Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 310
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
Greetings Stickmanbangkokites: in this sparkling essay we will visit the bubbly champagne literary vineyards of 'how much is enough?'
How much of what? Readers. Hits. Viewers. Readers who have read something you have written and posted on the Internet. Many writers express the personal opinion that the number of readers who read what they have written is immaterial. They write just for themselves. Well, if you are a 19th century sexless spinster poet living in the boring bedroom of a boring farmhouse in boring New England I am inclined to possibly believe you. But those days are gone. Today many writers publish on the Internet. Not one single human would accept the notion that you publish on the Internet so that people do not read what you have written. No, you publish on the Internet so that people will notice you and read what you have written.
Maybe a metaphor type thing will help here. When I get dressed to go out in Pattaya I always wear a giant codpiece so that it looks like I have a great big giant penis. When I am walking around I don't hope that people do not notice me, or pretend that I do not care if they notice me; on the contrary, I hope people do notice me and the more people that do notice me the better. Numbers count here, and in fact; there is really no number limit on this whole noticing thing–the more the better.
Well, think of your writing as your codpiece and instead of strolling up and down Soi 7 and Soi 8, you are displaying yourself on the Internet. Is there a cap or a minimum to how many readers read what you have written to make the whole thing worthwhile? If you get two hundred reads is that sufficient to assuage your ego or is fifty thousand reads the minimum required to assuage your ego and make the whole activity worthwhile? After all, these Internet literary efforts don't write themselves. It takes time and labor to empty pages into stuff that would make Shakespeare quit writing because he feels he is not competitive. So how do you put a value on your time and labor in terms of readership numbers? How much is enough? Is one thousand reader views enough or do you need two hundred and fifty thousand (don't laugh and stay tuned) to satisfy the ego currency conversion equation?
Some personal examples:
1. For years I made weekly submissions to a website we will call Anotherwebsite.com. The website administrator said on the website that thirty thousand people per week read the website. I thought thirty thousand readers (of my literary gems) was a good number. It made me happy to think that thirty thousand people per week were able to read what I had written. Without too much prompting I would tell people that I wrote on the Internet and that thirty thousand people per week read what I had written.
Later on (years later), in an astonishing reversal; this website administrator said, and I paraquote:
'I have no idea where that number thirty thousand came from, and I have no idea why I made that statement: basically, I just pulled that number out of my ass.'
I was crushed and I instantly thought of some pretty witty and trenchant remarks I could make about his ass. I had been lied to, I had been made a fool of by someone who was getting material for free; and I had lied to other people. So if thirty thousand readers per week were not reading Anotherwebsite.com what was the real number? Was it really fifty thousand or two hundred thousand? No, it was going to be a number of readers that was less–less than thirty thousand per week. Much less. How much less? I don't know and I have not asked. But I do sometimes wonder how low the number would have to be for good sense to finally triumph over my huge ego needs and kittenish desire to be petted. How low would readership numbers have to go and still keep me on the unprofitable (labor and time) writing treadmill? How much is enough?
Still not fully engaged by this subject? Ok, consider this . . .
2. Recently, I made a submission to a writer's website of high standards and alert management. In the first two weeks my story got about ten hits. I don't think anyone is going to contact the hyperbole police when I state that almost that many people heard the story as I was composing it out loud while wandering the streets of Boston. Ten seems like a low number of reader views: maybe an ego deal breaker. Is there a middle ground between expectations of thirty thousand and actual numbers of ten? And are other writers publishing on the Internet on other forums encountering readership numbers in a whole different and more satisfying category?
3. Recently, I have been making contributions weekly to another website. What you soon learn is that the first threshold is one hundred views. If you get one hundred views in the first ten days the story/essay is a success. The second threshold is two hundred views. If you get two hundred views you have to have your tailor recut all of your shirts because your chest is puffed out so much. I am talking about reader view numbers based upon posting on the website exclusively–no links.
But wait a minute: one hundred views–two hundred views? Who is kidding who? These are not big numbers on the Internet for anything. If there is a video on Utube of a dog with his head stuck in a bucket they get ten thousand views in the first ninety minutes. If it is a naked dog with big breasts they get ten million views in the first thirty-six hours. If you consider that the forum arena for the type of writing I am talking about is modern technology (the Internet), one hundred or two hundred views is hard to explain to an ego driven writer or any kind of normal human being. When I was a kid going to High Rock Elementary School in Needham, Mass. we had more people than that watching two dogs humping on the playground. Bottom line? I am fifty nine years old, the greatest living writer in the English language; and my readership numbers are barely competitive with two dogs humping at recess.
