Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Slave to Fame

-



We all start as nobody.

Every blogger begins with no one reading his stories. They lie there, in the World Wide Web, among the trillions of pages all seeking attention.

"Read me! Me! Me!"

"No!! Read me first!"

Slowly by slowly, a trickle of people start reading your blog. Some of them are nice enough to leave a comment. Then you begin to attract followers.

Ten, twenty, then fifty, then after a while, a hundred. A hundred twenty, and so on and so forth. At first, it's just fun. A delight to see someone talking back to you, arguing with you, agreeing with you. Then bit by bit, you begin to get obsessed.



I didn't notice it but I had started checking my blog more often to see whether someone had added another comment, whether my followers had increased. I'd wake up in the middle of the night to pee and I'd check for comments to my latest entry. I'd look at the statistics over and over again.

Little did I know but I had become a slave to fame. But who can blame me? Let he or she amongst us who is not guilty be the first to point an accusing finger. At one point, we all crave and desire that. To be admired, liked, loved. Who wouldn't?

When people tell you that they never forget certain stories you wrote; that you made them laugh, made them cry. When some of the bloggers you admire most tell you you're one of their favorites. When strangers from uhm, well Grindr, would message and say "Oh my God! Are you Kane the blogger? You're like a star man!!!"

But the thing with popularity is; it is never enough. Like money and beauty, you always want more. So what if I have a thousand followers, I want ten thousand more. So what if one hundred people commented on my last entry, I want five hundred more.

It went on for months until one afternoon, I found myself clicking the refresh button every three minutes hoping someone added a comment. I caught myself and suddenly, I felt very foolish. I began to laugh at the absurdity of it, for allowing myself to be consumed by the desire to be popular, for letting fame get into my head. It was enough.

Some of the more observant readers noticed I don't have a followers widget in my page. I had one but I removed it. To stop myself from being an attention whore and focus on what I truly care most about.

Writing. Not fame, but words.



Having said that, it is not my intention to say that you, my readers are not important to me. As the writer Barbara Kingsolver once said, "We are nothing if we can't respect our readers."

I think I have some of the most loyal and intelligent readers and I am grateful to you for accompanying me on my journey. I know that in a world full of great writers (and bloggers), I am humbled that you took time to read my stories and put interesting comments.

And the thing is, I think I can be a very difficult writer. I try to write about different things (topics which some may like, but turn off others), I write long pieces and given the rather, uhm, short-attention span people have nowadays, it's a wonder people actually take time to read the entirety of a story. But some of you do, and I am genuinely touched.

It's audacious enough to send a piece of writing into the world, to ask people to take time to read it, shut up, ignore lovers and kids and officemates, delay work, just to listen to me. But that is what we all do, we ask people to listen to us. And the reason why I appreciate your loyalty is because I am a terribly demanding reader myself. And I make no apologies for it.

I have long ago accepted I will not live forever. I will never be able to finish all the great books and movies out there, never have enough time to see all the museums and mountains and castles in the world. Time, indeed, is gold.

And therefore, when it comes to reading blogs I have to choose. Let's face it. Though the number of bloggers has increased dramatically through the years, the amount of time we have has not. Each of us still has the same twenty-four hours in a day.

And believe me, I know how you feel when it comes to reading long entries. In the introduction to the Best American Short Stories 2001, Kingsolver said

Once in a workshop after I'd already explained repeatedly that brevity is the soul of everything, writing-wise, and I was still getting fifty-page stories that should have been twenty-page stories, I announced: "Starting tomorrow, I will read twenty-five pages of any story you give me, and then I'll stop. If you think you have the dazzling skill to keep me hanging on for pages twenty-six plus because my life won't be complete without them, just go ahead and try."



Over time, we fall into a pattern. There are bloggers whose every entry you read, there are others that you don't visit as often. And eventually… some you never visit at all.

Either there were too many grammatical errors, they didn't know how to structure and edit their work, or their stories simply weren't compelling enough. Similar to what some readers probably felt with my blog.

Some of those who used to regularly comment on my stories are gone. Sometimes, I ask myself: where are they? Why did they stop writing to me? I miss them. But the world changes, people come and go. But some of you stayed. Ain't that something.
-

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

we all start as nobody. yes. but not as nobody with nothing to share.

they are still there, kane. whoever they are. they may have changed the blog names, some, they prefer to read, anonymously.

they never left.

-geek

H A R R Y G O A Z said...

EXCELLENT !

Have a super week.

Mugen said...

Like the ebb and flow of the sea, some readers return and some don't. We all begin as nothing, better keep the mindset (even forcefully) just to be sure our writing will never be a slave to something else.

