Some depressing Graham’s Crackers statistics to start off with. Total posts, March 2012: 26. Total posts, March 2013: 2 (including this one, 3 if you include the piece I did for HuffPo about International Women’s Day). And the frogurt is also cursed.
Yes, I know, oh mighty gurus of blog, you’re not supposed to post about how you haven’t posted in a while. But this is my sandbox and my rules and prithee, I shall beg indulgence while I raise a kerchief to my brow and lament in plaintive tone the lack of productivity shown these past fortnights. It isn’t as though there’s nothing to write about, after all. Nay, verily, my literary cup runneth somewhat over. I do admire though, those who can juggle the heavy spheres of work and family and simply keeping up with the pace of life and still churn out a few thousand words each day. Something one should aspire to as well, if one were not such a piss poor scheduler of one’s time (guilty, Your Honors).
To that end I am raising a metaphorical glass to my friend Tele Aadsen of Hooked for her much-deserved accomplishment of landing a publisher for her memoir. Now, Tele and I have never met or spoken to one another and our interaction has been entirely in reading each other’s writing and exchanging comments and tweets. But ours, I think, is a kinship of letters, of recognizing and appreciating the power of the written word and how we can use it to connect across otherwise impassable chasms of time and distance. Would I, a dude of a somewhat insular urban upbringing in the Greater Toronto Area, have ever assumed that I would have the slightest thing in common with an Alaskan fisher poet? Yet I do, and I’m grateful, and my life is the better for it. Anyway, there was a Twitter hashtag that was trending a few days about people you’d most like to meet, and predictably, the most common answers were celebrity names (Bieber again? REALLY?) Tele’s at the top of my list. Someday soon, I hope – that is, if I haven’t now come off sounding like Creepy Stalker Guy™. If for nothing else than just the chance to say thank you. And get a personalized, autographed copy. It’s not for me, it’s for my friend of the same name.
Onwards and upwards then. Amongst my pursuits I am occasionally fortunate enough to attend digital media conferences. Toronto held its second annual Digital Media Summit last week, gathering a roster of experts and thought leaders from across the industry of ye olde cyberspace – names like Don Tapscott, Erik Qualman, Cindy Gallop, Amber Mac and Neil Shankman among dozens of other luminaries delivering informative addresses to hundreds of lanyard-wearing, smartphone-tapping digital worker bees. I was there on behalf of my employer, of course, but I still view things through the filter of writing and how what they were all saying could be used to further a writer’s reach (who are we kidding – my reach) in this rapidly advancing age. You know, sometimes one can get a bit cynical as one carefully strings his words together and hits “publish” and… nothing much happens. Admit it; on the surface, we’re all happy for the blogger who rejoices “I got Freshly Pressed on my very first post!” while inside we seethe that our own 189 pearls of literate wisdom usually go unnoticed by all but a select (if wonderful) few. If you can take your ego out of the equation, it’s not difficult to understand. Time is precious, an individual’s time is even more precious, and in order for them to grant you even a few seconds of theirs in between bathing the dog and walking the baby, you have to touch them with something that inspires real passion. There was an interesting statistic revealed at DMS that on Facebook, even posts by the most famous, highly-liked brands only reach about 15% of their followers. (That’s why, even though in between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+ or whatever else you’re linking your blog posts to you may have a thousand connections, hits on your latest and greatest might not top a hundred. At least, that’s how it works for me.) And just because you get them, it doesn’t mean you’ll keep them. I’ve received a couple of (relatively) huge traffic spikes that have come from famous people tweeting links to my blog. But they don’t last – after a few days the hits drop to their usual, more stable level. Maybe you retain one or two, but the vast majority treat you like a cheap motel along I-75, moving on once the new day has dawned and the open road beckons. And that’s cool. I mean, how many blogs have I looked at once because they posted something I wanted to learn more about only to forget about them thirty seconds after hitting the red X? It’s life, and if you want to be loved, adopt a golden retriever.
Those moments when you do tap into something and really connect with people, well, I suspect there are few varieties of crack cocaine that can measure to the high. Someone at the DMS called them “little pellets of love”; you know, the tiny charge that you get when you open your Facebook and see the little red number in your notification section. ”People are interested in me! Yay!” Same goes on Twitter when we get a retweet, or a new follow, or a reply from a celebrity we really admire, or on WordPress when we get the notification that somebody liked, commented or shared our work. When one finally does cross that fabled Rubicon from giving it away for free to receiving the first cheque for something we penned, does that vindication truly compare to the spiritual fulfillment of knowing that someone, even a stranger, really digs us? I suppose in those cases by contrast when we’ve written something that really pisses people off, the money compensates for the death threats.
What then, is the lesson for today? It’s karma, sports fans. Ya gotta put it out to get it back. And as my learned better half is wont to tell me when I sink into the occasional bout of self-pity, you need to write to touch people, not to prove how smart you are about things no one cares about. You’ll see, I’m sure, when Hooked is released, how Tele does it. Hopefully as I continue along here I’ll get better at it. And we’ll see where the ocean takes us.