Tuesday, February 5, 2008

if a tree falls in the forest...

...and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

If I write a blog and nobody reads it, does anybody care?

I know I’m supposed to be writing for my own pleasure, but I wonder if I would be better served by simply writing in a private journal. I’m not sure I enjoy the sting of a near total lack of interest in my blog.

So far, I have one lovely woman who reads and post comments on my blog regularly. Thank you Kimberly. You make me feel appreciated. In a way, that’s what I was searching for by writing this stuff in the first place. As many stay-at-home-moms know, it’s not very often we get to feel appreciated. It’s especially nice coming from you, Kimberly, because I don’t even know you. It’s not like we’re close friends and you’re just trying to be supportive. As a complete stranger, you must actually like what I’m writing in order to take the time to read it and make a comment. Regularly. You have no idea what this means to me (no pressure).

Thanks also, to Buzz. You’ve read, commented and given me great encouragement and feedback. You even linked to my blog from your well-visited site. I really appreciate it. You have no idea.

I know it’s silly to expect anyone to even find my blog, but I certainly have been pimping it in various locations, which makes me wonder a few things:

1. Content.

Am I interesting? Does anybody care what I have to say? Am I okay with that? Here’s a fact: my life is incredibly boring and monotonous. Therefore, it stands to reason that anything I might write about my life (short of pure fiction) would also be incredibly boring and monotonous. Hell. If it’s unbearable to me, why would it be interesting to anybody else?

2. Purpose.

Does my blog have a purpose that could actually be useful to people? Once they’ve visited and had a quick glance, why would anyone come back? Perhaps they like my style of writing? I’ve tried my hand at wit and humour with a positive response from only one person (again, thanks Kimberly). But there are many bloggers doing a better job of this than me. I’ve also been posting some information and tips I thought might be useful to others, but with no extra interest. Do I have something to offer? Does my blog have a well-intentioned purpose?

3. First Impressions.

Most of the hits to my blog, from the looks of it, are accidental. According to sitemeter.com, almost none of my visitors stay longer than zero seconds. Does my tag: “yet another mommy blog. nothing new here.” turn them off? The tag was a silly attempt at being self-deprecating and funny. I thought the sarcasm might draw someone in. Perhaps it’s turning them off? Can they smell the desperation for acceptance?

4. Marketing.

Should I try a little more hubris, instead of being so critical of myself? Should I represent my blog as the best damn blog in the entire world and the worshipers will follow? Nope. The content will still be the same. Either you’ll like it or you won’t. The way I sell it isn’t going to make any difference.

5. Built-in Audience.

Buzz is the only person I know who actually hosts a blog. Other than Buzz, I have absolutely no close personal friends who also have a blog. So. Unless I go out and entice total strangers to read my blog, there is no one interested. My family knows what I write about, so they have no reason to read it. Other than that I have… zip. Nada. I thought for sure I’d get more visits from the scrapbooking world, which is definitely who I thought my target audience would be. I post regularly on Two Peas (the scrapbooking web site), but so far only one person has come through from there to comment on my site. I also post regularly on other blogs, but so far I have only received a few courtesy comments, which reeked of civility but came off as more like “had to” rather than “wanted to.” (ie. you posted on mine so I guess I should post on yours, even if I couldn’t care less about what you wrote.) Hmmm. Not sure what to do about this.

6. Post length.

I tend to be very long-winded in life. My writing is no different. Should I be writing the next great 1000-page novel instead of a blog? Who has the time to read the stuff I write anyway? I’ve thought about trying to be more brief, but who I am I writing for anyway? This is me. I'm longwinded. Just like my mother. It's in the DNA. Take it or leave it.

Wait.

Stop.

There it is.

Take it or leave it.

I’m not even sure why I’m thinking about all of this. Should I care?

Do I really care what people think?

Should I get discouraged when I read other blogs, written by people I admire, only to discover that they hate exactly the types of things I’m writing about? Should I care that I love them but they hate Oprah? Should this discourage me?

Or.

Am I just being incredibly impatient?

I have no idea how long this kind of thing takes.

Should I keep going, in spite of my meagre sixty-four hits, most of them accidental? What do people do to earn hundreds of thousands of visits to their sites with hundreds of comments per post?

I really should be more patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. I've taught Csilla to twiddle her thumbs when she needs to be patient about something. It works like a charm. But she’s not yet three. Does it work on adults? Should I sit at my computer and twiddle my thumbs too?

I told my mom I was thinking about quitting this blog thing because I thought it was a bit pointless and her response was to keep going. Interestingly, she didn’t tell me this out of blind mom-love. She told me this because she said I seemed happier since I had started writing it.

Interesting.

Happier?

I have been trying to feel happier.

Hmmmm.

I think she’s right. Despite the waves of self-doubt about this blog, I really do enjoy writing. Even if nobody cares what I write (except the few that do… thank you). I love to sit at the computer and work with words. I like to study my Little, Brown Handbook to check for the proper usage of colons and semi-colons and commonly misused words. I love good grammar. I want to improve. Hell. I’ve even written and finished two screenplays and completed most of a third, purely for the joy of writing.

The return of The Happy Girl continues.

And there’s something else I’ve noticed.

One thing I’ve noticed for sure.

Since I started writing this blog, I’ve been looking for the interesting and exciting things in my life. I’ve been observing my moments differently. The boring, mundane or frustrating ones seem to fly by unnoticed because I’m too busy searching for the gems that might be worth writing about.

