Vanishing Act
January 19th, 2011

If you stopped by this blog on Monday between the hours of 6:30am and 6:00pm you saw my regular Monday post.  If you stopped by this blog after 6:00pm on Monday, you saw the prior Friday’s post.   Without explanation of any kind, POOF! Monday’s post had vanished.  An act of magic?  Or an act of fear?

Early Monday morning I wrote a post which I really loved.  It was a post that I’d been mulling over for a few weeks and had finally found the words to express.  I wrote about how I think the “American dream” falls short because it focuses so much on financial prosperity and pays no attention to the aspects of life (relationships, meaning, thoughtful use of our time, etc.) that are actually much more important influencers of our overall level of happiness.  I wrote about how our passion for proving our success to other people has prompted us to sacrifice careful cultivation of our lives around the things that actually matter most to us.  I titled this post “Dreaming the Wrong Dream.”

My day progressed as usual and periodically throughout the morning and afternoon I checked in on my post to read and approve comments.  With each login I found the usual collection of spam comments, but nothing else.  I didn’t let it bother me at first, but as more time passed I grew anxious about my post.  I’ve written many posts that didn’t resonate with throngs of people.  But I’d never gone a full day without a single response.  I was stunned at the volume of silence.

I realized, in retrospect, that on MLK Day all references to dreams imply his dream.  ”The” dream.  The dream that was more honest and noble than any other dream before or since.  The dream that moved a nation.  The dream that boomed across the national mall.  The dream that we honor every year for its valor and candor and truth.

And then I panicked.

I worried that people had read the title of my post, expected something totally different from what I actually wrote, and clicked away immediately.  I was sure that someone had gotten no further than the title, exclaimed to himself, “How dare she!” and left.  And I worried that every last reader felt that I had suggested something pejorative of Dr. King.  I was scared out of my overly-articulated wits.  I did consider the fact that on a holiday many people might not have really kicked off their weeks yet; that regular blog-reading and commenting hadn’t quite resumed from its weekend hiatus.  But once my other fears settled in there was no room in my mind for a more likely scenario.

And so, feeling embarrassed and ashamed, I took the post down – something I’d never done before.

In the time that has passed since I tucked my tail between my legs on Monday evening I’ve gotten affirmation from my husband and a dear friend that the post was a good one – “thoughtful and meaty.”  I’ve been encouraged to repost it.  And I’m feeling more confident that a slow day in the blogosphere might be a function of a thousand things other than an ill-timed title.

I’ve always said to those who ask that I write this blog for myself, and I do.  Naturally I hope that my thoughts and words will strike a chord with my readers and will elicit thought-provoking responses.  But when the day ends if a post falls flat my ego doesn’t typically follow.  In this case I wasn’t so much bothered by not getting comments as I was by the fact that I thought I may have given people the wrong idea about what I believe.

I suppose the lesson I’ve learned here is that there is real vulnerability in blogging.  In Friday’s post I confessed that my confidence is one aspect of myself I wouldn’t change.  Then just three days later I cowered in the face of massive insecurity.  Despite our best efforts we all have bad days.  We aim and miss.  Our intentions are good but our execution is flawed.  And when we fall short on the stage of the world wide web there is a whole audience watching (thankfully for me in this case my audience is on the small side…).  And that kind of shame is something that even the thickest skin can struggle to withstand.

I don’t know how many of you visited this site on Monday.  I don’t know if you read my post.  I don’t know if you noticed the title and fled for the hills.  But to anyone for whom that is true, please accept my sincerest apology.  Please know that my intentions were good even if my title was carelessly conceived.

I will republish my post next Monday for a number of reasons, but mostly because I still believe in it.

18 Responses to “Vanishing Act”

  1. e Says:

    No news is good news? If anyone had truly misinterpreted the title, I’m pretty sure you would have gotten an adamant response. I read the post and wondered if a comment I would make was worthy and basically decided it wasn’t. My “American Dream” isn’t about finances so while I don’t doubt that for some money is what it’s mostly about, perhaps you should see the no response as – your readers couldn’t personally relate to what you had written. To tout the fact that money isn’t that important to you might sound a bit like “I’ve got my act more together than others?” I also think that a $$$ dream is possibly more realistic to those who have financial shortages and that may not be your reading audience. It’s easy to say it’s not about money when you have enough to be comfortable and do most of the things you would like. Don’t worry – your readers will let you know if there is a strong difference of opinion (or at least your MIL will), so keep on writing and making us think.

  2. Gale Says:

    E – Thank you. I hadn’t thought of the “no news is good news” angle, and it makes sense, as do your other thoughts on why people might not have commented. I’m feeling better about things today and am actually looking forward to reposting the original piece next week. Thanks, as always, for your support and confidence in me.

  3. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    Vulnerability? Check. (I write about the importance of vulnerability today.) Insecurity? Oui oui. In blogging. In life. I am so happy you will repost as it was indeed a thoughtful and meaty post. I am also inspired that you are so honest here today about what you went through on Monday. I know I have been through the very same thing and so have many others and your authenticity here is gold.

  4. Anna Says:

    Well, that explains why I was so confused yesterday. I read Monday’s post, wanted to ponder on it for awhile, then when I returned yesterday to reread, it was gone! I liked the post and felt that it really rang true (to me).
    As an addition, I’m totally impressed that you’re fessing up to all of this. That’s a true sign of confidence!

