Macro Monday Changes Its Skin (Bonus Blog Question For Y’all)

That there is some snake skin.

I remember seeing my first snake when I was a kid — I was maybe six, wandering through the woods and fields behind my house, and my father was nearby but out of sight. I stumbled upon a rotten, hollowed-out stump, and sitting in the middle of that stump was a garter snake. I lost my shit. I fucking screamed like I had just seen someone get murdered. But I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed with fear. That, or TRANSFIXED BY OPHIDIAN HYPNOSIS. Either/or.

Regardless, by father came running, certain that I was about to be eaten by a Yeti or something, but turns out, nope, just a li’l ol’ garter snake. He picked it up and showed it to me and it was of course harmless, and I wasn’t scared of snakes anymore. My kid has none of that fear that I possessed — because the other day, when I lifted up a stone, I found this fancy fellow:

It’s a milk snake.

(insert “my milksnake scares all the boys from the yard” joke here)

Folks around here tend to confuse them for copperheads, but we don’t get many (or even any) copperheads in this part of Pennsyltucky. We do get snakes people think are copperheads, like milk snakes and water snakes, and then they flip out and behead them with shovels or dispatch them with rifles because people are unnaturally scared of snakes, even though snakes are amazing and do a lot of good pest control work that would cost you a lot of money if you asked a human being to do it. (Sneks don’t care about your capitalism, yo.)

Anyway, this little snakey-fella or snakey-lady was underneath the stone, and B-Dub was like, oooooh, and he wanted to get close and look at it. So we did, within reason, without spooking the thing too terribly much. I got off a pic and then gently replaced the rock.

Days later, we found its skin.

(Another snap:)

And B-Dub kept the skin in a jar that also contains about two dozen cicada skins and some dragonfly and butterfly wings, and if he were an adult it would look like the kind of thing a serial killer keeps, but it’s a pretty cool jar. You can rattle his creepy cicada jar and it makes a sound:

THE WHISPER-RASP OF DEAD FLESH.

WHAT PRECIOUS NECROMUSIC.

Point of the story is, what? I dunno. Don’t be scared of snakes, I guess, because SNEKS BE COOL.

Also, though, there is a transformative element to a snake shedding its skin, and that leads me into the next question, where I ask you about THIS VERY BLOG.

The blog numbers here are waaaaay down.

This is not an exaggeration when I say November of last year (cough cough election time) came and went, and after it, my views went over a cliff. My purely anecdotal feeling on this is that it has less to do with what I’m posting and more to do with what’s going on in the world. People, to my delight, seem to be reading more actual articles and fewer ding-dong bloggers (cough cough like me), and given that humans only have so much reading time in them in a given day, one suspects that some more casual reading (cough cough terribleminds) may have fallen sacrifice to that. Plus, sometimes I’ll post something I think is cool, and ten minutes later, it’s all BREAKING NEWS: EL PRESIDENTE SEEN HIDING IN VLADIMIR PUTIN’S UNDERWEAR DRAWER or BREAKING NEWS: REPUBLICANS GATHER TOGETHER IN SECRET SORCEROUS CEREMONY TO SACRIFICE THE LAST UNICORN IN ORDER TO DISMANTLE THE FINAL SACRED PROTECTIVE LOCKS OF OBAMACARE, THUS DOOMING THEIR CONSTITUENTS TO WORSE AND MORE EXPENSIVE HEALTH CARE. Or just BREAKING NEWS: SHIT’S ON FIRE AGAIN. Eyeballs naturally flit toward the news, which these days is effectively a stock ticker that doesn’t track stock prices, but rather the highs and lows of our collective social anxieties.

So, it leaves me feeling like — well, what the hell do I do?

Seems I have a handful of options, and I’m happy to hear your thoughts on these, so feel free to swing your way down into the comments and add your two pennies:

a) Fuck it, blog less, turn this into a mostly promotional vehicle.

b) Fuck it, blog the same as I do now, because ultimately I don’t blog for eyeballs but because I cannot contain the stupid thoughts that exist inside my head so I might as well purge them here — even though I kinda pay a bit of a premium to host this sucker.

c) Turn it to a Patreon-kinda-gig.

d) Change the blog material — less writery stuff, more othery stuff (recipes, rants, whatever).

e) SHUT IT ALL DOWN

f) I dunno, cat pictures or something, even though I don’t have a cat.

