I've still been "taking stock" of the reading and writing I did last year. Yes, I know we're nearly two full weeks into the new year, but I'm slow. :-) Plus I really didn't have much time in December for such reflection.
I've been feeling somewhat discouraged that I did so little writing last year beyond the review-writing I did for Epinions. Not that I don't enjoy writing those (if I didn't, I wouldn't keep writing them!) but I've made myself a goal this year to spend less time on those reviews and more time writing other things (poems, stories, essays, articles) in an attempt to get some pieces published. I think every writer longs for a wider audience, and every writer longs to really write about the things we care about most.
While still in my "taking stock" mode, I decided to look over all the reviews I wrote for Epinions last year and see which ones had the most visits, or "hits" as they're called in epi-parlance. That number is tracked on the site and can be accessed via your personal account, so you can see the relative popularity of your reviews, how many people are accessing them (and then hopefully reading them). Because I write book reviews, mostly (though not all) children's book reviews, my number of visits or hits is not usually very large. It's unusual for me to tally 100 hits on most of my reviews. My movie reviews (which I write less often) fare better, as do my occasional forays into toys, music or health products. With those latter categories, I've always suspected its the "practicality" of the reviews that garners more visits. After all, one can rate certain things in terms of productivity, how well they work, how they live up to product claims, etc. And consumers on a site like Epinions may well be looking for those kinds of information before they make a purchase.
With book reviews (and to a lesser extent perhaps? movies) I think the reviews are much more subjective. When reviewing a work of art, rather than a product, one can't help but bring more subjective impressions to it, and there are less utilitarian concerns. Yes, there's still some element of subjectivity when it comes to assessing a shampoo -- a shampoo might work well for one person and yet dry out another person's hair -- but there's still an element there of assessing "performance" that I think is very different than the complex interaction one has with a book or a film.
At any rate, I was scrolling somewhat rapidly through my list of reviews, seeing lots of numbers like "58" and "79" and "92" and once in while "141" but realizing that most of my reviews really do probably fall within the 50-80 visit range, at least in the first year of their posting. And that's all right. So I was suddenly startled when I saw the number "352" posted next to a review, especially because this was something I posted in November. It's only been posted for two months, and it has 352 visits!
I looked eagerly to see what it was and felt even more astounded. It wasn't even a review at all, strictly speaking, but an essay I wrote for the "writer's corner" called 10 Wonderful Poems to Share With a Young Child. From time to time, I write reflections or essays, usually on children's literature or parenting topics. I was astounded that it had been accessed that many times, and frankly bewildered as to know how that might have happened. (I hardly ever remember to check writer's corner content myself when I'm on the site.) Only 33 of the visits were "member visits" which means somehow, someway, this little essay has been "visited" (dare I hope, "read"?) by 319 non-members, i.e. regular people.
Is this possible? Could it be a miscalculation? I don't know. But I felt really encouraged. No matter that writer's corner pieces make no money (ah well) it still warmed my heart to think that 300 some people might actually have accessed and read this little piece I wrote about the importance of sharing poetry with a child. It gives me a little dose of hope that I should keep writing about the things that I really care about. Maybe other people care about them too!