  5. Gale Says:

    Aidan – Vulnerability indeed. Blogging can force us to confront all aspects of ourselves, even those which we might rather not. Thanks for your support, affirmation, and friendship. When we feel that we are alone in the bloggy (or real life) wilderness, it is so comforting to see a friend’s hand reaching out to you.

    Anna – Thanks for your comment. I’m so glad to know that the post resonated with you and that you thought it warranted further contemplation. It means a great deal to me to know that friends from all areas of my life read and value my writing. You’re certainly no exception. Stay tuned next Monday, because the vanishing post will be back!

  6. Bridget Says:

    Gale, as a regular reader I too read your post and made no connection to the “American Dream” and MLK’s dream. I just didn’t have anything to add to the conversation. Maybe by giving me another week to stew I’ll come up with something poignant to add to the discussion… or maybe not. I very much admire your willingness to tackle these touchy issues and state your opinion even if I don’t comment on each post to tell you so.

  7. Gale Says:

    Bridget – Thank you. I certainly don’t expect every post to resonate with every reader. I would never want you to feel obligated to comment. As a reader of many blogs myself I frequently don’t comment when I find myself in the shoes you describe – not feeling that I had anything in particular to add to the discussion. I greatly appreciate having you as a reader, whether or not you feel compelled to comment.

  8. Anne Says:

    Yep, I’m with Anna. I looked at briefly while sitting in the airport on Monday, and then realized I wanted to give it more attention (plus my plane was close to boarding). Also…sometimes…bloggers say things so well. You frequently do. And in my rush, I don’t always stop to say, “Well said!” Don’t ever doubt your words. But for the record? I think it’s good that you care so much about your audience. Good writers write for themselves AND their readers.

  9. Gale Says:

    Anne – Thank you. I suppose it’s like E said – no news is good news. There are so many reasons people don’t comment. It was probably pretty self-absorbed of me to assume that every non-commenter’s silence was due to the content of the post. But, as I wrote today, once the insecurity took control there was no talking it down off the ledge. Thanks again for the affirmation.

  10. Ana Says:

    Hi Gale,
    Relatively new to your blog (love it, by the way!), and haven’t commented before. I read your post on Monday very quickly—I was watching my 12-month old all day while my husband took care of some repairs around the house. It really struck me and I was excited to come back to it yesterday, when it vanished! I can totally understand the vulnerability and second-guessing (sounds like my everyday thought processes), but I agree with most everyone that the crickets you heard had more to do with the holiday weekend than with causing any offense. In fact, its the offensive that tends to get the most response, in my experience reading blogs.
    I am awaiting your re-post so I can think about it (and possibly comment).

  11. Gale Says:

    Ana – Welcome! And thank you for offering your comment today. If there’s anything I’m learning from this experience it’s that insecurity can easily run amok. I’ve been so comforted to read today’s comments and discover that my fears were unfounded. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog and I hope you’ll keep coming back. Thanks again for offering your kind words here.

  12. Holly Says:

    I just didn’t read on Monday because I was off work for the holiday and not in front of my computer! Now I’m excited to see it when you decide to repost.

  13. Gale Says:

    Holly – I’m sure you’re not the only one who simply was not checking blogs on Monday. I’m starting to feel kind of silly about the whole thing, but I couldn’t convince myself of that on Monday. Oh well!

  14. EverySixMinutes Says:

    I am so glad that you will repost your “thoughtful and meaty” post next Monday. I look forward to reading it. It takes tremendous courage to stand by what you believe in.

  15. BigLittleWolf Says:

    As I post daily, I’m used to fluctuations by day of the week, and also, around holidays. Monday was slow; people were off work, otherwise engaged, and frankly, I purposely wrote whatever I pleased on Monday (as 90% of the time I write whatever pops into my mind in the wee hours of morning).

    Part of our freedoms in this country includes picking and choosing what we say and when, ideally respectfully and appropriately, but hey – there are times you want to add a voice to honoring a particular person or day. There are other times when you can’t find the words, or you feel those of others are more eloquent, or your head just isn’t there.

    So I would’ve thought nothing in particular of your “dream” post except that it was what you had in mind and posted, without regard to it being MLK day, and to me, that would’ve been no problem at all.

    My guess is Monday was a light day around a lot of the web. I look forward to your post when you post it.

  16. Cathy Says:

    I can totally relate to the insecurity. This past week I lost a follower. I checked with another blogger who reassured me that it happens all the time. However this doesn’t pacify me because I only had 15, now it’s down to 14. Oh well, I just have to go back to why I blog which is to be a part of a community, and maybe I just have to accept the fact that my sphere of influence, my community is just not that big. And that’s okay.

    Interestingly enough, I am way behind on reading those I follow and I still see your Monday post in my reader. I’m going to wait on reading it though so I can be fresh with a comment next week. Looking forward to it – you always make me think and I love that about your writing.

  17. Gale Says:

    Cathy – So sorry that you lost a follower. One of the benefits of this blog being hosted through WordPress is that I don’t have “Followers” the way that you do through Blogger. I think I’m probably happier that way. I can check my traffic stats, and do so from time to time, but I think I prefer not knowing when a particular reader has dropped off.

    It can be so difficult to put yourself out there as we do. We write for ourselves. But when what we write is public we can’t help but care that people value what they find in our words. It’s a thin line to walk, but even when we get bumped left or right of center I think we just have to keep walking.

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