Mostly, when I blog, I’m writing for my favorite reader, me.
Sorry, dear readers, but you barely merit a passing thought, even should one come knocking on my brain’s door. Oh, I pay close attention to my viewership stats. I do tailor my choice of topics and writing (somewhat) to attract and amuse an audience. But I really have no specific intended target audience, just happy to have anyone out there reading this stuff.
So, it startles me when someone comments on a post. I guess I feel I’m mostly shouting into the wind and enjoying the noise I make, happy just to have an outlet. To receive a response can overwhelm me. Like the first time my YouTube channel got fan email — from someone in Japan! I ended up befriending my new fan, Shuichi, eventually even meeting him one of the many times he travelled to Austin for the music scene.
Most recently here, my posts about my brother’s sudden, unexpected death brought many reactions across various social media platforms. Death & grief visit us all. When my father died many years ago, a colleague from Iran told me of a saying there, “This camel visits every tent.” I write about death & grief and my brother as a way to soothe my own soul. If it touches you, I, too, am touched. My heart goes out to Alana, who commented here on my recent post “Moving Forward, Looking Back” about the death of her son this year, affirming the need to keep moving forward despite the difficulty. Thank you for responding. Moving forward in a time of grief and pain can seem impossible, so it helps to hear from others sharing the same experience.
Another recent comment on “The Perfect First Draft” praised a quote from my brother, Scott: “Don’t get it right, get it written.” Only, as Scott corrected me when I told him someone found that advice helpful, the quote originally came from James Thurber. That’s okay. I’m still going to attribute (okay, misattribute) it to my brother. He taught English for a hundred semesters, and passed on Thurber’s advice to many students throughout the years, so I’m granting him partial ownership of the phrase. Thanks for your feedback, Stuart — I’m glad reading that little sentence helped. It certainly has nudged me into action more than a few times.
There have been several people comment through the years on my posts about my old friend, the artist Jim Nelson. It is so gratifying to hear from people who knew Jim or met him in passing at some renaissance festival here or there. Some became repeat customers, something that certainly resonates with me. Knowing there are people out there who have some of Jim’s work — maybe are just discovering it in a Goodwill — brings me a smile. To this day, I can hear Jim’s chuckle. I just wish I had more of his work.
I never responded to a comment from Joanie Whitebird’s niece asking to know more about her. That’s possibly the hardest one to respond to, for various reasons. Joanie was a true force of nature and all too often left a trail of destruction in her wake, as well as some truly inspiring poetry. Mostly, since I knew her as my brother’s first wife during many years of difficult times, I cannot tell you much about Joanie without including so much struggle and strife that it becomes hard to remember the good stuff. And there was a lot of good stuff along the way, to be sure. She just also made it difficult — impossible, in the end — to endure the bad things that she both caused and fell victim to. Maybe eventually, I will write more about Joanie. But not soon.
Of course, one topic that piques many people’s interest, sparking several comments, are the many postings I’ve made about my cousin, Will T. Massey. Again, like hearing from people who knew Jim Nelson, I love hearing from people who know Will’s music, especially those lucky enough to hear him as a fiery young performer. More than one person has remarked about going to see Steve Earle, only to be blown away by this young guy opening the evening with nothing more than his guitar, his songs, and a burning passion for performing his music.
So, thanks for all the comments and questions. Please don’t be discouraged if I don’t respond directly. I’m still basically a shy blogger, avoiding eye contact as I reach out through my writing.