blogging


“I like the brevity of the blog. You can make it quite short. You can just go on as long as you want to go and then just stop. It’s sort of like making a paper airplane…. I used to love to make paper airplanes. I made great paper airplanes.  You throw it out the window, it goes a little ways, turns and curves beautifully and then it’s gone forever. It’s like a blog.”

Roger Angell, at 95, on The New Yorker Radio Hour

Ah, yes, it’s so easy to write a blog post. To the extent that writing anything meaningful is easy, writing a blog post is easy. It’s as low stakes as public writing gets, especially on a small-time blog like mine. Nothing for sale, no sponsors, few readers.

And yet I haven’t been writing, despite all the inspiration and satisfaction I’ve gotten from it over the years. My list of ideas for blog posts has more words in it than I’ve actually posted in the last 10 months. It makes me sad to think about. I miss the way writing clarifies my thinking. I miss the way writing makes some contact with the friends and family members who don’t live next door to me. I’m out of touch with so many of you. And I’ve had too many interesting ideas swim in and back out of my head, unchecked by writing.

I’ve also been noticing how not writing makes my internet presence stagnate. I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts and audio books on my commute, often in intense imaginary conversations in my head with the authors/podcasters. I’d like to be getting in touch with them on Twitter or something, at least to say thanks. When I remember that my last blog post is about the common ants of Joshua Tree, though, I refrain. I love that post, but it’s a funny way to represent myself, especially as the only public observation I’ve made in ten months.

The thing is, I’m working like crazy on getting my license for marriage and family therapy. I talk to clients and write case notes all day, which is not inspiring writing and results in too much time looking at a computer screen. If I have energy after work, I can’t be sitting down writing. I need to go the gym or scramble on some rocks. Or play piano, or rest, or spend time with my wife and family, or get ready for work or bed. It’s a good life, just no blogging for now. I’ll be back.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 47,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I started Nathen’s Miraculous Escape inspired by my friends Jeannie Lee and Ethan Mitchell who write great blogs about whatever strikes their fancy. I love this format but I know I shed readers who are only interested in one of the topics I write about. A psychology student, for example, might lose interest after a few posts on my family life, ecology, epistemology, or some other random rant. A Joshua Tree local, family friend, or fellow desert-sustainability explorer will almost certainly tire of my deconstructions of the DSM or various essays about theories and practices of psychotherapy.

I will continue posting everything I write for the public here, but have started two new blogs which will get a more focused subset of my writing. Here are the links, with top ten lists of the posts therein:

NathenLester.com, for my posts about psychology and therapy.

1. Three Approaches to Psychotherapy: A Film Series

2. Experiential Family Therapy: The Humanistic Family Therapy Model

3. Congruent & Incongruent Communication, Paradox & Double Bind

4. Oppositional Defiant Disorder Assessment

5. Albert Ellis’s 15 Irrational Ideas

6. DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria for Eating Disorders

7. Diagnostic Criteria for Substance Abuse and Dependence

8. Sternberg’s Triangular Love Typology

9. Review of the Sleep Cycle App

10. Lee’s Love Typology: Love Styles

Living in Joshua Tree, for my posts about living in the desert and striving for a sustainable lifestyle here.

1. Guest Post: We are moving to the desert!

2. Humidity in Joshua Tree

3. Some Thoughts on Sealing the Outside of my Trailer

4. A Quick Foray Into Carbon Footprint Calculation: 10.41 Metric Tons of CO2

5. How Deep is Your Ecology?

6. A Couple Things About Gas Mileage

7. Causes Cancer in California

8. Some Things I Love About Joshua Tree

9. A Violent Storm on the Beaufort Scale

10. Keeping Cool in the Desert: “You might say the secret ingredient is ‘water.’”

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 39,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

WordPress sent me this in an email. Last year they let me post the whole summary (here) but this year it’s just an excerpt with a link to the rest of the information. Their summary this year is more interesting than last (including a map showing that, for example, 24.5% of my hits from Asia were from India), but it’s annoying that they are using this teaser to advertise some of their new features.

Anyway, happy new year everybody!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

 

On my stats page I get a list of “referrers”–websites that have supposedly sent someone to NME with a link. Off an on I get waves of what appears to be a strange kind of spam–websites show up that are clearly not linked or affiliated with me in any way. It’s slightly annoying but more perplexing. I am the only audience here, not my readers, because this stuff is only accessible to me. Does someone actually think that I am going to go buy their stuff because they sent a robot to make it look like a person came to my site from theirs? I guess it’s like email-spam, and they are relying on spamming huge numbers of people to get a few suckers, but is it really worth it to write these spam programs for a few suckers?

"Referrers" to NME from a bad day last fall

I don’t watch my blog site stats like I used to, but I still feel happy when they cross a (n arbitrary) line like this. I had 2,024 hits in March, more than twice as many as last March, and four times as many as the March before that. Should I hope for breaking 4,000 in March 2012?

This is an automatically generated post from WordPress about NME’s performance during 2010:

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 129 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 207 posts. There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 12mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was November 1st with 98 views. The most popular post that day was My First AA Meeting.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were google.com, womantalk.wordpress.com, en.wordpress.com, davidvs.net, and mail.yahoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for three approaches to psychotherapy, nathen’s miraculous escape, elizabeth gilbert divorce, parataxic distortion, and experiential family therapy.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

My First AA Meeting November 2010
4 comments

2

Three Approaches to Psychotherapy: A Film Series May 2010
7 comments

3

Congruent & Incongruent Communication, Paradox & Double Bind June 2010
3 comments

4

Albert Ellis’s 15 Irrational Ideas May 2010
6 comments

5

DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria for Eating Disorders March 2010

baby photo, reading

The author, circa 1974

As previously mentioned, Nathen enlisted some help to manage his publishing empire while he is at Not Back to School Camp. Until now, the help has been pushing the publish button on previously authored posts, but with Nathen out of internet range again, it’s time to post a gratuitously cute photo of him.

