Three months, 22 posts and more than 3000 hits! What can I say other than WOW! (Only once. If I say it again, people will think there is a dog nearby!)
Three months is an extremely short time to judge a blog. But I am taking the risk. I launched my blog on 29 August, the day of Onam, the most auspicious day for a Malayalee with a note on Onam itself. And yesterday, 29 November, the number of hits crossed 3000; to be precise, 3008! I know bloggers with more than a thousand hits daily might be laughing their heads off reading my boasting. They might be telling to themselves, ‘Ha, ha, 3000 hits in three months! And this fool is on the top of the world!’ Yes, indeed, I am on the top of the world! I am a small village boy who has hit his first fifty runs. I consider my fifty greater than Sachin Tendulkar’s hundredth century; my panchayat membership greater than the prime ministership; my small article in a local magazine greater than a Nobel Prize winning book! (Until, of course, I get my own hundredth century, or Prime Ministry, or Nobel prize!) (Prime Ministry? Why not?)
The road behind is very short, but, to my mind, eventful.
I opened my first blog a couple of years ago. This blog was supposed to be my professional blog on editing and book indexing. But it never took off. I did not publish even a single post. Shikha is my younger colleague and we used sometimes to discuss general matters. One day she talked about her blog which has been lying unconscious (though she said ‘dead’, I don’t want to use that word). I read all her posts. The spark which was born in my mind two years ago began to glow again. I requested Shikha to help me revive my blog. But unfortunately I had forgotten my id and password! So she opened a new one for me. Thus was born Pothoppuram.
It is true that I have been shamelessly promoting my blog. But doesn’t everybody do it? Authors promote their books; organizations promote their activities; researchers promote their works; business houses promote their products; and bloggers promote their blogs. Shamelessly, of course. Man’s (and woman’s) basic craving for recognition and appreciation naturally affected me, too. So I sent mails to everybody in my mailing list (about 400) proudly and loudly announcing that I have started a blog. Every time a new post was published, I sent the link. After a few such notifications, I began to feel slightly uneasy. Am I disturbing people? Am I intruding into their privacy? Do they curse me for flooding their inboxes? I should find out.
I sent requests asking them to send me a blank mail if they want their e-mail addresses to be deleted from the mailing list. Several readers immediately wrote that they want their addresses to be retained! And then, then, I got the first mail asking me at ‘point blank range’ to ‘delete my address’ which I promptly did. Another reader said that her inbox was already flooded and did I mind deleting her name? I deleted the name. She, however, had written, ‘I sometimes read your blog’. And yet another one, because the addressee had left the organisation. Later I got three more similar requests from my linked-in contacts.
I waited for more. But none came. So, six deletion requests out of more than 400! Wow! Is my blog that good? But I am not such a great fool (I am an ordinary one, though) to believe that the rest of the people regularly read my blog. There could be many reasons for their not responding: they might have deleted the mails without even opening; the mails might have gone into their spam folder never to be recovered; they just didn’t want to upset me (thank you for being generous); or they may just be lazy to respond; and so on and so forth.
Calculating from the number of hits, I realized that just about half of the addressees read my blog. But how do I filter the others out? This time I used the opposite trick. I wrote a note telling that if they want to be retained in the mailing list they should send me a blank mail. This time I got more blank mails and several of them wrote a sentence or two, too. At the end of four such mails, during the course of a month, I filtered out all those responded positively, all those commented on the posts at least once, and my close relatives and friends (who I believed would not sue me for the mails). (I pity the innocent Mumbai girls! Poor girls! I am sure for the rest of their life they will shudder hearing words such as Mumbai, computer, or Facebook!) So, the last few mails have only gone to those who I believe are genuinely interested in my blog posts.
While I have received several encouraging comments, none criticized the blog or any of the posts. It need not be because everyone had only good things to tell, but they probably did not want to offend me! Maybe they had several things to ask me such as ‘Why are you wasting your time and that of others?’, ‘What you write is all crap’, ‘Why should we read stupid stories about your childhood?’ and so on and so forth. But nobody wrote anything like that. Thank you for being so considerate.
I would, moreover, like to mention a few pleasant things connected with my blog.
Beryl Belsky, who lives in Israel, hosts a web site The Writer’s Drawer. After reading my post on the uniform, she invited me to contribute a story to her site under the theme ‘Defining moments’. I contributed a true story ‘A woman’s fight to live’. A few days after it was published, on a fine Sunday morning I received a call from ‘Saroj’, the heroine of the story. She was simply overwhelmed. She said 95 per cent of the story was true facts and five per cent was exaggerated. I was really flattered. I had imagined something like 80 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively. She was glad that I chose her story to tell to an international audience.
About the ‘exaggeration’ she talked about: My principle about non-academic writing is that it is not the facts that the writer should actually try to transfer to the reader, but the feelings and emotions behind those. There are four steps involved in the process: (i) the writer creates the idea in his mind and feel the emotions; (ii) he/she transfers it into words; (iii) the reader reads the words; and (iv) he/she gathers the feelings and emotions behind the words. At all these stages some amount of the emotion is lost. As a result the reader gets only a portion of the feelings that the writer originally had. In order to compensate for this loss, the writer needs to put in an extra dose of emotions into his writing. This extra dose is probably what Saroj felt as exaggeration.
Based upon a post in my blog, I was invited to write a longer piece for a publication (pardon me for not disclosing the identities). I, of course, prepared and sent the article to them. It was however, not published, not because of the low quality of the article, but because of the low status of the author! I, however, consider being invited to contribute itself as an honour.
Mr Jayaprakash Bhatt, my friend, forwarded my blog link to Mr Ramachandran Pillai from Hyderabad. He started reading my posts. He used to call me after each post and we used to discuss the post as well as several other things. We have become very good friends now. Mr Pillai is also an author of educational and other handbooks. Now Mr Pillai has started his own blog and is writing regularly.
Shikha, who helped me start this blog, is trying to revive her blog.
Samprati Pani wrote that she was thinking of starting her blog as well.
There are several other people, including my IndiBlogger readers, who constantly encourage me through their comments.
I once again thank you all for the encouragement.