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Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Reads Your Writing?

RibbonsImage by Miss Millificent via Flickr

           The next round of the Insecure Writer's Support Group is coming up this Wednesday.  Today's post might sound like my contribution to this amazingly successful blog hop that Alex J. Cavanaugh started a few months back, but it's not.  Call this post a prelude, part one, or just the question that's probably on many of our minds much of the time.

            When I was in fourth grade we were given an assignment to write a description of a picture prompt that our teacher gave us.  Mrs. Kingston, our teacher, raved about my work and was so impressed that she mounted my handwritten paragraph on a large piece of yellow construction paper along with the picture that prompted the assignment and sent it around to all of the classes in the school to be read as an example of good writing.  It was then posted on a bulletin board near the office for all to see.

             Last year I found that writing sample.  It was not all that good, but I guess for fourth grade work I can see what the teacher saw in it.  What this experience did for me however was to whet my desire to be read by others.  I felt a certain sense of honor that my writing had been read by someone else and had achieved a sort of acclaim.  Then, more than ever before in my young writing life, I had a desire to write and to be read.

             When I write, I try to say something that will somehow touch others or give them pause to reflect on something I've said.  I feel an obligation to write as well as I can and to write better with each new piece I write.  Even if it is an email or a comment, I attempt to say what I'm saying in a manner that displays some degree of quality.  Okay, I'm probably a hack in many ways, but I try.

             In the earliest days of this blog, I went for weeks wondering if anyone was out there reading my words. Eventually, through the efforts of my commenting, I drew readers to hear what I had to say.  But if I had never left a comment on another blog would anyone have ever read what I had written?  My mother would have and sometimes my kids and a few friends might have.

             I'll admit that I'm floundering and tossing it out there to you who are reading this post--if anyone is reading it.   Sometimes I question why I write these blog posts.  I guess it's a compulsion of sorts.  I feel a need to fulfill my personal commitment to post on my assigned days.  It's not a job and I've set my own bars for accomplishment.  It basically comes down to the why I write question that I touched upon in my post of a couple weeks ago.  If I write, who will read it and why?

            I'm sure that I'll touch upon this topic again someday unless it becomes something I no longer think about.  However, as long as I continue writing I'm sure the question will nag at some part of me.   I hope to eventually have a book published, but I wonder who would read it.  I think a big part of the answer to that question is up to me.

              Who reads your writing?    Do you faithfully maintain a blog schedule even if you don't feel like posting any content?   What milestone in your life convinced you that you wanted to write for others to read?

              Let's see who reads this:  I'd like to surprise another blogger who I doubt will read this.  I'm asking any of you who don't mind to go to the Heim Binas Fiction blog on Wednesday and wish her a happy birthday.  For her birthday she's asking for bloggers to share a favorite song by linking to it, quoting lyrics or whatever.   I think she'd be thrilled to hear from you.  

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  1. I don't maintain a blog schedule, I think because I'm still a pantser at heart, even with my blogging. I don't like to be 'tied down' to a given schedule. Though I know you can always change your schedule at the drop of a hat (as I seem to see some bloggers doing), so I guess it isn't a case of being 'locked in'. Anyway...I write 'cause I love it but yes, I also write to have others love it too. It really is a wondrous ego stroke when you write something that other people love.

  2. I can wish her a happy birthday!
    As I've said before, I started my blog to build an author platform, but it quickly became more when I started to connect with others. (Now it's almost overwhelming how many read my blog.) And the true joy is in highlighting others. I write to share their accomplishments and triumphs. And for that reason, I've never lacked for things to write.

  3. The beauty of the Internets is that it's such a huge audience you'll always find someone into the same nonsense you're into (that's what I've found). Although it turns out all the cool stuff I though only IO knew about, quite a few people already know about. Swings and roundabouts.


  4. Every Monday I write up motivational quotes and then I usually post at least one other time, if not twice, that week.

    I'm learning that you never know who is reading your words. For every person who comments on my blog or on a story I wrote or who sends me an email about a story of mine they read, there might be a number of others who laughed/cried/smiled, etc. because of what I wrote...and I will never know. We just have to keep the faith that our words are doing their job. :)

  5. I write to have someone to talk to who understands what I'm saying, even if it's only myself. I have no schedule for blogging, no theme, no direction...The "unbridled mind" if you will.
    The fact that occasionally someone reads and even more occasionally comments is a great gift and comfort to me. (Although there are times when I wonder if they read what I wrote or what they expected me to write.)

