There’s usually a reason

My readership has flatlined.  I’m only complaining a little mind you, because I’m really quite happy with the regular conversations I have with those of you kind enough to visit here on a regular basis and then to stick around and talk with me when you come.  Still, I have been wondering for the last few days — no, make that weeks — why, after a long period of slightly sustained growth, the numbers are just doldrum-y.  I’ve concluded that, since I’m not a “breaking news” kind of blog, my strength has got to be writing.  And as for that, while I’m a pretty lucid writer, with occasional flashes of elegance and even wit, when I read something like the following, which manages to have pitch perfect content, complimented by equally pitch perfect writing, I realize why some of the competition is definitely above my league:

The title — the headline of a Breitbart story on Gen. David Petraeus’ and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s testimony before Congress — says it all, doesn’t it? “Surge a failure, Democrats tell General.” I’m sure Petraeus was properly grateful for being instructed.

This is our first post from the Noordam, a Holland-America cruise ship. It turns out to be a bigger pain than expected to post from here: The connection fee is horrendous — we just dropped $100 for 250 minutes (of which 180 remain); so we must go online, save a bunch of web pages we intend to use, then logout. Then we read the material we downloaded offline and write the post (I’m writing in Netscape Mail). At the end, when the post is finished, I will log on again, paste this text into Movable Type, edit it and check the links, and then post. Yeesh!

Here’s the fuller quotation from the story:

Anti-war Senate Democrats bluntly told Iraq commander General David Petraeus Tuesday his troop surge strategy was an abject failure in its prime objective — forging an Iraqi political settlement. [Or rather, giving Congress a playable reason to surrender.]

Several Senate Republicans [read: RINOs] also expressed unease with US war policy, as the general and US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker endured a roasting on a second day of high-stakes testimony to Congress.

Resorting to the last refuge of a cowardly scoundrel, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE, 100%) asked Petraeus two direct questions about the efficacy of the “surge”… then he proceeded to answer them himself, without inviting the commanding general to confuse matters by participating in the interrogation.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT, 95%) went Biden one better, furiously asking a rhetorical question that tortured the English language until it begged for mercy: “What makes you possibly think that anything further like this is going to produce the results that anybody else has failed to do?” (Senate aides are still trying to pick up the broken pieces of syntax and semantic content Dodd left strewn on the Rotunda floor.) Sen. Lieberman (I-CT, 75%D) must have slid further down in his seat, hoping folks wouldn’t think he was with the other fellow at his table.

Isn’t that great writing?  I especially enjoy the last paragraph I quoted, where good writing is used to attack bad speaking.  You can read this rest here.

21 Responses

  1. Bookworm,
    Maybe it’s not a competition. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would feel a definite loss were you to stop sharing your thoughts on this blog.

  2. When my first book sold over 100,000 copies, I asked my mother if she was proud of me. Reply: ‘there are probably only a few tens of thousands of people who will appreciate you… any more is irrelevant.’

  3. Your mother was a wise woman, Michael!

  4. I know how you feel, BW. On the other hand, I always read the Big Lizard, too, and when his headline read “Give a yell for aerogel!” Well, I deeply imbibed, and now I want me some aerogel. The stuff looks awesome.

  5. Biden and Dodd represent two living breathing reasons why I won’t vote for a U.S. Senator for President. What do these people run besides their mouths?

  6. I’ve been involved with probably a dozen websites in one capacity or another in the last six years, and I’ve decided that growth is one of those things that just can’t be predicted, and even rarely explained.

    Now, I came here via Big Lizards, thanks to the Watcher’s Council, and I don’t think you lose overly much to Dafydd and Sachi on the writing end, and I appreciate your more consistant posting regimen. Big Lizards pays for its writing quality with a low posting rate. On good days, it’s worth the wait, but I also love the fact that I can check in here two or three times a day and find new posts, whereas Big Lizards usualy only updates once a day, if then.

    You have yourself a nice niche, Book, and a great set of commentators; don’t hold yourself to too high a standard.

  7. I know you didn’t post to get a pat on the back, BUT I visit every day and wish I had your gift of written expression. I I often don’t comment because you usually cover all the ‘what ifs’ and I’m not in the same league as many of your regulars in sophistication. All politics all the time would be tiresome and especially delightful is your weaving together of a well known movie with timely political issues – that is art. Keep giving your gift.

  8. Thanks to all of you. And Marguerite, thinking about what you said, I did post this (at least in small part), not only to praise the Lizard’s great prose, but also to get a pat on the back. I adore blogging and would do it even if I had no readers at all. However, one can add to the fact that I do have grat readers two other facts: (a) I greedily want more and (b) I like to hear occasionally that things are going well.

