Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not that I'm Counting

The reason I like to blog has almost nothing to do with being read. I think one reason I left journalism almost immediately after studying it for about 5 years is that I don't often care that much about being read. It might seem like a contradiction, but the potential for a readership (especially a kindered one) enables me to write in a way that I enjoy, yet if hardly anyone ever reads me, I'm okay with that. I am all about the process. Writing is an exercise I crave, but having readership is usually just a bonus.

Lately I started noticing several of my favorite writers in the corners of the blogosphere where I lurk referring to the size of their readership. These writers who kept track of hits to their page also didn't seem to me to write FOR an audience, but to benefit from one in the same way I do. It got me thinking. A curious still-somewhat-newbie, I looked around to find out how you even go about keeping track of such things, and next thing I know I have an invisible hit counter on my blog.

A couple weeks into it, I still find myself trying to wrap my head around it.

For one thing, more people than I guessed read what I write. Not droves or anything, but at least enough for a heck of a party. It makes me sad how many of us share this common enterprise, raising a child on the spectrum as best we can amid the struggles related to education, finances, stigmas, expectations, safety... I have always been amazed by how many of those who with plates AT LEAST as full of mine have had space leftover for guiding, comforting and educating me by sending me comments and emails, but some people, it seems, must be coming to read and relate silently. As another blogger I respect put it, I hope some have found here something of what they came here needing. It also shocks me that people I know who don't have special needs children come here repeatedly to find out how we're doing; I'm not sure I'd keep coming back to hear me kvetch week after week if I were in their place. Clearly the frequent readers who knew me before I had kids have a lot of patience and generosity, and I owe a lot of people a round of drinks.

For another thing, it surprised me to realize I feel a little self-conscious to know the scope of people reading me. Should I be putting on my best face, if a crowd is coming? Hmmm... I surely didn't start blogging to make a good impression! But I hadn't thought beyond pure survival when I started medicinal blogging. Now I'm hooked, but starting to worry a little about keeping up appearances. What if I embarrass the rooster? Or my husband? Or Peaches? Or myself? After gulping hard looking at the numbers, I actually considered going back and deleting posts that might come across as too critical of anyone in my family. Bur I remind myself: I need to write this for me, because this is my process, this is how my personal autism therapy looks, and as I help the rooster, I need to take care of me, too, in this way.

I don't know why I can't believe how connected we can be, but I admit that I am hugely blown away by the concept. Sure, I'm on Facebook and MySpace, I met my husband online, I got my Master's Degree from a university without a brick and mortar campus, but nothing has made me feel more powerfully connected to a sense of community and belonging that this thing called blogging.

If you read me, thanks. I guess one thing I learned about myself from having a hits counter is that I care about being heard more than I realized.


Joeymom said...

I have no idea how many folks read my blog. I remember the shock of my first commenter- I had forgotten that people actually read it. Maybe I should get one of those counter thingies.

Niksmom said...

See? And you thought no one was "listening" didn't you? ;-)

I still try to understand my site meter and wish I knew how other people figured out what search terms people used to find them!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for visiting me, because it enabled me to find YOU. I am awed by what you write and how you write it - it's beautiful.

I too started just for myself, and almost as a way of "getting myself back" after years of concentrating so much on my son. Even though my blog is about him, it's still all ME. But I admit, when that blog ticker counter started going up, I felt a certain joy. Validation, I guess. But more than the hits, I love the comments, because if people are intrigued enough to comment, I feel like I've really reached them in some way.

It's an interesting world, this blogging. Am going to go bookmark and blogroll you now!