Stats, Guest Posts, and Audiences

stats, guest post & audiences

 

The quickest way to go where you have never been is to find someone who has gone where you want to go.

 

If what they say is true, that your potential audience reach spans people ten years younger and older than you are, most people who read Livelytwist are in their thirties, forties, and fifties. I do not know for sure. The implication for reaching broader audiences including people in their teens, twenties, sixties, seventies and beyond, may be a change in style.

An acquaintance signs off her emails with these words, star differs from star in splendor. I have thought often about what they mean. If our lives are our message to the world, then our vocation is our platform. I believe that our experiences, location, age, race, gender, talents, and so on, position us to reach certain audiences. That only some are able to cross the barriers that separate us, innately or through learning, and have, more mass appeal than others do.

This past blogging year, Livelytwist’s total number of blog views was lower than the previous year, but I witnessed a shift in the type of blog articles that received the highest number of views. In the past, articles, which I wrote received the most views. Last year, the top five articles viewed, apart from the ubiquitous Open Letter to Akpos—search engine terms must bring Akpos seekers to my blog—were articles that others wrote for my blog. In order of most views:

Hardwired For Sorry [3]
Think Like a Man, End up Without One [1]
Hardwired For Sorry [5]
Think Like a Man, End up Without One [2]
Shifting Gears [6]

Storytelling is an effective means of communicating with a diverse audience. As much as I enjoy writing, I do not possess the authority or authenticity to tell all the stories I want to and therefore reach as many people as I would like. As William Faulkner noted, “A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.”

By sharing my blog stage with others, Livelytwist gained more universal appeal. At least one teenager and one writer in his seventies contributed an article to a blog series last year, as well as writers in every other age category in between. At least one person in every continent, in 125 countries, viewed Livelytwist in 2015, up from 115 countries in 2014. Guest writers shared the stories they wrote for Livelytwist on their social networks, engaging audiences I may never have reached.

world stats 2015

 

country stats 2015

After I ran a series on my blog that featured other writers, a reader scolded me for not writing my own stories. I understood her loyalty, the queasiness, which occurs when vision expands and threatens the status quo; as if I would abandon my blog. I explained that I conceptualized the series, handpicked the writers, and in some cases edited their stories. Then I sent her the links to a couple of stories I had written as part of the series.

What do my stats tell me? Numbers sometimes mean little. Perhaps they confirm something I wrote in my notebook years ago—I want to tell other people’s stories. I am getting closer to that dream, am I not? And it is because you said yes to sharing your story on my blog.

Thank you!

 

© Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Your Part of the Story

comprehension

In secondary school, my English teacher gave us a block of text to read followed by a series of questions to test our understanding. This exercise was called comprehension. Correct answers were based on the text. To extrapolate from our life experiences and make connections beyond the confines of the text, in order to interpret it, meant certain failure. This standardization of meaning complemented the marking scheme, I suppose, but we don’t approach life this way.

When we listen, we not only hear the words spoken, but also the manner in which they are spoken and all that it encompasses. How these elements affect our emotions, also influences our understanding.

At work, while implementing a strategy that we’d been briefed about, my colleague and I came to a gridlock because we interpreted the briefing differently. When we sought clarification, it turned out neither of us were right. So much for clear communication, which is why at the end of a talk, a speaker says, “Let me recap . . .” or an avid listener practices reflective listening, “If I’ve understood you correctly, you said . . .”

Someone said, “Write it to eliminate ambiguity,” as if inanimate words on a screen do not awaken and grow wings in the minds of those who read. Perhaps in business writing where clarity and conciseness are pivotal, this is true, except when the writing is convoluted to deceive.

But, in October, I wrote fiction. In fiction, we abandon some of the rules of comprehension I learnt in school. I think that a good writer invites us to create our own stories within the bigger narrative that he or she is telling. Writers do this by leaving a trail of white pebbles that readers instinctively follow to figure out what the story is about, when and where it is taking place, and why the characters act the way they do.

Somewhere along the journey, readers abandon the trail for a meandering path to interpretation. The writer takes a secondary seat, having provided the framework for readers to build by making associations based on their experience, belief, imagination, or needs even.

When I began publishing fiction here, I was fussy about readers’ interpretation. Did they get what I was trying to say? The comments showed me that readers don’t always perceive the story the way I do. And now I’m okay with that. For one thing, no one is writing a comprehension exam. Moreover, to see the story through a reader’s eyes is to see the story again.

I will agonize over words for days on end—do my words lead to logical inferences, are they coherent? But once I hit publish, I understand that the piece of writing, the baby I carried, has been delivered to the world. It is no longer mine. Comprehension is the reader’s part of the story.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The End of a Series

vintage envelope

 

I grew up in a close-knit family, a middle child, disciplined and socialized within the same context as my siblings. Our mannerisms were similar and we shared friends the way we shared hand-me-downs. However, if you had asked us, “What do you think about . . . ?” our views would have differed.

So after I approached nine guys to write this series,  my fear that I would end up with a monologue—each writer parroting the other, was perfectionist-phobia. They were to distil their opinions (in 300 words or less without preaching), about a phrase, think like a man, end up without one. The phrase might be a tongue-in-cheek response to Steve Harvey’s book on what men really think about love, relationships, intimacy, and commitment.

