So, I’ve been blogging for nearly a month and a half and guess what? I fucking well love it! And there, right there, is one of the reasons why I do. The fact is, I can write whatever I like. It’s my blog and I can just sit here going blah [swearword] blah blah blah all day long (apart from that thing with work and children. I do that sometimes too. In between the swearing).
Of course, this isn’t the whole story. I’ve been able to write pretty legibly since 1982. By now I could have a whole mountain of blah blah blahs in a wide array of formats. But I don’t really want to express it if there is absolutely no one who might potentially hear it. What’s the point? I might as well just keep it in my head. After all, the blah blah blah-ing’s loud enough in there to begin with. The fact is, I want to put it in someone else’s head, too (born educator or mind-control megalomaniac? You decide).
I’ve always loved writing. I’ve even authored a book, albeit under my real name. That was quite cool. I liked signing copies for my mum and dad, and checking which libraries it was in. And sometimes, if I’m really drunk, I get my own copy down off the shelf and flick through it, thinking “crikey! I have thought some hard thoughts in my time!” That’s because the book’s an academic monograph, and if I’m honest, while I like the fact it now exists, I did not particularly enjoy the final stages of putting it together. The actual process of writing a chapter meant getting from A to B without jokes, or digressions, or silly analogies, but with solid, boring old evidence. Alas, I wasn’t too keen on that (and there are sections of my book where, I’ll admit, I’m still more “creative” than I should be). At one point, I even considered putting a disclaimer on the front cover (something along the lines of “this author is not a proper academic, so don’t expect too much”). Academic publishers do not however go for that kind of thing.
Blogging’s totally different from academic writing. I mean, you do get a kind of “peer review”, but through other blogs you find an audience that’s receptive to you (and a darn sight less competitive and cut-throat than academics are, or so my one-and-a-half month’s experience suggests). There is one thing that bothers me, though, and does really make me feel judged. It’s the whole thing about stats. How many views per day you get. I really can’t stand it.
I try not to look but right now, while I’m typing, I can see a little graph in the left-hand corner of my browser. This suggests quite a few people were reading my stuff an hour ago, but no one was arsed around lunchtime, and I’m still considerably less popular than I was yesterday. I know I shouldn’t be but I’m starting to feel a bit insecure. Why was “yesterday me” better than “today me”? And will I ever reach the dizzy heights of “me last Thursday” again?
I should be writing for the pleasure, and for the responses, and I am, but there’s also a “notches on the bedpost” mentality that’s creeping in (not that I think of you, whoever you are who’s reading this, as a one-night stand. You mean more to me than that. Hey, you know that, baby. I’ll give you a call sometime).
If I actually dare to click on the WordPress “Stats” tab, it will provoke, I guarantee it, one of the following responses:
- Fewer visitors than usual Damn! What have I done wrong? Either I’ve committed some massive blogger’s faux pas that no one will ever explain to me because they’re all too offended, or I’ve said all the interesting things I had to say. Either way, the heady days of blogging fun are over. Sob.
- Average number of visitors That’s okay, I guess. But why is it fewer than last Wednesday? What is it I did on last Wednesday that was different? Can I bring “Wednesday me” back to life? Because otherwise, while this looks fine, the very existence of Wednesday means my numbers are in fact going down.
- Massive surge in number of visitors Cripes! What’s all that about? I haven’t even written anything good today. Don’t these people have any taste? Where do I go from here? Should I just start writing bollocks from now on to feed the masses?
I think it over a million times and I never make any sense of it. I suppose that’s because, on a daily basis, there isn’t much sense to be made.
On a day when I have a lot of visitors, it could just be that one “influential” person has liked and tweeted the link to a post of mine. And perhaps lots of people have visited my blog but actually read three lines and thought “this is shit. My influential friend appears to be having something of an off day”. And on other days, when there are fewer visitor, it may just be that people have better things to do. I mean, I don’t know what could be better than reading my stream-of-consciousness rantings (a trip to Disney World, Florida? But they can’t all be there, can they?). Anyhow, what I mean to say is there’s no point whatsoever in trying to interpret it. No point at all, but hell, I’m going to keep on trying anyhow.
And what is the real point of this? Am I letting it become some measure of my worth as a person? Hell, I told everyone about that shag I had with Andy off CBeebies and nobody even deigned to like it?* When I’m writing stuff I really, really like doing it but I can’t stand the analysis afterwards. And the fact that I can’t stand it says something bad about me. Being bothered is all so vulgar. It shows I’m not in it for the passion, man. I just wanna collect numbers.
Well, this is all getting a bit self-obsessed. This is probably the point at which everyone decides never to read a post of mine again. And hell, I deserve it. I’ve no doubt committed that massive faux pas already by broaching this very topic. Maybe I am actually the only person who worries about this crap and everyone else just glances over now and then, out of vague curiosity. But not me. The truth is, I’m so vain, I probably think this blog is about me.
* Don’t bother looking for that post. I’m still finalizing the draft.