His mother says he’s two or three in this photo, and that “he’s never stopped reading since.”

In May, this blog got 1,082 “views,” which means that many of its pages showed up on other people’s computer screens for some amount of time in 31 days. That’s my new record, and my first 4-digit month. I got quite excited as the number approached. I was checking my stats page several times a day. It was exciting and uncomfortable. I almost decided that I would not let myself check my stats for all of June. It’s not that I was wasting a lot of time on it, it’s just that I started feeling embarrassed about it.

NME Stats at May 31, 2010

I started this blog as a way of letting my friends and family know what I’m doing and thinking about, as a way of attracting Reanna’s attention (or someone else just like her), as a way of staying connected with friends and family and recording my history as I made it, they way I used to do with a yearly zine of the same name. I knew that writing my ideas publicly made me think more critically about them, and I liked the idea of living out loud, being the same person to everyone.

I’ve accomplished all these things, and this blog has been my most consistent source of inspiration for the last coming-up-on two years. It’s been great. My excitement over breaking 1,000, though, has got me thinking. Am I also trying to be famous?

To be clear, I don’t think I’m getting famous by writing this blog. It’s just making me think and feel about it. Even if I keep this pace up, 1,082 views is only about 34 per day, and I posted almost every day this month. I get a few people I don’t know finding the blog with search engine terms that I’ve written about, like “schizophrenia diagnostic criteria” or “are anti-inflammatories bad for you,” but most of my traffic comes directly here, on purpose. I imagine that means that there are maybe 40 folks who read this fairly regularly, and that’s easily accounted for by family and friends from school and Not Back to School Camp.

Still, 1,000 views means a lot more people are reading my writing  than they were two years ago, and that number could keep going up. My friend Jeannie recently beat 6,000 views and I thought, “Wow, that would be cool!” But there’s no way 6,000 views are all friends and family. A blog with 6,000 views is beginning to hit the public sphere–almost 200 a day. That’s not fame either, of course, but I bet those numbers keep going up, and maybe I could get there too, and I’m feeling a little tension about it.

Part of the tension is aesthetic. My aesthetic ideal of fame is from my music and record production career: I’d like to become just famous enough that fans of my kind of music are waiting for my next project, but not famous enough to get recognized on the street.

I’ve always felt comfortable with that picture, but now I’m becoming a therapist, and it appears that the therapist-fame aesthetic is different. My supervisors tell me that I should be unfindable–no public phone numbers, websites, etc. Clients should not be able to contact me except through the clinic, and they definitely shouldn’t be able to find out about my personal life. I can see the wisdom in that, but I don’t want to do it. I can make my phone, myspace, and facebook private, but I’ve got this blog and my band’s website, plus I show up on other websites that I prefer to be publicly affiliated with, like Not Back To School Camp, my swing dance group ELLA, and my family‘s music sites.

Another part of the aesthetic tension is about transparency. I have to be one person to everyone on this blog. Being the same person to everyone is an ideal for me but makes me uncomfortable. I have psychology-research friends, therapy friends, and co-counseling friends, all of whom would be distressed to some degree to learn how deeply involved I am in each field. My atheist friends can see that when I say I am agnostic, I really mean it. I’m not a hedging-my-bet atheist. I think about God a lot and take the idea seriously. My religious friends will see that I mock fundamentalism pretty regularly. And so on. The more well-known I get, the less I get to show people the parts of me I think they will like and hide the parts I think they won’t like.

And then there is the ethical aspect of fame. In a way, the better known I am, the better off my friends and family are–the more traffic I can drive to our businesses by mentioning them, the bigger audience I’ll have built for books I write or records I make. I can also bring more attention to worthy causes, potential problems, things like my Headlines From Psychology, that people would be better off knowing. The more fame, the more impact. A famous Nathen would be a stronger force for good. If I do say so.

On the other hand, the extent of my fame also forces transparency onto my friends and family, and they don’t all share my aesthetic preference for transparency. I didn’t really get this as an ethical issue until Reanna asked me not to use her last name on the internet. She wants to control what people can find out about her, and who doesn’t? I regularly tell people who video me dancing, “No YouTube!” But it didn’t even occur to me to ask the friends and family I’ve written about whether I could use their full names, or even post their photos. I’ve been considering starting that project soon. I like using full names, talking about real, specific people. So and so said such and such. This, however, a big reason Kerouac died friendless. I guess ethics trumps aesthetics.

[Oh! Here’s my opportunity to make that project easier for myself. If I’ve used your name (or if it seems likely that I will) in NME, please email me your preference: last name or no last name.]

I wrote most of this in early June, not knowing if I my views would continue spiking. It turns out they did not. At the end of June I’m almost exactly where I was at the end of May. I suppose it’s possible that staying level is an achievement, though, since I posted almost every day in May but only every other day in June. I’ve also lost a good deal of my both excitement and tension about my stats, though I still check them every day. Maybe it’s having watched them level off again. I’m tempted to start posting every day again to see if I can get another spike, but I think I’d rather post even less frequently and give myself time for more thoughtful essays. I’ll keep you updated.

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