My perspective has shifted.

Nobody wants to read about me wanting to shoot myself in the head today because Csilla and I were both trapped in our house; both bored out of our skulls. Boredom is not fun. And it's certainly not very interesting. Especially when it’s the boredom of an almost-three-year-old. Believe me.

(By the way, I didn’t really want to shoot myself today. This isn’t a cry for help. It’s just a literary device. A figure of speech called hyperbole: an over-exaggeration to make a point. Love that word.)

Eeeek. Too many colons and semi-colons. Hope I got those right.

My point is this: since I started writing this blog, I’ve been looking for the good stuff. I’ve been laughing more. I've been noticing the funny stuff more. I’ve actually been trying to create enjoyable moments, just so I would have something to write about. Does Csilla care that I make extra batches of cookies with her because I was looking for some good material? Don’t think so. Especially considering how much that kid loves cookies.

The important part of all of this is that I pull myself out of the funk I’ve been living in. Whatever it takes. Even if it means manufacturing fun. It's about changing my perspective. Improving my attitude.

And it seems to me that perspective and attitude are everything in life.

So.

Even if nobody reads it, I will write. Because I will care.

Even if nobody hears it.

The tree still falls.

10 comments:

Kimberly said...

Oooo, thanks for the linky love!

Frankly, I think you've got a lovely blog here. First impression? Nice colours, simple, easy to follow lay out. Your content is witty and thought-provoking. You come off as sincere...someone who is genuinely sharing what they're thinking and feeling, not just putting on a show in a desperate attempt to glean some validation and ego-stroking (yup, that's what I do, mostly).

The one sure way to build up a blog audience is to -be- the audience for others. Comment regularly on some blogs you enjoy, and people will get to know you through your comments and be interested in your blog. It actually requires a lot of time and effort, I've found. Which is all well and good until you discover you've made some amazing friends and what was once a mere hobby is now a necessity in your life (the dangers of addiction).

Another good way to get exposure is to have bloggers spotlight your work for their audiences. You know, like I was coincidentally planning on asking you today if I could do with yours.

Validation from strangers is one of the best kinds, isn't it? I've no reason to spend my time reading what you write unless I enjoy it. Honestly, I'm very selfish that way.

buzz bishop said...

Your blog is fine, Sweet Pea. I too check my comments and stats every day to see "if anyone cares."

But, like I said before, YOU have to care.

I subscribe to your feed via RSS so I may not show up in your hit totals.

My only advice would be to tighten up the entries - like a radio dj - one thought per break.

laughing alone in the dark said...

Thanks Kimberly and Buzz. Great advice from you both.

I thought this post might help me clarify what I'm trying to achieve by writing a blog and also to gleen some feedback/suggestions from others so I can make it better in the future.

Mission accomplished. Enough of the self-doubt... on with the writing!

laughing alone in the dark said...

One more thing, Kimberly... not sure what this "spotlight" thing entails, but perhaps wait until my most recent post isn't such woe-is-me drivel?? ;-)

I really appreciate your support. Thanks!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I like your blog a lot, too. And I can't think of anything to add to what Kimberly said about building up your readers. (and can I just say that for your first blog buddy you picked a mighty fine one in her!)

Oh, wait. I lied. Yes, I can think of something to add. Don't always believe sitemeter. It will tell you some strange things sometimes and they aren't always true. I've wondered about that zero second stay thing too, and it just doesn't seem right.

I'm almost a year into my blog and the first few months I felt a lot like you do. But I kept it up anyway because it gave me so much pleasure.

Visit other people's blogs and comment. There are a lot of people who check out the blogs of people who comments on their "regulars". I do it myself.

I'm bookmarking you. I'll be back. I like it here!

Kimberly said...

Even in woe-is-me mode you come off great! I'll do a post tomorrow about some of my recent blog finds, yours included (essentially just a quick this-blog-is-great! blurb with a link to your site). It's great to have that perspective shift and realize how much you get out of writing, but a little validation and ego-stroking is nice too.

laughing alone in the dark said...

Thanks everybody. I guess I'm a sucker for a good ego-stroke because it only takes four comments to convince me to keep at it.

Darla said...

Hi. Don't know quite how I ended up here but I have to say, I like it! I haven't been doing too much straying from the approx. 4 blogs or so that I read whenever I get on here but tonight did a little meandering, ended up on kimberly's blog and saw yours mentioned..so here I am! And if you decide to visit my blog, welcome, but just a warning, I haven't really been up to snuff on my blogging lately. So, it's probably pretty boring but it's just my life in a little nutshell! :) Actually, in a pretty big nutshell!

Darla said...

One more thing, I've noticed also that I tend to look for the fun and funny things in life..even now when I haven't been blogging about it like I had been earlier. Now I have a fussy baby (my 6th child) and a business my sister and I are trying to get off the ground, so blogging has definitely taken a back seat. But I still seem like I am finding the gems a little easier. And, I too am pretty long-winded in life, which carries over to my blog. I always try to keep my comments short and to the point because I am painfully aware of my long-windedness...pretty much to no avail (as you have surely noticed). So, it's nice to see I'm not the only one. Your wind though certainly is very interesting! :)

Carolyn said...

Darla - thanks for your comments. But please stop talking about my 'wind'. It's embarrassing. ;-)