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On the road to being prolific

I never used to write much. When I wrote, people liked it, but that never seemed to be encouragement enough for me. I wrote mainly for school. On the side, I started several stories that I never finished. I also journaled a little, writing every day in week or monthlong spurts and then neglecting to write again for months or even years.

That began to change when I started writing online. There was something about the experience that made me prone to write more often. Part of it is certainly the ease of it. All I have to do is go to a website and type in a form. That has made it simple and convenient for me to update frequently.

A second reason, of course, is the exhibitionist pleasure I derive from knowing that what I’m saying can be seen by anyone, anywhere in the world. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts through the Internet ever since I first started responding to messages on Bulletin Board Services. And the collaborative nature of a ‘blog’ was appealing. I liked that I could write something, and other people could answer it, and everyone could see everything. It was similar to what originally drew me to the AMRN (besides Sean and Charles dragging me there kicking and screaming).

I am happy that now I typically post more than once a day. I can honestly say that I journal. I write what’s on my mind and post it often. It’s different for me. Thanks to the Internet, I have changed from the type of person who would write every now and then out of a feeling of obligation into the type of person who writes solely for the pleasure of it. I like that.

I recently asked readers of this journal whether or not the things I have been writing recently are interesting, because I haven’t been seeing many comments. I visit my blog many times a day, too many to count, and every time I see a “Comments (0)” I feel a little depressed. I wanted to figure out what I could do to get people to respond.

Because I post a lot, there often isn’t time for many replies before a post is pushed off the main page. I recently increased the number of posts displayed on the home page for that reason. Also for that reason, I didn’t write much at all after I asked my question. I wanted people to see that post, and to answer it.

As of now, I have three replies.

I have only posted three times prior to this post in the interim, and I have refrained from posting many things that have interested me of late. A recent, rambling yet structured and wholly moving eulogy on Websnark. News about bizarre crimes in Japan. Google’s work towards effective machine translation. An essay about science fiction fans’ obsession with internal consistency (or, as we used to call it on the AMRN, “canon”).

I didn’t post about these things both because I didn’t want to push “more important” posts too far below the fold, and also because people have mentioned that my newsposts don’t do much for them. But not posting has not made me happy.

Avoiding posting seemingly trivial things has not made me any more likely to post meaningful things.

The fact is, I want to post when I read something interesting. I want to have a record of it. I want to write things that are totally uninteresting to anyone but me–like analyses of aspects of the Japanese language I’ve recently encountered; or long-winded discussions of the plot of Kyou Kara Maou (which I am currently rewatching); or rants about stupid people who piss me off; or essays on collaborative storytelling and online messageboard roleplaying, how they seem to function and why they fail; or, yes, a post that says nothing more than “I was touched/saddened/angered/intrigued by this today”.

I want to write these things. And I don’t want to write them in a private journal…because, to be perfectly honest, I simply won’t do it. I know I won’t. And that will annoy me.

I think what I needed to realize was not that I was writing uninteresting things, but that I wasn’t writing them for anyone but myself. And that’s okay…because this is my space, for indulging in whatever I see fit.

Instead of forcing myself not to post about certain things, I should instead post as much as I want, and push myself to write more. Quality is obviously better than quantity, but you don’t get quality without practice. And this journal is not a professional piece of work. It’s a diary, a scrapbook, a place for me to throw everything that seems important so I’ll have a reference later when I go back to do something professional.

And so I will be pushing myself, from now on, to write more stories here. Things that reflect my life, and my feelings and opinions. Things that aren’t simple links elsewhere. But alongside these nobler efforts, those simple links will continue to appear.

Out of respect for my readers, however, I am brainstorming ways to make it easy to find things that are interesting and ignore things that aren’t. One way, of course, will be the categories that will exist in WordPress. I can have a category called “Stories”, for example, and people who aren’t interested in anything but crafted works can bookmark that category’s page instead of the homepage, or subscribe to that category’s RSS feed. (WordPress is going to rule.)

But I am also considering changing the face of the homepage–styling it to show the post title, date, time, and categories, with perhaps a brief summary. This should allow for quite a few posts to be “highlighted” on the main page, and readers would be able to skim along until they found something that seemed interesting to click on. I am starting to believe that this would be the best way to go about things, so that people who really don’t care about Touch can just bypass that post without having to scroll past twelve screenshots of Tatsuya striking out Nitta.

Ultimately, the goal is for me to write more. If I am ever going to write anything worthwhile, if I am ever going to seriously try to get published, I am going to have to write far more than I do even now. That’s daunting…and so I don’t need to do anything that will encourage me not to write.