06 May 2011

Happy Birthday: Life So Mundane!

Well, what do you know? It is a year since the first grudging experiment with Blogger. As everyone who has been following my writings knows, I started writing publicly using Facebook’s Notes application. It was neat; it was convenient. But it was also so, so limited!

Truth be told, I thought about moving over to Blogger long before I actually did. Procrastination: that can be a favourite pastime for those among us born under the stars of Taurus. In all honesty, I was still in executive management at the time and the last thing I needed was to exercise my already fatigued brain.

I was on an extended vacation – naturally – when I did make the decision to hop over to Blogger. Vanity also had a lot to do with it. To this day, I am loathe to wear glasses. While anything written in font size 6 appears nothing but blurred scratches these days, I can still manage size 8 – if, with more strain than I care to admit.

And size 8 – if I am not mistaken – is how Facebook publishes its notes… I am still comfortable with size 9; but the Times New Roman size 16 of Blogger – which is how Life So Mundane is configured – can be read even by the blind.

Initially, I continued to publish stories both in Facebook and Blogger. Who was I kidding, though? When my vacation ended and I had to report back for work, publishing in both sites started to become an unnecessary encumbrance. So I said goodbye to my Facebook Notes.

This story is the 337th in Blogger; not all of these are new materials, of course. When a writer’s block visits me, I rather find it convenient that I can always repost some of my old Facebook Notes.

Statistics continue to be modest for this site; although, compared to the first few faltering months, daily reads have increased significantly. In the first few months, daily reads hovered around the 100 mark – give or take a few, in all honesty.

By December, a few football stories I wrote while following the fortunes of the national team jacked the stats upwards. It was always inevitable that the stats would plummet when the national team’s international exploits ended; albeit, there was the benefit of some of the new readers returning. Hence, by January, the daily average rose to between 150 and 200 reads.

This April, though – and almost purely by accident – I chanced upon what is, to date, this site’s biggest hit: Batangas Signs. It was a lazy April Fool’s Day morning; and in all honesty, I had nothing to do. I was entertaining myself browsing Google Images for funny signs; and on a spur of the moment thought I would tweak some that I saw.

I have always appreciated humour; and all of you who are regulars to this site know that most stories have some touch of humour or the other somewhere. I have also noted from reviewing the stats that readers do tend to be partial in favour of funny stories. While I had nothing to do that April Fool’s Day, I also did not want to post anything too cerebral. A post with fallacious road signs, I thought, would do perfectly.

I published that post just before lunch; by evening there were already more than 300 reads. The next day, it was close to a thousand. I think it was only then that I fully appreciated the expression “going viral.” The story was being passed on by one BatangueƱo to another.

To think it was just one of those things I was posting almost as an obligation to keep the site updated. Honestly, there are so many more stories in this site that are more well-thought of and I feel should get more appreciation from readers. The item Life is A Book, for instance, I consider one of my best in a literary sense; yet it continues to be largely ignored. I guess it is just that people will always be more visual than literary.

At the very least, some who wandered to this site by way of Batangas Signs seem to be coming back. I mean, the daily average has also increased as the first-timers also appear to be checking the other stories out.

At this point, I honestly still do not really know where I will be taking this site. Stats say that there have been in excess of 70,000 pages read, in 122 countries! There are occasional readers from far-flung places like Kazakhstan, Bhutan and even the Cayman Islands. Pinoy expats? God knows. The stats do not say.

Expert bloggers say that for a site to really scale the peaks, it has to be subject-specific and targeted at a particular niche. While this is by and large a site for Filipinos and BatangueƱos, I have had no desire to write strictly for these two segments. At least up till the moment, my personal philosophy is that the writing is more important than the stats.

I appreciate readers, of course; but what I appreciate more is being able to write down things that one day I know will be a lot more difficult to recall. That I am helping my own self – and hopefully, others too – reach back to the past is what Life So Mundane is all about.

I feel a great sense of achievement, for instance, when I hear the youngsters around me talk about something they have read from this site that they did not previously know about. Or, when people tell me how much they appreciated a story because of its nostalgia value…

I do not really make money off this site – although if I can, why the devil not? I continue to think, though, that the real wealth I gain from continuing to write for this site is capturing moments in time and immortalizing these with words so that the moments are never lost and will always be there to be relived by whoever cares even long after I am gone.

That and being able to proclaim, one year after I first opened this site, to all and sundry that life is not so mundane after all…

The Facebook Happy Birthday Farce
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