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On the vagaries of what can only be deduced as an elaborate plot by WordPress to limit traffic to my blog

Photo credit: comedy_nose via photopin cc

Photo credit: comedy_nose via photopin cc

Reader Advisory: The blog contains graphic scenes of whinging and whining and may not be appropriate for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

Dear WordPress,

I think you’re broken. You may want to try a level-three diagnostic or a hard re-boot or something. I mean I haven’t seen anything in the media yet about your “little problem” but it’s apparent —  to me at least — that you’re obviously not quite firing on all cylinders.

I know this must be the case because none of my recent posts have generated any new traffic to my site. No shower of new “Likes” or thoughtful messages left for me to review and respond to in the comments section. And new “Followers” are barely trickling in in dribs and drabs, if at all. (In fact I’m now certain WordPress must have recently hit a serious software glitch: I’m not even getting those goddamned make-money-blogging-on-line marketing types “Liking” / “Following” my site any more!)

I mean, I appreciate the fact that the limited bandwidth you have available via the internet probably doesn’t have the capacity to let everybody who’s out there clamouring to get through to my site arrive here all at once. But that doesn’t mean you have to shut off the spigot altogether! I’m sure if you reviewed the dilemma with your IT department one of your techies could come up with a compromise solution that might, at the very least, let several thousand of my would-be readers through at a time.

Think about it. How can I not help but conclude that there’s a deep-rooted systems problem on your end? After all, there’s a ton of crap blogs of “questionable literary merit” out there presently overflowing with comments and gaining followers at an exponential rate. So it only stands to reason that there must be a technical issue with my particular account that is currently rendering it traffic-less for some reason.

I know my stuff is often a little wordy. A little dense. Maybe even a little inaccessible on occasion. But I’m confident that could have nothing to do with the recent dearth of visitors to The Gooseyard. Sure, my sentences, at times, may get lengthy and parenthetical, but they still hold together internally and, if one pays particular attention to the form and the rhythm of their inherent structure — which is maybe a little more challenging in these days of tweet-sized ideas and communications — there comes a significant payoff upon arrival at the end of such a sentence knowing that you’ve stuck with it and teased out its central thesis with no other tools than your own pulsing grey matter and predisposition to appreciate a complex array of thoughts and intuitions interpreted through the skein of another person’s consciousness and presented in more than 140 thumb-punched characters. It can’t all be just cat videos, on-line psychotherapy and lollipops. There are clever, thoughtful people out there who can handle my kind of depth. I know there are because I sign up as a “Follower” on their blogs whenever I happen to stumble upon them. All four of them.

Or perhaps the folks at WordPress have simply taken some of my posts to heart and are so worried that — as I have often bemoaned — my other creative writing has suffered as a result of all the time I now spend on my blog, that they have decided to save me from myself by not letting anybody through to my site. While I appreciate the intervention guys, — I truly do, it’s a wonderful feeling knowing my friends at WordPress are out there trying to do right by me and help me get that first novel written — I really have to work through this one on my own. Let the readers back through to my site and after I get “Freshly Pressed” a half a dozen times my work here will be done and, no doubt, I’ll probably migrate naturally back to my novel.

I do hope we can find resolution on this issue — maybe even with this very post! Please don’t make me go public with this.

Best regards,

Philster999 (for The Gooseyard) 

What’s the Good Word, Intrepid Reader?

Photo credit: Florian SEROUSSI via photopin cc

Photo credit: Florian SEROUSSI via photopin cc

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

Remember that awesome game the teacher would sometimes let the class play when you were elementary school? Telephone, I think it was called. Or telegraph, maybe. The teacher would whisper something into the ear of the first student in the first row and then that student would, in turn, whisper what she heard to the student next to her, and so on, until the quietly-mumbled phrase finally made the rounds to the very last child in the class. Then that kid — usually looking somewhat bewildered, as if he were certain the entire class was deliberately trying to make a dunce of him or get him in trouble — would have to write on the chalkboard exactly what he had heard from the final whisperer. Beside this phrase, the teacher would then write what she had actually said to the first student in the chain.