  6. I write my poems if and when I have something to write about,
    I first staring writing after the passing of my mother and husband within 2 months of each other 13 years ago. I was able to express my innermost thoughts onto paper , things I couldn't express verbally.
    It has been a great comfort to me and I hope someone enjoy and understand what I write,

  7. Trisha -- I like the element of expectation and predictability in a blog. It's like a favorite TV or radio show, or a magazine or newspaper subscription, if there is a schedule I know when to look for the latest post. The problem with pantsing a blog is people don't know about your newest post unless they see it on Google reader or subscribe or something like that. I am more likely to miss an unscheduled post than one that comes when I've expected it.

    Alex -- Blogging becomes somewhat addicting. Your blog has a newsy feel where readers can go to find out about what's happening and it's a popular niche to fill.

    Mood -- I'm always discovering new blogs when I google something I want information about. It's pretty cool.

    Madeline -- You're right. It's like last night when I got an email notification about a post I did nearly 2 years ago. It was fun to see that my old post had touched someone and they had responded even though it was an angry rant having resulted from the person not reading what I had written closely enough.

    Delores -- The topic of whether people actually read and understood what I've said is something I thought about getting into here but it would have made the post too long--a topic for another day perhaps. I know what you're saying though. A blog is a good place to work out things that are on your mind.

    Yvonne -- What you say is a good example of another means of expressing oneself. We all have our own special ways to release our thoughts and emotions and poetry is a beautifully creative way of doing it.


  8. Great post, Lee. I think it wonderful that you stumbled on an essay you wrote in 4th grade!

    I think basically blogging is something that evolves daily. You exchange reading and commentary with a certain group of people and that shifts, waxes and wanes-- sometimes altogether diminishes to nothing with certain bloggers-- but then you meet new ones.

    I've learned a lot about others and myself through the blogging I've been doing this year.

  9. I'll stop by her blog. What a great idea. I LOVE your blog and enjoy hanging here. I hope you find fulfillment out of posting.

  10. I starting out writing my blog on a lark. It has evolved. Now it's a place where I can share snippets of growing up in the Virgin Islands, keeping a record of an era now long gone that is worthy of being preserved. It is also a place where I share my love of words.

    I don't have as many followers as some, but I never thought I'd have as many as I do. They are wonderful!

  11. I have a blog schedule, but some days it's tough to think of something new. I feel I've regurgitated every promotional thing I know already.

  12. I do have a blog schedule and I try very hard to keep it. Like you, I feel a responsibility to honor what I say I'm going to do. It almost feels like what I imagine a newspaper columnist feels like, only of course, they get paid!
    As to who is reading our writing, I'm working on letting go of that. Somehow our words get to those who might need to hear them. Or not. All I know is, I have a deep inner need to express myself in this way, and blogging is a wonderful outlet for that. I don't have the energy to do what you and Alex do to make the blog more successful or get more followers. But that's okay.
    Great topic, Lee.

  13. I totally relate to this post, Lee. As I read your first paragraph, I thought, well I really write to write, not to be read and then you said almost the same thing.

    I haven't started even writing short stories yet, unless they are non-fiction things. Someday I will branch out, and am practicing with weekly micro fictions that are fun and make me want to keep on expanding some of them. Still, there is something inside me that is growing daily to sit down and get to work on my writing.

    I post when I feel like it, which is often. My blog is so eclectic that it draws in all sorts of people, and I am grateful when they come back and when they leave me comments. I post a lot of pictures; they are so easy and don't require much commentary.

    I try to stay on schedule with my Sepia Saturday and Book Blurb Friday posts, though sometimes I skip them if I have time constraints. Each little story is a building block for the future.

    I'll go and visit your friend and wish her a Happy Birthday. Hope you have a wonderful week.

    Kathy M.

  14. Great post as always Lee. Honestly for me blogging is just me writing a journal of my thoughts. I love commentators who read and offer some constructive thoughts towards what I'm saying but even if they didn't then I wouldn't stop. My posting can sometimes be boring and at times I struggle to keep things interesting so I do try to make things a bit better but it's not the end of the world if I lose readers or commentators.

