you know; mixed media on canvas; 8 x 8 x 1.5 inches.
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Last week Google informed me (or rather, I consulted Google, who tracks this sort of thing, and tells me what statistics I need to be informed of) that this blog had achieved fifty thousand page views (or visits). I felt profoundly underwhelmed. Oh no, that's a big number, my wife said. Hmm, I replied, not really listening. But I have since found myself looking at that number and trying (in a searching but wandering and very un-Google-like manner) to process it.
First of all, how true is that total? Not very, I suspect. I would guess at least five thousand of those page views are from robots. I used to enable spam filters but people complained about what a pain in the ass it was to leave comments (Google filters demand that you reveal yourself as human by re-typing a password). So now I let the robots in. They visit, leave their links to organic vitamins or 3D animation courses or nude celebrities, and continue on their worming ways. They know not what they do, and should not be counted as anything. They are like bumps in the night.
Also, how many of those fifty thousand page views are from repeat visitors? Does the number fifty thousand mean anything if it's just extrapolated from five hundred people who have dropped by about a hundred times? Especially if you stretch that out over multiple years? When did Google even start counting? There was a time, not that long ago, when Google was just a dumb, churning search engine.
I think a more meaningful milestone is the fact that I've been at this blog for six years now. It started as strictly an illustration site, because I was trying to get drawing again, and then it became a general art site, because I took up painting again, and then I started to post thoughts, and ideas, and small pieces of writing, and then diary-like entries from my personal life (mostly, I made fun of wife, who tries to tell me what to think about things). A blog seemed like a natural avenue for me because it was based on writing and visuals, and those are really the only two things I know how to do.
So what have I learned, from my six years of blogging?
Creative work is meaningless unless it's shared. The is the raison d'être, the entire point. I make it, I post it. Is this a narcissistic exercise? Probably. But so is a charity run for cancer, and everybody loves that shit.
There is no money involved. Yes, it's helped me sell some artwork, and shift a few copies of my book. But breaking it down to an hourly wage would make Dickens weep bleach in despair.
Everyone is offended by everything. Any idea or opinion, especially one with any force behind, it will anger someone. The less people understand about arguing, the more they take every argument personally. Especially if your targets are feel-good things, like the Olympics or public broadcasting or even summer. I've had people lecture me just for calling Sinéad O'Connor's behaviour crazy.
Sinéad O'Connor's behaviour is pretty fucking crazy.
Since everyone is offended by everything, you might as well speak your mind. Hey, it's my house. I built it, I decorated it. I bastardized and tweaked all that Google code. I'll say what I damn well please. That said ...
It's almost always better not to say anything. This is a lesson I've ported over to my personal life. In fact, seeing my blog as a place of safety, where I can set down my thoughts in an uninterrupted and unsuppressed manner, has only served to underscore the idea that I cannot do this anywhere else (well, perhaps in print, but that's an overly precious and rapidly dying resource). In fact, in real life, at work, at home, down at the yacht club, even deep within the bowels of the Masonic temple, the most astute move, almost always, is to keep your mouth shut. No one wants to hear it, and it's not worth the trouble. Also ...
I sometimes edit even what I say on my blog. This is more for my wife's sake, who wants to get along with everyone. Otherwise I'd talk shit with all the burn-first finesse of a Vancouver hockey riot and not worry about the wreckage because ...
None of this is going anywhere. This is why most blogs fail, and most bloggers give up. They think they have something to say, or share, or even sell, and that if they build it, then the crowds must come. Nope. Nudity will work, for awhile (although certainly not in my case, unless you have some fetish for crudely shaven bears). As will pictures of unicorns and pixies, or motivational aphorisms typeset against meadows or sunsets. But how long can you keep that up, before your soul crawls out of your mouth, and dies gasping in front of you? Crowd-pleasing is not only bankrupt in the long term but ...
Nobody cares. As soon as you realize that you are about as significant as a guy standing by a highway with a placard (I think mine would say, in fact, THE END IS NEAR), then you will be much happier. The world is just too noisy, and people too distracted, to pay attention to anything for very long. Click click click!
Never post on Thursdays or Fridays. People are *really* distracted then, trying to do all the stuff that they should have been doing all week, instead of fucking around on Facebook.
Don't worry about the truth. Look, you're not the New York Times. In fact, you're not even High Times.
Blogging is a lot of work. Essentially, you're a columnist responsible for your own artwork. And you don't have an editor. Or possibly any readers.
No one will understand why you do it. I once spent an afternoon trying to explain blogging to a group of late middle-aged women artists. They were lovely people, and talented painters, but it was a lot like trying to explain the water cycle to my two year-old. I mean, she gets that rain comes from clouds, and that this is significant, or connected to something, but she thinks the clouds are put there by bears.
Blogging can be cathartic. It's the soapbox without the bird shit.
Blogging is lonely. Essentially, you're performing for a crowd behind a one-way mirror. The trick, I guess, is not to care that the room might mostly be empty chairs. Besides, everything on the internet is weirdly attenuated and disconnected. That's what makes it so compelling. You know.