To what purpose is this blog? The universe deemed that my little intro draft be published when I merely wished to save it yesterday. So the question still stands, is this blog meaningful to anyone besides myself? Are there standards as to how many people need to be reading or liking or commenting in order for it to be worth doing?
As of this week I passed the 5,000 visits mark. That does not mean 5,000 individual people have read my blog – It means that over the 2 1/2 years I have been blogging the daily visits add up to 5,000. Individual page views are a a little over 3X that. On average people view 3.17 pages when they stop by for a visit. I am not headed towards the New York Times list anytime soon. But nonetheless this seems significant to me. (Just so you know my daily readership varies from 0-100 visits.) This is I suspect a rather small audience. But, what is the ruler I ought to be using to measure the worthwhileness of this venture? If this is my best volunteer position for the world right now? Is this form of Kinwork worth the effort? What I am coming to recognize is that as with all things, there are orders of magnitude at play here, and I don’t need to be measuring myself against bloggers with tens of thousands of followers. 5,000 visits isn’t something to sneeze at.
Since June I have been reading around on other blogs, something I hadn’t done much of until recently. This has enriched my experience greatly. As a direct result of those conversations with other bloggers, I now have about 45 bloggers following Pookaride. As a result of these interactions, I find myself sometimes curious and sometimes worrying about what others might be thinking about my blog – and by extension about me.
At first all my posts were simply missives to my beloveds – or like spells to entrain my own ways of thinking. One part letter, one part journal. As of late I feel like I am a correspondent from my own life, reporting on the inner workings of this chick who lives a fairly boring life on the upper left edge of America. When I worry that say “only” 20 people have looked at a new post it can seem like “too little,” However, if I was standing up to speak in front of all the people who read my blog everyday it would be pretty daunting. If there are now strangers in the audience it is that much more scary. I’m uncertain of the rules at play now that my audience has expanded into the realm of the unknown.
I am having a bit of an identity crisis. This is made worse by the fact that I got new glasses this week. I have severe astigmatism and 20/800 vision, I am legally blind without my glasses, a female Mr. Magoo. Which makes me eternally grateful for modern ophthalmology – and regret every mile I drive in which the petroleum isn’t being used to create polycarbonate lenses, the most miraculous thing I know of. Anytime I change prescriptions it significantly effects my outlook on things. I am still in the the midst of the several day process of acclimating my brain to the new prescription, which replaces the “emergency” back up pair that I have been wearing for 2 years. This is a lot like driving your car with the spare tire for two years after a flat. The prescription on the spare pair is over 15 years old. So my outlook is quite literally skewed right now. Depth perception quite strange, yet images, quite crisp. I feel a bit car sick walking up or down stairs, which is a bit of a problem, seeing as I am a resident of a three story house, up two flights of stairs from the street. When the world changes this drastically it can’t help but make you question reality.
So back to the Blog identity. Since I started writing again in February I have been overflowing with words, it is like my need to retreat from public writing in 2015 built a precarious dam, which has busted loose. I want to write about everything. There are those Portals I spoke of in the ALL ONE post, and all of them have stories. It seems likely that some of those stories relate to the lives of others. As so often in my life I see connections everywhere, and creating a one trick pony, AKA a tight-topic-focus-blog, is counterintuitive.
For readers in the cancer club, the missives on topic for cancering will likely have appeal. For friends and family who supported me through the long drawn out near death experience of my cancering, perhaps not so much. But it remains part of my story from here on out. Because I am not in active treatment for cancering it is less of my overarching story now, however it is still part of my thoughts and experiences every single day. Sort of an extended version of how after Sam was born I walked around thinking “He came out.” I mean I was thinking that A Lot. Enough so that it would interrupt what ever else was going on. Now I take Sam being out of my body for granted. Perhaps after 10 years or so I will stop thinking; “Wow, I was cancering, and then I was poisoned, and then I had a mastectomy, and now I have to wear a really tight sleeve everyday, and sometimes I accidentally punch myself in the face while sleepily putting my compression sleeve on in the morning, and maybe I have micro-metastesis cells in waiting to form more tumor parties, or maybe I don’t…” I think it is most likely that I will think about cancering regularly for the rest of my life.