Nate said...

@kane: you know how I consider you as one of my Muses here on blogspace, right? i'll read anything you blog about.. i'm obviously biased, so there.. :D

Leo said...

hey kane! errmmm... hmmm.... i like this post...that's all. (nosebleed)

seriously, i get you Kane. i hope to meet you in person. :)

Anonymous said...

I so get you.

Spiral Prince said...

I feel you, Kane. :)

And yes, I think geek is right, some of them might just read anonymously these days.

Von_Draye said...

you already know what i have to say...

*smile*

eon said...

What makes me continue to be interested in your blog is the honesty of your entries. You offer me a glimpse of your life, which is very different from mine. To top it off, you know how to tell a story and your grammar is impeccable.

Daniel Jason Binks said...

I want comments aggggh

Désolé Boy said...

Some people are born with the word fame in their name.
.
.
I think you're one of them K.

engel said...

been there. done that.

i probably still am. but what are numbers anyway. but these days, what i aspire for when i blog is the quality of interaction i get from people who read what i write and those that i read.

Anonymous said...

K,

Pre, pangit din yung masyadong sikat. Mas OK ang mga tipong underground. Astig yun. Pero ganun talaga, sikat ka eh.

Belated pala. Putangina, di ka man lang nagsabi.

citybuoy said...

I hate you, Kane. I hate how brave you are to write these things.

I remember the olden days (shet, pang veterans ang peg) when the community was small, when comments were real and you would immediately know when some things work and when they don't. The scene these days has changed and it's very difficult not to gauge your success by comment counts and new followers. There aren't a lot of ways to find out anyway.

I guess we're different from the published ones; bloggers aren't always writers and it's the dynamic-ness (?) of the medium that makes it so interesting. We have comments and pageloads and traffic. Books don't. I've been guilty on fixating on these numbers too. Yung you hold your breath when you check your email or your page to see if anything's changed. Nakaka-high?

Some people don't stay. Many of us do. It's a struggle to make sure we don't get as affected. We have to be responsible to remain honest, to write the way we did when we had a handful of followers and close to zero comments. It's something you're extremely good at but many of the new blood don't really understand yet.

I've been reading you for years though I may not always leave my mark but I hope you know that I'm not about to stop any time soon. ;p

bienvenido_lim said...

...And the thing is, I think I can be a very difficult writer. I try to write about different things (topics which some may like, but turn off others)...

that's why a lot of us keep coming back for more. different topics, different styles and never predictable.

belated happy birthday.

Ronnie said...

"indie" or "mainstream" blogger? I prefer the former. :)

Momel said...

The hit counter is either a blessing or a curse. It depends on the ego of the blogger who installed the thing in the first place. That being said, I'm glad I'm not popular. I am enjoying this degree of anonymity about my person. Because it permits me to talk more shit about people, and they wouldn't know a thing. Ignorance is bliss because it permits my intentions.

I've been blogging since 2004, and I keep a strict number of people in my roll. I don't have plans to enlarge my readership. I'm sure not many people get me anyway. And it's hard to find people who do. That's why I don't endorse myself much.

I write because I need to bitch somewhere. I don't want to be famous. I get your post, Birthday Boy, and I'm glad I never had these specific concerns.

Muahness from Pasig Cirehhh!

cosmicglitch said...

Blogs are no different than books. Some are good, some are bad. Most surprises you at first, but get stale in time.

Jj Rodriguez said...

I just started recently and I am guilty!

Tho the main reason of my blogging was really different it came to a point that what you have said is true to what I feel and what I want to happen.

I just wanted to try to get my love ones attention. Yes I did actually I was successful of that but he tend to shy away from it because he is becoming so affected with all the negative things I'm writing. Instead of winning him i almost lost him. And those people who from the start have shown concern slowly fades away.

Now, I think I learn my lesson very well. And this post of yours add up to it.

Thank you!

JJRod'z

R. Burnett Baker said...

You are so right about all this. At times I've come across blogs that have HUNDREDS of followers, and I feel like the classic short dicked man. Well, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. :)

We all want (some crave) attention. We want to know we're good enough to be seen, or read, or heard. And perhaps blogging is a small part of that.

But aside from the attention thing, I truly enjoy reading the blogs I follow and read. And I hope that these writers don't quit! (YOU included).

After all, what we're all doing here is arguably more real and honest than much of what we read in the paper, or hear on TV. Or maybe not. I'll just try not to over-think it!

But keep writing, Kane. You have something to say. And many who want to hear you say it!

