Do I Write About Bowel Movements or The Moon?

Let’s make this clear from the beginning. I have absolutely no desire to write about bowel movements. I want to write about the moon.

But, at the same time, I want to be read.

Actually, I should clarify that. I want to be read by People Who Don’t Know Me, not just by my friends. 

“You’re what I call an activator, Jenine,” my therapist once told me. “It’s rare that people don’t notice you. Not only that, they won’t remain indifferent about you either. They’ll love you, or they’ll hate you. There won’t be much in between…No, it’s nothing you do per se. It’s just who you are and the effect you have on others.”

Now, I pay Doc a pile of cash to be smarter than I am regarding this kind of thing…But, frankly, in this case, Doc doesn’t know quite WTF he’s talking about. I could list plenty of people who have no trouble whatsoever not noticing me, starting with shop clerks, publishers, and the Pope. And trust me, I’m willing to spend…I attach a decent query to my submissions…and I’m not really all THAT evil.

And, hey, my subject line to the Vatican caught MY interest.

Your Holiness, need a chuckle amidst the bustle of Lent? Then please check out my most recent post on giving up shopping for the season. (Any tips? AWED you’ve tossed the Pradas!)

Thus far, no response.

 

I could also be kind of snarky and add to my list of unresponsive readers most devotees of BlogHer.

A couple days ago, for instance, I posted a piece that received a fair amount of feedback from those on my ‘alert list.’ In other words, from my friends.

“Hilarious,” commented more than one.

“A real gut buster,” said another, my new best friend.

There were a few contrarians among the batch, however. “This is so depressing,” wrote the most vehement. “Why didn’t you just get in another line?”

Which was totally not the point of the piece. Nevertheless, the wider-than- usual range of responses to this piece intrigued me. I can see how something can be “hilarious” and poignant. Or “hilarious” and thought provoking. Or “hilarious” and bittersweet. But “hilarious” and “so DEPRESSING?” I was only writing about a visit to the DMV, for God’s sake.

Yet I have come to accept that some things – like why people pollute gumbo with okra or how my dental hygienist can actually enjoy her job – are meant to remain mysteries. The point is, several of my friends replied to my email alert.

And this pleases me:

 

1.     It is interesting/fun to discover exactly what in my piece struck others

2.     I usually learn something

3.     It is ego gratifying to hear nice things

4.     It is ego gratifying to receive PROOF that someone is reading the damn thing

 

Points 3 and 4 cut to the crux of the matter. Response = affirmation.

Responses reassure me. They tame the savage, self-flagellating beast that feeds upon my fears that I AM WASTING MY TIME and lectures me ad nauseam. Quit being such a jackass, you pretentious hack, it bays, sounding astoundingly at times like my mother. Act like a normal person and get a real job.

And let’s not even get into the AGE issue.

So now can you understand why this ancient jackass is so grateful to those of you who have taken the time to write? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

There is just one teensy problem… The majority of the responses I receive aren’t POSTED. No one but me sees them.

Yes, alas and alack, it is COMMENTS that are READ by OTHER READERS that give me cred.  That entice others – ie, publishing types whose focus is not so much on my brilliant prose but on the bottom line – to give me a shot.

It is similar to when I write brochure copy for one of my clients – say, the Coleman Chamber Music Series at Caltech. Sure, I can devote paragraphs to telling you how fabulous and revered this or that quartet is. But if I quote one line from the London Times – something like “Arguably the greatest string quartet before the public today”….Well, which would be more likely to entice you to reach into your wallet to purchase tickets?

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