Not long ago someone asked me why I'm blogging. I suspected my reasons are pretty much the same as anybody else's: I have some things I want to say, and I enjoy writing. I started this blog two and half years ago, primarily to get myself writing again. I had been involved in another project and had stopped writing. Virtually all writers, and writing teachers, will tell you that if you want to be a writer you have to write every day. The blog concept seemed like a good motivator to start writing again. But there are a lot of other ways to exercise one's writing muscles: diaries, journals, and of course working on the book that I will never complete. The main difference with a blog is that it's public, while each of those others is a private endeavor.
So the main driver for this being a blog, rather than some private writing exercise, is the notion that I want other people to read what I have to say. I suspect that that's true of virtually any blogger, anyone with a personal webpage, anyone posting a review on Amazon.com, anyone posting a video on YouTube or photos on Flickr, etc., etc.
I read somewhere that the average blog is read by six people and maintained for three months. In terms of duration, my first shot at this blog beat the average. I kept it going for four months. I'm not certain, but I don't think I made it to six people. Six months later, two more postings – almost like a hiccup, or perhaps a flashback. A year and a half after that, for some reason I started up again.
The distinction between a blog and a private journal is that others are reading the blog. The author is looking for feedback, or a reaction, or something. Throwing a blog out into the void is spectacularly frustrating. If I were writing a private journal that no one would ever see, feedback would be surprising and possibly horrifying. But writing a public blog with no feedback just feels ridiculous. Hello? Hello? Is there anybody out there? There are little buttons at the bottom of each blog that say "like," and "dislike." No one ever pushes them. Is that because there's no one reading the blog, or because no one makes it through an entire blog entry, or because no one has an opinion, or because no one has an index finger with which to click their mouse button? Most of all, of course, what I'd really like to see are comments. The most interesting comment I've gotten in the last two and half years is from my friend Ken, correcting an error. Hi Ho.
Somewhere in the back of their mind I think every blogger wants to be the next “Daily Kos,” or Huffington Post. They want to pretend that they'll be recognized as the next great writer and thinker, heralded far and wide both for the quality of their ideas and the quality of their prose. With approximately 6 people reading my blog, and none of them offering any feedback whatsoever, it certainly feels like an exercise in futility – shouting out into some black empty void.
I wonder if it's time to plant potatoes.