...or maybe just asleep. Sitemeter is the statistics counter that lets me know how many people click on my blog. And its death, or its prolonged nap, has given me reason to, as we Catholics used to say, examine my conscience.
And I have concluded that I am addicted to stats.
Loneliness is the writer's main occupational hazard. Here I am tunneling like a mole in the compost of my mind, scooping up bits and flinging them out into the ether day after day. And when I finally surface and sniff the air with my little pink snout and listen for a sound with my little furry ears, what do I hear? Mostly silence.
I am hugely grateful, of course, to those (you know who you are!) who patiently read me and faithfully comment. You warm the cockles of my heart and make me want to tunnel in my brain again and again. I do understand that you have to sleep at night, and must occasionally take a break from giving me feedback. But never underestimate a writer's need for audience: while you're sleeping or working or enjoying life I am wondering what the heck I'm doing wrong that nobody ever reads what I write, and wouldn't it be the sensible thing for me to just give up and learn to play golf instead?
That is where the stats counter comes in. For while you're sleeping or working I can click on Sitemeter and know that in Peoria a person of exquisite literary taste has devoted one and a half minutes to reading five of my pages, and a sheik in Saudi Arabia just spent thirty-five seconds perusing what I wrote about wattle fences four years ago.
It may seem silly, but in the lonely watches of the night every click means a lot.
But now Sitemeter is dead, or faking it, and I am left to consider that time-worn bit of advice to artists: "write/paint/sculpt/dance/play the piccolo because you must, regardless of what anybody thinks." I have never understood that. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? If a flautist plays a piece and nobody listens, did he make music? What if a painter paints but nobody looks, or a writer writes but nobody reads--has art still happened?
Unless Sitemeter comes back to life, I'm often going to feel like a voice crying in the desert. Unless, that is, I choose to imagine thousands of readers all over the planet--far more than Sitemeter ever counted--clicking on my blog night and day, shaking their heads with amusement, swallowing tears of emotion, and wondering who in the world is this mystery genius writing a blog in Vermont.