Chancelucky

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thanks ( 2 years of blogging)


Like most folk, I’ve had my share of things that I’ve done and a certain number of disappointments. As a writer, I’ve had a lot more of the latter than the former. For many years, I’ve probably gotten along on the too common fantasy that someday someone in a position to help would “find my writing”. I’d then be rescued from the embarrassment of telling people that I write then having to explain that I’ve never been published by any publication that any normal person would recognize. Even worse, it turns out that everyone writes or thinks they can write and basically I’ve never had anything that separates what I do from what they do.

Over time, I’ve told fewer people in my regular life that I write creatively. Also, most of the people in my life who know that I do write ask less and less about it these days nor do they show any interest whatsoever if the topic does happen to come up. It’s been one of those things in my life that most people around me treat as a “tacit” failure. I’m pretty sure they think they’re being polite by not asking me about it. In the meantime, we talk about their kids, jobs, vacations, home woes, etc. and sad to say I have no idea what they may be dreaming about or yearning for either. Perhaps that’s the nature of middle-aged friendship or now that I’m well into middle-age I’m just a crummy friend.

Anyway, I had planned to post about the fact that this blog is now two years old, but I didn’t get the chance because I had too many other things to write about. For someone who battled “writer’s block” for many years, that’s an accomplishment. I also set a goal early this year of getting to a hundred thousand visitors by the end of 2007. I crossed that in Mid-May and am currently closing in on a hundred and twenty thousand.

Of course, this has come at a price. My family thinks I’m nuts and my wife has probably rightly not been happy with the way I obsessively check my hit counts. She’s repeatedly counseled me that it’s more important to write something that I’m proud of and have absolutely no readers than it is to spending so much of my time counting and analyzing my hits. There’s a logic to what she says. Most everything my wife does tell me makes sense. It’s just that I’ve internalized this belief that if no one reads what I write, it’s not real. Anyway, crossing a hundred thousand visitors is a big deal to me.

I know that doesn’t make my blog commercial. In fact, my dreams of any editors, publishers, agents, better known writers finding me here have never materialized. Well, one writer did find me here, but none of her e-mail addresses worked or she never responded to the e-mails that I sent to the three different addresses I found for her. Otherwise, I might as well just be sitting here on my URL and talking to a volleyball.

There are a lot of blogs that get a hundred thousand hits in a day. I also suspect that several thousand of my hits are me looking at or revising my site. Still, beyond the fact that I’m sort of obsessive-compulsive about numbers of any kind, I feel good to have gotten to my goal. Now I can say, “Yes, I write and my blog has had a hundred thousand visitors.”

Most people don’t know that this is very different from having a hundred thousand actual readers. It sounds like a big number though. I also don’t tell them that if I posted winning Lotto numbers or were offering pictures of Julianne Hough, I’d get that many hits in a couple days.

I learned very early in this process that blogging is a kind of virtual community in which people who may never meet in person or even directly e-mail one another find ways to support one another. Often that takes the form of an occasional comment on one another’s blogs, something that assures me and I assume them that someone else actually reads the posts. Other times, it goes well beyond that. The life of a blog can be spectacularly short. I’ve added then removed a lot more people on my blog roll in two years than I ever expected. Still, it seems like every couple weeks I have a new person to thank for supporting this blog and by extension my writing. The great thing is that these are friends who read what one writes almost by definition.

I want to acknowledge and thank the following people,

We don’t have a lot of contact, but Bella Rossa, a rising Chicago comedy writer, helped bring me one of the things I craved, regular commenters. Many months ago, Bella asked me to be one of her subjects for her Interviews with Bloggers project. While hardly anyone has ever read that interview, Dale and Atul (two of Bella’s other interviewees) began commenting on my blog.

Even though he’s Canadian, Dale’s one of the funnier people in blogland. Okay, that may be like being the tallest person in a six foot and under basketball league, but it’s still something. He mixes off-center observations from his daily life, odd often touching stories from his past , with occasional entertainment reviews. In addition, a couple of Dale’s regulars have wandered over here. These include Tanya Espanya, an endearingly goofy very-pregnant Canadian woman , Beckeye a very funny music writer from Brooklyn, and Pink Fluffy Slippers a woman who alternates between talking about her attempts to master the cello and discussions of her dietary habits.

A lot of my writing is about being Chinese-American and Atul’s perspective is especially interesting to me because he’s Indian-American, into cars, aphorisms, and, for lack of a better phrase, the ironies of daily life.

Benny is apparently actually a cat, but I met his alter-ego when I was blogging about the emergence of Cindy Sheehan. Ironically Cindy Sheehan has “retired” from public activism. Benny and Iddybud have slowly been converting me to supporting John Edwards candidacy for the presidency. Among other things, Edwards may be the most consistently pro-peace in all its senses of the major candidates.

