The weirdest thing happened to me, so I want to talk about it. I've been writing this column every week for over six years. My topics vary greatly, but they're all things going on in my life or observed by me in my life. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column declaring that the world was not going to end December 21, 2012, and had it published in the Saturday, December 15th Gilmer Mirror. As usual, the column followed in the online version of the Gilmer Mirror on Sunday, December 16th. That's when it happened.
I opened the Gilmer Mirror online site about noon on Sunday, December 16th, and did one of those Scooby Doo like head shakes, as if I could not believe what I saw. There were already over 25,000 views of the online version of the column, and it had been up only a few hours. Typically, the online version of my column draws between 800 and 1500 views, with spikes higher now and then.
The Gilmer publisher asked me what my secret was for drawing all that attention, and I could not tell him, but went hunting to figure it out. As nearly as I could tell by using search engines, some media outlets had picked up my column that morning and linked it from their sites. Apparently, having that date in my column headline just six days before that date was the key.
Before the week was over, the total views were above 37,000. You might think I would welcome such an event, but I don't. The idea of strangers reading my column, outside of East Texas, makes me feel kind of weird. When I write my column, I'm having a conversation with people from my region about things that are on my mind. I don't pretend it is anything but my personal opinion on any of these topics, and your opinion is as good as mine. I just happen to be writing about mine.
I constantly have mixed emotions about writing this column. I'm a hermit at heart, and I'm not really into a lot of personal interaction. I like a few hours a day with others, but I spend far more time alone than with anyone else present.
I like having readers, but I want to earn them, not happen into them. It's a simple question. Is my column worth reading the five minutes it will take a reader? That is the only test which matters. Each person votes with their eyes and their mind.
My follow up column to "the world is not ending December 21st" was about Christmas season, and garnered over 1200 online views. The next week's column about Auld Lang Syne got about double that. Those are numbers I can live with. Those are actual readers, not people following a link which happened to be put up somewhere on the internet.
Thanks for reading. I know you have other things to do with your time, so if you read my words, you honor me.