of getting me away from my thoughts without ever making me impatient at a personal time lost. But things have changed lately. I shrug off thoughts of Sarika, recently Pressed Fresh for the nth time, mumble something incoherent to my increasingly distant-seeming husband, and get up to make some coffee. I could use a mug, too. Tea for thinking. Coffee for acting.

I was living in a world of immensely good things before I began blogging. I was aware of having a wonderfully delightful husband, a sweet child, a fulfilled, full life. Sometimes, though, when I looked at old pictures from my grade 12 farewell, or this trip to Kerala, or that to Florence, I felt a sense of something slipping out of my hands. Something I couldn’t describe then. I think what was slipping out of my hands was me.

Without thinking of what good it’d do to me, I started Aubergine Dreams.

For a while, I did wallow in an illusion that I wrote for myself. I had been writing in my notebooks all my life, I told myself, I did not need readers. A blog was just a convenient means to jot down thoughts. But I was fooling myself, I realised soon. Readers, appreciators, challengers are essential for a writer to grow, and to feel motivated.

Gradually, visitors increased. The increase in numbers brought with them a few, who left words of appreciation, encouragement, and more importantly, interest. I began checking my mail more often, waited for hours after publishing a post to see how many had visited, and, hopefully, read with interest. Every single comment brought me joy. Someone was reading my words!

Unbridled joy is an elusive thing, and this time was no exception. With the happiness came disbelief. As I read more blogs, I began to expect dishonesty, or at least a compulsive show of interest in the posts with the hope that the favour would be returned. As the number of blogs I read increased, I discovered some brilliant ones. The responses they received matched the brilliance of the writer. Every responder seemed to take interest in the writer’s words, and rightly so. Would I ever get that?

The disbelief warped into a reluctance of accepting sincerity in the appreciation I received. A small worm of doubt always lurked. I began to question, not the feelings of person, but my own eligibility. Were people just being kind? They left messages that were difficult to believe. They praised my abilities, skills I didn’t think I have. I couldn’t possibly believe that!

In less than a year, I had reached from seeking readership to doubting its intentions. How did that happen?

And now, today, on the first anniversary of my blog, I want to drown myself in candid appreciation. And not so candid drops of it, too. Just to see the numbers increase. To feel a sense of joy of having found a kindred soul.

Oh, bosh.

All I want is to feel the happiness a child feels when people gather around to see the finger painting she’s created. I am becoming like Asha. A child eager to please, to sense appreciation. I try my best, but there surely must be something I am missing.

Where is the inundation?

Asha’s woken up, the coffee’s ready. Vishal is already busy with his stocks. There are clothes to wash, furniture to dust. There’re site stats to see. What first?

Hmm.

Just one look won’t harm. 21! Well, there should be a comment soon.

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41 thoughts on “Musings of an ordinary blog writer”

  1. This should count as two hits on your counter because when I hit the Post Comment tab, I got bounced off the Internet and lost the whole dang thing. (It’s been happening a lot lately. grrr)

    So, here I am, it’s my reading catch-up day so maybe I get to be your first hit on the comment counter…if I don’t get bounced off again.

    “Readers, appreciators, challengers are essential for a writer to grow, and to feel motivated.”
    You’ve hit the nail on the head. This has to be why I blog. It is an assignment, it is a responsibility, it is a challenge, it is scary, and it is a bit illusive. Why is it that when people ask me what I’ve been doing, I sheepishly admit to blogging? As if blogging were not a legitimate use of my time. Why does blogging seem less legitimate than other forms of writing? And who does select those Freshly Pressed posts? And why can’t I find an archive of Freshly Pressed? And why haven’t YOU been Freshly Pressed?

    I’m going to hit send before I get kicked out of here again!

    1. “..as if blogging is not a legitimate use of my time.” These words have been in my mind ever since I’ve read them, Linda. I live with a husband who’d agree with these words. Though his opinion seems to be diluting with every post I make him read, we’re still woefully far from a comfortable agreement about this. There must be many people who agree with him, though.

