The other day I was checking my stats and noticed that a lonely/stalking/creepy/admiring soul had decided to go through my entire archive and read every single thing I had written. They went through 500+ pages ranging back to 1995 — and that is just what’s up online. If you go through the archive, you realise there are large swathes of time missing: months in some years, years in some decades.
I was both pleased as punch and alternately creeped out.
Conversation has been happening on Facebook about the steady stream of writing that has been coming from me as of late, and I responded to a friends comment with the following:
It IS true I get more commentary/page views when the shit is deep, but it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting to keep digging that ditch every day. I’m not sitting in a corner thinking deep thoughts all day erry day, and most people aren’t either.
Modern wisdom seems to be to have a singular mission with your site and keep on with that mission. So if you’re on about dairy free cooking, bee keeping, or whatever – that is all you’re going to (mainly) talk about. That’s how most of the big name bloggers tend to operate and it works for them. But frankly, that’s not how I operate and once I gave myself the permission to write about whatever I damn well please, writing has become a helluva lot easier.
Up until I published Live Action Sexual Harassment, EPbaB had a couple of of goals, the main being to aggressively document my mental and physical health, which so far has been fairly successful. Secondly was to document the little things and not so little things that happen in my life. Like many who keep their journals online with an eye to a public view, I also came up with a few different series’ that seem to be appreciated by the public such as my weekly wrap-up of my interests at Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes, The Packing Lists series which always gets a lot of comments and views, and my erratically updated So, You Want To Be A Librarian/Archivist series which remains fairly popular. A few other series include Le Mi Passioni which documents the things that I love and Kalendae Januariae about the small and not so small changes I want to make to my life.
So while I’ve been writing online for a very long time (my 16th anniversary is next year!), I am no where near readership that I once was or could be. I know this is for a lot of reasons: Domain name changes, blog name changes, lost of interest by the readers, I stopped writing for a few years, and probably a few more other reasons to add to this list. In the year since I’ve started becoming more assertive in writing more regularly, my readership grows at small, but steady, clip. I was, and still am, pleased with the content I’m writing. I was, and still am, thrilled when people say they are inspired, touched, or moved by what I write.
None of that has changed and will never change.
But sometimes you feel, as you do, what is the point of all this, really? When I started doing this online writing thing in the late ’90s, it was a novel act that no one would ever imagine in becoming a way of life. Defining a “blog” now tends to come to mean a product or a brand, less about content, even less about writing, and more about selling and page views.
I don’t see myself as a brand. Or a product. But I supposed you could style what I do as any of those things when people email me to thank on the advice for being dairy free, or they found something else useful on my site. The service you could present I am selling is me and my experiences, which is not necessarily a bad thing since those experiences are freely available.
Then Live Action Sexual Harassment happened.
I wrote Live Action Sexual Harassment right after I came home from the pub, in Evernote on my iPad because my laptop was almost dead. I did not care if it was polished, grammatically correct, or even coherent. I had something to say and I needed to get out. Then. Now.
My charging brick had been dead once I got to Monterey a few days before and my laptop was nearly half out of juice when I discovered the dead brick. If I could squeak out five minutes out of the damn battery, maybe even less, to get the entry into WordPress and get it formatted and published, I would have been thrilled. Several of the WP management apps for the iPad are bonkers, and I had already lost some previous work when trying to get previous offerings up. But I had to get it written and if I could not get into my site while in California, I would do it when I came home.
I woke up Wednesday morning, booted up my laptop for the last time that trip, and was able to get the entry in, formatted, and published. I had few spare battery moments to create a few tweets to be pushed out later in the day and also enough time to double check for spelling and grammar errors before the final publishing. Once I was satisfied everything was to my expectations, I closed down my laptop and started getting ready for the day.
The entry posted mid-morning on Wednesday and within hours, my site had already eclipsed its previous record for day page views. By the end of the calendar day, the entry, and my site, would have earned 10x the traffic it would normally would have seen. In addition to the site traffic, the original tweet was RT several dozen times and variations of of that tweet pointing to the work was close to double that number.
Within a couple of hours of posting, and I was on the conference floor, I became known as “the girl who wrote that post.” Strangers I had never met approached me and talked about being brave, raw, and honest. I got emails, tweets, and comments from friends and strangers about similar things happening to them.
Having experiencing some notoriety in the late ’90s for exposing a hacker fraud, a similar chain of events had happened: I was found first, then I wrote something, I went viral, page and reader views skyrocketed, then levelled out for awhile, my life went insane, readership slowed down and then petered out.
To answer my previous question of, “What is this all for, really?” – the answer remains, and will always remain, to express myself in the only way possible. Some days it is going to be fluff, and other days it’s going to be depressing, and some others a combination of both or something entirely different. There is no theme here – unless you count the theme as me. There is no agenda – unless you count self-expression as an agenda. Some days, like today, the content is going to flow. Other days it will be halting and broken. Pitch perfect grammar, flow, and spelling and then broken words, missed commas, and lost trains of thought.
But that is how life works – nothing is always properly formatted, coherent, or sometimes even sustainable. If you are looking for a confessional, conversational tone, and often deeply revealing look into one person’s life, with occasional foray into the silly: I’m your girl.
And thank you for reading.
P.S. Someone once asked me how long it takes to write an entry so I thought I’d eyeball the time for this one: From conception (a comment I posted on FB that sparked the post), to finding the image, writing, editing, re-editing, more editing, polishing, and formatting took me under two hours. The chunk of it was consecutive, but the last hour was broken up over several hour gaps while I was doing something. Total word count: 1300. On average, I can write clean 750 words an hour.
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