  15. It is the question I think a writer, of any calibre, has - who will read me?

    I started my blog back in 2005, after a huge writing breakthrough - then promptly let it simmer on the back burner of forgotten while I busied myself with other things.

    I like posting, and like you, Lee, I like to write something I feel will be meaningful-useful-interesting-worth dropping by for- even funny for those that follow me.

    The lack of posting daily is by choice, like a good comic that gives her audience time to laugh, I like to give readers a chance to read and comment, if they so desire.

    Most importantly - I write for me - anything that I post I post because it has relevance to me. I have to like what I’ve written and be please with my presentation, and “if” it should be read by others that’s a bonus.

    My main writing, for my book(s) never gets blogged about - I keep my blogging world and book writing world separate.

    What blogging does for me is allows my thoughts, that are not book related a playground, a place to run free leaving space in my otherwise cluttered mind to focus on my other writing!


  16. Hey Lee! What a fantastic post! I will wish that lady a happy birthday.
    As for my blog....I have no schedule. I've been away from it for a few weeks due to being quite ill, but sometimes I think that no one reads it anyways, because I don't get a lot of comments. Is that the only way we have to know if we have readers? When I read other people's blogs I often think, "This is great, mines crap." I always try to improve my writing, sometimes it is discouraging though...why do we keep at it? I have no idea! lol!Gluttons for punishment I suppose! lol!
    I've had a need to write things down ever since I was small, but still I can't quite put my finger on why I'm so attracted to blogging. It does seem like kind of a strange thing to do I suppose. I never feel as if someone 'out there' would ever NEED to hear anything I have to say, but if my writing gives someone a laugh, or encourages them in some endeavor, then that's a good thing and I'm happy to have added a little something to their day.

  17. Great post! I have the same feelings sometimes, just wondering if anyone is reading the stuff I'm putting out there. I actually feel like joining the blog community of writers is one of the best things I've ever done for my writing career. I learn so much from everybody, even if its just random peoples thoughts.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  18. Suze-- I find that I have a core of bloggers with whom I've maintained mutual contact and then others that ebb and flow. It's a process that must be nurtured and that can be difficult sometimes.

    Ciara -- The posting is fun and fulfilling from a personal standpoint, but does take a great deal of time.

    Bish -- A blog is a convenient way to share with others whom you would probably otherwise never encounter.

    L. Diane -- I know what you're saying. I frequently wonder if what I say in a particular post will resonate with anyone and I'm frequently pleasantly surprised.

    Karen -- You do a great job of staying on schedule and I know when I can usually go to your blog and see something of the nature that I expect and still be engaged and surprised.

    Kathy M. -- Eclecticism is a pretty cool thing I think. It keeps a blog interesting.

    Matthew - Journaling on a blog can be a very valuable activity for the blogger and the reader can often relate and gain something from it. The main thing in this type of blogging is not to personalize it to the point where others lose interest.

    Jenny -- There is something to be said for sporadic posts as it gives what you've written a chance to reach readers over time. I think most of us probably don't go back into archives unless we really get curious about what someone is writing about.

    Eve -- I too get blog envy when I see writing or topics I feel like I can never match up to, but we all have different talents that are worthy and we have our individual abilities to reach out to certain other people. I don't guess there is any blogger that absolutely every body likes and reads on a regular basis.


  19. Sarah-- Whether or not someone is reading it's important for a person who has the desire to express what's on their mind to do it because the possibility exists that someone may be reading or will read someday. To me blog writing is not unlike the essays we used to write in school. The teacher may have skimmed through what we wrote, but usually no one else. But I still think I hone writing skills with each seemingly useless unread essay.


  20. I don't know who reads my writing. I have signed and sold books to everyone from kids to people who were born before color was invented.

    I try to maintain a consistent blog schedule. Online presence is picky that way. Disappear for a couple of weeks and you can erase years of buildup.

    My milestone was after working for Dell. I picked writing as the furthest thing from a tech, sit in a cube all day, job I could think of.

    My Blog

  21. There are certainly days when I don't feel like posting at all, but I force myself to follow the schedule I've set for myself. Even if I'm not sure if my blog followers will read my post, I still want to make sure I have something new for them, in case they do happen to drop by my blog :)


  22. I started blogging when my daughter showed me how to set up my site. Since then, it has been a resource to draw from, a forum for my thoughts, and a way to communicate. A schedule? I try to write every day, but that is not always realistic.
    I just love to write!
    Glad you found your 4th. gr. writing--nice to see where it all began.

