As soon as I learned there was a site called Blogspot that allowed people to post their own opinion columns on the Internet as often as they liked, I knew it was for me. Blogging is my life.
Not quite. But I never found it difficult to come up with something to place on the information superhighway every morning, first thing. My idea was that it would be a way to boost sales of my book, Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree, and maybe establish myself as a writer so that the second book would be published. Neither goal has been accomplished, but I don't consider them out of the question. Butterfly Tree has not sold one copy in the month of April, and only about four in the month of May, which is the last reporting period. Chances are if you are reading this, you already have your copy, so there is little you can do. I did peddle the Upton Sinclair chapter of When We Had the Sky to Alabama Heritage and they are considering it. So one of my goals, that of establishing myself as a writer, is at least still a possibility, although writing the blog probably has little to do with it. I've sold stuff to that periodical before.
And I've written compulsively all my life. Letters, journals, and God knows emails, stories, books, essays. The land of blogs was just another step. What does it all mean? Is it progress? If I wrote a weekly column in the Fairhope Courier I would have a larger readership. My average is about 34 readers a day, and that doesn't account for the few who check in more than once a day. Now that John Sweden writes that he's going on an enforced vacation, away from his keyboard, my numbers will drop noticeably. I know of five people, and I know them personally, who drop by my blog, some more than once a day to troll for old treasures in the archive. Ten people happen on the blog by accident and don't stay long enough to read one post. Three or four a day come through a search engine, looking for a specific mention, say Wyatt Cooper or Upton Sinclair or Henry George. Once someone at a search engine typed in "Swedish is a beautiful language" and was sent to my blog, because I had used that sentence ironically in my post about John's May Day experience.
Some posts draw a lot of comments, some none. I had labored over the one I posted for Father's Day, and it didn't get any response. By emailing people privately I was told that it was so good it stood alone and required no comment, and one person felt it was so personal that there was nothing anyone could say even if they wanted to. Not what I expected, but strangely gratifying. After that I tend to assume that the ones that don't draw comments may be my best. Where at one point I wanted to stir up a lot of comments, generally when I do it's the same two people batting the ball back and forth over the net with an occasional holler from me on the sidelines.
The "alpha male" comment I originated in the comment section of the post on Fair Politics was deliberately placed there in order to get a response from a certain reader. Being an alpha male, he didn't respond because he didn't need to, but two other readers took it very personally and the discussion grew to lively proportions in subsequent comment sections and a post of its own. It's off message for the blog, but very much a part of the action here -- because a blog is anything its writer wants it to be.
The really big shews are the political blogs, with new posts appearing often during one day. They can have hundreds of thousands of readers every day. What would I want with that? I like the idea that someone might just happen here and like what he or she finds, rather like Salomé Jones, and come back time after time. She tells me that one way to build readership is to troll other blogs and introduce yourself. I've tried that and it works to some degree. But the blogs I enjoy reading aren't much like this one, so when they come by they don't necessarily revisit.
This, from a regular reader:
You probably have noticed that when you write something controversial you get commentaries. Fluff sometimes doesn't even arouse John Sweden and Benedict to write. It all really doesn't matter. What matters is that you enjoy it and it is a useful mechanism to get the brain focused. In the pre-computer days of your mother , a cup of coffee used to do the same. Of course, after the coffee was gone, nothing remained but a focused mind; now you have a written copy of the transition between blur and sharpness.
I don't know what I've ever written that was controversial, but I have been known to provoke a little dialogue, even with myself writing as the commenters Tangerine and Oldphilosopher. Now that could be a sign that I'm losing perspective on my blog and my life. But it's harmless enough. Or is it? Better focus by going to have a cup of Joe.