The Magic of Readers

There are no awards for readers, at least, none that I know of, but there are awards for writers. Readers buy the book that wins the writer a prize, and yet without readers, there would be no writers.

Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know. ― Alberto Manguel

I am indebted in no small measure to you because if you did not read, I would not write. Yes, I would scribble in my journal, but without the focus, discipline, excellence, and tenacity of the past four years. I would neither research nor stretch myself beyond the world I know. You inspire me to look for the gem in the mundane and tell it as creatively as I know how.

What Lee Hall wrote about the play, I find to be true about writing. “Whether you are a writer or an actor or a stage manager, you are trying to express the complications of life through a shared enterprise . . .  And live performance shares that with an audience in a specific compact: the play is unfinished unless it has an audience, and they are as important as everyone else.”

I view with suspicion, every writer—by writer, I refer to anyone who crafts words intentionally on a platform that another can access—who claims, “I don’t care if anyone reads what I wrote.” The search for significance is a universal pandemic and writing is one way we ask, “Is anyone out there? Can you hear me?”

Sometimes, I have wondered about this business of writing and questioned my destination, but you were there to assuage my vulnerabilities and validate my journey through your comments or private messages. I learnt to count on your consistency as much as you did mine, and I am a better writer because of you.

When I conceive an idea, the meaning is clear to me, but the challenge is to get you to see it. You complement me by filtering my words through your experiences and adding depth to them that I did not recognize. Like the time I wrote a silly story, about two lovers and you showed me that it was about immigration and integration. And you were kind to me. If you thought stories like, Six Is Just A Number, echoed my life, you did not judge me but kept your perspective to yourself.

When members of the London Poetry Society asked Browning to interpret a particularly difficult passage of Sordello, he read it twice, frowned, then admitted, “When I wrote that, God and I knew what I meant, but now God alone knows. ― Ralph Keyes

Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “Readers are not sheep, and not every pen tempts them.” That my words have drawn a few is humbling and empowering, a weight of responsibility I have been proud to own.

The best part of writing at Livelytwist these past few years, was knowing that you were going to read what I wrote and not being disappointed, Sunday after Sunday. I cannot thank you enough for your uncanny generosity.

Thank you.

 

 

 

P.s. I stop blogging on this platform today.

©Timi Yeseibo 2017

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/cup-book-breakfast-read-plan-2123710/

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.

Advertisements

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.

Three Years On

three

The first time I met Lanre, I told him about my blog. He says it must be my passion, the subject of my blog snakes into every conversation. He wonders, as others do, why I do not monetize my blog. I sigh. As if money is everything; as if money isn’t everything.

I asked a friend to write an article for my blog. His article although well-written lacked that something I look for before I publish a post, but he did not think so, he being an accomplished writer. We reasoned back and forth, threatening our friendship, as when friends mistakenly become lovers, solid lines become indistinct; the ease of communication replaced by silent awkwardness.

It should have been easy to reject a submission that did not meet my criteria except that doing so felt like losing a friend. In the end, I chose my blog and after weeks of reaching out won a version of my friend back. The subject of writing for my blog is taboo. We do not speak of it. Maybe one day we will.

If I did not monetize my blog, I at least learnt what it means to be human. This is what it means to write a blog every Sunday for three years—you become aware of your strengths and limitations; how far you will go for what you believe in.

Three years ago, Maurice, Mayura, and I waited at Holendrecht Station for the metro, cold air whipping through our hair and slapping our coats while trains sped by. I recited a list of possible blog names. When Mayura said Livelytwist reminded her of lemons, my sign-off was born: Take lemons, make life! I can recount incidents like this for every stage of the life of my blog; the people whose input helped me along the way.

Friends sometimes ask about the number of stories I’ve written ostensibly to check if I have a collection large enough for a book. Some days I want to write a book. Some days I do not. Three years on, the relationships, I have forged because of my writing matter more. Each article I’ve published has a behind-the-scenes story—where I was, my state of mind at the time, and who helped make it happen.

I have evolved since my tentative beginning in April 2013. The stories I did not write the way I had wanted to tell me so. You see, when you keep friends up until 1 a.m., seeking their opinions, it seems unfair to discard their recommendations at 2 a.m., when you realize your story no longer resembles you.

I’ve been tempted to revisit the stories, you know, to remove this, and to add that, to make them fully my own. But I leave them as they are, wincing every time I read through, as reminders of a time when although I knew what I wanted I did not have sufficient courage to articulate and execute. I leave the stories on my blog to remind me how people-pleasing distorts what I sound like.

