Here’s a list of why you, the reader, matter and why every click on my blog is important:
1) It spurs me on to produce more and do better: don’t get me wrong, I would write no matter what. Back when I first started seriously writing around 8 years ago, nobody read my work and I didn’t care (and when they did eventiually read my work they didn’t care, and I couldn’t blame them). I can remember thinking that the first frantic pages I had written were something akin to good; how laughable…paragraphs running together, sentences a garbled mix of wrong tense and incorrect grammar with terrible word usage that simply made no sense. Now it is no different (the feeling of creation, I mean. I’d like to think my grammar and paragraph structuring and word usage has improved somewhat noticeably, even if you don’t notice it, which, in fact, is the point, right?). Knowing that people are coming back to the blog to read my work makes me smile; it’s not because I need to know people like the work, though, and this is something that is very hard to explain to people who don’t create things themselves. It’s because writing doesn’t really finish its journey until it is consumed, I believe; until it is pulled apart and acknowledged on some level — as good, bad or heinous. Until that point it is merely a sketch of your thoughts inside your head. It is only once it escapes that it turns into a number of other things: inspiration, influence and a powerful tool which can shift and change the way we all perceive the world. Or some such bollocks.
2) Stats help me decipher what I am doing right and wrong: you could argue that statistics are meaningless, just numbers showing a random pattern — if it is a pattern, which is debatable, as stats fluctuate wildly from one day to the next, often making for more confusion than arguable evidence of anything — yet somewhere within them is an honest reflection of what parts of your writing offer greater insight, and what parts fall on deaf ears. I try not to pay too much attention to the stats and write what I want to write — what I enjoy — yet I still find myself analysing what people read the most and where the comments fall. Which is incredibly useful for the following reason…
3) …Your comments, likes and clicks tell me where I need to improve, where my thought-processes have taken a tangent too far — I know I am prone to this, but I believe it is the necessity of an iniquisitive mind, which can only ever be a good thing — and where an idea works and doesn’t work. This can then be applied to my novels. When people read my debut novel, The Number 3 Mystery Book, they may not know it but they are reading a giant science-experiment born of the seeds of the ideas conceived on this blog. Without this blog, I highly doubt the book would have evolved into what it is today. I am proud of that novel. Writing it made me smile and laugh as much as writing some of the best of my blog posts, and when I read it back I am reminded, numorously, of the kindness of people. Friends and strangers who have played a part in the writing process of that piece of fiction and others, and kind words which made me continue with the book when often I found myself thinking Does anyone else care about this but me?
4) Writing is an inherently lonely, somewhat tragic — if allowed to be — and ultimately belligerent activity: first there is the feeling that, while writing, I could be doing something else — anything else, preferably with friends, far away from computers and internet connections — and then there is the feeling, while out and about and not writing, that I am missing out on something great and impossible to ignore. That I simply must start writing as soon as possible, less the ideas in my head run out never to return again and the life I have grown to love and cherish be taken away in one fell swoop. It is a race, a battle, a deep and never less than committed attempt to produce something perfect and release it into the world; to leave something behind and make an impact, however tiny. And you, dear reader, you make it all so much easier just by being there. Your support truly does matter and always will, regardless of the shape of the journey ahead. If you like, follow my blog and get a new post in your Inbox every time I write one. And now I think that’s enough of that.
5) You give me ideas: I read all the comments left on my blog and do my best to reply to them all in a timely manner. Comments are by no means critical to a blog’s long-term survival — in fact, they can be downright intimidating sometimes, especially when someone tells you that you are a terrible writer and your blog is utter shit — yet they can be and often are the seed of a chain of thought that turn into a point of interest at a later date. Writing may be a solitary activity, but the influence of writing is reading and prelimarily reading; the intake of ideas, thoughts, smells and sounds. The ideas and concepts of anyone but yourself, in other words: people who see the world you don’t see and allow you a precious insight into things which are, once learned, impossible to ignore. External influence is vital.
6) With every click, the Google ranking of this blog — as with all blogs — climbs gradually up the scale. On a personal level, I couldn’t give a shit, but on a more pragmatic level — and thanks to my freelance copywriter side which is constantly hunting for new business — this ranking is critical. It determines who sees my blog, who reads my work, and will ultimately dictate the size and shape and variety of my readership — of whether I live or die as a career-writer rather than someone who has to write about thrush just to make ends meet. The ranking, which is calculated by a top-secret Google formula, currently stands at 4 out of a possible 10; above average, and I’m happy with that right now. 8, 9 and 10 are more or less impossible to achieve, so a 4 is not too bad at all, it has to be said.
7) The last 6 years have been very, very hard at times (no need to read on if you know all about this already — it’s just more of the same and I would hate to bore you). First there was the pneumonia, blood-poisoning, acute dehydration and sleep paralysis that occurred in 2006 (as some will know, I went into hospital with suspected Meningitis and then found myself experiencing sleep paralysis; a state in which you can sense everything around you as you drift off into near-unconsciousness, but are paralysed and left sinking deeper and deeper into a state not unlike a coma) and then came the second episode in 2009 which almost lost me my legs for good, for a second time in several years, leading to years more of struggle which included various bouts of ME/CFS and all kinds of associated problems (no money, no work, zero motivation — distinctly unlike me). Blogging and writing, it saved me, it breathed the life back into my insular world. It got me through this time of despair and depression, and you, dear reader, you were a valuable part of that oh-so-crucial therapy. Without writing and the kind support of so many fantastic people, I honestly don’t know what I’d have done, so thank you! Thank you and goodbye for now.