    In that regard, I’m reminding myself of a snipet I heard on the Dennis Prager show, when someone called in to note that men, when praised, will often add “I couldn’t have done it without my wife,” or “my wife is the real dynamo in the family.” Something like that. Prager instantly went to the heart of the matter which is that, in those families in which the husband works outside of the house and the woman inside, the husband has proof of his worth in performance reviews, promotions and salary. The wife doesn’t. Indeed, even if the wife works, to the extent that as much as half her waking time is still devoted to the family, where there are no salaries or performance reviews, her husband’s praise is all she’s got to keep her going with good cheer.

    Blogging is kind of like that. Numbers are the equivalent of salary. If the numbers aren’t doing what you want, you need to praise to keep the good cheer going. As I said, I’ll blog anyway, but it’s more fun to blog with good cheer.

  9. Readership at Bent Notes seems to have flatlined as well. The way I view it is as an opportunity to hone my chops in between magazine assignments.
    There’s also the fact that blogs like ours contribute to the sum total of (hopefully) mature right-of-center discourse, seasoned with slice-of-life observations and plain good fun. No small thing in a culture like modern America currently has.

  10. The interest, here, lies in the unpredictability of your dogmatic purity. A paradox, you ask? To be dogmatic and unpredictable? Indeed. I’m often surprised by the depths of right-wing malevolence you plummet. And, of course, you serve as a useful barometer of right-wing radicalism.

    As far as your flat-lined readership goes, I suspect you’re in a holding pattern because commentators like Malkin and Coulter are still more vile than you (thus, why come here?). Still, if only you would work a bit harder, the wreath of most despicable right-wing pundit could be placed upon your head.

  11. How wonderful that we are given our audiences through the kind, warm blanket of the WWW. Flat, up, down … it’s all remarkable in that it lets those who resonate with us find us. It is all really quite miraculous.

  12. On good days, it’s worth the wait, but I also love the fact that I can check in here two or three times a day and find new posts, whereas Big Lizards usualy only updates once a day, if then.

    That’s the same dynamic when reading Neo-Neocon’s blog and yours, Book.

    Think on the positive side of a flat line.

  13. Actually, Book, I suspect a lot of it is summer doldrums. Part of it is your niche. Some blogs (e.g.,DRUDGE) you go to for a quickie read on events with no depth, others (Hewitt, Bookworm) for controversial and thought-provoking ideas that perhaps merit contemplation rather than response. Heck, you even attract the Gregs of the world like moths to a flame…those who see everyone with a different world view as a hater…he obviously doesn’t come here because he agrees with you or because he likes getting smacked down by the rest of us…no, it is a certain “je ne sais quoi” that defines your niche. Keep it up!

  14. Cap’n Hufnpuf writes: “Still, if only you would work a bit harder, the wreath of most despicable right-wing pundit could be placed upon your head.”

    LOL!

    You go, girl! Earn that wreath!

  15. You are only successful, I guess, in the way Charles Johnson is, if you get a lot of hate mail. I have only gotten a little bit of it myself, not enough to make me feel validated.

  16. Hello Bookworm,

    I’ll feel a little silly if this is just a browser (IE) problem, but ever since you changed the look of the site, for me your daily postings do not appear until AFTER the links. For about a week I assumed your postings were just not there, and only after scrolling wa-a-a-ay down the page did I discover them–in a very narrow column, no wider than the links, and all the way over to the left. If it’s a problem on your end, that may explain a flat-lining readership if folks just give up after a while. But I won’t!

  17. Wow! That’s food for thought. I’ve now heard from three people about access problems here. Time for a new template — or maybe going back to the old one.

  18. Searching for compliments. We all do it .Some more than others of course !

  19. Templates are part of a blog’s personality. It’s like the layout of a newspaper. If the National Enquirer changed theirs to something similar to the NY Times, it would addle their readers. You don’t look like yourself anymore – more like a thousand other blogs that I don’t read. Bland. See The Anchoress for an example of an update that still looks like trademark Anchoress. Trademark style and layout do matter.

  20. Wow, Sweetbriar. Remind me not to let you see me without my make-up. As it is, since I use the free WordPress offerings, I have very limited choices in terms of style. My main concern is legibility. If this is legible, I’m happy.

  21. I care about the firepower rating of a blog, Book. It’s nice to be parade shiny but a weapon is a weapon. And a book is a book.

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