Thursday, January 25, 2007

The US Military Beckham Marshmallow Tattoo is Tarnished like the iPhone of the Lenin/Lennon Mustache God

I've been wondering about this blog. Does Elvis read it? Paris Hilton? George W. Bush? Do people looking for the new iPhone tarry here? What about existential philosophers, phylactery repair association election victors, Moog sympathizers, Neil Young moustache tarnish collectors, or dogs?

If I put a harpsichord made of marshmallows in the shape of Angelina Jolie or Pamela Anderson would I get more hits? What about my map of Bulgaria made entirely of tattoos of Brad Pitt? What if I advertised the Museum of Knives and Fire?

Admittedly in the single year of its existence, I've had a greater number of hits indicating that readers have strayed here than the number of people who have ever bought my poetry and fiction books (not my non-children's books anyway, though I have an offer to buy the 5000-odd left over copies of the Magic Mustache, and a similar number of Grandpa's Snowman, my two last picture books with Annick Press. Sad to have books go out of print with so many copies left, though I usually give hundreds away to literacy projects and Out of the Cold type programs.) Not that I know if people reread my books or share them. I only know what the sales are.

For this blog I do hanker after bigger numbers in the stats, I guess because some part of me needs reassurance that what happens here (mostly drafts of my writing) is of interest. Eighty hits a week isn't exactly top-o'-Blogger but not that far off from my typical book sales. Funny how that part of me continues to have the illusion that a larger number would somehow indicate more authentic, more meaningful communication.

I've published in places where there are tens of thousands of readers, but honestly it doesn't feel any more authentic or valid than getting published in a little magazine like Twaddle or Peter F. Yacht or Crash or Spire. It is nice to have the opportunity to have more readers but experientially that seems like an abstraction. This term, the Grade Sevens at my school are going to start reading a novel study based on my novel Seeing Stars. Some kids have already read the book. They come running up to me and ask questions, or talk about what they've just read. Two kids who sit at my lunch table are lobbying to be in the movie version (they think I should make a movie of the book.) Kids have suggested ideas for a sequel. They tell me what they like. They wonder what is going to happen next. They quote a line or two and then laugh. This seems like authentic communication and it is amazing to be walking around surrounded by my readers. I guess ultimately it's just satisfying to know that people are reading your work, that it communicates with them in some way, that the writing has a life apart from the writer. That it turns out to be a real boy after all.

Even if Brangelina or Madonna don't want to adopt it.


Geofhuth said...


Not sure what counts as authentic, but certainly this posting does. Interesting opening graphic. Childlike and powerful.

It is hard not to think of the numbers but ultimately we all write for ourselves--others reading our work is simply something else for ourselves. And a secret: I read your blog all the time but almost never come here. I just read the RSS feed. So the numbers are always a bit smaller than they actually are.

Good will and good going!


gary barwin said...

Hi Greg,

Glad to have you visit and thanks for your comments.

Tonight I was listening to a documentary on translation on the CBC. One translator spoke of translations as being like guests who have travelled into one's culture, travelled to the reader from afar. I think all writing is like that. It's a visit from language to the writer/reader.



gary barwin said...

Guess I'm tired. I typed "Greg" instead of "Geof." That's a strange unwelcome mistranslation. Sorry. What a poor host I am!