Hilarity ensued. Every time. Guaranteed. “You’re a better man than I am Gunga Din,” would somehow emerge as “Lorne is bitter and green and Sam hung-up tins.” Or maybe even, “Chicken burgers with lysol in the banana yard.” There was no telling what potential trajectory these feral, semantic missiles might take. All bets were off. It was pure nonsense, grammar and logic run amok! We loved it! What’s more, it turned out to be a game, it now occurs to me on an almost daily basis, that bears an uncanny resemblance to trying to manage complex business projects via e-mail.

The other language-related game I really used to enjoy was more of a public speaking-type exercise that I suppose I would have played in junior or senior high. I don’t know what, if anything, it’s actually called. It would begin with everybody writing a random short phrase or a noun on a slip of paper — “two if by sea,” “Napoleon,” “salamander,” whatever. The teacher would then collect all the folded up slips and bring them back to his desk. Then, one at a time, each student would have to go to the front of the class and retrieve one of the random topics from the pile the teacher had just collected. The object of the game was then to speak for as long as you could — with the teaching recording your time — on whatever topic you had chosen, but without ever saying “err” or “uhmm” or “ahh” or the like. It sounds simple, but if you’ve ever attempted this exercise yourself, you know how damnably difficult it actually is. Try as they might, many of those in the class often ended up being disqualified before they even got underway. For a surprisingly large percentage of students, the first thing they said, no matter how much they tried to be conscious of what was about to come out of their mouths, was, in fact, “Uhmm…”

In honour of this particular language-centric challenge, I’ve decided to make you, dear reader, do some of the heavy lifting for a change.

Every week it’s my responsibility to both come up with an idea for a new blog entry and write the bloody thing. Truth is, I’ve got a list of about 86,000 blog ideas in notebook here beside the computer. I can’t seem to blink and not generate another blog idea somehow. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re anything you might actually be interesting in reading about.

So let’s mix it up a little, lest things go stale by relying too heavily on the same old format here at The Gooseyard, week after week. (Plus I want to know if anybody’s actually out there!)

Here’s the deal: this week, in the spirit of the above-noted “public speaking” challenge, leave me a comment containing a short phrase or a noun you’d be interesting in seeing me blog about. Or even just a nonsense word that you’ve picked out of the ether — the whole point of the exercise, after all, is that it hardly matters a whit what words you start with. The proof, instead, is in the quality of the pudding. (Yes, oh great interpreter of metaphorical language, by pudding I actually mean the blog.)

I’ll copy out all the words, stick them in the proverbial hat, extract one at random, and then, well I guess you’ll be my muse for this week’s blog! (Yeah, alright, it’s just a convoluted writing prompt exercise, but let’s keep that entre nous, for the moment, ‘k.) So? You in?

Only two conditions. First, personal friends and writing buddies can leave a comment, but can’t submit a word for the hat (’cause, remember, I’m trying to see if there’s any else out there!) Second, no filth (including politics and religion), or anything else that’s going to back me into a moral corner of any sort. I can get into enough trouble on my own without anyone else’s help on that score, thank you very much.

And don’t leave me hanging by not dropping by with a word or two. Don’t make me blog about nothing. Because you know I’ll do it if I have to. And it won’t be some laugh-a-minute “Seinfeld-ian” nothing, I can assure you of that. It’ll be all philosophical, and dense, and probably turn into a three-part series at 5,0000 words an entry, and it’ll be all your fault. All on you!

Or, alternatively, I’ll be forced to revert to uploading more cat videos. And none of us — I hope — want that!

Blogito ergo sum

Photo credit: Kristina B via photopin cc

Photo credit: Kristina B via photopin cc

My love / hate affair with blogging continues.

