Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Blogging and Site Meters

Site meters.

Some of us have them, some of us don't. Our needs for them differ.

I just finished a novel. The blurb about the author included info that 150 million books are in print. Another new author I read recently said 3 million. Another old pro said 350 million. That's a LOT of books.

For me, the site metert is affirmation that I am being read. I think a few years ago, I would have been more ambitious than that, but today, that's where I am. Writers write. Hopefully not into the ether. If I wanted to journal, I could do that, but I do want the human interaction of conversation, per se. Every so often, I get a comment back. Delightful.

I really do like the world of blogging. I've always enjoyed talking to strangers, picking up ideas and facts as a gift of the day, unlooked for. One of my most enjoyable experiences was about 30 years ago, in line to pay for Christmas toys at Toys R Us. My sons are seven years apart. The woman ahead of me looked in my cart, noted the disparate ages of the toys' suitability, and without further ado, said, "My husband and I have been thinking about having another baby, but our firstborn is (8? 9? 10?) How's that going?" We began an engrossed conversation, joined by the father behind us who was noticing the lack of violent toys in my cart as well , and we discussed that, too. I think it took 30 minutes to reach the counter, and I was actually disappointed when the time was over. One of the best conversations I can ever remember. Have no idea who either of them are.

Blogging is much the same. Over time, I am learning the actual names of a few of the responders. Those are the ones who are slowly becoming friends of a sort, because we have frequent exchanges. The site meter tells me several regulars from different parts of the country check in. I want to say, "welcome, welcome." It comforts me. Wish I could serve hot tea and cookies.

With the recent flurry of blog nominations, I copied several of the entries to read. Most have blown me away. One of the most popular, however, just leaves me puzzled with its popularity. Kind of like Caesar salad, I guess. Everyone likes it but me. That's okay, both with me and probably the writer. Can't please everyone, and shouldn't try.

In the last 15 years, I worked with professional colleagues, some of whom could not write a coherant sentence despite advanced degrees. Most could do competent work, they just couldn't write. So I am delighted to find out how many actually talented writers are out there.

Is one a better person if one can write well? It would be pretty to think so. Is it a power thing? For some, I'm sure it is. Popularity? probably, for some. For others, a professional avenue that may lead to a book, or more books, and a new career. A voice, I like to think. A friend today sent me a YouTube clip of a mobile phone salesman from South Wales singing opera. Now, I am not a big opera fan, but this man opened his mouth and this absolutely glorious tenor welled out. The audience, and the judges, went wild. I suppose this is from the British prototype that became American Idol. The Welshman was an ordinary person with an extraordinary voice. So many of you are out there, and I am so happy when I discover another one of you.

I know there are a lot of Bad People out there, and I've worked with a number of them. (I remember a grandmother in particular who once told me, "I don't know why you think I am such a bad person." "I know," I replied.) It makes me appreciate goodness even more. In the last week, two strangers came to my aid entirely unexpectedly, one reducing an emergency to an inconvenience, the other making the trial of shopping (my arthritis is rather painful) more comfortable by insisting on carrying a heavy package to my car. He was the salesman, but he surely didn't have any obligation to do that, and I was startled. He got nothing out of it but the satisfaction of helping. As I have said, I believe in passing on acts of random kindness. I will be on the alert--I have at least two to pass on.

In the same way, I am refreshed by most of the blogs I am reading. Good People are not yet an endangered specie, as I have sometimes worried. Oh, I know the ranting, raving, hate-filled blogs are out there, all right, but I don't have to read them, do I? ;)

Before there were blogs, there were letters to the editor in newspapers. An old man from a small Texas town took to sending regular observations into the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He was a retired farmer, and he would write about the changing seasons and, I remember particularly, "sassy blue jays." His site meter would have been huge, since the Star-Telegram was distributed at that time into West Texas as well as the Metroplex. The editors weren't fools, they printed everything the old man wrote.

Not long before he died, he wrote a letter I will never forget. He said, "I sit on my porch and watch the young man I once was walk across the furrows. He stands, arms akimbo, and nods in satisfaction at the man I have become." What a wonderful life he had. Not splashy. Not rich. No kings or Presidents. I'm sure I am not the only reader who remembers him. He wrote, he shared, and we benefitted.

Blogging is much the same. Site meters simply affirm we are read.


Ambulance Driver said...

Chalk up one visit on the site meter from me, every time you post something. You're always a good read, NLW.

Stephen Malone said...

And, how nice to have you.

DW said...

I would make the meter spin like a window fan if I could. I can only wish to write as well as you.

night lightning woman said...

I thank you all. The delight still remains in the human connection.

Merry Jelinek said...

I don't really pay too much attention to page visits, I prefer the comments. I know, a lot of people will read, even enjoy a post, but only comment rarely. I only comment when I have something to add.

I like blogging, too, more for the interaction than the ability to post. It's amazing the number of good writers out there - you, of course, among them.