      Unfortunately, we tend to get carried away with our emotions. When something is proven good, we take it too far. “Oh? Is olive oil good for my heart? I am going to use it by the gallon in every meal!” If something is denounced, we make it a pariah. “What? Psychologists say Facebook and Twitter are making people moronic and causing relationships to break? I am closing my account.”

      “Did you say Freshly Pressed is the best thing ever? Damn, I want it so bad!”

      The list never ends. We forget a simple world called moderation.

      Thank you for being one my most favourite number-enhancers, Linda. Your responses always make me feel good.

  2. What a great read…thank you! What a joy to know I am not the only one feeling and doing this ! After having said this…I enjoy writing too much to have let the ‘number game’ discourage me…
    Look forward to reading more of yours…

    1. You write well, Shama. Your decision to stay makes this world a better place. Always remember that.

      Numbers and I have been at loggerheads ever since I can remember. I suppose this is the reason why the numbers on my site stats make me uncomfortable. If I look beyond the figures, though, I see people. 1, 10, 15 whatever the number, they clicked on my blog. That makes me happy.

      What if no one did? What if no one left me comments? I’d feel like a miserable party-participant — I talk, no one listens. It’d make me very, very lonely. And my words lonelier.

  3. “I felt a sense of something slipping out of my hands. Something I couldn’t describe then. I think what was slipping out of my hands was me.

    Without thinking of what good it’d do to me, I started Aubergine Dreams”

    Mmm… I know the feeling.

    Apart from the suspicion that people weren’t telling the truth, your character is like me… that need to be constantly checking for people’s attention. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. Then again, from time to time I have to take breaks, not only to get away from those people whose attention I crave, but to find myself.

    Very brave of you to write this, Priya. But my question is: how much of its author is in it?

    1. Ouch. I thought I could get away by making things murky — by fusing Bee’s and my blogging experiences together to make sure there is always a room to wriggle out of fact-telling. But since you ask, Val, I have to tell.

      She is more or less me, except on two counts — subscriptions and Freshly Pressed.

      Subscriptions: I have 46 subscribers, I think. Out of them, most don’t read my blog. And only about 10 comment. These figures are just that, and they do not motivate me. A genuinely interested person does. If there was one person reading and exchanging ideas and thoughts with me, I’d blog happily. But still childishly look for more minds to interact with, I am afraid.

      Freshly Pressed: When I’d just begun blogging, I looked at the FP section with little more than mild curiosity. For me, it was something like the Flickr page, in which they randomly select some photographs for the day. That’s what I thought it was. With time, I began to notice the overwhelming interest people had in it, and thought that probably it wasn’t random. But never gave it much thought. Of late, I see many of my deserving blogging friends getting Freshly Pressed, and feel happy that the deserving ones are recognised too! I can’t say I’ve wished it for myself, but I do sometimes want to feel the rush of my mailbox flooded with a thousand responses when I wake up in the morning.

      For me, in short, a one-on-one interaction is crucial. That’s why I blog. Which is why new comments, intelligent exchange of ideas keeps me going.

      You are one of the many I’ve found here who give me that, Val.

  4. I know I’ve told you this before, but I haven’t said it to Bee, so this is for her. The aim of most writing (I think) is to connect two minds. It’s an impossible goal, of course, but the more skilled we get at writing, the closer we come to making that connection, to helping the reader become familiar with some spot in the landscape inside our heads. The thing is, we can’t gauge our progress without an audience. We can love what we’ve written, but if we’re the only ones who feel that way, what does it mean? Blogging is a way to potentially reach every reader in the world. I don’t know how much more justification you need than that. Since publishing began, writers have been sending out their work and waiting for a positive response from someone — editor, agent, producer, friend. It’s an inevitable part of the process. The world isn’t going to like us. But some slice of the world will, and so we keep writing and looking and waiting. And hoping. Please don’t ever give up.

    1. I keep struggling between keep-blogging and leave-blogging. You know that.

      And you are right. (Why are you so annoying? You know, and you’re right. Mostly.)
      We as living beings are built with an inherent need to communicate. An experiment in Germany, I think, involved trees. They segregated trees in different compartments. One of the compartments had walls taller than the trees. They could not communicate to the ones in the other compartments. One by one, the trees trees were removed from this compartment. Slowly, the health of the trees diminished. Finally they left just one tree in that compartment. It eventually died.

