We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.” – Beverly Clark, Shall We Dance (2004)
Lately, I’ve gotten used to the number of readers I get for any single post. Unlike any other activity I undertake in real life, the response to this virtual endeavour is quantifiable. I was blissfully unaware of it for a surprisingly long time when I started blogging, and I wish I had stayed that way. I care about what I do here, but often it can be too much. I measure what I do here, like nearly everybody else who blogs with a passion, by the stats I’m provided with. Mostly, the numbers have been good. It ranges from enough to could-be-more. But, when the scale tips on the other side, I automatically think that something more than the obvious was wrong with the writing on that particular post. The numbers, even if they keep growing, cause a greater amount of alarm than the pleasure they usually provide. And that makes me think, should I be placing that much attention on a mere statistical report and let it dictate what I do in terms of writing? Am I equating this obvious assumption about numbers with the amount of attention my work here should warrant? Who decides how much attention, and more importantly, approval my work should get? And does this feeling of going unnoticed, unwitnessed, really dictate the way I write?
Let’s leave the omniscient quality of a writer aside. Publishing too has a “god” complex way of going about itself. I have absolutely no knowledge or experience in promoting anything, let alone writing. I have a general, hazy feeling that there are those publishers who go about promoting a piece of written work because it’s their job, and then there is a different kind of publisher who, thankfully, has a passionate investment in promoting that piece. And like learning any new skill, if you get the hang of it after a while, you can’t believe it to be true if things go wrong. I am in the precarious position of writing a blog that gets attention but isn’t that big. And before you think I am a small-timey fish with an overinflated sense of her own importance, let me just say, writing is not a hobby for me. It is my passion, my life and because it is not an endeavour like being an engineer or a doctor doesn’t mean it isn’t legitimate.
That legitimacy is, perhaps, the same thing as being witnessed. Of course, I write for myself. But, I also write for many, many others. But, because it’s my job to publish and promote as well, I don’t know if I can reach out to the unquantifiable number of people I want to reach out to, or write something they may care for. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet; all I can do is try and make my writing better. But, even when a piece I have worked hard on doesn’t get as much attention as I expected, I feel a disappointment I would not have felt had it been in some other medium, where the attention cannot be quantified and made readily available.
This blog is something now. And those statistics I’ve been critical of throughout this post have helped cement that perception of it being something, for which I am very grateful. But, I believe, it warrants more attention. Since I’m both writer and publisher, I do not have anyone else to pat me on the back and tell me, “I believe in your work, and I will do my best to see that people out there believe in it too.” I have to give myself that ego-trip just to move forward. And if that makes me seem like a desperate attention-seeker, then, I shall ask, what is wrong with that? What is wrong in wanting to be witnessed? What is wrong in trying to create value, to put it out there and hope that others notice it? Value it? It is the second oldest rule in the book of human life: to be part of a community, you have to bring value to that community. Shouldn’t you be able to show what value you bring to it?