Monday, January 6, 2014

The Collective You

I am always intrigued by which of my blog entries get the most readership and response. I write on the subjects that interest me and presumably some of them interest you as well. By classifying my blogs by topics and looking at hits and likes I get a sense of who you are. I often find myself having a conversation with the collective you as I write what has become in many respects an on-line journal. Now an on-line journal has some rules that a private one may not such as don't say something that you don't want a family member, friend or future employer to read. Even with that caveat, people know some things about me and that is a bit eerie for a one-time private person. I was once introduced at a talk and was surprised at how much the introducer knew about me. Midway through his introduction it dawned on me that he had read this blog. Kudos for research, but I must admit it threw me. Fortunately I try to calibrate what I put out there to my personal level of comfort with exposure.

GenealogyOver the past year it looks like one of the heavy hitters was a blog entry I wrote on a session at the International Jewish Genealogy Conference titled Making Sense of Genealogical Clutter, Another session on Informing Your Search Through Literature also received many hits. Genealogy blogger Emily Garber reported on bloggers at the conference making it easy for those with interest to follow up.

Personal ReflectionI wrote a number of blogs that I would put in the category of personal reflection that also received a substantial number of hits. One was on My Intergenerational Self, a theme that supports my quest to explore the stories of elders. In short it claims that knowing your history strengthens your ability to deal with the world. I first learned of this concept in a New York Times article by Bruce Feiler and that spurred my ruminations. Another one within the category of reflection was titled A Declaration of Being about the act of saying, "I am an artist or a writer" or whatever identity you may be reaching towards.

I also periodically write about family, especially my mother, now in her late 80s and dealing with the challenges of aging. While these get a middling number of hits, they get a lot of likes. I suspect many readers have dealt with similar experiences and find them easy to relate to. Some of those are Shared Memories, Blowing Kisses and Unveiling.

TravelStories, Observations and a Few Odd Facts, a synopsis of exactly that from my time traveling in Israel, received many hits.

I frequently write about discoveries when I travel and while in Boston this year I discovered amazing artwork both in and out of typical venues and wrote about it in Unexpected Finds.

HolocaustI attended a workshop on the Holocaust this summer and wrote about it in Creating Collective Memory. In the workshop we explored how memory is created and preserved and the different stages the world went through in fully acknowledging what had occurred. Also on this topic, I wrote of the book Sky Tinged Red, the memoir by Isaiah Eiger. My friend translated her father's memoir from Yiddish and it was published with the aid of her grandsons. The book explores Eiger's two and a half years in Auschwitz. The story of its discovery is also compelling.

Art RelatedLast year I wrote about the Artists' Lab in which I am participating and the blog on Endings received considerable readership. This year I am writing about those in a separate blog, but will periodically report on it here as well. I wrote a blog entry quite recently in my Artists' Lab blog that surpassed all of these in hits.You never know when you are going to strike a chord. This blog, Look to the Skies, touched on topics relevant to this year's Artists' Lab theme of light and explored sundogs, reflections in the sky from ice crystals, as they have been addressed in the Bible and art.

Sometimes a blog seems to speak to a more targeted readership, but they respond strongly with likes. I am always happy to see that happen with ones on my artwork as it helps me gauge how successfully I reach my audience. Beneath the Stairs was one such blog, telling one of my friend's Holocaust stories.

All of these topics seem to have their fans. How do I decide what to write about? I write about my life and the things that I come in contact with. That means genealogy, artwork, travel, classes, books and the Artists' Lab. Sometimes a blog is spurred by an outside stimulus, a public radio story, a lecture or a news article. I'm a reflective person so you also get my thoughts woven in. The reflection blogs are actually the easiest to write. They tend to spill out of me, but they are the hardest ones when it comes to pressing "publish". "Have I shared too much?" "Is it too self-absorbed?" "Will anyone care?" All questions I wrestle with before hitting "publish". So please let me know if you like something and share your comments. It makes blogging so much more satisfying.



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