Charles Lambert is a very fine fiction writer who lives in Italy but who happens to be British. While his fiction career looks like it’s beginning to get the attention it deserves (he won an O’henry this year and his first novel will be in print soon), his blog is very funny and far too often reminds me that America is not the only crazy place in the world. and that the Vatican has plenty of closet space.

Teriyaki Donuts
/All the Wrong Faces keeps one blog about odd examples of cross-cultural bedfellows in California, e.g. the many Asian-owned doughnut shops that often also sell items like kung pao chicken or teriyaki beef sticks. All the Wrong Faces is a frank reprise of the big frustrations and little joys of being a single man navigating a major course correction in the middle of his life. I just wish he had the time to post a little more often.

Parklife found my blog through a post I made about the return of Don Nelson to the Golden State Warriors. Interestingly, we've hardly ever exchanged comments about sports since. He covers political-cultural matters with a very sharp eye. That same eye has especially interesting taste in photography. As someone who knows very little about photographers or art-photography, I find that Parklife constantly expands my cultural-political horizons.

Sunny was perhpas America's biggest supporter of Sanjaya Malakar, she had the patience to follow both my seasons of blogging about American Idol.

Lastly, I want to mention Mr. Pogblog whose blog is also two years old. Pogblog is both a real life friend and has been probably the most stalwart supporter of my writing I’ve known over the last twenty five years. Pogblog, the site, is a gem of the internet and likely the only Druidic site I’ll ever recommend here. The writing there is intricate, hilarious, exasperating, and fully original. It jumps from being a series of metaphysical puzzles about the seeming paradox of full consciousness or awareness to a somewhat disturbing obsession both with cats and Clive Owen. It’s often not easy reading, but I find that it’s always worth the effort.

One of the pleasures of keeping a blog has been having surprise guests drop in like the Grameen Foundation, the composer David Hykes, Polly Whitney the novelist, Ron Franscell, true crime writer (Fall), editor, and NPR contributor, and rather surprisingly I was even linked to the American Idol wing of Freepublic. I also want to mention that the single biggest source of readers has come from my reality tv reviews and I owe much of that to the very kind folk at Sirlinksalot, the leading link aggregator of reality tv articles on the web. I also want to thank my many volleyball readers.

In any case, support and encouragement are rare gifts in this life. Any time someone takes the time to read posts here or comment,it’s added to my reserve of both. My next goal is to get published conventionally. All those visits have helped me to think that next goal might be possible after all.




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13 Comments:

At 6/01/2007 03:44:00 AM, Blogger Tanya Espanya said...

Darling Chance,
this was such a lovely beautifully written post. I wish I could offer you that book contract, but you have to get in line behind me when all the editors and publishers come clamoring to my door...which should be any day now...(or never actually.)

Keep writing.

:)

 
At 6/01/2007 09:58:00 AM, Blogger PinkFluffySlippers said...

Congratulations on your anniversary, overcoming writer's block, and your 120,000 hit-count.

I got a good laugh at your description of me as "a woman who alternates between talking about her attempts to master the cello and discussions of her dietary habits". Well, I guess that does sum it up nicely.

Keep it up!

 
At 6/01/2007 07:48:00 PM, Blogger Bella Rossa said...

Aw! You called me a rising comedy writer. Thanks. I'm glad my silly little interview project has led to good things for you. It's cool, because my Interviews With Bloggers thing led to the Bastion, which led to "real" writing - I'm having my first interview with comedian Carol Leifer published in Chicago Magazine next month. Blogging rules.

 
At 6/01/2007 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Carol Leifer! Excellent Ms. Rossa! I love the Leifer.

Back to my regularly scheduled comment for Chancelucky.

I actually went over and reread your interview at Bella's just the other day to find out what could possibly have led me to your blog to begin with and then it hit me. It's the writing damn it!

Always interesting, thought provoking, humourous evocative and visual, why wouldn't the hits just keep on comin'?

Plus you said nice things about me even though I'm Canadian so you're a bigger Chinese-American than I'll ever be.

 
At 6/01/2007 08:43:00 PM, Blogger Bella Rossa said...

Yeah, Dale, I can't remember how I stumbled upon Chance's blog in the first place, but I think I even wrote in the interview with him that quality writing will keep readers coming back, no matter the subjects covered.

Also, I just caught the "Even though he is Canadian" thing. HA!

Also, Chance, I'm pretty sure you have more regular readers than I do at this point. My readership has dwindled since the interviews project. Maybe I should start doing some naked videoblogging or something.

 
At 6/02/2007 08:28:00 AM, Blogger Charles Lambert said...

Wow, I really appreciate this! I've never been a label before, not even on my own blog. It means almost as much to me as the O. Henry (joke!). But seriously, I'd like to thank you for giving me an insight into your world, through your blog and through your fiction, which I read and enjoy and have so far, shamefully, failed to comment on. I'll make amends.

PS Did you get your copy of The Scent of Cinnamon from One Story? If not, get in touch with me (cvlambert@gmail.com) and I'll send you one myself.

