Friday, January 14, 2005

Writing in a Vacuum

The alerts are dead…or at the very least, critically ill. AOL as a whole has been acting strangely lately. For the past day and a half, my little "" forecast has been MIA. Navigating through journal land has been a jerky proposition: my screen will appear to freeze up for a longer than normal period of time between "website has been located" and the actual loading of a page. Weird little groanings and twistings are making me think that all is not well in AOL-world.

Since the alerts quit, my readership has evaporated. Why does this bother me? Since the first comment appeared on one of my entries sometime before Christmas last year…since that first rush of excitement that someone was actually reading my brain-droppings, I have had a love-hate relationship going on with comments and my hit counter. I started out wanting to be able to write freely. It was important to me to write as I have always written, about my feelings, about the things that beat incessantly around inside my head until I have to let them out. In those first months, I made two mistakes. I started reading other journals, and, naturally, compared my talent to theirs. And always found myself lacking. On top of that, I found myself so addicted to having readers, that I started to write for the audience. Tried to, anyway. Guess I haven’t been too successful after all! J

I would like to say that having the alerts on the fritz doesn’t bother me; that I can just continue to let the steam escape from my brain and splatter out through my keyboard--that it’s all about putting it in black and white (or green and blue) to help make sense of it all--and the presence or absence of an audience makes no difference. I’ve been having this tug of war between the part of me that wants to communicate with other human beings, and the part of me that just needs to write. I even started a private journal to mollify my "just needs to write" persona . It didn’t help. I’m as addicted to feedback from the few readers of my private journal as I am to comments and hit counts on the public one. And it feels like exactly addiction. An unhealthy dependency on being read. Sprouting from an unquenchable urge to be understood? I don’t know. Whatever it is, it doesn’t feel good right now.

Protestations to the contrary aside, why would one create a public, on-line journal if having readers were not a priority? And, there’s more to it than even that. I felt I had become part of a community. A slightly quirky, long-distance, anonymous community…but a community nonetheless. Now…I’m not so sure. I guess I have to be honest…I haven’t done much more than dip a toe into journal land. I don’t keep up with fifty journals a day; I don’t send personal emails to everyone who leaves comments, I don’t do message boards or chats. So I can’t fairly say I feel abandoned by a community that I’ve never truly embraced.

It’s time to do some serious thinking about why I write this journal. Who am I trying to reach? How much am I willing to invest, emotionally?

Where do I want it to go, if anywhere? Or is it time to put "Coming to Terms…" to bed, and move on to something else?




  1. Even though my alerts are quirky, I got this one.  Please don't put your journal to bed.  Why is it that the best writers here are the ones that do that?  I look at the hit counters of some of the journals I've visited and wonder how and why.  I'm not putting down people who have wildly popular journals, but popularity isn't necessarily an indicator of quality. I've seriously thought about getting rid of the hit counter on my journal because sometimes it means just too much to me.  I also know that when I consciously try to write for readers, I don't think I do too well, and the "community" things like the memes never get a large response.  Today's entry feels like such a fiasco, I'm thinking of deleting it and have had real regrets over doing it.  About your writing talent,  it's serious, real and don't you dare compare yourself to other people and consider yourself lacking. I seriously consider you one of the best writers in this  In part, this is the pot calling the kettle black, because I do the same thing.  Just don't get rid of the journal.  You're not the only person to whom Coming to Terms... is important.

  2. Oh, stop this nonsense.  I am a harsh critic, and I hang out at this joint!  @@ <---- that is me rolling my eyes, now I am {{{{hugging}}}} you.  The alerts have been off, but I check here anyway.  Just write for yourself.  I do not send emails to people who leave comments either.  Sometimes I want to, and I do occasionally if I simply must clarify something, but I just cannot get past feeling as if it is so needy.  Not judging others who does so, but I know if I did it, it would only be done to assure their loyalty.

    And stop judging your writing compared to others, I do that enough for the both of us.  I wish I could write my social thoughts like you without revealing my agenda so apparently.