Writing is a gift that helps me put order to my thoughts, to better understand and frame my life. Having half my readership dealing with cancer, and half of them just living life without cancer creates some tension. I worry that I will sound whiney to my beloveds without cancer, or irrelevant to members of the cancer clique, depending on what I write. I worry that worrying about what other people are thinking will pollute my journalistic objectivity as I report on my one tiny life. I both want to have a conversation and to simply report.
I worry that I am one blah post, or conversely one offensive post away from losing all readers. I worry that my small experience doesn’t actually have anything that useful to offer others. For instance, I am not a brilliant doctor with groundbreaking research to present, so why would anyone want to read my writing? I am constantly in danger of succumbing to comparison-itis, for the first time since Junior High. This time the disparity between myself and who I am comparing myself with is a lot more extreme, than the comparisons I was making in a midwestern farm town county school. Comparison is a total joy killer, and a writers block promoter. I think this was a total contributor to my posting so little in 2015. I didn’t know how to define myself post treatment, and I was setting the bar for what success looked like based on people with huge a followership. And letting worry about how my message would be received seize up the engine of my writing. If writing is a road trip, than comparing and worrying are like draining all the oil out prior to departure.
Obviously all this angst has not prevented me from posting a lot in 2016, in fact I have posted as much in 5 months of this year as in all 12 months of 2014. During this process I have come to the decision as to what the Pookaride is for right now. I am thinking of it as letters- sending out messages to whomever they will best serve. Sometimes these letters may be helpful to only one person, other times more. Sometimes I may be the biggest beneficiary. If there are standards somewhere for how many readers actually count I haven’t seen it. And more importantly I haven’t consented to letting those rules influence my behavior.
What I would love love love from anyone who reads my blog is that they feel free to comment, to open a conversation – to set me straight, or enlighten me. I must admit that I like likes too, I like the acknowledgement, or vote of confidence they bestow as it were. And since I do not know anything about social media- luddite that I am, I am not apposed to you sharing my content in those formats since I am not doing so. (Unless of course if you think it is really stupid and just want to make fun of me.) If I adopt the goal of increasing readership, I don’t know that I have the tools to do so, but I am not apposed to a wider audience. I have nothing to sell, nothing to gain, so feel free to pass this crazy thing along, I am working on my stage fright, and keeping my “oil level” toped off.
P.S.Thank you to those who spoke up from my friends and family list about how you value my writing. And thank you to the many kind bloggers I have connected with who have extended encouragement & love. For now I will keep writing these letters, to you. Write back if you will.
8 Comments Add yours
Keep on writing, Iris. Authenticity is one of the thing you have to offer…and it can be in short supply in this world. love to you, Jan
I think that even if your missives benefited no one but yourself they would be worth the effort. But I believe that the truth is far more complex. Some days you may derive the greatest benefit by having written and other days a reader may pick up the tiniest morsel from a post and have it give his or her life new meaning. I say keep on writing so long as it suits you.
Thank you for reading and reaching out. Thank you for the encouragement!
Dear Iris, I enjoy your blog just for the pure entertainment value of your words, I also share you with several of my friends that are battling cancer. I was very impressed with your flexible search for the right treatment for you and your ability to change things as you felt your body communicating. I totally agree with that strategy and try to do the same in my quest for health. Aging is a different kind of health issue, but it is a never ending battle that we all face. Your Mother has taught me a lot about health, and now you. I appreciate you and your life and the sharing of your thoughts. Until you run out of words, and thoughts to share, no reason to stop. Love from Joan
Thank you Joan- not just for reading, but for being an adult during my childhood who paused to truly see me. And for providing an example of a kickass woman biologist- I got 3/4 of the way through my biology degree much inspired by you, before the siren call of the weaving department pulled me over towards scrambling to get my BFA.
May my words continue to entertain and inspire you – know that your example of how to be human has had lifelong influence and inspiration to me.
Much love Iris
I enjoy your writing. You are honest and pure. We need more writers like you in the world!