Thursday, 21 March 2013

Ma Vie en Prose

That's nice. Overnight my cumulative pageview total has topped 200,000. Well, that's 200,000 since February 2009, so it has taken about four years to get here. On the other hand, there have been 100,000 pageviews in the last nine months, so the readership seems to have accelerated somewhat in recent times.

I hope it continues. Meanwhile, a big thanks to everyone who has followed the blog, and in particular those who were able to comment, whether or not I completely agreed with your point of view. But I hasten to say that I usually found much to agree with. Because this is a blog that seeks common ground, and it most certainly isn't one that sets out to provoke or stir things up. Very much not. I'd like to think it has a cheerful and positive atmosphere, describes a happy life, offers coverage of a wide range of topics, sets good standards of writing, and is a safe place to visit.

A visitor won't be exposed to hate and vile prejudice, and uncomfortable emotional challenges. I dare say that the pageview total would rocket if the blog ever became a vehicle for radical sentiments, but I don't want it hijacked by a dark image and a polarised following. As it stands, it's not exactly a family show: but it isn't a scurrilous and unprincipled piece of jounalism either.

Where is this leading? Well, I want to encourage many other people to try their hand at blogging. It's a perfect medium when you have something to say at length, and would find one-liners on Twitter frustrating or pointless; or can't get on with the one-size-fits-all format of Facebook, and the vacuous levity that seems normal there. Besides, these websites exist for social networking. A blog exists to publish stuff that might not be suitable for discussion. It isn't a forum. It's a personal showcase, a diary. The essential thing that distinguishes a blog from a private diary is that its content is made public. But that's the point: a blog says, 'This is what I think and do; what I believe is true; this is my point of view; and I want everyone to know'. And I think a lot of bloggers understand that their blog will be so personal that it will never be widely-read. That doesn't matter: but getting it Out There does.

A blog can be very individual, and the format allows full expression of what you want to say. All my own posts are really essays - some of them a bit too long, I suspect - but nevertheless I can set out exactly what I want to say, and include my own photos to drive home the point. It's like publishing a Sunday-supplement article every couple of days, but with full control over the content and artistic presentation.

This started out as a typical transition blog. You know, 'My Journey'. Even though I'm now two years post-op, it's still is peppered with trans-related articles and references, and because of that I hope it still deserves a place in the daily listing on T-Central.

My position now is, however, to show how the Ongoing Life unfolds, what happens, and where it takes me. This helps to fill a niche. There are indeed several other great blogs that deal with post-op life, but not very many. I think it's a rich and unexploited field, and the bloggers active in it can provide feedback on a number of things. For example, whether one can be fully content with life after irreversible changes. What the continuing issues are. What setbacks arise. What pleasures come your way. In short, whether 'transition is worth it' - although that was never a question for me personally. I always felt, and still feel, that transition was an irresistible process that I'd have to face up to regardless of the consequences. It worked out fine. It went to plan. But if it hadn't, then the blog would say so. Because you have to be honest. So that was why, at the end my last post ('Social position'), I mentioned that I hadn't yet found a way to experience a deeper part of female life, and feared that I never would.

Although a blog isn't for social networking, it can make connections between people. Through this blog I have made several friends, some of whom I have actually met. It felt safe to do so, because we said so much about each other in our blogs, and it was possible to get a good 'feel' for each other's personality as we gradually edged towards a meeting. So far I haven't felt let down by this process. In no case has it felt like a completely 'blind date'. These were experiences that wouldn't have been possible unless I had blogged.

Which brings me to the question of how much of your real self do you reveal in a blog. This is a very personal thing. It's well-known that everything published on the Internet stays there indefinitely, and can be searched for. Even if a post is deleted, the links to it (including a partial quote of the contents) will remain. And anything copied to another blog or website prior to deletion will stay there to be rediscovered at any time. The problems all this might cause in the future certainly justify a very careful approach.

So I don't blame any person for not publishing photos of themselves, or for using a pseudonym, or for not mentioning facts that might identify them to family, neighbours or their employer. It's a pity though. Because such strategies make them harder to know, and can be a barrier to credibility. But with the world as it is, there is too much to lose if an indiscretion is seen by a person with malicious intent.

I personally feel safer than most in describing my life, but I remain vague about my address, and I don't think I will ever again publish pictures of the pre-transition me, except perhaps myself as a child. Such things can get used elsewhere in ways that I would not wish. It's already happened, and I don't intend to provide further ammunition for people who want to sneer at me!

Should a blog promote a political agenda? Or campaign in any way for a cause or belief? Or be a watchdog on such things as human rights and abuses? I'd say yes, if it's done fairly and cleanly, and gives out well-researched information that can be checked for truth and worth. The trouble is that blogs exist that do not meet this standard, and if cleverly-written might persuade you of 'facts' that are really mere personal theories or assertions. Some of them are written by anonymous writers who have no profile, whose status cannot be verified, who are unknowable and untraceable as real people. Would you give these people time, if they were not on the Internet? I wouldn't. But each potential reader must decide for themselves.

I will say, don't let your own blog become like those, if you wish to develop a broad-based following. On the other hand, as I suggested above, an aggressively-written blog might become hugely popular. I am well-pleased with achieving 200,000 pageviews in four years. But some blogs have millions of pageviews every month. I think it's entirely possible to do as well as that, but I can't see how any blog could be so popular without playing to the audience, creating a cult following, and perhaps selling out to commercial interests. And in the process losing any connection with the real person behind the blog, and their authentic views.

3 comments:

  1. Funny you should have written this Lucy as I had posted (a much shorter version) something about my blog statistics today. My total readership has only reached 66,000 in the same time and yet they hail from all over the world. I was wondering therefore from where do your readers hail? Are you by chance listed at T Central? I only say that because in the last year or so you have written many articles, all good ones of course, on the subject of your transition and following life. Would I be right therefore to think that many of your readers, being interested in such things, are connected with T Central too? For a little while after my transition (not before) I was a member there but left because of all the bickering that I saw there. That might have changed. The site no longer holds an interest for me since I transitioned over ten years ago. It is good that you get so may visitors though but I bet you wished more of them would make the occasional comment, I know I feel that way. For some unknown reason the last two days have seen a seven-fold increase in my readership and although it has peeked higher in the past it is unusual but welcome. I just wonder how long they will continue to visit. It's all good fun though isn't it and you are right in encouraging others to join in the fun of blogging. 'Well you gotta do something' as the title of a pre-written up-coming post of mine says....

    Shirley Anne x

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  2. I think quite a number of readers must find me because of T-Central. That site doesn't nowadays seem to attract the bickering you mention: they list all kinds of trans blogs, including a couple that definitely scorn the 'conventional' attitudes and aspirations of most transitioners. I feel that my 'post-op' stance is also not typical of T-Central's showcase, but so long as I have something relevant for their target readership, I expect they'll list me!

    I wasn't going to crow about having as many as 200,000 pageviews, but couldn't resist. But it's not a contest. It's nice that people give me a glance, but there are no prizes for popularity and I don't want to end up being merely a crowd-pleaser.

    As for comments, I agree that they are getting fewer. And I'm not sure why.

    Lucy

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  3. Once I discovered blogs I felt that it was wrong to just read and not join in with comments and soon afterwards my own blog even though I had written little more than shopping lists for the past few decades.

    I too had hoped for more interaction...

    ReplyDelete

This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford