Thursday, November 05, 2009

We Are Not Alone

That sentence - we are not alone - is from some sci-fi movie, but I can’t remember which one. It has a rather ominous tone to it. I thought I’d use it as the title of the blog, but not in an ominous way.

Bloggers tend to post their thoughts or reviews or beliefs and wonder if anyone stops by. When comments start showing up, we think, wow, someone read what I wrote and added their thoughts to it. It begins to feel like an intimate conversation between yourself and the five or twenty people who show up on any given day.

I don’t think it matters whether you’re blogging for fun, or to promote your book or yourself, or to try to focus your thoughts and fears, you still are amazed or gladdened or wowed by those who comment. I am. I seem to have a core group who comment every day, and I am amazed by that. I now have close to 200 followers and that boggles my mind. Some days I check the blog and think, good gracious, 30 people have commented.

And still, it feels like a one-on-one conversation between myself and the commenters. I, and possibly others who blog, tend to forget that for every person who comments, there could be five or twenty who read and don’t comment.

What brought this into focus was something that happened this past weekend at the Texas Book Festival. Leading up to the Festival, I introduced, here on the blog, some of the authors and books who would be appearing at the Austin Museum of Art, the venue that I chair. They weren’t really reviews, but more of an enticement (I hoped) to get some of you to come hear the photographers and artists who were speaking.

In-between the speakers, we (myself and volunteers) go into re-set mode. We’re cleaning the room, straightening the chairs, whipping away opened water bottles and name plates from the speaker tables and putting out new stuff for the next speakers, etc. At one point, in the midst of doing all this, a photographer who had already finished his talk came up to me and thanked me for writing about his book on Straight From Hel.

Now, I know that people visit the blog and don’t leave a footprint that they’ve been there, but I was flabbergasted that he’d read the post. My guess is he or his publicist has a Google alert on his name or book title. Still, it totally surprised me.

It also reminded me that as bloggers, we are not alone.
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  1. It was the tag line from Close Encounters of the Third Kind,I do believe! Great movie, though my kids who grew up in the sci fi era, found all the build up boring.

    It's funny, when I saw this I was immediately thought of NaNoWriMo. I'd just been extolling the virtues of knowing others are in the boat, and how it helps push me along.

    That's a great story about the photographer! It goes to show that even when we think we're talking to ourselves, sometimes people truly are listening. :)


  2. A lovely post. I always love to get comments, and it is also good to know that the silent ones have passed by to.
    I was thrilled to see your comment on my blog this morning. You set my work pattern for the day with my WiP,thanks.

  3. I know how you felt! It always feels great when someone recognizes you because of your blog.

  4. I don't write my blog to get comments, with the exception of posted fiction. Perhaps a Facebook-style "Liked-it" would be sufficient?

    I try to comment on everything I read, and it works most of the time. But yeah, when you commented on my blog it did surprise me. That was a curious turn and made me smile.

  5. I love, love, love comments. I really do--it makes the blogging process so much fun!

    I've been surprised by lurkers. I appreciate them very much, as well. I spent most of my online life as a lurker, so I completely understand their reticence to comment. But I love it when they occasionally come out of lurkdom.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  6. Sure ... having regular readers and commenters and seeing new faces show up and a blog's readership and popularity growing gives me the warm fuzzies, gotta be honest. Feels great.

    And YOU, my dear ... you are DEFINITELY alone!

    Marvin D Wilson

  7. Close Encounters!

    Plus it's the name of two movies, too.

    You nailed this one, Helen. Those comments do make a difference. Every human being on earth wants to know they matter, that their existance has meaning.

  8. That's a nice reminder about blogging and commenting in general. It's nice to see that the words and visuals posted were not in vain (otherwise, what you've really got is an online diary).

  9. Hi Helen! I read your blog regularly, but don't usually comment, so...

    I'm also amazed at where some of my blog readers hail from--all parts of the globe. I guess we're really not alone!

  10. Love this post, Helen. In the beginning, it was very hard for me to leave comments, but now I love to. And I love love love receiving comments on my blog. Discovering lurkers is also fun. I'd forgotten I'd networked my blog on Facebook, so several friends are now seeing the blog as well.

  11. Blogging is a wonderful venue for those of out in the boondocks or on a mountain top, as I am. It hasn't been that long ago that some of us were pretty lonely writers.

  12. I think that's the most rewarding part of blogging - the amazing dialogues that develop in the comments ... the varied viewpoints, the considerations, the shared experiences. I've learned so much in these talks, on my own blog and through others. And have fun doing so!

  13. I try to comment on each blog I visit. Sometimes I'm at a loss as to what to say, but probably 90 percent of the time I leave my footprint. It's almost hard to remember the time before we all started blogging!

  14. I' may not comment every day, but I be sure to stop by a few times every week. I have hundreds of blogs to choose from, and I make sure I visit those blogs that have something to offer for my time and effort. And you are just such a blogger.

    Stephen Tremp

  15. Hi Helen,

    Just crawling out of the woodwork in France to leave my footprint - I am a regular follower and admirer of your blog and find the info invaluable. I also refer to your website a lot so thanks! I am just starting out and live in the french countryside far from possible feedback so it is important to me and I rejoice each time someone leaves their thoughts.

  16. It's true that we love the connection between our readers even in blogging. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my posts, it brightens my day and teaches me a lot.

  17. I love reading the comments on my blog and responding to them; it does make me feel a little bit less isolated! I'm so grateful to have discovered this wonderful online community.


  18. A nice thing about this blog - or any blog - you visit is that you can just click on a commenter's name, visit their profile and link to their blog, if you like.

  19. I started blogging because I'm a writer and writers, well, should write! Then, I started getting comments and followers and I realized it was more than just putting my work out there. It was putting myself out there, meeting a lot of wonderful people, and interacting in a way that was impossible years ago. I look forward to getting to my comments every day! I try to comment back, on my blog underneath the comments. It makes it feel like I'm really having a converstaion with my readers.


  20. I don't suppose there are too many writers who actually want to write in a vacuum, so this blog is a good reminder that while readers may not be commenting, they still lurk. Think of the way back, when blogs didn't exist and a writer would have to count on letters for specific feedback...or books sales, I suppose!

  21. Very nicely put, Helen. And another advantage to comments is meeting new people. I have found so many interesting writers and blogs from visiting your blog.

    And what a wonderful experience to have the photographer tell you in person he reads your blog.

  22. My regulars are not the commenting kind, so even though I know they are they, it is still sometimes as lonely as writing fiction.

  23. Thought I commented before, but I don't see it here. Weird things are happening with Blogger.

    Anyway, one of the things I like about the comments is meeting new writers and finding their blogs. I have found so many just from your blog, Helen.

    And how wonderful that the photographer told you in person about reading the blog. That's great.

  24. Okay, okay, the weird things are happening with me. Going to stop playing and get to work now. Probably should have been doing that in the first place. Snort.

  25. What a fantastic experience. See, you said it, we are not alone.

  26. What a great experience. And a comforting thought for those of us who can only dream of 20 comments.

  27. I try to be a regular visitor here, since I love your blog, but things have been so hectic as of late that I've fallen off the blog rounds. Now with NaNo, things will be even more hectic. I'll try to be better about leaving footprints, not just here, but on all the bogs I visit.

    I hope the Texas Book Festival was a smashing success for you.

  28. Hi Jon. I am in awe of those you participating in NaNo.

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