      PS: Why are experiments allowed?

  5. This is great, Priya. You have captured the experience of many of the bloggers I know.

    I think one of the roots of our blogging is an innate desire to create. I think we were made to make things. To make beautiful, useful, good things. When someone looks at our creation and says “It is good!” it resonates deep within us that we have done something we were made to do. (You allude to this beautifully in your 5th-to-the-last paragraph, the one with the finger painting).

    As Charles pointed out, blogging is also about connection. So much of what we do as human beings is about making a connection with another human being. A connection that says “I am normal,” “I am significant,” “my existence matters,” “I can meaningfully influence another for good.”

    Creation and connection are wonderful, powerful aspects of our humanity. Blogging helps us exercise them and experience them in meaningful ways.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. “my existence matters” Yes! That’s what writing, and the feedback I get for it give me, Kevin.

      Welcome back. I missed you.

  6. This is a good read for someone who just started to blog (i.e. me). Like you, I found myself in this little endeavor simply because I wanted to write some more. I call it a form of mental practice. Please continue writing. Bee’s got one more subscriber.

    1. You write well, Nel. I want to visit again soon, and write to you there.

      The Bee in me is happy for another subscriber. Thank you!

  7. “All I want is to feel the happiness a child feels when people gather around to see the finger painting she’s created. I am becoming like Asha. A child eager to please, to sense appreciation. I try my best, but there surely must be something I am missing.”

    I would say this describes what every writer/blogger feels. When you put yourself out there, strip your soul bare and lay it all out on the line, you want someone else to respond–to know that your words have touched someone. That deep connection is vital to a writer. We crave it.

    Well, your words continue to touch me and honestly, they blow me away. Please, keep it up!

  8. I blogged about this same issue………I will never get Freshly Pressed because I don’t cut & Paste pictures onto my Blog. But I continue to write..er Blog….for ME…..

    and, as one of my subscribers put it: “you’ll just have to sit down and read & answer 400 comments and sit and try to come up with another Freshly Pressed Piece…..”
    Nice Post..keep writing..er blogging……
    spread the humor;charlywalker.wordpress.com

    1. They FP only the posts with pictures? Damn. I must add more! I could use 400 comments. I’ll even respond to them.

      But this is all a matter of pleasing oneself, is it not? I’ve seen at least four FPs in the recent weeks that deserve every single minute of that fame. And why not? We think, we write, we empathise.

      And like you, some of us spread the humour, Charly. All of us deserve the attention. So, keep writing, blogging, making us laugh.

  9. I agree with every word Darla said, Priya. I also nod my head in agreement with the words Charles offered. This fictitious blogger lives inside all of us in the blogosphere, though some may not embrace Bee as they should. Humility is a wonderful quality.

    1. Humility is a wonderful quality, indeed. Like many other things it changes for us, blogging also has the power to change that I think, Lenore. It can make the humble veer towards gleaming self-obsession, and, happily, give a sense of pride to the less indulging. Such fun!

  10. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Writing…blogging…is a process. Yes, keep writing, I believe you have a lot to say. I would have told you to visit She’s a Maineiac but I see you have a pingback to you. I think you are among some very supportive readers. How lucky is that? Enjoyed the visit.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Georgette. They are just what I needed today. It is indeed a privilege to have a readership, which believes I can offer them something worth their time, and click on this blog every week.

  11. Oh Priya what an original, great post. Even though I live umpteen time zones, and at least half way round the world from you, this post has zapped me like a Bee. Brava!

    Love the line:
    “”Without thinking of what good it’d do to me, I started Aubergine Dreams. “”
    I think my Mr F is sorry I started my blog. He said last night that he had no idea being a blogger would take up so much of my time. Hah!

    And also love how you’ve woven every bloggers wail for “where the heck are those readers?” with a very believable story about an ordinary family who drink:
    “”Tea for thinking. Coffee for acting””

    Hey of course every single one of us bloggers checks those darn stats …. Don’t you wonder if your stats say 75 but only 10 read your one post and 5 the other what happened to the remaining 60 visitors? Why didn’t they stay? Did they just go with the wind?