 
At 6/02/2007 09:04:00 AM, Blogger AHP said...

Chance,

A very open diary of your two years of blogging. Thanks for mentioning me and thanks to Bellarossa for indirectly connecting us. I think we both share some of the same sentiments about blogging. I also find it fun (and therapeutic) to write hoping that it leads to being published one day. 120,000 visitors is nothing to sneeze at. I'm only at 18,000 after a year and a quarter. I too am addicted at looking at the stats. It's just interesting to us nerds for some reason. My blog has led me to get quoted in Top Gear New Zealand and almost got me into a documentary about comedians, but because I'm in Detroit they said no.

I sometimes feel like writing isn't worth it if few people read what I write, but with people like you that I can count on, I really appreciate it. As long as a few people read it, we should be happy. And besides, it creates raw material for a book one day. I already have a concept but find little time to write a book. I'm too busy blogging and commenting :-)

 
At 6/02/2007 04:58:00 PM, Anonymous pogblog said...

I will Hound you to keep writing til we both fall off the Planet. I don't Hound just anybody, you know.

(Your main flaw is that you aren't Canadian. I'm a hopeless Canadianophile.)

 
At 6/03/2007 08:24:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Pogblog, you're clearly a blogger of distinction and an honourary Canadian, extra 'u' and all.

 
At 6/03/2007 09:16:00 AM, Blogger Martin Heavisides said...

Some of your remarks are depressing, because of the mirror effect. 'Specially since I've just launched a blog of my own and haven't even mastered the technology to install a sitemeter (whose results I'm sure would number in the tens at this point). I do hope your next two years blogging are at least as successful as the last two--and the next 'name' writer who shows up leaves a viable email address.

 
At 6/03/2007 11:50:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Tanya,
thanks. I couldn't think of a lovelier person to stand behind in line at the publisher's door.

PFS,
I actually find the combination really interesting. I have a very good freind who essentially took up playing the Tuba in a Balkan Brass Band (he's not Balkan) some twenty five years after we went to college together. It's just really interesting to see someone talking about "learning" music as an adult. Too many of us close off to our possibilities once we become "adults".

Bella- Carol Leifer/Chicago Magazine! That's great. I look forward to the day when Chicago Magazine is interviewing Elizabeth Mcquern, queen of the Chicago Comedy scene.

Dale- Thanks....In the meantime, could you tell me why it's Canada Dry Ginger Ale over here, when it was America that was the "dry" country during prohibition?
I still have this memory of being 10 years old and visiting the Maple Leafed side of Niagra Falls, going to a vending machine, and finding "America Dry Ginger Ale" then trying to put an American quarter in the machine and having the hardest time figuring out why the machine wouldn't give me my soda.
btw. I tried Asian-made sodas a cuople times some thirty five years ago, pre-globalization. It was really strange stuff.

Charles- More than happy to have made you a "label" for the first time. I've had a good time following your blog. I never knew much of anything about Italian politics, so it's been a great primer for me. In the meantime, I had no idea that you'd read any of the fiction I've posted here. I'm glad you enjoyed it, but don't feel obligated to comment.

I sent a note to "One Story" that I never got the Scent of Cinammon, but I'll e-mail you as well.

Atul- the main reason I picked up that many visitors is because I'm willing to write about reality tv. It helps that I actually like reality tv, but I never came into this expecting to be the number one google search for "Tessa Horst" or "Katharine Mcphee's eating disorder".

It means much more to me when people like you read and comment on my non-entertainment items.

Mr. Pogbog- even if your writing often goes off this planet as most of us know it, I hope we share this planet for many years to come.
One of the odd things is that we haven't seen one another in person in many years although we live within a hundred miles of each other.

It strikes me that I've had three friends who happily read whatever I wrote pretty much whenever I demanded that they do it. Two of them moved on to that place where our only contact is through dreamspace, maybe to get away from having to read my stories.

I feel their loss every time I write something that it occurs to me that I would have liked them to have read. At the same time, whenever I post I feel as if I'm honoring those friendships in some way.

Whether I ever make all 88 steps to Druidic Awareness, I'm glad you're around. (whatever that means in Pogblogois)

Martin:
Thanks. e-mail me if you need help with sitemeter. It's really very easy. You go to sitemeter.com, register, copy some text into the bottom of your template, and that's pretty much it.

As much as I've looked at hit counts and talked about "conventional" publication, I try not to lose track of the fact that I never would have "met" any of these folk (other than Mr. Pugblog) had it not been for keeping a blog.

 
At 6/05/2007 03:22:00 PM, Blogger inkyhack said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog. I wish I had more time to write too. I think I've finally hit writer's block. Maybe watching Barton Fink a few times in a row will shake me out it.

 
At 6/05/2007 03:25:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Inky,
you're welcome. You're one of the few people who should blog more.

I always look forward to learning about bands, personalities, etc. that I wouldn't have otherwise ever heard of.

Also, I have to support anyone who's trying to bicycle more.

 

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