|Jim Bachor's mosaic "Thrive," installed at the Thorndale 'L' station in 2014.|
When I mentioned to my wife that I was sorting through the numbers for my third year end State of the Blog report, she replied, quickly and, I thought, rather emphatically, that I shouldn't. That nobody cares about the stats but me, and my doing so is unseemly, a personal flaw, and I should resist the urge.
To which my unspoken answer was: Yeah, and a pony for the children.
Meaning, in some ideal world, it wouldn't matter if a piece of writing influenced one person or a million. Emily Dickinson's poems were just as good, written on sheets of paper and bound with thread into little booklets and jammed into a drawer at her home in Amherst as they'd be splashed across the cover the Ladies Home Journal.
But at some point somebody had to read them.
And in the 24-hour-a-day roar, the howling free-fire zone that the Internet is, numbers seem to count for something. Anyway, the machine keeps track of them, and I do try to pay attention. On days when I get 2,000 hits, such as today (assuming you're reading this on the day it's posted, Dec. 30, 2015) I feel as if I've accomplished something. If that is sin, then it is my sin, and I own it.
Onward, as Rick Kogan would say.
The news is good, well, goodish. Last year I suggested that 50,000 hits a month would be some kind of success. I hit that mark for January-- 51,780--and surpassed it two more times, topping out at nearly 60,000--59,986--in August, almost 40 percent higher than the 2014 high of 43,000.
In 2013, the daily average was 918. In 2014 it was 1200. This year it was 1539 a day.
Not Kim Kardashian's ass breaking the Internet. But steady progress.
The blog reached a million hits this year, averaging 47,718 hits a month. And while I estimate that 10 percent of those are Spambots, still a milestone of some sort. I held an on-line party the day we passed a million, with music and mingling, and several hundred readers showed up. That was fun.
Not the skyrocketing success that some blogs find. But not bad either, I'm told. We're going for the long term here. The blog is part life raft, part archive, part hobby, part unpaid job.
I can't pretend that stopping is an option at this point, for a variety of reasons. First, I get more control over the blog. Last May's post on performance artist/singer Amanda Palmer sticks in mind. I thought it an interesting encounter, and had pictures, and asked the paper for a page, which I'd thought I'd get. Then late in the day, pressing news intruded and I had my usual 750 words, and I had to cut the column in half, clumsily, at the last minute. Which would have really irked me, but it remained the same on the blog, and that is what would be available the next day. Palmer's husband, fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, retweeted it to his 2 million followers, meaning it reached far more people through Twitter than through the paper. The print edition is becoming an increasingly mooted, momentary paper interlude, and that trend will only continue.
Which is the second reason the blog is important. It's about he only way you can find archived columns of mine. The newspaper, for some unfathomable reasons, yanked its archive off line, and you can either pull them out of Nexis, or find them here. Several times I've tried to refer people to columns which, though only a few weeks old, have already vanished. So having them here is important, to the degree that my columns being available is important, and that conversation I will leave to you.
I'm skipping the poster this year. The 2015 poster sold eight copies, and while I enjoyed making wheat paste and slapping them up in the West Loop, that isn't reason enough to commission a new one. Maybe for the book, which comes out in the fall. I'm also thinking of creating a coffee cup instead for 2016, to give out as prizes.
What else? Marc Schulman of Eli's Cheesecake returned sponsorship of the blog for the holidays and through January, and I am grateful to him for that, and urge you to show your appreciation as well by sending the gift of cheesecake to yourself or a loved one.
Finally, as always, thank you for reading this stuff. Without you, I would be talking to myself.