    Also, you have now developed a pattern of identifying your inability (or unwillingness) to connect with people (I have seen it claimed more than once in this journal).  The rules are, once you have identified the problem more than a few times, it is time to do something about it.  Now get with the program sister.

  3. That should be "others who do it."  

  4. Well, since I have been reading your journal steadily for months without benefit of the alerts, I for one hope you will continue.  In fact, I'm quite dismayed and insulted to discover that you have a private journal to which I haven't been invited <G>!

    I don't pay all that much attention to the alerts, anyway.  Often when they pop up, I don't have time to follow them right then, and I go back repeatedly to entries I like so that I can  read the comments anyway.  I have a couple of lists in my favorites -- Daily Reads and Sometimes -- and I just run through those.

    OTH, I will freely admit to being addicted to my comments.  My private, hand-written journals don't have nearly the allure for me anymore that my public online ones do.  I do love to communicate with people and to see how my ideas are received.  And I try to reciprocate, not always successfully.  I do better with journalers with whom I feel in sync and, sometimes, with those with whom I completely disagree.  But there are a number whom I read for insight into different worlds, and while they're fun to visit, I don't have a lot to say beyond "Oh."

    See, here I came up with more than "Oh."

  5. Have to say I agree with Sistercdr and a lot with what others have commented so far.  And yes, even though I don't always leave a comment on your entries, I read your journal...dare I say "religiously".  What you have to say is usually important, informative and your writing style and skills far exceed most of the journals I read or have checked out thus far.  My entries tend to be nothing more than a lot of fluff most of the time; doesn't mean I don't have deeper thoughts.  It's wonderful to have someone like you who is able to write in such an articulate fashion.  And it's purely human nature to crave some recognition for what you write.  Believe me, we all do and it's no sin.  Carry on, Lisa.  Please :)

  6. Hey, I felt like I could have written this entry myself.  I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all like to have the feedback and validation from comments. Maybe it goes back to that old popularity contest in high school, I don't know.  Keep writing though, regardless of the motivation....I think it's a healthy thing to do whether others read it or not.

  7. Lisa, I don't always have a comment to add, but I do read you faithfully. I think your voice is an important one in J-Land---honest, passionate, thought-provoking. I would miss you if you were gone.

  8. I am responding to this post BEFORE reading the comments of the other people soooooooo I may be repeating what others have said or I may not.  I do know that I have found a friend in you and feel that you matter.  I get you.  A lot.

    Even though sometimes we see the world differently, though lenses that have been tinted from different lives I feel a kinship with you and enjoy knowing that there are souls out "there" that I relate to.  I do not get on journals daily since I am busy living....but I do read yours everytime I get on my own.  Just to see how you are.  Just to know that your world is good.

    Please don't leave.  I would miss you.


    now I am going to read what others had to say.  :)

  9. Haven't we had this conversation before?  I know that I have!! lol. I have turned off my alerts.  I was being freaked out with the sheer numbers that await me when I return from my weekends away.  So, I'm back to the old fashion way of doing it.  I know that when I first started this, the readership was like the extra goodness that came with seeing my words "posted".  I too have a private jnl that is a hoot  (its on Blogspot)....because no one reads it and I am so free with it! But I love your jnl and I love your intelligence and passion.

  10. I can't add anymore than others have said Lisa.  Only that, from my point of view as an English person, your journal has always been so informative, in so far as I've been able to see the differences and the similarities between the American and English way of life.  It would be a great loss if you consigned it to the wastebin.


  11. Well I know how you feel. I was wondering what was going on when I first noticed that I hadn't gotten any comments. I was thinking everyone had forgotten about me. But then when I was reading through my journal that I keep in my bedroom I read the entry from the day that I first started my journal online and at the end I said that I promised not to write for the audience and I would write as if they (you all) weren't there. So that made my mind a little more at ease about continuing to write. I don't know what is going on with AOL. I think if it weren't for JLand AOL would have lost alot more of us


  12. Quite a cute little shot of the sleepy man in the moon and the star dancers. Very nice.

  13. What? Put it to bed? I'd have to show you the ugly side of community real fast if you did that! I've been quite scattered lately and once again scammering to reorganize, that is the only reason I haven't commented recently. I actually planned on just popping in tonight to see how you are and then come back during the weekend some time to comment. But you pulled me in you comment 'ho. ;-)

    I will be back later to catch up. :-) ---Robbie

  14. Don't you dare stop!  Lisa

  15. Jeez, Lisa ~ What the hell?  

    I don't get it.  You have a strong and supportive readership, your numbers are, in fact, enviable and you clearly enjoy writing and expressing yourself.  Not everyone who reads comments; sometimes we're short on time; sometimes we've nothing substantive to add.  It doesn't mean you aren't being heard.

