My blog received a respectable total of three views yesterday.
There are two things you can do when nobody is looking. Take your pants off and do something that would be embarrassing if anyone were watching, or debase yourself in any way imaginable in order to get more people to look. You may end up doing similar things either way, but the former is dependent on the assumption that nobody is looking and the latter is founded on the hopes that more people will. So which to choose?
This is a familiar question for me. Having been born the son of the most famous doctor in town, I have been living in a goldfish bowl all my life. At the same time, most of the rumors about me did not resemble me in the least, so I could go about my business in obscurity if I chose. Thus, for much of my youth, I have lived my life as an on-again off-again invisible man. Playing the undercover investigator of the rumor mill, I was just famous enough and unknown enough to be able to hear what was being said about me from people who did not know they were talking to the very person they were talking about. Invisible and talked about. Story of my life.
The internet is a funny thing. Anyone could spy on you in depth and dig up the most embarrassing thing about you if they applied themselves to it. But unless you are a movie star or a terrorist, nobody is very interested. In most cases, you are an open book and a nobody. The NSA knows the size of your condoms, but nobody cares when they dismiss you on Tinder.
Now getting back to writing, (the topic of this blog, remember?) it is indeed a dire situation when you are an open book nobody looks into. Maybe this is the psychology behind the NaNoWriMo phenomenon. Suddenly all the kids who were playing basketball when geeks like you and me stayed indoors writing stories are turning the writing process into a mass sporting event. Since every person is an open book, everybody wants to write one. Why not be famous? Your nut sack is hanging out anyway, you might as well have the bugging paparazzis to go with it.
Here is why not. Firstly, being medium famous is no fun. You get the prying eyes without the adoring smiles. Secondly, the privacy of not being looked at tends to disappear at the most inopportune moments. That embarrassing thing you did in your college dorm party could go viral when your kids are old enough to watch it. But mostly, writing for fame is for suckers. If anything is more misdirected than writing for money, it must be writing for attention. Think of a bestseller novel from the recent past. Gone Girl for example. Can you remember the name of the author?
So just because nobody is reading my blog, it doesn’t mean that I can comfortably open my fly and scratch my balls. Nor does it mean that I should do that in a desperate attempt to attract more readers. The bottom line is, I am not writing for the readers and neither should any writer.
Anthony Burgess once said “Writers write to write, not to be read”. Let’s keep it that way.