Writing consistently for three years has made me a better writer; I am more skillful with my pen. But skills do not keep you warm, people do. At the heart of every story on this blog is a person or group of people who believed in me. None more so than you who read this blog Sunday after Sunday; you who I fight for with my pen, jeopardizing friendships. If I make it to a fourth year, it will be because of you.

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.

 

 

A Writer at Last?

writer

We arrive at my parent’s house to meet a party in full swing. I am surprised. We hug uncles and aunts we have not seen in ages, while the girls who assist my parents with running the house cart the food and drinks my sister, with foresight, had insisted we bring along.

“I’ve been waiting for you people,” my mother beams, “some people haven’t eaten.”

How did she know we would show up with food and drinks on her birthday? Had she not said, “No, I don’t want a party; I just want my family around me and my pastors to pray for me”?

I should have known. Family for my mum means at least 100 people.

“Are you the daughter from America? UK?”

“Yes,” I reply, discounting the value of correcting them, these people who comment on how I have grown and how when I was small like this—they gesture with their hands close to the ground—they had changed my nappy or carried me or brought me presents.

And so I let myself be passed from bosom to bosom and chest to chest, squeezing back lightly sometimes, pulling back determinedly sometimes. I lose myself in the maze of people whose stories intersect with mine on account of my mother.

When people cannot eat and drink anymore and chatter dithers like a misplaced comma, my aunt says to my sister, “You need to give the vote of thanks.” A Nigerian party without a speech is an anomaly. My sister replies, “Please meet Timi, she’s the writer in the family; she knows how to speak grammar.”

My aunt approaches me and I protest, “I am not a writer,” so, my sister gives the vote of thanks instead.

I have pondered this exchange for some years now. Why did I refuse to be called a writer?

I think I felt as though I had not earned the title. Because writing comes relatively easy to me and I had a real job, writing felt like a serious hobby. However, the more I wrote, the more I saw how much like my mother I was, insisting I did not want something when in fact, I did.

I had confused being an author with being a writer. Since I had not yet authored a book, how could I introduce myself as a writer and answer the question that inevitably follows; so what books have you written? Or maybe I was afraid; if I did not succeed at writing, no one could accuse me of failing at being something I never claimed I was.

A while back, I found a definition for writer that arrests my reluctance to accept the title: a writer is someone who writes. This description frees me to allow those like my sister who want to call out and celebrate my gift, to do so.

If I have come closer to embracing the title writer, it is in no small measure because of you; you, who read, comment, like, and share my words. Our Sunday-Sunday interdependence has grounded me.

Thank you.

timi

 

 

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true. – John Steinbeck

 

Pretending to be a writer is easy… but genuinely being a writer is difficult, because you have to write something that will convince both yourself and readers. – Kim Young-ha

 

Stats, Search Engine Terms & You

livelytwist stats

 

WordPress spared me the trouble of spreadsheets, charts, and graphs by providing Livelytwist’s annual report for 2014. Here are some highlights to mark Livelytwist’s second anniversary.

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, Livelytwist was viewed about 13,000 times. By 2014, this doubled. The growth in number of views reminds me of a chorus sung in some Nigerian Pentecostal circles, everything na double double! What’s in a number? I publish articles once a week about subjects that don’t involve Kim Kardashian—the numbers tell me people still care about what I say.

At least one person in every continent, in 105 countries, viewed Livelytwist in 2013. Come 2014, Livelytwist travelled farther, touching down in ten more countries. Although we complain about the internet, it remains the universal passport, which defies visa restrictions. It is how I met you. Most visitors came from the United States. Nigeria and United Kingdom were not far behind, and The Netherlands and Canada made a strong showing as well.

 

These posts received the most views in 2014.

1. The Love Languages of Nigerians [posted July 2014]

2. The Body Magic [posted April 2013]

3. Open Letter to Akpos [posted May 2013]

4. I am Not Looking For Love, I am Going to Work [posted August 2013]

5. A Father’s Love [posted June 2013]

 

According to WordPress,

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2014. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

To me staying power is distilling current events in a way that transcends the present so an article remains relevant, year after year. Search engine robots also drove traffic to these posts judging by the most popular search words. Search engine terms are words and phrases people enter into various search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing that land them on Livelytwist.

A random sampling of the search terms shows my indebtedness to the creators of Akpos, a male character around whom many Nigerian jokes revolve, and to Ardyss for their corset, Body Magic. And yes, to romance and love. Below, I make my case.

