Bloggers want to know that people read what they write. I’ve followed with interest Betsy’s (“My Whim is Law”) passionate call for comments on her posts, and Michael’s (“Michael J. Totten”) desire to have an accurate count of how many visits are made to his blog.
I too am happiest when I am noticed. Every morning I peruse the daily statistics TypePad keeps on my two weblogs, my spirits rising when a post reaps lots of clicks and falling when the world fails to beat a path to my HinesSight and Church of the Churchless doors.
And yet…the madness of blog writing cuts two ways. There is the lesser madness (as in “angry”) of not getting the reader responses that you want. Then there is the greater madness (as in “crazy”) of not caring a whit about how anyone responds to what you’re saying.
I wish I had more of the latter madness, and less of the former. What I love most about blogs is coming across a post that is written from the heart: raw, open, honest, unfiltered. This sort of writing flows from a passion to speak, not to be heard.
I’ve only taken one writing workshop in my life. I don’t remember a thing about it except a question I asked the workshop leader while we were eating lunch together: “How do you decide what to write about?” She looked at me as if the question was so ridiculously easy to answer, I was a fool for asking it: “Why, you write about what you feel passion for.” End of discussion.
“The Story of Layla and Majnun” by Nizami is the tale of a classic Persian love story dating from the seventh century and retold many times in various forms. I often think about Majnun when I click the “post” button and send something I’ve written off into the blogosphere.
There are many twists and turns in the telling of the star-crossed love between Majnun and Layla. They come together, and then are parted. When Majnun is unable to be with Layla, he wanders around the wilderness composing love songs to her:
Desperately longing to speak to Layla, but unable to reach her, he engaged the wind as his messenger, and many were the verses he sent to her. The wind obligingly carried his lines away, but response there was none. Bitter is the wine of lonely love, yet, if sometimes in his grief Majnun doubted Layla, his own passion did not abate. So he went on singing.
Sequestered, Layla doesn’t hear him directly, and can’t speak to him directly. But Nizami tells us:
Yet her lover’s voice reached her. Was he not a poet? No tent curtain was woven so closely as to keep out his poems. Every child from the bazaar was singing his verses; every passer-by was humming one of his love-songs, bringing Layla a message from her beloved, whether he knew it or not.
The Internet always has existed, though only recently in electronic form. Passionate voices from the heart will be communicated by a network of people who pass them on; no power can stop them. It isn’t necessary to force the hearing; simply speaking will suffice.
Layla secretly collects Majnun’s songs, memorizes them, and composes her answers. She writes them down on little scraps of paper and entrusts them to the wind—the ancient equivalent of the info-breezes that blow today through the atmosphere of cyberspace.
It happened often that someone found one of these little papers, and guessed the hidden meaning, realizing for whom they were intended….And true enough, there was no veil which could hide his beloved from Majnun. He answered at once, in verse, and whoever received the message saw to it that Layla should hear it at once. Thus many a melody passed to and fro between the two nightingales, drunk with their passion.
Whenever I hear from someone who comments on, or expresses appreciation for, a scrap of prose that I released into the blogosphere, I feel good. But I also feel good just from the releasing itself, whether or not I learn that the message has been received.
Such is the love of writing: when requited, it is wonderful; yet even when unrequited, it is still as strong.