Lately I have come to appreciate why I write this blog. It’s been a month since I last posted anything. The last blog I posted was a tribute to the late Sir Terry Pratchett. He was one of my favorite authors and a huge inspiration for me to start to write. That post meant something to me, whether it was very good or not.
Because of the connection that I felt and because of the meaning that I felt the post had, it upset me that two weeks after posting the blog it still had the fewest views of any of my blogs. What bothered me wasn’t that there were so few fans of Terry Pratchett that read my blog. It wasn’t even that only a portion of the people close to me seemed to be bothered by his death. What upset me was that my writing didn’t carry more weight and that it didn’t change people’s minds. At least that’s what I told myself at first. But I’m fairly certain now that that’s not the right answer either.
What upset me was simply the lack of views. When I write it always means something to me. Sure, certain blogs have more meaning than others, but every one of them means something to me. However, it wasn’t a lack of appreciation for that meaning that I think bothered me. It was the lack of attention.
I’ve read articles on Elite Daily and Thought Catalog, etc. about our obsession with social media, “likes”, and the attention they imply. I regret to admit that I gave in to that addiction… and not only on that last blog, it has been happening all year. I care too much about how many views I get, or how many comments, and it detracts from why I’m really writing.
Anyway, for a few weeks that blog was the least viewed one I had ever posted. Until I tried to post it one more time, and this time I posted it in the comments on an article about another fan’s tribute for Pratchett. Suddenly it blew up (relatively speaking). The explosion of views helped me realize that I was getting greedy for the attention. Also it helped me realize that just because a certain bit of writing may not intrigue one audience doesn’t mean that there isn’t an audience out there for it.
All of this brings me back to my original point, my reason for writing this blog. I don’t write it for the audience, though the audience may motivate me to write more. I don’t write it for the views or the comments, and certainly not for the attention. I let that fact slip away for a while in the last year or so, trying to post more frequently and with better writing simply to get more attention on social media.
Those aren’t the reasons that I write the blog, and I need to remember the real reason that I do. I don’t write for any of you reading this right now, and I shouldn’t be writing just to get attention (note: I didn’t write about Pratchett just to get attention, I just got upset when it didn’t ALSO get attention).
I write for myself. I write because it makes me happy to do so. I write because it helps give the chaotic thoughts in my head some structure. All the topics that I’ve written on, and hundreds more, are constantly whirring around inside my head. I talk to myself about them, but I can barely finish a sentence without straying on to the next thought… like a kitten with ADD, hyped up on caffeine, in a laser pointer factory.Sitting down and writing helps slow everything down; it gives me the chance to pull the thoughts out of my head and organize them in the structure provided by 26 little letters and a handful of punctuation.
I thought I had learned this lesson a while ago, and maybe I had and then simply forgot it. As flattering as it is that anyone reads this, let alone those that see fit to comment on it (either publically or privately), I don’t write for you. I write for me. I write because I enjoy it. Only a small portion of my writing eventually makes it on to this blog. For every entry I post there’s at least half a dozen other things (both fiction and non-fiction) that never see the light of day.
I write for my own peace of mind. It calms me down and slows down my world. I know not everyone enjoys writing or even reading for that matter. However, if you know of some activity that you enjoy, whether it’s something creative, analytical, or perhaps something physical, I encourage you not to let that activity get away from you.
If you have something that makes you happy like writing does for me, then partake in that as often as you can (within reason). But remember that it’s your thing. Don’t let the attention of other people take it over, and don’t let it devolve in to something counter-intuitive. This thing that you love to do is yours and yours only. If you choose to share it with the world, then good for you (and I have no doubt that the world will be grateful), but don’t let the world’s view overtake your own.
Sometimes I need to be reminded of that rule, and I would assume that everyone could do with a reminder now and again.