I was hesitant to even start a blog in the first place — see my first-ever post on this site back in February (https://philipjefferson.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/on-writing-2/). And, as it turned out, all the worries that I started with have actually become realities — especially my prediction that blogging would begin to leech time away from my other writing. Which it has. In spades!

Surprisingly, however, — well, to my surprise anyway — it’s also been a fantastic learning experience. I think blogging has really helped me hone some emerging skills. Chief among these would be developing the discipline to write regularly (i.e. trying to turn out a fresh blog every week or so) and, perhaps most importantly for me, actually learning to let stuff go into the ether. Screwing up my courage and finally hitting the “Publish” button rather than simply holding on to something forever and editing it into non-existence because I’m afraid it’s not quite ready yet. Not as perfect as I could, ultimately, make it. If I worked on it for the ret of my life, that is.

But blogging also drives me nuts. Maybe it’s because I still don’t truly understand or appreciate the medium. My 13-year-old son tells me my posts are probably too long. People are on the internet for instant gratification. Most of my posts are at least 1,000 words or more. And typically require some concerted effort on the part of the reader to follow and appreciate whatever thesis I happen to be laying out at the time. And maybe when someone — magically, because I still haven’t quite figured out how this happens — stumbles across my blog at 11:30 at night, having previously enjoyed several of the latest YouTube offerings, or just finished updating the images on their Pintrest  homepage, the thought of tackling 1,000+ words, compressed tightly into a minimal number of densely-packed paragraphs (even with a nice, evocative photo at the top) is simply too daunting.

Should I dumb it down?

Should I, like many of my fellow bloggers seem to do, revert to staccato one-sentence paragraphs like some remedial virtual newspaper so as not to tax my poor readers’ ability to take it all in at one glance?

 

Use More Sub-Headers 

Or use sub-headers within the post to break things down into bite-sized, easily digestible pieces?

Or pepper the blog with ever-popular grumpy cat photos?

Photo credit: Scott Beale via photopin cc

Photo credit: Scott Beale via photopin cc

Or maybe, instead of trying to actually attempt to weave together a thoughtful, critical — and, hopefully, often humorous — approach to something that interests me, simply revert to banal, sophomoric clichés about the way we appear to live in the world. This seems to be a staple of many a blog with thousands of followers:

“It’s rainy this morning and I’m blue. I don’t even want to get out of bed today, so I’m just going to call in sick and work on my blog instead. Only through such rebellion can I embrace my inner “Creator”. Life is hard, isn’t it? Here’s a dancing cat video that helps me out when I feel this way.”

Likes: 425 (within eight minutes of posting somehow).

Comments: 87 and counting (most of which applaud the writer for his / her deft handling of the intrinsic meaning-of-life question and involve an emoticon of some sort in response to the cat video).

 

Another Strategic Sub-Heading to Focus My Readers’ Attention

WTF!?

 

In Which Our Hero Attempts to Extricate Himself from this Morass

I, on the other hand, with my complicated, long-winded, over-earnest blogs, typically average only a couple of “Likes” per upload (friends and writing buddies not included), though I do, somehow, seem to gain at least one new “Follower” every post or so. Given that part of my rationale for starting this blog in the first place was to create a platform — and an audience — from which launch a “lucrative writing career” (sorry, is than an oxymoron?), and that to do so, I calculate, would require somewhere in the vicinity of 250,000 potential readers, and allowing for writing a blog a week, I should pretty much achieve my goal, at this rate, in another 4,800 years. Though I’m probably being overly-optimistic here as I’m not sure in what capacity several of my existing 30 recorded “Followers” actually or still exist as viable “WordPress” entities.

And with these happy thoughts in mind, I’m going to close for today — under 800 words for a change, so I don’t scare anyone away.

And since, apparently, the only way I’m ever going to gain enough readers to make this whole blogging thing worthwhile is if The Gooseyard somehow goes viral, please enjoy the requisite cat video. 😉