  23. Nice post, Lee!
    As you know I have a huge number of lurkers, which goes to about two thousands every day, and it is quite weird, since you know you are read daily by such a number of people and yet you don't have any contact or feedback with most of them. That's what makes me post things even when I don't feel like to. I just can't disappoint so many good lurkers :)

  24. I had a blogging schedule for both of my blogs, but as you have caught on by reading them, I don't always stick to the schedule.

    As far as people who read my posts, I go based off of the comments and of course my husband, who is usually reading over my shoulder as I type.

  25. A very interesting set of questions Lee.

    I do maintain a limited blog schedule, just 3 times a week. Most of the time I enjoy it. I have a crazy busy home life so I don't see that schedule changing too much.

    Milestone...hmm...I've always loved a good story. I remember writing a piece for a local paper in elementary school...won first prize and earned $10 (does that mean I'm a professional author? LOL) As proud of that moment I am, I can't say it was a milestone moment. It wasn't until middle school that I developed a love of reading which morphed into a love of writing. Even then, it was the crafting of the story more than the readers of said story. I'm an oxymoron :)

  26. Other than a family member, no one except me has read my writing (except for blogging, of course--it always amazes me how many people actually come by my blog to read my posts). A few people know that I write fiction, but I haven't shown them my work.

    I don't maintain a strict schedule for blogging. I know I produce lower-quality posts if I force myself to write, and I don't want to post something I'll regret later--which I have in the past.

  27. SBJ--It's true that when you stop posting or commenting blog traffic trickles to nothing and can be difficult to rebuild. I've watched it happen to certain blogs. I've never taken a hiatus from posting, but went my commenting activity slows down I see my own comments drop too.

    Nutschell -- I know what you're saying. Even if it's just a picture or a throwaway post I have always tried to maintain a regular presence on my site.

    Susan -- Writing everyday is very difficult to do as is posting new content daily. On Friday I'm going to post that 4th grade paper on this blog site.

    Dezmond -- Since you're doing something that's news and current info it makes sense that you'd get readers who were just looking. I wouldn't mind having that "problem" but it might also be nice to hear from the people who are lurking. What a nightmare giving replies though. You'd probably have to curtail that.

    Ashley -- My wife seems to show no interest in what I write, but maybe it's just as well. Comments do influence me though.

    Raelyn -- Well, money talks and I'm sure that your prize-winning experience must have egged you on to some extent.

    Golden -- I'll bet you'll have people reading your fiction some day--you're good.


  28. I think of the readers of my blogs like I do my friends. Maybe they'll come by every day for awhile and I'll drop by their place and maybe we'll take some space for a bit. Sometimes I feel like I'm writing to the void - no comments - maybe I've been slack about getting around - and then a friend in my 'real' life will mention my blog. Someone who doesn't comment but reads faithfully. Who knows, maybe writing to the ghosts and the angels is good...

  29. I don't know who all reads my blog posts. But if I don't write them, no one will read my words.

  30. I can't believe you have something you wrote in 4th grade. all my papers are in the fire or landfill and have been for over 40 years ..

    I started blogging as an on-line diary that was just for me. then my blog became a way to communicate with my niece and sisters (though it turns out that only my niece ever read it). Then I discovered the blog world and it opened my eyes to all the fantastic things out there. I don't actually write much -- I just post pictures and talk about them. And if you know me at all, you know I am into the quilting blogs and that world. The fact that there are all these blog subcultures is amazing.

    I kind of have a schedule where I link up with others on Friday and Tuesday. Sometimes I post in between, but I definitely try to do those posts.

  31. I'd love to know who reads my writing, as the blog stats show that many, many more people view my posts than comment. It's the statistics ratings concept that if one person bothers to write in/ contact to praise or complain there will be a proportion who will agree with them, but not bother to write in/ ge5t in touch. I guess the same is true of blog commenting.
    In writing I guess primarily I write what I enjoy writing about what inspires me and hope it appeals to a suitably wide audience. I'd like everyone to love my writing but I know that I won't appeal to all tastes.

  32. I'm reading, Lee, and I found your story of your fourth grade writing assignment touching. That teacher touched your life in a way you couldn't understand at the time, but have since used the experience to become who you are today. What a great testament to how we influence our children to either love or hate reading and writing.

