Thanks for 30,000 hits.
I think it should be a sin to bore people. But it’s an insult to art when an artist has to resort to shock value to get a person’s attention. Somewhere in between Stale Familiarity and Offensive Toxicity is a place called Spunky Creativity. Off-beat and optimistic. That’s the place I try to write from.
Writers, by nature, put themselves in a vulnerable position. Anytime I publish a post that I know has potential to be popular, I usually am suppressing at least a little bit of anxiousness for it. Because I am implementing (yet testing the limits of) #6 of The Code: “Be edgy but not controversial.”
Will it be controversial instead of just edgy? Will I somehow offend a reader unknowingly? Will I expose too much of myself in the writing, seeming like a know-it-all, a jerk, or douche?
My favorite author, Michael Chabon, referenced this thought process in his newest nonfiction book, Manhood for Amateurs: “Anything good that I have written has, at some point during its composition, left me feeling uneasy and afraid. It has seemed, for a moment, to put me at risk.”
As it tends to be the case, the edgiest posts I write end up becoming my personal favorites and the ones I am proudest of. Because they have the most substance. The most creativity. And are hopefully the most engaging.
Here are several examples: The Cannabis Conspiracy, Introduction; Modern Day Scarlet Letters: R&B; Free Marriage Advice; Singleness; The Gift No One Really Wants; The Funny Thing about Jews; Emotionally Charged Words; Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People ; Water into Wine; BS Detector; What is a Christian Nation, Anyway?; Religious Views on Facebook Profiles
Grabbing a reader’s attention is one thing. But having what I wrote stay in their head for a day or two, having them ponder about it, having them share that same idea to others either through conversation or by my forwarding my link, having them save my website in their favorites, well, that’s another thing.
It’s important to me that my website is not a gimmick, a trend, or anything that can be described as “cute”. But I also have to make sure I’m not sparking a political or religious debate. Because if what I write is in deed controversial (as opposed to just being edgy), I could wind up in a situation where my post gets attention just because of the long trail of comments of people arguing with each other, themselves, and me over the open-ended content I wrote about.
That’s not for me. Let other people argue. (Often, controversial topics aren’t new and fresh anyway.)
That’s one of the reasons that my current #2 post of all time, Capital Punishment, In Theory, remains popular. In it, I don’t question whether or not capital punishment is wrong or right. I question those who support capital punishment with “could you be the one to pull the trigger if it was up to you?” That’s not controversial, that’s deep. And edgy.
If nothing else, when I write, I am simply trying to entertain myself. So if I’m not intrigued by the material I write about, I figure no one else will be either.
Other posts of this “10,000 Hits” series:
Being Down to Earth, Yet Never Really Touching the Ground (posted April 11, 2010)
Being Original, Yet Never Really Breaking New Ground (posted May 18, 2010)