Am I exaggerating? Am I just having a bad day? Am I just a self involved whiner? The greatest living writer in the English language? Far from it. I don't mean to be a name dropper here, that is so not me; but recently I got an email from God. He had been sitting up in heaven reading my stories and essays and he was going to send Jesus, his only begotten son, down to hang with me. Just to hang. You know, just hang around with me, absorb my ultimate coolness, and report back to dad. Nuff said. And yet, to repeat, my readership numbers sometimes barely exceed two dogs humping in my elementary school past. So, is there a place connected to modern technology where writers get huge readership numbers or at least readership numbers that do not make writers look like needy fools? Yes there is and if you have not heard of this it is going to shock you. You better put on some adult diapers and have a seat because this is going to rock your world. To wit:
Japan. That's right, Japan. Or more detailedly: Japan and young girls. Japan and young girls and text writing on cell phones. Japanese girls (mostly teens and twenties) are now writing 'novels' using text features on cell phones. Never heard of this before? Well, hang on; it is going to be a bumpy ride. Examples of this phenomonon:
1. A Japanese girl named Mona spent nineteen days typing a 'novel' on her cell phone. She then posted the unedited, unliterary, young female angst to a media sharing site called Maho i-Land. Maho i-Land, acting as an agent, then triggered the publication of a book called Eternal Dream. What are the numbers here? Eternal Dream was one of the ten best selling hardbacks for the first half of 2007. Another cell phone text 'novel' wonder called The Red Thread by Mei sold 1.8 million copies, and Lone Sky sold 2.6 million copies. 2,600,000 copies! The next time I get some jackass email from a Thai-farang themed published author belittling me because the walls of Bookazine are not carpeted with my books I am going to ask him if he has sold 2.6 million copies of his books. No? Well, a barely literate Japanese girl did. She can't spell O.E.D. or Thesaurus; but she sure can spell Big Bank Account, and she gets to spend the rest of her life telling him that she is a better writer than he is. But the hardback books sold are not the story here, only the fallout from the main event. And the main event is how many reader views are these cell phone 'novels' getting on the Japanese Internet. Prepared to be amazed.
The cell phone novel site Maho i-Land is visited three and a half billion times a month. Billion. BILLION folks. Apparently, the cell phone novel is the newest literary genre and Internet sites like Anotherwebsite are now dinosaurs. Numbers don't lie and the numbers say (SCREAM) that I am wasting my time writing and submitting my stories in the traditional way if I want lots of people to read what I write. I should be pecking away at my cell phone and then sending the crap to Quillpill or Text-novel (two U.S. cellphone text 'novel' sites) for additional 'development'. The books are then printed cell phone text style with same same formatting and abbreviations. But again, the hardcover books are almost beside the point; millions (MILLIONS) of readers read these storys and this writing on the Internet. MILLIONS. Let's see: two hundred views vs. a million views. Which number is bigger? You know, I may not be the brightest bulb in the hallway but I think I can figure that out.
Think I am exaggerating or misinformed? Eternal Dream has been accessed three million times online (and you thought Hitler pulled big crowds). Three million times folks. I am actually pretty good with big numbers because of my interest in astronomy but these numbers for reader view numbers on some part of the Internet strain my brain. This is a whole new universe. One of the successful 'novelists' got F's in Japanese in school. She is Japanese and she got F's in Japanese language class, apparently not an impediment in this new Internet literary genre. Makes me look like some kind of unhip doddering old fool for looking things up in the dictionary. Probably another reason I won't get any pussy. Have you ever heard of a cell phone novel called If You Could? Me either. It has been downloaded over 400,000 times.
Is there a lesson here? Yes, the lesson is that the Japanese (and others) participating in this new literary genre of cell phone novels are on the crest of the wave of writing and reading, and the wave is leaving traditional Internet story/essay posting behind. We are so unhip here in the West I am surprised the Japanese even lower themselves to sell us electronic equipment. There are some authors on the other website I am currently making weekly contributions to that have gotten 4000, 5000, and 6000 views. Six thousand views. These are the giant alpha writers the rest of us are too inferior to even make eye contact with. But wait a minute. A Japanese cell phone novelist who only got 6000 views would likely be too shamed to leave the house. I don't say this for any reason but observation, but it would not surprise me if some Japanese girls who only got 30,000 hits committed suicide with their little Japanese hara kiri swords. Sad.
So, what's the problem? Why don't I just abandon my current Internet publisher and other writer websites, jump on this new Internet technology fad bandwagon, and start writing cell phone material? Well, it seems that just about 100% of Japanese 'novelists' using the cell phone to post are Japanese girls (women) and all of the 'writing' is from a woman's (girl's) point-of-view. Unfaithful boyfriends, terminal illnesses preventing them from shopping in the new mall, parents that don't understand them and peek at their diaries, the terror of missed monthly bleeding dramas, breasts not developing fast enough, and babies dying in bullet train derailments. You know, girl stuff. So, to augment my writing career and to get the Internet readership numbers my writing deserves: I am going to get a sex change. I'm a thinker. Wait until Jesus hears about this. I am going to become a woman. But not just any kind of woman, I am going to become a Japanese woman. And not just any kind of Japanese woman; but a young, stupid, trivial, poorly educated, moody, self involved, foolish Japanese woman (aka girl) who does not have the brains of a beagle dog. I know what you are thinking and probably Jesus would be thinking the same thing, but this isn't the surgical-anatomical longshot you might think.
After all, Japanese girls only have one developmental stage: baby fat to lard buckets. Look up the word Lard Gash in the dictionary and there is a picture of a Japanese woman. I am already overweight so no problem. I'll dye my hair black and let it grow followed by cutting straight across at the eyebrows for that angel-whore spooky helmet head look. The whole sex change thing is totally practical. I know what I'm doing. Anyway, then at last I will be able to get the millions of reader hits my writing has always deserved. My new writer name is going to be Banzai Betty. Dana is history: kicked to the curb like the tired ass writing tin can he is.
So Stickmanites, Dana fans, expats, hepcats, expired visas, worshipping teeruks, and 'published authors' — stay tuned for my first million hits cell phone novel called My Bitchy Sister Was Smashed By A Bullet Train (retitled for the Western market as Why Won't These Fxxxing Jap Breasts Grow?).
Dana (Banzai Betty)