    Author of Concilium, available July 2012
    Concilium: The Departure, November 2012

  33. I'm reading, too. I'm always floating around, reading blogs. As for a schedule, I've tried to implement one, but I can't seem to stick to a particular day. I post once a week, but it's a surprise to everyone, including me, what day that will be.

  34. Jan -- Blog friendships are a different kind of friendship, but a friendship nevertheless. I always enjoy when a blogger from the past pops into the comment section.

    Carol -- Yours is a practical way of looking at it.

    Thea -- There is something to be said for hard copy back up. I often wonder if perhaps someday our blog records could be lost.

    Madeleine -- If we write what we like there are surely some others who will like it to. Hopefully those are the readers who find our writing.

    Michelle -- Teachers have a big responsibility and maybe now more than ever. Kids need some guidance in their educational pursuits and hopefully today's teachers can wend their way through the stifling regulations and state curricula to still be able to have that personal influence on their students.

    Kirsten-- If the posting schedule works then that's okay. Posting once a week makes it easier to keep up for you as well as readers.


  35. I try to maintain a M-W-F blog schedule, although I'm a little off right now. Some days I feel like I have nothing worth sharing and that makes it hard.

    I first found I liked writing for others in high school when I started writing a novel and let some friends read it as I went along. Everyone thought it would be cool to be a character and asked me to add them. Needless to say, I lost control of my story with all those unneeded characters tossed in and that was the end of the novel.

  36. I've been writing for so long that I don't remember exactly when it started. Before I started school, that much I know.

    Of all the bloggers I know, I can think of only one who gets tons of comments without visiting others or really even responding much to the comments left on hers. Every post gets hundreds of genuine replies...not spam. She posts on a very specific topic, and while she does provide a wealth of information in many of her posts, some are accounts of her daily family life. She's not famous and she's uninterested in being part of a 'community,' yet they keep on coming. Strange.

    Oh, and I’ve awarded you for your utter awesomeness (and for the chance that you might repay me with cookies). Just clickety-click to collect your goodies.

    You realize, of course, that by ‘goodies,’ I mean a pic that you totally could have swiped anyway and not felt any obligation to meet the demands that come with being an award winner, right? Yeah, I thought so.

  37. I don't set up a definite schedule for anything, blogging or otherwise, because I know I'll never keep up with it. So, for the most part, I'm a pantser about blogging and writing, probably about life, too.

  38. I can't remember ever NOT writing. When I was a kid, I hand-wrote a newspaper for the school and convinced the teacher to let me run it off on the ditto machine (How dated is that?) and pass it out. I still have a copy and it is pretty hilarious.

    As far as schedules? I don't worry about them with the blog, as long as I reach deadlines for assigned work. I'm still new at having a personal blog, though, and I'm feeling out what works for me.

  39. I have a MWF blog schedule and am delving into podcasting to mix things up. I think all content creators enjoy having others read their work. I can say it wouldn't matter, but if one writes with no readers for awhile, that can really wear on you. I think you are an excellent writer. That's why I keep coming back for more. What type of book would you write?

  40. Family and teachers have a tremendous impact when it comes to encouraging children and teens to follow or abandon talents. It's wonderful that your elementary school teacher nurtured your gift Lee. I too was fortunate in that respect.

    As of the last several months I haven't faithfully posted, but I do know readers come back when I do a new entry, or some simply stumble upon my blog and begin reading older posts. Much to my surprise, many new readers come from around the globe according to multiple analytics.

  41. LD -- Friends egging one on can be a help as well as a hindrance.

    Word Nerd -- I often wonder about those bloggers like you've described. What do they do to get all those comments?

    Richard -- If I didn't have a blogging schedule I'd probably get pretty lax about it. I started off with a pretty strict schedule and now it's a habit.

    Kelly -- I used to make up fantasy newspapers, but not to distribute. I guess I wrote my first story in the 3rd grade, but before that I used to like to tell stories.

    Buck -- The book I've got in the works right now is a sort of science fiction without being overly technical--it's a time travel story. I've also got starts on a 70s period piece about crazy youth and a disco era story about drug dealers. Lots of other ideas brewing as well.

    Paula -- I see those mysterious international visitors on my analytics as well. I sometimes wonder if some of them are spammers or the like just trolling the blogsites up to no good.



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