When I told one writer that his submission was controversial and would draw ire, he said in essence, “What do you want readers to do—smile, turn over on their sides, and fall asleep or frown, stay awake, and ponder what they read?” He reminded me of something I had heard, that those who are least like us, have the most to teach us about ourselves.

Maria Popova says that a great story is not about providing information, though it can certainly inform—a great story invites an expansion of understanding, a self-transcendence. More than that, the story plants the seed and makes it impossible to do anything but grow a new understanding—of the world, of our place in it, of ourselves, of some subtle or monumental aspect of existence.

Because I read with an open mind, I embraced each writer’s invitation to stack his opinion against my experience and preference. My beliefs about why I’m here and what follows death as well as my present cultural reality shaped the points of consonance and dissonance I found. The comments showed me mathematics makes sense:  3+6 and 4+5 and 1+8 and 2+7 all equal nine, but not when it comes to the heart. Tomi captures it best: Perhaps love is our different similarity. We love differently, but we love all the same.

The first time I liked a boy whom I thought liked me back, I told a friend. She had acquired a worldly veneer from eavesdropping on the conversations of her many older siblings. Thus her advice, play hard to get, went unchallenged by me. I must have looked like a toy atop the Eiffel Tower because, with no ladder in sight, the boy’s hands hung limp and he left. I suppose the moral of the story is life is art, more fluid than formulaic, and a variable presents an opportunity or a looming threat. As Tola reminds us, embedded in every story are endless possibilities.

It seems everyone wants love and yet, in the words of C.S. Lewis, to love at all is to be vulnerable[;] love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. What to do then? Dela wants the predictability of drama. Ife sighs at the two hunters in the jungle. Samuel unveils a game of thieves; Ifeanyi makes it about egos. Tonwa advocates for less brain and more heart and Seun stresses, a human brain, please! Brian hints at the delicate balance of pursuit and protection: We want to be loved for who we are, but we fear the risk that comes with disrobing to be known.

 

Love slays what we have been that we may be what we were not. – St. Augustine

 

Relationships are oxygen. The post views, likes, comments, and shares, do not lie. If I had any sense I would start a series (written by women), dance like Cinderella, end up with the Prince!

What about you, what do you think?

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

p.s. Thank you Tomi, Ifeanyi, Ife, Dela, Tola, Samuel, Tonwa, Seun, and Brian!

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Collaboration: You and Me

collaboration

Collaboration. Holistic Wayfarer showed me how it’s done by inviting me to write a blog post alongside her and Nida S., another writer. An African proverb says if you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. I went farther this year, because you journeyed with me.

I overcame fear of rejection and what-ifs to approach you, virtual stranger, virtual friend. I told you that I admire your writing and I would be honoured if you shared your perspective on a series I’m doing. And when that didn’t work, I pursued you—busy you, you that hadn’t written in a while, you that was between jobs, cities, homes. Determined not to say your no for you, I ‘harassed’ you until you said, “Yes, Timi!”

From each writer, I collected kernels of truth, after you wooed and wowed me with your words. Someone noted that humility is the common thread that runs through the Learning Series. Indeed, to learn, you must first admit that you don’t know.

The Learning Series was not the only collaboration I did this year. We wrote about age, the love languages of Nigerians, and love for country. The writers took my ideas and ran as far as Australia, danced above and below the Equator, and soared to Canada; yes farther than I could go. The result? A clash of hues softened by the spaces where we glimpsed your heart.

I opine that to write an effective personal piece, vulnerability must become like meat and potatoes. The writers delivered that quality, the ability to be open and yet closed, to be known and yet not known, to lie next to someone and yet not touch. Perhaps I reread your pieces and the comments that followed, to decipher your face in the dark that I might recognize you by light. These collaborations were shared over 150 times on social media, the power of your network not mine. You took me further.

In putting your stories and mine together, my joy at editing surpassed my joy at writing. I questioned if my writing was not merely a platform to pull other writers together to present the world with an anthology, all the stories of humanity in one place. I played with this notion until I met a ‘secret’ reader at an event. The usual pleasantries segued to the question of what I do.

“What do you blog about?”

I sized him up. Nigerian. Early thirties. “Let me show you.” I navigated to, Running in the Airport. “See,” I said, letting him read from my phone, “This kind of stuff.”

“Oh, I’ve read that before, hilarious! Someone sent it to me. So you’re the one who wrote that, he asked, looking at me. “You look . . .”

“Different,” I offered, aware that the photo on my blog was taken about three years ago.

“More beautiful in person.”

The charmer. If I were doing a sweepstake on my blog, I would skew the results so he would win.

“And you sound so . . .  so . . .”

“Ordinary?” I offered again.

“Yes,” he replied, shaking his head. “After reading all that big grammar you write . . .”

Right there, his laughter clambering over mine, I began to write a blog post in my head.

Our laughter reminded me that my collaboration with readers either through the comments or in real life has also taken me further than I dreamed possible. Writing gives me visibility. It is wonderful to meet and know people beyond the page.

Happiness is transient for me, until I celebrate every phase of my journey. It is true what they say; the grass is greener on the side where it is watered. In 2014, my blog was a beautiful place to be because of you.

 

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
 Isaac Newton

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.