Wednesday, December 15, 2004

staying on track

I read somewhere yesterday that the way to make your blog popular is to post frequently--really frequently--the suggestion was, as often as you eat, so three times a day, plus snacks.

Putting aside for the moment that most of the time I don't eat three meals a day--yesterday, I took my first (and only) honest meal at 11:45 pm, and the friend who watched would probably disagree whether a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of Cheerios constitute an honest meal--this seems like an awful lot of posting. Although I guess it depends on how long the individual posts are. For example, I would love to see more from Snufkina, and not just because she said a very nice thing about my tush recently, but not if it meant her posts weren't as thought-out and well-illustrated with her photos. Same for Jake, who goes silent for weeks and then comes out with something that invariably manages to be funny and poignant without getting maudlin. Meanwhile the guys I check regularly are pretty consistent about a post a day or every other day, but they're generally shorter and more quickly digested.

I'm not sure what I'm getting at here. I should really turn off the radio; I never said I could write to dance music. Am I saying that my female friends write meals and my male friends snacks? No. Am I saying that Marc blogs like a girl because his posts are (sometimes) as long as mine, or those of the other women I read? No, well. No. Anyway, I'm in serious danger of getting all meta about blogging, which wasn't the point when I sat down. I guess the question I sat down to ask was, how often should a blogger post to hold their readers' interest? Where's the cutoff point? Where's the moment when, since they've been quiet so long, you stop checking?

Actually, and that whole discursion is completely typical, what I sat down to write was that I am feeling completely loose right now, and incapable of holding onto a thought for longer than one rumble from my neglected stomach. Yesterday was incredibly intense--I wrote for about 18 hours straight, eating nothing but dried fruit and a little leftover Thai food--to finish up two pieces of writing that could mean major changes in my life. One was a thousand-word essay that, if the editor buys it, will net me the single largest writing check I've received to date, and possibly signal the beginning of a relationship that will free me to do more writing and less catering. The other piece is just as meaningful: an 800-word sample that will help a different editor decide between three or four applicants for the same weekly column. A column which would mean a larger beat, a larger readership, and a better-looking resume.

Which is a lot more intense than I realized, especially now that both pieces have hit their e-mail targets and both women have told me they'll get back to me by next week. And I don't know what to do in the meantime. I mean, I have a lot that needs doing, like laundry, and a lot that I want to do, like knit and paint. But the big-picture thinking I meant to do this week, I need to put on hold until I know about the column. So I'm lolling around, basically, trying not to think about it. Yes it's noon on a Wednesday and I'm postcoital and still in my robe and trying to decide whether to clean house this afternoon or just go to the zoo, and I know how some of you dayjob folks feel about that, but then you probably have health insurance and know when you're getting your next paycheck, so we're even. Well...

Something I didn't think about when I left ILM in a huff to be a writer was how much of a shark it would mean becoming. You know, the whole keep moving thing. I was thinking about this last night, how once a week for seven years, someone walked into my office with a check with my name on it. Wow, was that luxurious.

Of course, I hated my life.

I just need to learn better focus if I'm to keep going like this.