I read a blog today that said that if your readership statistics on your blog were below a certain figure, you were wasting your time blogging. I looked at my own statistics and they were just slightly above that figure. What am I to conclude about that? That my writing isn’t good enough? That nobody cares about my subject matter? That nothing I write actually matters?
Well, if the purpose of this blog was to get high readership numbers, I could do that with a bunch of infotainment and knob gags, or else I could appeal to the lowest common denominator, write a babble of distraction and get lots of page hits. Some people get amazing statistics that way, I’m sure; a hundred readers for my every one. I’m not saying I couldn’t write posts that appeal to a broad audience and by doing that in a high quality way I could get big numbers. too. Of course that could happen, if I knew what to write; if that was my goal.
But that isn’t my goal. I don’t give a monkeys if this blog ever leads to paid employment as a writer. I have nothing to sell you, so I have nothing to lose. If I had something I wanted to sell you, it wouldn’t be starvation as an artist. My hope is that I can put some original thoughts and ideas out there and that, even if I only reach a handful of people, they get something useful from reading my posts.
Even if nobody reads them or appreciates them, they at least exist as artistic entities. They’re my creations. Even if it turns out that I am way out of kilter with the momentary Zeitgeist, that conflict may not always be true. If some future digital archaeologist stumbles over these dusty writings in some far distant time, they might see them in a completely different light to my contemporaries. Art is often like that.
Nobody wants to be ignored, but I also don’t care much for popularity based on a vacuous repetition of the trite. I can only write if what I write has some meaning, at least to me. It has to move me to make it worth taking the time to put it down in prose form. Otherwise, I find it hard to bother. If that writing fails to find an echo or an audience, then so be it. I simply prove to myself how different I am to most people, yet again. That has been the story of my life, so why should it be different in my writing?
It is my fervent hope that the bulk of humanity begins to see things a little more like I do, but I know full well that this might not ever happen. Indeed, it’s vanishingly unlikely, if history is repeated. That said, if we all retreat from saying what we feel and writing what we believe in, then there will be no diversity of ideas and culture will begin to resemble a beige, featureless, intellectual desert. Who wants to live in a culture like that?
It was said by Orwell: “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.”
If, in writing these blogs, I at least record alternative interpretations of words, images, sounds, concepts and ideas, then at least I will make it possible for future people to express things long eradicated by the popular media. They may have to dig to unearth these writings, but at least the treasure will have been faithfully buried. I’ll have done my bit.
Feeling is important. Feeling and aesthetic experience are intimately connected. If, through the pursuit of readership statistics, we begin to homogenise the agenda, our thoughts, the topics we cover and how we think about things, we lose that range of experience. We’ll feel less. We’ll become anaesthetic. That isn’t a world I want to inhabit, nor one I wish to leave to posterity.
In the interim, I therefore propose to continue to waste my time. Readership statistics be damned.