47 Sharks

The Safety Shark

  • Q: How is blogging like being a shark?
  • A: When you start to blog, you grow an extra set of teeth, your bones undergo reverse-ossification and revert to a cartilaginous state, and your back sprouts a fin highly prized by the Cantonese and Fujian cuisines.

I’d like to say if I knew about this sharksformation in advance I would have hesitated. But the truth is that I probably would have started blogging years ago.

This is all a joke, of course. I only brought up sharks to use them in one of the two standard shark metaphors. The unoriginality of this move bugs me a little, but any day I get to talk about cartilage is a good day.

The reason blogging is like being a shark is that you have to keep moving forward and eating fish. Moving forward in this case refers to posting. And fish refers to readers. You have to eat them. I discovered this the hard way. I didn’t eat any readers for a few days, and now I feel terrible.

I’m not overly concerned with having a readership for this blog. I started this blog to force myself to write, and it has been quite successful. I get some likes and some comments on my posts. The validation is wonderful. Sometimes it is a little too wonderful. When I first realized I was going to get some readers other than just my friends without having to put any effort into marketing or networking, it filled me with a special kind of joy. My head filled up with thousands of dancing readers arguing over the fine points of my posts in the comments. All while dancing.

I love to talk, and I love to be heard. While that is true to some extent of almost everyone, I’m on the far end of the curve. I am that guy. Whenever I make a comment such as “man, I had a throat thing and I couldn’t really talk for three days,” one or more of my friends is guaranteed to come back with a comment such as, “wow, first time for everything.” A friend of mine just had a baby, and at some point I mentioned how my mother told me that I didn’t shut up for the first year of my life. I mentioned this to my friends, and was rewarded with comments such as “just the first year?” and “do you expect that condition to change any time soon?”

My friends are all jerks.

The validation really helped me to write, but eventually it was the reason I was writing. People read what I wrote, and I had quantitative evidence of their response. It is addicting. There were days where I checked my stats dozens of times, and I know that is practically universal for burgeoning bloggers. I started blogging to write more, and it worked fantastically. When the vague rewards of occasional posting became insufficient, I set up a projectto force me into a routine. It worked even better. I got more and more readership and comments, I got Freshly Pressed, and the whole thing was very transformative.

Then it stopped. My surge of readership from Freshly Pressed happened near the end of my post-ever-day project. I have a lot more followers, now, but it turns out people only visit your blog when you post things. I don’t really care about readership. I love it, but it’s not important to me. There is a subtle but significant difference.

But I do care about writing. I was tempted to continue posting ever day after 37. But I have too many other things to do. When I blog every day, that is the main thing I do. That would be fine if my other priorities weren’t more important to me right now. On the other hand, if I don’t have a specific, declared schedule then I barely post at all. When I don’t post, I don’t write as much as I want, either. I told one of my closest friends and most consistent readers that I wanted to post every day. I’ve told him that several times. But I have not done so.

So here we are again! I am going to set another schedule for myself. It’s very exciting! Okay, it’s not exciting. But it is motivating. I never missed a day last time. Okay, one day, but who’s counting? The point is I know this will keep me on track. It will keep me writing. And maybe a few people will read it along the way.

For the next 47 days I am going to post every other day. That is better than 37 days, because it is a bigger number. Almost twice as big, if the calculator app on my phone is to be believed. Also, I am going to post something about sharks every single day.

Last time was transformative.

This time, it will be sharksformative.

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