WordPress sent me a summary of activity on my writing and art blogs today which I found interesting. What did kind of annoy me was a statement which said I got more views last year than this year so I might consider returning to those topics which had attracted more readers.
This assumes that the reason I write the blogs is to develop a big readership or a following that will in some way lead to either fame or fortune (or am I reading between lines that aren’t there?). If popularity or profit was my goal I would have quit posting long ago.
Of all the many people who have signed up for my blogs only a handful ever hit the like button or leave a comment. For all I know – and suspect – no one is really out there. It’s all a virtual reality that really doesn’t exist. Readers sign up, visit a couple times and then disappear into the matrix to frequent other blogs that feature more interesting topics – like the ones I wrote about last year.
No, I don’t write for readers – as much as I value them – I write for the same reason I make art. I must or something inside will shrivel up and blow away. It doesn’t matter if what I write or paint is any good – although I hope it is – it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes or agrees with me – although I am always happy to learn others may share a similar sensibility.
So if I am doing art and writing just to please myself, why bother posting it on the internet? Because the blogs give me the sense of distance I need to appreciate the writing or art in a different environment. When I paint a picture I have a certain protective or fond relationship to it – until I put it in a frame and hang it on the wall. As soon as I do that, I no longer ‘own’ the picture; it must struggle to its feet without my help.
Similarly, when I read something I have just written I am often astonished by my profundity or style. After I have printed it out and let it sit for a few days to marinate, amazing transformations occur – and not always favorable ones. The time alone has allowed the essay or poem to come into its own – or not.
This Artist/Editor duality is a necessary one and must be kept strictly separate. If the Editor enters during the creative process, the innocence and spontaneity vanishes. If the Artist visits during editing, favoritism and mediocrity often result. It’s all a balancing act.
So in the coming year (do you also find it amazing that 2014 is already here?) I shall not strive to write anything interesting or paint for profit or popularity. Now that I’ve retired I have the luxury of pleasing myself and will not abdicate that responsibility.
I hope some of you will come along for the ride. I’ll try not to make a nuisance of myself and post too often. Meanwhile, best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!