 

A self-deprecating post about my struggle with weight and the Body Magic may be what bring these die-hard seekers to Livelytwist.

Search Engine Terms                                                             

magic chant for a round butt

  • When you find it let me know so I can retire early!

how to wear a body magic despite the pain to hide belle fat

  • Lol, vanity involves pain; just do it.

anything similar to body magic but cheaper

  • E.x.e.r.c.i.s.e maybe?

i hav flesh coming out from under my arms after wearing a body magic?

  • What did you expect? To drop 2 or 3 dress sizes?

 

A tongue-in-cheek stab at the ubiquitous Akpos, means that Akpos, and all things Akpos, are the search terms that bring the most traffic to my blog.

Search Engine Terms                                                             

akpose comedy – na we dey here 

  • What can I say? Akpos wins year after year.

what will i do so that i can be receiving  akpos joke every day as text message on my phone

  • So, someone actually typed this into Google?

i have a dream by akpos

  • That one day _ _ _ _  (fill in the blanks)

naija jokes that will thumble the girls and  make them shout

  • Girls beware!

Naija loaded akpos comedy

  • There in four words, the problem with Nigeria!                                                                                                                                                      

 

Every time I write about love, my stats go boom boom boom! But, what’s love got to do with these search engine terms?

Search Engine Terms                                                             

social network to find girls phone number or pin that are ready for marraige in nigeria 2014

  • This is not a dating site.

i am looking for love

  • I repeat, this is not a …

i want to friendship nigerian in mumbai

  • This is not a 419 site!

when will a female want a male to stop stroking

  • No comments. My lawyers are already writing Google.                                     #DefamationOfCharacter

when a woman acts up it means you pull her hair and show her whos boss

  • Osanobua! I haven’t even watched, not to talk of reviewed Fifty shades of Grey. I reject it!

i am tired of her in nigerian language

  • I apologise on behalf of all good Nigerian men.

timi yeseibo married

  • Get a life, read The  Economist!

 

Thankfully, these search engine terms reveal what the others may or may not: Livelytwist actually offers something intellectual.

Search Engine Terms                                                             

third world cultural profiles

  • Sociology majors welcome here.

what are the relationship between satire and social transformation

  • Satire can act as an agent of social transformation. Next question?

let there be peace in the land of my birth ( nigeria). Essay 

  • Indeed peace is a necessary ingredient for growth.

can an enemy be killed by splashing holy water on its picture

 

And these search engine terms remind me of why I do what I do…

Search Engine Terms                                                             What I Think

am bored..keep me lively pls

  • Came to the right place, read on.

latest blog by timi yeisibo-lively twist

  • Aw, sweet. People want to read Livelytwist!

livelytwist timi

  • So glad you found me!

 

A report tells one side of the story. I would love to hear your side. So what brought you here? Search engine? Facebook? Twitter? WordPress Reader? Other? And if you blog or have a website, what search engine terms drive traffic to your blog?

 

© 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.

WordPress 108: Liking, Following or Not

following

So here’s the deal. I upload my 600-word article on my WordPress dashboard, use the proofreader to make last-minute corrections, and then publish. Fifty seconds later, my phone beeps; so-and-so liked your post. I’m a slow reader, but even if you’re a pro at speed-reading, you could not have read my blog post that fast. Haba!

The ‘numbers’ game, no longer holds the same fascination for me as it did two years ago when I started blogging, and yet, I’m in awe of the numbers. The number of people who engage my posts by liking, commenting, sharing, or leaving a message via my contact form is one way I measure the effectiveness of what I do—entertain, inform, inspire, or provoke thought.

I cannot ignore the numbers. When someone stumbles on my blog, he may not know what to read. If the Top Posts & Pages widget on the sidebar does not woo him, the number of likes and comments may resolve his indecision. In that sense then, a fake like is better than no like.

One evening between 8:42 and 8:44, my phone throbbed with the force of too many notifications. After the climax, so-and-so had liked nearly fifty of my blog posts. I was not flattered. It is like a man telling me how intelligent I am while staring at my chest; it just doesn’t add up.

Okay, I understand that sometimes a like on WordPress is like a poke on Facebook. It’s another way to say hello or get your attention—oh boy; that was one long poke! It is an invitation to come out and play, which I honour by visiting the Liker’s blog, as time permits. It is not an indication that so-and-so has read and digested your writing. Hmmm, very well then.

In the digital space attention is a

But there’s a nagging ring of deceit to this thing, this game of like tag. So far, I have been unwilling to like a blog post that I did not read or appreciate, as if my like has a price tag, as if anyone would know. If quality feedback is important to a blogger, then this promiscuous liking distorts perception; it certainly feeds ego.