Admittedly, some of my reduced blog numbers are because subscriptions are strong — over 6k subscribing means those people don’t need to “hit” the blog everyday to see what’s here. And guest posts seem to be holding their numbers, which is nice. Still, I get the overall feeling that engagement here is lower, and that coincidentally happened right around November.

If you have thoughts, pop ’em below.

OKAY BYE

239 comments

  • We’re just busy trying to keep the world from burning down. But I’m a subscriber, so get your regular dose of goodness sent right to my mailbox. No worries, I’m still listening.

  • I follow you via RSS feed so I’m not sure if that makes it into your subscriber numbers or not. But I read and enjoy (and am a relatively new reader; I just started reading you…I think just before the election? I would be sad if it changed/went away, but then, I also recognize that I don’t have ownership of this thing and that you do and that if it’s an energy or time suck with no reward, then it may change and that’s how the universe works.

  • Please please don’t shut your blog down, Chuck!

    I’ll admit I haven’t been visiting for a while – but I haven’t been visiting any other blog sites either (I’ve barely been contributing to my own for a while, if I’m honest.) But what I’ve been doing instead is buying and reading your books, which I might not otherwise have known about had I not been following your blog for as long as I have. I do still pop in from time to time – I just don’t necessarily leave comments when I do.

    Things have been a bit shitty in the UK just recently, so maybe that’s why I’ve been shying away from blogs and social media in general. Maybe that’s why your viewing numbers have gone down – I’m sure I can’t be the only one feeling like that. But I can tell you your Heartland Trilogy has got me through, so thanks for that. 🙂

  • June 28, 2017 at 4:12 PM // Reply

    Love the blog! But don’t come here much because I’m subscribed (it’s the lazy way, and I love it). I’ve been in a particularly busy stage lately, which means less commenting/engagement (not that I’m generally a big commenter), though I can’t imagine everyone is more busy all at the same time. I think there really is a bit of malaise about engaging online. You never know what you’ll get, and who has the energy should you inadvertently start something? Sad, isn’t it? And I do think I’m sucked into the news more often than in the past, just because it gets so crazy so often and I’m probably not alone in thinking of what else that I care about will go under the bus should I blink or glance away…

    In terms of useful advice/requests/feedback for the blog – I really do like it just the way it is. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the volume of posts (especially when there’s a flurry of guest posts), so don’t feel guilty if you want to throttle back, but I hope you don’t abandon ship entirely. And FWIW, your blog is what led me to your books, so it really does work for you that way, to at least some extent.

  • I only found your blog a month ago, suggested by a fellow writer. I want you to know that I read EVERY WORD because your blog is not bloggy, it’s creative and crazy and funny. Always a welcome break in my day. So if it’s up to me, keep blogging, as much or as little as you need to, I’ll read it all.

  • June 29, 2017 at 1:11 AM // Reply

    I’m one of those subscribers, but I read almost every post. I don’t comment much, because usually by the time I read it 64 other people have already said what I might say. But I’d be very sad if you shut down. I like the writer stuff, I like the flash fiction challenges, and I like macro Monday because my own photography can use whatever inspiration it can find.

  • You’re the only writing blog I read. In fact, the only blog I read regularly and look out for. Also the only blog I ever quote to my partner. In the madness currently out there you are a sane voice. For example, as a Brit I find America’s fascination for guns completely mystifying but I enjoyed your post explaining your position and found it interesting.

    I love your blog when it’s you blogging on just about anything. I tend not to read the posts from other writers cos I’m already multi-pubbed so am less into the ‘how to get your book out there’ stuff unless it comes with great style and wit – i.e. you writing on writing. Long may you carry on.

  • I’m a new reader as of yesterday. I think it was yesterday. Whenever Katie Mack tweeted your “Ways to stay motivated…” post, calling it the sweary pep talk I just might need right now, I read it and then put your blog on my RSS feed. Your sweary post turned out to actually be what I needed.

