2020 Begins

January 3, 2020

I have now been blogging for eight years. I have posted every week, without exception, usually (but not always) on Fridays.

There have been a lot of ups and downs. When Facebook was at its heyday, I got a lot of traffic from there. Then Facebook changed its algorithms, making it harder to drive interest to a website.

I adjusted, and my traffic moved up again.

Three years ago, a marketing genius at Moon Books suggested my platform needed a single completely integrated website, not a separate blog and main site. It took over six months, since it was a major overhaul, but I did it. Traffic dropped substantially.

But over time, visitors increased again.

This year, mid-September, visits to my blog decreased 75% and stayed there, and I’m trying to figure out what happened. I assumed initially that my recent subjects weren’t as interesting to other people, or that my photos weren’t so good as in the past, or that my posts were too short or too long or not as good. But it’s more than that.

So I’m rethinking this again.

One of the hardest things about blogging, that I’ve found, is that you have to keep promoting your blog. Even many core visitors won’t return automatically, but see on social media that you’ve posted again or are otherwise reminded of your presence. Competition for online attention is fierce and becoming more fierce.

The second hardest thing about blogging is that it doesn’t necessarily drive book sales. People who read a lot of books don’t spend huge amounts of time online. I get the most traffic (here and on Twitter) when I blog about something that has political resonance, and I limit the amount of political writing I do. I’m just not interested in becoming a political blogger. I have that in common with Henry David Thoreau, who only really wanted to write about nature and birds, but got a huge amount of attention (than and now) for a little tract called Civil Disobedience. He didn’t even invent the concept; he only described and defined it well.

So I’m examining why there was a precipitous dropoff that seems to be ongoing. Moon Books stopped promoting my blogposts on Twitter about that time, so that might be the culprit. I could have been getting traffic through a link on another site, and somebody removed the link, maybe when redesigning their site or maybe because I wrote something they disagreed with. A lot of people have voluntarily moved off Twitter in the past year for their censorship policies directed toward feminists, so maybe the answer is to disengage from Twitter in favor of another hangout, just as moving from Facebook to Twitter years ago redirected my audience. I think blogs in general may be less popular than they used to be. There are more online magazines, and they are well promoted, savvy to continually evolving user tastes.

I may also have to consider whether blogging might be a poor use of my time, time better spent writing books and articles for online magazines and anthologies. I may need to choose whether to direct my energies into becoming a better self promoter (not my strong suit) or a better writer. The best self promoters, in my observation, are emotionally insecure people who strive constantly to get people to like them and stroke their egos and give them positive reinforcement. They work at it everyday, from an early age. They love social media and curry favor by pandering whatever opinion is popular. Obviously I can’t change my personality, nor do I want to.

So I’m at a turning point. I may adjust and throw myself into getting my “hits” up again, or I may take a step back and ask myself “Why?” One thing I will continue to do is keep the website. With ever increasing censorship of feminists, for dumber and dumber reasons, I can’t afford to invest too much in social media presence.

I think in 2020 there’s going to be a splintering of social media traffic, moving away from giants like Twitter and Facebook into smaller fee-paid social media groups. The media companies did it to themselves, by profiting from fake news and buying into cancel culture. The Internet as a whole may be at a turning point, not just me.

New Post at Return to Mago

September 13, 2019

I have another post on the Return to Mago website. This is about beer brewing, and an account of a myth of Inanna involving beer.

Drinking beer through straws in Mesopotamia. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Update on Shoulder

February 22, 2019

Recovery from torn rotator cuff is progressing very nicely. Range of motion in all directions is between 92 and 100%. I’m working on regaining strength so I can return to my previous activities.

This has been a singular experience for me. I’m more of a process than a goal oriented person. I do have goals, but they are invariably tied to process, and once I finish a project I lose interest in it. This healing process has had little to recommend it: time consuming, boring, and often painful. So I have had to keep the goal in mind consistently.

Still, this has been, in many ways, one of my sweetest achievements.

Mary Oliver 1935 – 2019

January 18, 2019

Nature poet Mary Oliver died this week. She was known for her poems about emotional survival and the natural world.

Oliver struggled for years with cancer, but continued to produce. Her last volume of new poetry, Felicity, was about love. Her same-sex relationship with Molly Cook lasted over fifty years until Cook’s death in 2005.

Animals featured largely in Oliver’s work. In 2013 she published a book of dog poems followed the next year by another book of animal poems entitled Blue Horses.

Much of Oliver’s poetry, including her nature poetry, celebrated the resilience of the human spirit.

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. [continued]

Happy New Year!

January 4, 2019

This blog is 7 years old today.

As many of you are aware, some heavy eclipse energy this month. (Oh no, not again!) Partial solar eclipse January 5th and total lunar eclipse January 21st. Wait til after the 21st to initiate new projects. Spellwork should focus on removing obstacles and clearing energies. Paradoxically, this may be the time to make progress on goals that have been bafflingly stymied.

On a personal note, progress on my physical therapy has been gratifying. That frozen shoulder is starting to thaw. A good example of eclipse energy manifesting in a useful way!

Reflecting on 2018

December 28, 2018

2018 has been a hard year for a lot of people, myself included. Looking back, it’s also been a productive year. In 2018 I:

  1. Tore my rotator cuff in 3 places doing something stupid.
  2. Launched a book.
  3. Finished a novel.
  4. Had surgery and started physical therapy for my shoulder.
  5. Started another novel.

Shoulder is healing nicely. I won’t do that again.

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

Update on Surgery

December 7, 2018

Chickadee on a fir branch
Photo: Dawn Huczek

My surgery for torn rotator cuff and frozen shoulder went off without a hitch. Too soon to crow about success; fingers crossed. I am out of the sling and driving again, which is a big relief.

A Personal Note

November 2, 2018

Photo: Cassandra Tiensivu.

I am having surgery for a torn rotator cuff and I will be taking a hiatus for a few weeks. I hope to be posting again soon.