It’s a bit like the man who buys his wife a diaphanous and sexy negligee or a pair of filmy ‘FM’ panties, and says to himself: “She’ll love these. And I’ll get so much action my head will swim.” No she won’t. The point is, he loves them and has developed nasty li’l fantasies around them. She is happiest in her flannel jammies and great big granny pants. And that is her right. Sigh.
Writing is a bit like that. It’s based on speculation and expectation of a desirable outcome. So, I can write something — and I did this for years as a columnist — in which I would convince myself, this is really, really good and the readers will be dazzled. But, like my metaphorical wife example and the teeny panties, that’s as maybe. The point is, I like the piece, but how dare I presuppose?
Well, at one level I have to presuppose because I couldn’t get a word down otherwise. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be hideously disappointment and develop a resentment that will make me want to level a city block.
In the day I wrote columns that I was convinced were virtually Pulitzer material yet I’d receive no response whatsoever about them, even from colleagues. I was given to going around the newsroom asking: “What’d ya think of the column? Tell me. Didya like it? Didya-didya-didya?” Only to receive such comments as: “Oh, I must have missed that one. I’ll check it out later,” or “Interesting idea,” or “I found it a bit confusing, but that’s just me.”
I also wrote other columns when I was overtired, hungover (back then), suffering marital woes (regularly back then), rapturously in love (too often for my own good), anxious, depressed, bitter, lethargic and lazy, that were utter throwaway crap and had only been crashed off to meet a deadline.
And disconcertingly often readers loved those ones. I was told how funny they were, thought-provoking, at the top of my form, etc. etc. I would get phone calls about them, and letters to the editor. I would be invited to speak at clubs and organizations because of them, and even won awards due to them.
I was egocentric enough that such responses were invariably welcomed, yet I always wondered why I didn’t get such responses to my self-conceived ‘good ones.’
Blogging is a bit the same. I can labor over a blog that I think is an utter gem of the genre, and receive little or even zero response. I can write what I think are silly throwaways and I’ll get 20-plus comments.
Other bloggers I know and respect have expressed the same sentiments. Indeed, one blogger has suggested he is going to start scrapping people from his blogroll who do not respond. Personally, I think this is vain and childish. Essentially, you write your blog to hone your own skills, not to win unfettered praise. If you get some, then that’s a bonus. Yet, it’s his blog, and he is entitled. I’ll still read him and make comment because I often like what he has to say.
Anyway, there is no figuring the tastes of the reading public, which is why trashy potboilers do well, and works of literature are, well, works of literature that everybody ‘means’ to read but doesn’t quite get around to it.
So, no answers here. Maybe I should buy some panties as a diversion.