In a way, social media is about numbers, number of likes, comments, follows, and shares, because no one wants to have a conversation by himself.  The problem with the like button on some social media sites is that the conversation with others may be illusory.

This post would have been unnecessary but for an encounter on WordPress, involving likes and follows. After reading a blog post I enjoyed, I liked it. In response, the blogger who only recently followed me informed me that a like without a corresponding follow was an insult. See me see wahala. Are we now back to high school?

Following a blogger on WordPress means that new posts from the blogger will appear in my Reader or I will receive an email notification when they publish a post. It seems dishonest to have my Reader flooded with hundreds of posts, which I will not read, but like. To me, a follow is a commitment to read your posts.

I am commitment shy. In a world awash with information, but limited time, you and I cannot read every blog post. If yours is a niche blog about DIY, for example, it would be spurious for me to follow your blog because I don’t like DIY and don’t want to get better at it.

Perhaps I will throw this textbook idealism out the window to monetize my blog or market any book I may write in future. Time will tell.  First-world problems, heh?

Be relevant

Still, the highest compliment I could pay you isn’t necessarily to follow you, but to read and engage your writing. It is the highest compliment you could pay me too.

 

©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.

Statistically Speaking

stats

I am drawn to my WordPress stats page at least once every day although the stats do not tell me things I am curious about like how old my readers are. I know a twelve-year-old girl who reads my blog occasionally and a man of fifty-one, who claims to have read everything on my blog. Are the rest of my readers older or younger? My stats do not also tell me if I have crossed gender barriers with my pen. Who reads my post more, men or women?

 
I know no one in Brazil and Azerbaijan is a place I must locate on a map, yet my words have gone where my legs could not go. My words have travelled over Congo, a place I visited in Wilbur Smith’s The Dark of the Sun, and touched down in the United Arab Emirates. At least one person in every continent, in 105 countries, has viewed my blog.

livelytwist country views

I have heard it said that Nigerians don’t read, and that the average Nigerian’s appetite for literature lies in entertainment (Nollywood gossip), politics, and religion. I think I have done my part to debunk that claim. My highest blog views are from Nigeria, closely followed by the United Kingdom and the United States. Mind you, nearly 5,000 views in a country of 150 million people is a drop in the ocean, but I’ll take that drop, thank you!

 
What brings people who I have never met to my blog? I’d like to think that although I don’t know what gnaws on your mind at night, my words do. More likely, search engine robots pull you to my blog when you search for words like Akpos or Body Magic. If Akpos is unique to Nigeria, then majority of the seventy percent of viewers from Europe and The Americas are Nigerians. It makes sense as my Naija experiences colour my metaphors, making me feel proud that I’m also exporting Naija culture to non-Nigerians.

 
Was it my smiling Gravatar or a comment I left on another blog that brought you here? If so, I’m never changing that photo! If Facebook brought you here, I am not surprised for people share my posts on Facebook more than on any other social media platform.

 
I wonder if you stay after you land on my blog or if you leave, bookmark the page, and return later. If you stay, what do you like to read most? When I read a book, I try to find someone I know or myself in its pages. Is the protagonist’s failure like mine or is his success worth aspiring to? Does he walk with a limp so I can catch up with him?

 
I think the best stories are about the human condition, which would explain why stories about my or another’s insecurities served with wit, are the most viewed, most shared, most commented, and most liked posts on this blog. Posts like The Body Magic, I am not Looking for Love, I am going to Work, The Measure of a Man, Any Comments, and Six Degrees of Separation. Perhaps vulnerability exposes authenticity that makes you stay beyond the polished prose.

 

statistically speaking

Now I know what drives traffic to my blog, do I write another Akpos post? Now I know which posts attract the most views, comments, likes, and shares, do I stop writing posts like, Grow Up Mikey and Our National Pastime, because they performed poorly at the box office?

 
I cannot confine myself to the prison of writing for stats; my mind is bigger than that. However, I realise that my stats are my friends and they are relevant to the degree that I can make right inferences, which affect my writing and ultimately enhance your reading pleasure. So please fill in the gaps and tell me what my stats page won’t: who are you, what brought you here, and what will keep you coming back?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 
Related posts from Livelytwist:
https://livelytwist.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/what-brought-you-here/
https://livelytwist.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/wordpress-106-writing-and-perception/

 

Image credit: illustration from Microsoft

 

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.