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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who Will Read Your Blog -- or Your Book?

I remarked recently to one writing friend (frustrated at a number of friends who had not read his book) that I think a lot of people resist reading novels by people they know out of nervous terror. What if it’s lousy? What if I hate it so much I can’t get through the damn thing? Embarrassed ahead of time for their writing friend by the possibility they won’t enjoy the book, they postpone opening it at all, and it gets misplaced or buried or put away on a shelf and forgotten. Better to make excuses for not having gotten around to it yet, they seem to think, than feel pressured to like and praise.

And life is so busy, dontcha know? Everyone is “busy,” in one way or another. I know I am. Aren’t you?

Coming home after my winter sabbatical, I could tell instantly who read Books in Northport once in a while and who never looked at it once while I was away. Anyone asking, “So where did you spend the winter?” or “What did you do all winter?” obviously felt no curiosity, because pretty much my whole winter was right there online, in words and pictures, for anyone to follow. No charge to read it, either. Free! Followers who couldn’t deal with reading online (one friend I know of for sure) could at least scroll through and look at the photographs and enjoy the images, and even the time commitment for speed-reading the rest could probably be satisfied in 10 or 15 minutes a week. Leaving comments was and is always entirely optional, as is giving me feedback in person when we’re back together in the same room.

So why...?

“I don’t have time to read blogs,” I hear from a couple friends routinely on Facebook, it seems, 24/7. Huh?  Some say, more honestly, “I never read blogs.” Okay, I know where I stand with them. The worst is the apologetic, “I should read it....” There is no ‘should’! It’s there for anyone who’s interested! Not interested? Not obligated!

But also, I couldn’t help noticing that when I wrote this past winter of travel adventures or posted photographs of Southwest scenery, a comment or two would usually result, while if I wrote of my novel-in-progress and how the writing was coming along, the silence was deafening. If a post combined writing news and topics unrelated to writing, the latter got the responses.

Again, I can’t help thinking it’s embarrassing to a lot of people when someone mentions working on a novel. It’s as if you’re claiming to have been Marie Antoinette in a previous life. Uh, yeah, sure, they think, praying you’ll change the subject.

Interest. Priorities. How well friends know you -- or want to know you.

My life, my blog, and my writing are priorities in my life but not necessarily priorities for all my friends. Other people have, each and every one of them, their own lives, their own priorities and interests. None of us can pay attention to everything.