(The What, the Why, and the How of Good Writing)
A few days ago I posted a poem entitled “outdoor backstroke” on my blog “From Under the Pages.” For some reason, my blog readership the following two days shot up to almost 300 percent the previous weekly average. I got a “spike in stats” notice from WordPress: my hourly views had reached 50 times the previous average. I kept getting those lovely little orange “like” stars and “follower” symbols on my dashboard. I drank it up. “People really like my writing!” I told myself. It really felt good.
I derived an unexpected feeling of gratification, even pleasure, from this sudden surge of approval. It compelled me to check my dashboard every few minutes to see who else was following, and how many more likes I had gotten. And in the midst of it, I noticed how dependent I seemed to be getting on those little orange stars and plus signs. They signaled approbation, encouragement, even… love? They satisfied some inner desire, some overlooked need, some obscured, ravenous, approval-mongering id.
I even felt the temptation to try to replicate my newfound success by giving my readers more of what they liked–just so I could get more cascading stars and plus signs.