Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Walk, I Talk, I Write

I walk about three miles most days. I do it because when I am done, I feel better. I do it because I know that it will help me maintain a reasonable weight and decent health, I don't do it to impress anyone else.

I probably utter a few thousand words every day. I guess I am a member of the chattering class. A large percentage of the words are uttered without much thought. Quite a few are reflexive responses like "thanks" or "excuse me". However, much of what I say is directed to other people. I put a lot more energy in working to make an impression on others with my words than I do with my walking. I almost wrote that that only makes sense. Not so. I can imagine actors, dancers, young people flirting, and others, whose walk might be just as important to them as their talk. And I mean walk, not as a metaphor, just locomotion.

I write a fair amount each day. A lot of it is like my speaking, pretty much just a reflexive response. I write e-mails that answer questions. I write short notes on Facebook as a way of staying in touch with another person or a group of people. I do think before I write, but mostly I'm just trying to be clear, not profound.

This blog has been different. It is not a record of my day to day life. It has no particular theme like sports, films, or music. It is all over the map. I've written about gold prices, life experiences, people I have known and people I have only read about or seen in the media.

Some of the posts may seem a bit philosophical, others humorous, and many probably seem pointless to anyone who happens to read them. My first few posts were written with my daughter in mind. I was sharing a little bit about what my life was like in the early years. There have been a few posts (out of hundreds) that describe more recent events in my life. However, early on I decided that for most posts I would write about anything I felt like writing about.

For a while my writing was like my walking. I wrote because it felt good when I was done. I also figured it would probably help keep me mentally fit, the way walking helps me stay physically fit, and it would enable me to write better over time.

After a while, some influences crept in that have all but crippled me. I began to realize that there were a small number of people who read a significant number of my posts. My readers, so to speak. I have tried hard not to cater to any particular audience, but over time I have begun to feel the pressure of those few pairs of eyes that read my posts. Another problem was that I learned that folks find my posts when doing web searches. They stumble upon what I have written. It may be related to that which prompted them to do the search, as when someone types in the film title "American Meth" and finds my review of it. Often the search that leads to my blog has been an image search. One common way folks come upon my blog is typing the simple question: how do I make a good choice.

Not only have folks found my blog, they sometimes have spent a bit of time reading it. My tracking software began to show me that I was getting hits from many countries. 79 different countries in the past year. There are only a couple of hundred countries in the world. I became somewhat obsessed with watching the hits come in day by day. Another thing that surprised me was that my blog is read in other languages. Apparently folks have used Google language tools to read my blog in a 39 different languages.

Now I find that I spend too much time thinking about who might be reading my blog and how they come upon it.

I need to take concrete action to bring myself back to writing because it feels good and it is good for me. A good place to start would be to eliminate my site tracking tools. I can't be influenced by data I don't have. I can't spend time obsessively reading the reports if they don't exist. So as of tonight, no more tracking software.

The only way I will be aware of readers is if they choose to comment. Since that seldom happens, I imagine I won't be very aware of readers.

I am going to leave the blog public. If someone is encouraged or entertained by what I have written, I am glad. It is freeing to know that the blog doesn't push itself on to anyone. The only people who will see it are those who deliberately decide to take a look. I have always intended that what I write could be read by anyone who chose to do so. I have private journals where I record thoughts that are only for my consumption.

I feel a bit giddy. I feel as if I am breaking free of fetters. I am stepping outside after an incarceration. Relative to writing, I will be returning to my first love: spinning tales, histories, and ponderings simply because I feel like doing so. I will treat comments just as I might respond to someone on the street who speaks to me. If they are obnoxious, I will ignore them. If they are friendly or asking a question, I will very likely respond to them.
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