I have been at this neo/quasi Montaigne blogging project for a few months now and am in a reflective mood about the reflections. I think the writing has been worthwhile from a therapeutic perspective and reading back through the material, I think I’ve touched on some interesting issues, both about Montaigne and myself. I’m not sure where the project should go from here, but I’m determined to keep going. But here are some thoughts on what has come so far:
- Some subjects have taken up way too much space, but I make no apologies for that. At some point, readers have to accept that I was basically just writing for myself and not trying to reach any audience at all. The act of writing was a way of coping and clarifying.
- People love stories about dogs and cats. Those stories always drew the most readers and people go back to them.
- People tend to like controversy, obviously. Posts that seem to be more pointed or express surprising opinions are the ones that have drawn the most readers.
- Linking stories to my Facebook feed increases the audience significantly and I should probably be more careful about doing this.
- I have tried on occasion to target a messages to my audience. This has never worked as planned and is probably pointless to try.
- The blog continues to grow its audience, which surprises me, because I still think the core of the project was only about a month long. Everything since has been a little less vital or focused. But new readers continue to discover the old topics.
- I’m disappointed in how few readers have taken the opportunity to go back and read more of my 2011 essays. They were more academic in style, but ultimately more rewarding, I think. The current essays are a bit of a mess in comparison.
- I know far too much about who is reading and when. Google Analytics is far from perfect — it can sometimes miss geolocation by hundreds of miles — but it doesn’t take much deduction for me to figure out who reads my blog on any particular day and even which posts people have read. It’s useless information to me, I’m generally just happy that anyone reads it at all, but I feel like some open disclosure about this is necessary.
- Along the same lines, I hope this doesn’t make my readers paranoid, because the activity of trying to figure out who is reading has led to some completely unnecessary, self-inflicted paranoia. I’m probably better off assuming that most clicks to my blog were accidental.
- I can think of no more ridiculous exercise than going back through the posts to pick out inconsistencies either between the posts or what I wrote on any particular day and what I may have said in an email, text or conversation. These are all snapshots in time, especially in regards to how I was feeling about some subjects. I even openly argued with myself about some interpretations, which should be a clue about what I think about each post as an accurate record of anything.
- Sometimes I see my intention in each post only days afterwards. For example, last weekend I took on a three-part series on fatherhood. Friday, upon reflection, was all about abandonment fears — where they came from and how it might be possible to reframe those stories to see the growth in them. Saturday was all about my growing sense of sadness as my children become more independent and remote from me, which makes me wonder if there’s some unconscious drive in adults to speed that process at a certain age in reaction to this very uncomfortable feeling. Sunday’s post, while ostensibly about my father, was entirely about me, and how I’ve lived much of my life as a reaction to others rather than develop my own ethos.
- I am still unhappy with the Catch Me If You Can/Second Thoughts posts and am tempted to tie them up with a third, but also think I might be better off just letting the subjects rest. It surprises me a bit that Catch Me continues to draw attention even when I wrote a post that basically repudiates it. Maybe I need to edit the original post to indicate that there’s a self-rebuttal. But like I said, I’m also tempted to rebut the second piece, so this trail could be endless and I’m not interested enough in the topic anymore to waste energy on it.
As for where to go from here, I hope to follow the path that Carl Jung attempts to blaze with this quote:
Nothing is more ridiculous or inept than elderly people pretending to be young—they even lose their dignity, the one prerogative of age. Looking outwards has got to be turned into looking into oneself.