I have entered a very busy spell in McQueen Real World and am managing to keep up the blogging schedule – which my brain tells me is vital for my well-being – only by neglecting the very things that contrive to construct an acceptable blog presence: reading the work of other bloggers, joining in ‘conversations’, generally being part of the community. I am eschewing all of these things that are desirable in a contributor and (temporarily, I assure you) behaving like a git. It would be the work of minutes to go through my reader and ‘like’ all of the contributions that I would normally read, but that’s not playing the game, is it? I ‘like’ only the posts that I have enjoyed reading. I comment if I have something to say (however asinine) only after I have read. I regularly read a dozen or so blogs – you know who you are, it is your curse – and I also try to drop in on other blogs that receive a mention on blogs that I follow or who have read and kindly commented on my own. Common good manners. But I am currently struggling to keep up my end of the bargain and, simultaneously, at a loss for something to say. I think that the two states of affairs are linked, in that I am finding that any pause for reflection I manage to allow myself, is currently very short and generally centres around whether I can allow myself a second biscuit.
Blogging – at least my part in it – is a very self-centred pursuit: this is my world, I will open the door for you and you can look inside for a little while. Even Little Fictions constitute a reflection, no matter how distorted, of the collision of neurons in my head: as if rational thought has played an extended game of Chinese Whispers around the cerebellum. In my own case, what goes in is pretty random – what emerges, more or less so. The Chaos Theory (such is the contents of my head) dictates that inputted scrambled mass might just emerge as an infinitely more scrambled mass, or as a strangely coherent tract. Every now and then, the monkey in my head, by some miracle of mischance, hits exactly the right keys on the old cranial Olivetti and Bingo! something almost readable emerges. It’s like dropping stuff into a soup-maker: occasionally you’ll get minestrone, mostly you’ll get something that only the pigeons are interested in.
In the midst of my current somewhat detached WordPress presence, I have experienced my best ever week for views followed immediately by my worst week in a very long time. I have absolutely no idea of why. My concentration, my entire effort goes into everything I write. It may not look as if I agonise over every word, but I do. It might be tripe, but it is fretted over tripe. I can see no discernible difference in ‘quality’ between what I wrote in my record week and what I wrote in the succeeding ‘week of shadows’. Perhaps I have just been rumbled. Perhaps I need to find something new to say. Not easy. In the cold light of day, I am this blog: it is what I see and think and, well, at my age that doesn’t change much. I have spent a lifetime trying to change the lead character, but nobody wants the role. Maybe (who knows) things might pick up next week. I’m in no position to judge. Nearly all of my favourite posts have performed badly. Very often the posts that I come very close to trashing – and I do trash an awful lot of dross – perform well. My own tastes are clearly at somewhat of a variance to your own, which surprises me: I thought we were twin-like, you and I.
Many years ago I remember a sit-com* written by the late (and very great) Alan Coren and starring the TV ‘box-office’ of the time, Leonard Rossiter. It was in all ways perfect. It could not fail. It did. I loved it, but I had the uncomfortable feeling that I was watching the later episodes alone. Even my wife went to bed. It limped to a finish; no second series was ever made, and it became an indelible stain on the CV of all concerned. Why? Nobody seems to know, but, as a man whose very best can often be charitably described as passable, I can take some comfort from the fact that even the very best can produce work that, for whatever reason, people just do not take to.
However – and this has just occurred to me – in order to not like what I had written for my weekus horribilus people would have had to have read it. They did not. In droves. It therefore occurs to me that they did not like what they read the week before and decided that they would not bother again. The more people that read my drivel, the more they don’t want to do so again. That’s a problem, isn’t it? If I have another ‘best ever’ week in the future, the fallout could be terminal. I may have no readers left. So, for all of those kind people who did start to read me a couple of weeks ago I say ‘thank you’, but I regret that I will not be taking you up on your very kind offers of low-cost advice on how to boost my readership further. Perhaps I, myself, could profitably offer a service advising on how to keep readership unfeasibly low. It would need a really catch click-bait title. Now, let’s see, what about Successful Blogging – The Power of Under-Achievement? No? Not snappy enough? Learn to Fail? No, I don’t think that will bring them in. I’m not even sure that a bit of Dickens could help: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. What’s needed is something that just blatantly ignores the facts and… Oh, I know…
*‘The Losers’, aired November 1978 on Sunday evenings and also starred a young Alfred Molina. All episodes were wiped from the tapes by the TV company for re-use. Alan Coren’s Obituary in The Times (2007) said the series ‘sank with all hands.’