    I think there's a very natural tendency to look at the counters and comments, and when they aren't up to standards that we hope for or expect, to become discouraged.  But really ~ how many people do you need to have in a room to have an interesting conversation?  Or debate?  The concepts of 'needing to write v needing to communciate' that you address need not be mutually exclusive; I find that what would be an undisciplined (and tedious) rant in a private journal becomes much more focused, logical and precise when one is challenged to present it for an audience.  I know that you know this because of all the research and effort that have gone into your recent political posts; comprehensive and carefully presented.   Clarifying one's own thoughts, feelings, positions ~ isn't THAT what writing a journal is all about?

    Speaking of tedious rants ~ I'll end mine now. (Sheesh!) But I mean it ~ take a break if you must, but don't stay 'underground'.  I'll miss you. ;(

  16. Lisa,

    The alerts are not functioning properly.  I am working on a mailing list now that I plan on e-mailing people an alert once a week with a little high-light of what I've written that week and a link.  What do you think?  BTW, I did get the alert to this entry!  Please don't stop blogging.  We're here.  And we do enjoy your blog.  


  17. The alert situation is a pain.  We've all become very reliant on them.  I feel like you do though...a little abandoned I guess.  But, I'm also not gettting to all the journals I usually read because I'm not being REMINDED to.  I hope they get it staightened out and SOON!!

    Pleae don't put this baby to bed Lisa.  You have a great perspective and a honest and open writing style that is a pleasure to read.  I would really miss Coming To Terms...if you were to discontinue.

  18. It would be a great loss to the journal community if you choose to stop writing.  I can relate to all you have said and find that more people comment on my jokes than the stuff that really truly matters.  I have learned to take it as it comes.  I write because I breathe as I am sure you do.  I add nonsense and quizzes as hooks in hopes that people will read the things I've written that are not so easy to take.  It helps.  It would be a better world if everyone cared less about entertainment and more about issues...

    Forgive me for not commenting as often as I should...sometimes it is difficult to get to everyone...but you are one of my favorites...and have been since I first read you.

    Don't give up yet.

  19. Gosh, I just started reading you! (via UNLOAD!) I am not a journaler, just a journal reader and non-commenter (sorry). I like what I have read in your journal so far, hope you find it in you to go on.

  20. I just found your journal. Keep it up. You sound like a fun person to get to know...."I'll be back..."

  21. i jsut started my journal. It took me a long time to make it public, but I feel the same way that you do. I feel snubbed if no one has read my little ramblings origianally just meant for my own eyes. I also compare myself to otjer people. I enjoy your political articles, but i'm too chicken to say much aout things like taht myself, because I dont' want some scary sonservative with drool dripping from their jaws to "get" me! LOL!

  22. Awww, Lisa!  I know it's hard.  Who doesn't want to have people read?  But then there's so much responsibility that goes along with it.  And obligations to read others' journals, and perhaps you feel guilty if you don't!

    I just gave up on my journal, and I don't miss it.  I still write, though!  That I would never give up.  I just write elsewhere.  And in e-mails.  

    But I think it's completely different with your case.  You have always expressed a love for your journal.  So don't be discouraged!  I am only sorry I've been away from reading it for so long.

  23. As a newcomer to journals, may I encourage you to continue for your own gratification and healing.  We all need it so much.  I found a website through someone's journal writings that really helped me today and I love it.  Hope you do too.  I clicked on articles and WOW.  You will feel such peace.  Since I am new, I don't know if I'll find you again, but, it feels so good to give this away to all who see it.