Why can’t I instill the same enthusiastic wonder in my writing about vacation destinations, as I did when the locations were part of a longer journey? I have given it some thought, and I think it comes down to questions of theme and audience. Put less literarily: Why do I keep writing this blog at all?
Addressing the audience first: I started composing this for my friends and family, but most original readers stopped visiting when I suspended my writing for nearly a year. Then, with frequent posts on what I hoped were interesting subjects, and following the recommendations for increasing readership, I found myself with a whole new cadre of followers, mostly strangers. It was exciting – getting dozens of views per day, trying to beat my records, getting creative to keep all those folks entertained! But eventually I got busy with other things and the writing fell by the wayside, my followers dropped away and I no longer popped up in search engines (how does that even work, anyway?). So when I posted occasionally about my small-time adventures, I only got a few visitors, and they didn’t engage with the site. All of this begs the question: For whom am I writing this, and why? Is it for readers, or for myself?
Yes, writing about my experiences helps me to process them. Knowing that I will write about a place or event helps me to look deeper than I might have otherwise. I enjoy developing the natural and historical facts of a place through my own experiences there. It is a creative outlet, both the writing and the photography. Sometimes I consider whether I should try to write professionally after all, and putting words down a few times a week is a good way to stay in shape.
Obviously, though, it isn’t just a writing exercise, or I would be doing it in a journal. Part of me likes knowing that others are looking at it. The infrequent positive feedback is always wonderful to see! The reader-getting-game is entertaining when it pays off, and having ten or more visits a day does make me feel like I’m actually part of the larger world. It is gratifying to know that I do have regular followers who enjoy what I have to say, just as there are those writers whose work I follow with interest. However, I wouldn’t say that I have enough readers to have a “readership.” Which brings me to the conclusion that even the part of my writing that is “for my readers” is really for myself. The egotistical, attention-getting, praise-seeking part of myself? Or at best, it is because I write better when I consider the interests and opinions of my readers. This realization isn’t helping to renew the excitement that I used to find in my writing.
And yet… having them there, having you there is what puts that enthusiasm into my narrative. I have heard from some who have been excited and inspired by my account of a place or an adventure. Others may stumble on my words while research a location or journey of their own, which is equally rewarding.
So, O Dear Reader, help me out here! Why did you happen to read this today? What are your interests, and will you visit again? Just this once, leave a comment and let me know. You could make the difference in whether I continue or not.