Rick

Anonymous said...

i seldom comment, but each day, i never fail to check your blog out kane. i even feel disappointment when there are no entries. your blog has become one of the very few things that get me through a really dreary and heavy existence. there are times though that i feel you write more for the applause... for the comments... i may be wrong of course. it's just how i feel about your writing at times. i want to read an entry that is written off the cup: raw words, spontaneous flow, unstructured construction, unpolished effect. or perhaps you so have the gift of the mighty pen that that is really how you write but come across as otherwise. if so, then i beg your royal pardon. however and whichever you write, i would always read you kane and always, always thank you for the so fleeting escape from nothingness.

esf

Xian Garvida said...

frankly said and yes, you are right!
keep it up!

Alter said...

stars once said popularity is business, some people just damn born with it. i say it lives, breathes, dies.

do we sometimes write how want to be remembered? maybe.

ןıuǝ oɟ ɟןıƃɥʇ said...

its like everywhere i go, there is your writing... peso gains, improvement in credit rating... the corrosive effects of blog-comments and followers. =P

Ryan said...

We all get guilty of this somewhere along our journey in the blogging business. Can we blame ourselves? The blogosphere is designed like a market. The only tangible measure of our marketability is the number of followers we gain as we publish our thoughts.

It's sad that I was yet to start with blogging the time the business is young and underpopulated, as how Nyl described the younger days of blogging. Or that I missed those days when people write genuinely and not the way they want to be remembered, as how Alter's comment portrayed the common situation nowadays. Yet with blogging comes liberty, which places us in no right position to judge other people's freedom of expression and the way they express it. If we're happy with the blogger and his writing, good for us. If not, then skip that page and leave him be. That's how it works for me.

Happy blogging, everyone. :)

Nimmy said...

Ang kulet ng post! Hindi ko akalain na nag-"refresh button" phase ka din pala! Hehehe :P

Peter said...

Have you just hit the 'Refresh' button? Now you know I'm a fan too. Happy weekend, Kane.

Anonymous said...

They're just there. They may not be commenting, but yes, they are reading.

-iurico

♥N said...

I used to worry more about impressing people. Now I just worry about expressing myself.

You're awesome, Kane. I love your writing.

Arian Tejano said...

"Over time, we fall into a pattern. There are bloggers whose every entry you read, there are others that you don't visit as often. And eventually… some you never visit at all."

And there are those whose blogs you keep but never share to people. You visit their rooms but don't leave comments because you need time to process the profundities they share, which are so rare and self-affecting.

You know what I mean.

Pat said...

Oh I'm glad I dropped by. I found myself getting paranoid recently when two new followers departed after a couple of days. What can I have done?
Common sense has prevailed and I'm pretty sure I don't wish to have to watch every syllable I utter in case someone has a hissy fit - that's no fun.
I'm grateful for the faithful over 5/6 years. Quality over quantity every time.

V1nC3 said...

Ako, I still secretly wish that none of my friends found out abt my blogspot or get to read what I write. Haha. I started blogging as an outlet, but now that some friends know about the site, I have to censor some of my posts not to include too personal stuff. I know, boo.

Sean said...

yet another thing that most of us are guilty of, but most likely do not have the guts to admit to.

The Lost Boy Lloyd said...

I've witnessed you checking your blog stats on your iPhone every so often in Boracay. But I think, it just says how much we love our blogs. :P

By the way, been receiving your messages. Just can't reply with the signal issues here in the house. Every time I attempt to reply, message just won't send, so I just give it up. Have saved your number though.

Let's go out sometime with the two! Please do keep in touch. :)

-Lloyd

Mac Callister said...

i like this entry,naka relate ako...ganyan ganyan din ako dati...obsessed na sa popularity...sa statistics naman ako refresh ng refresh dati!!!

and yeah, un mga regular na readers nawawala,at napapalitan ng bago...

Phiilippines said...

WE all do, I started as a nobody and today, I am still a nobody.... to others but to myself, I am someone. - Ana

Anonymous said...

so sorry kane. yong "off the cuff" ko eh naging "off the cup". now i understand kung bakit kelangan deliberate ang pagsusulat. he he he.

esf

Sonia said...

I'm ambivalent about the whole fame thing. Granted, everyone wants to be heard and remembered, but then most of the time, I feel that I don't want my words and feelings (of long ago, especially) to come back and haunt me. I usually give something a lot of thought before I want to write about it and have it stuck there for people to see.

And yes, Kane, I do love your words and style. :)

Jeff Chuah said...

Interesting piece you have there. I wonder myself, what is my main motive in getting a blog? Is it to share my adventures or is it a work of fame addiction? However noble your intention may be, there is no doubt that fame is part of the ingredient of getting a blog. Just something I want to share with you.