  • I’m a longtime reader who isn’t a writer, so I’m just here for the non-writing content & news about your published works. I also read most posts through a feed reader (feedly) so I only come to the site if I want to comment, which I rarely do. I’d keep reading unless you chose options A or (obviously) E. I’m sorry it seems like your fans aren’t paying attention. My only advice is to try asking/prompting your readers for responses to posts, like you did with this one, so we have a reason to comment. That way we can feel needed & motivated to engage, & you will know we’re here & feel needed right back.

  • I caught the coolest blacksnake yesterday. About 4 feet long and smaller than a water hose. My husband made me take it outside. He is such a drag sometimes.

  • B please…more writery stuff not less (because the writer peeps luv ya, no matter what goes on in the crazy outside world)

  • DO NOT–I REPEAT, DO NOT–DARE CHANGE THIS BLOG. While I’m at it, don’t you dare change yourself. Your blabbering craziness makes this the funniest and the sanest blog on the Internet, and the only one I read fairly regularly, and your writing advice is gold and it has saved my work from being scrapped or forever unfinished on more than one occasion. I wasn’t reading your blog much during election time, in lieu of the “Don’t look at things that hinder your work” rule (that you’ve taught me!), because the election shitstorm was arguably the most demotivating, irritating, and depressing thing I’ve ever seen (and I’m not even American). So, yeah, I stayed away. But now that it’s over, I plan on eating your posts for motivating, writing-inducing breakfast, lunch, and dinner again. Please keep me fed.

  • Yours and Scalzi’s are the only blogs I read religiously, and he has an interesting take on why his numbers are down (more to do with how people are accessing the blog) but I think you have slowly swung more toward political and social discourse and away from cool writerly bits already. It’s your blog and you should obviously write whatever you want, but when you take a stand on an issue you also take a good chance at pissing off a substantial number of your readers. As you say, you do you. I hope you keep blogging. I really enjoy the writing advice, wendigisms, and the strong beard.

  • July 7, 2017 at 7:37 AM // Reply

    I enjoy your posts most of the time, but politically I don’t always agree with your opinion. I hardly come to the site for I get the blogs in my email. Your humor ignites my imagination and it is a great source for the writer in me to polish my kine and maybe make it as an author. This year outside of the craziness of the world, starting at home, I’ve been boiled alive at work and have just started my first vacation on the year. Please keep up your work and this post. Thank you for the time you put in and the kick in the pants to us slackers.

  • I enjoy reading your blog, but I get very overwhelmed with blog subscriptions and you do often post quite a lot of long, substantial articles (including the author interview thingies) in a short space of time, which means they tend not to be my highest priority — especially as I often read on my phone, but for some reason your blog doesn’t load properly in my emails except on a PC and so they have to wait until I’m actually on my computer and have time. And as a result I have about 80 of them in my inbox waiting to be read. So if you posted less, I probably wouldn’t miss out, and would still stick around. But I’d definitely rather you didn’t disappear completely!

  • I used to subscribe to your blog because I really enjoy your writing advice. In fact, your write 350 words a day post started me on my own writing career. But, as you say, your blog focus around November shifted more toward current events and away from writing advice.

    I unsubscribed (but still cruise on by occasionally because, as I said, I really like your writing advice) for two reasons: 1) the writing advice was my purpose for being here; and 2) I suffer from anxiety issues and thus try to limit my exposure to current events to news sites.

    FWIW, I want to emphasize that it’s NOT because I disagree with your opinion pieces (I usually do agree). And I absolutely recognize that this is your blog, you do you, etc. But since you asked, I wanted to share my thoughts. Perhaps you could somehow split the blog or categorize it? I just usually scroll through the headlines and read your writing related advice.

  • I personally adore your writing advice posts, but I haven’t been seeing any lately. I really enjoy your sense of humor and the advice you give is stellar, but all this new stuff (while interesting at times) seems to be distracting from why a lot of people subscribed.

  • Just keep sending these lovely missives, because A) you do it ultimately for you, B) fuck what others think and C) I love them and one day when I finally break free from the shackles of slave-whoredom long enough to actually write something worth publishing I will name you one of my inspirations.

    Or cancel the whole thing if you must, but I may just come round your place and make sweet Necromusic with your dead skin, buddy!

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