    I’ve ticked the “notify me of follow-up comments via email” button below. I hope my inbox gets drowned with all your freshly pressed comments. I’ll drink a cup of tea to you. Or will it be coffee? I’m not sure…

    1. I do wonder that! If I have 50 visitors, but two comments, I do wonder what happened to the others. I cannot claim to leave responses at every new blog I visit. But that happens only in one condition — when I cannot find anything that I can say with conviction. Otherwise, I always leave a comment. Acting on the assumption that the others feel and do the same, I get sad everytime I see a disproportionate relation between the blog hits and the responses. Do I write well enough? Shoot. It hurts.

      Oh, don’t wait for the inundation of your inbox, Rosie. The FP guys are still unaware of how brilliant I am. They’ll take some time, surely.

    1. I visited your blog P&P, and find that we can expect much from you.

      A regular reader is good. A regular thought sharer is much, much better! Considering your law degree and the new job, I am going to want to hear from you!

  12. Dear Priya, Lovely post. You and I have discussed journals (I began my first at age 7). They serve a purpose, and for most of my life, and most of those of us in the blogosphere, journals were the only option as there was no internet. They recorded our thoughts and our fears and to loosely quote Dickens, “the best of times and the worst of times.”

    But when you described writing without readers as cause for the words to become lonely… you opened a new chapter.

    As Kevin and Charles above alluded to, writing is about creation and connection. They must be intertwined. They need to be. They cannot exist, like your trees, one without the other.

    I am glad you ponder these issues, and glad you share them with your readers, and glad that I am one of your admiring readers.

    As for being Freshly Pressed, have you looked closely at the posts which are chosen? Do you wish to write posts like those? Is that what you yearn to create? The posts chosen from my blog for the FP honor have been simply… fun. The posts not chosen from my blog have meant so much more to me. I wrote a post called “Turn the Page” that hinted at some of what I’ve shared with you about the complications with my daughter’s birth.

    It said more about me and came from a more special part of me than any other. Yet, it received few comments. However, those that did chime in really made my day.

    So yes. We want recognition. And I must concede that Bee made so many good points. But I wish that I could give Bee a hug and let her know that even if her fingerpainting were to hang on her mother’s fridge and go no farther — it would still enrich the world, for in its creation, it enriched its creator.

    You are a deeply emotional writer, and I hope you continue to enrich us.

    1. “for in its creation, it enriched its creator” That is precisely how I feel, Melissa. Thank you for putting it so well.

      I cannot deny feeling greedy for more feedback. The more encouraging it is, the better motivated I feel to write. The more critical it is, the less smug I feel. Rest is all just numbers.

      Like I said to Val, Freshly Pressed is not something I want. Definitely not for the “recognition” . And I certainly don’t dream of it. I do, however, think of it as a means to find people who appreciate my mind, so that I can in turn appreciate theirs. I know it has happened to our friends blogging here. That’s all I’d like! To Create and to Communicate. When I publish a post, I do dream of more minds to interact with. Am I asking for trouble, though?! 🙂

  13. Priya, I’ve done and felt all those scenarios you described. When I first started, it was like winning a lottery to have comments. Our blogs and our attitudes do evolve, thankfully. Who knows where the evolution will take us, but it seems there is maturity even in blogging.

    That’s a welcome thought to me.

    May you be Fresh Pressed. Imagine having to read all those comments.

    I wonder how many stay at that elevated level of readership once “pressed”.

    1. I feel I’ve evolved during these months, Amy. But I also feel like I am slowly becoming a slave to it. I don’t like to feel addicted to anything. No, addiction is the wrong word. This is perhaps becoming an essential routine, much like drinking water.

      Ah, the Freshly Pressed comments. After looking at Charles’ FP post, I am reconsidering asking for enough commenters to drown my inbox. There is only so much my limited mind can take! Charles deserves a special commendation for the way he’s managing to respond to everyone. People like him, Darla, Melissa, all will continue to deserve the admiration they’ve received during the FP times. I am pretty sure of that. Whether or not they actually get it through comments simply depends on the time people have. No?

    1. Willful. Yes, that’s what she is, our Bee. Happy to know you like it, msperfectpatty. I like it, too. It does present a little of what a blog writer feels on a routine basis. That is worth a mention, I’d think.

  14. I got link to this post of your through Melissa in one of her comment in my post. She suggested that i may like this post of yours. I never thought that i am going to like this post of yours more than she told.Thanks for such a wonderful post. I do not think i have words to describe how good is this post of yours. It deserves beyond likes, comments & freshly pressed, and i really mean it. May be i am saying this because i wrote one post named “talent deserves recognition” in my blog based on the same concept few weeks earlier. But for sure that was not as good as this post of yours. I am new to this blogging world. I am about to complete one month of blogging. I have about 1000 visitors, 15 followers and about 100 comments including my own replies. I know my blog stats is showing that may be i am not good at this. But i do not care, as i know i may not be best in this blogging world but i am good enough to be here. I do not need images of scenic beauties to get my number of visitors increased or to be freshly pressed. I happy with the number i have. I am not saying i do not like appreciation. Yes i too like when someone gives a nice comment. It helps me in getting motivated to write my next post even better. But i know these things not in my hand. So i believe i must be good at those things which are in my hand, rather that thinking about other aspects.

    May be i gave a lengthy comment on your post. But one thing for sure you are too good with the job you are doing. Keep on writing. !! You are going to get lots of appreciation for your work as i believe “Talent deserves Recognition”. I hope you will read that one.

    1. Arindam, you will not know how much it happy it makes me to know that you like this post. A person who can say “I may not be the best in this blogging world but I am good enough to be here” about himself is a special person. That’s exactly the kind of attitude we need — not just for blogging, but in all spheres of life.

      I shall certainly go to your blog soon as I can, and read Talent deserves recognition. It sounds like I am going to like it!

  15. Readers, appreciators, challengers are essential for a writer to grow, and to feel motivated. – fantastic thought! I am new to blogging, and I have wanted to write all my life… I fully relate to what you say.. (in fact, I have loaded the wordpress app on BB so I am able to see the count on the move – jeeez… cant believe I wrote that).

    I used to think that i will care less, and write because I just want to… but hey! Once, you get people coming to visiit, say few things in Comments – you seem to get addicted, isn’t it..

    Great post!! Am subscribing to this your blog right away…

    1. The very fact that you told us here about your BlackBerry proves that you’re not afraid of hiding your interest in people and their interests, Arindam. That’s a good thing, no?

      Comments are addictive, yes. Especially if they make you want to do better, if they excite your intellect, or tickle your senses — in humour or in gravity.

    1. Anuschka, welcome. I am happy you like this post. And I completely agree with you that it is about connecting to people. Words we write are our way of hoisting a flag — of friendship, understanding, camaraderie, help. So much. It took me a while to completely grasp this truth, but now that I have, my mind is at rest.

      I am completely enchanted by the look of your blog and will love to go back and read some of your posts. DIY Slave bracelet? DIY Shell mosaic? Whoa!

  16. I love this post! It sums up how I felt a lot earlier on in the piece. Eventually after chatting with a number of people who run large businesses I realised that in order to get the satisfaction of both interaction and numbers of subscribers I almost had to become 2 people.

    One person who is a factual marketer and businessman who does SEO, Social Networking etc and the other person who is the person writing the opinion.

    Otherwise it all comes down to hope. If you believe that your opinion is of worth (and it no doubt is) the you have to get it out there! And that means that writing is not enough, you’re also going to have to market.

    I’ve gotten a bit off track… I really just wanted to write that this was a really nice post and struck a chord (obviously!).

    1. “You’re also going to have to market.” Well, that’s where I get stuck.

      Is there no way to just keep expressing opinions and let your opinions market you? Yes, I know that’s like banking on too much of vague hope. Sigh. Alas, that’s my destiny unless I find that other part of me that takes over as an SEO businesswoman. (Which seems unlikely, by the way).

      I like that you visited and that you expressed what you want to say. When are you letting us read your work, though? I visited your blog and it doesn’t talk about your opinions and knowledge at all!

      Oh, but wait! I just visited your site and see that you have incredible suggestions for improving the WordPress experience! That’s interesting, John!

      http://www.johndetlefs.com/

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