Two Hundred and Counting

200

 

I received a WordPress notification about my 200th blog post about six weeks ago. What does this mean to me?

1.
Because Nigerian musicians frequently fuse their local dialects and English to produce hits that resonate beyond their shores, I thought the word colabo, and I spelt it like that, in the song collabo by PSquare featuring Don Jazzy is a Pidgin derivative. However, collabo is a word in the dictionary, which means something produced by two or more people working together, especially a piece of music.  I did not get to two hundred on my own. Many collaborations with different writers brought me here.

2.
Every year I check boxes and add scores on tests designed to show me an aspect of myself. I am always trying to answer the questions, who is Timi and what does she want? Perhaps I am more curator of stories and editor than I am writer. The collaborations I inspire and drive bring me double joy. Flipping through one of my old journals, I smiled as I read my handwriting, cursive, strong, sure. I had written: I want to tell other peoples’ stories. Self: A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.

3.
For years, my answer to the question, “So what do you do?” was fluid because I was like a natural hair enthusiast growing out a perm, one leg here and one leg there. To define my ‘do’ by my day job seemed limiting. Then I stumbled on Adam Leipzig’s Tedx Talk and discovered a way to answer the question with ease. Recently, I answered the question like this: I write a blog, dismissing Leipzig’s recommendation. The man to whom I was speaking probed further, “What do you write about and are you any good?” I answered his second question before the top of his lips settled on his bottom lip, “I am very good.” Gone was his disinterest. Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

4.
Sometimes people leave me comments and messages that they wish they could write like me. I take it as a huge compliment and nothing more. I have stopped wishing I could play the piano like the musician who is a wiz at the keyboard. I have no desire to put in the work and disciplined focus required to reach that level of proficiency. I do not have another 10,000 hours. In making the point that excellence requires a critical minimum level of practice, Malcom Gladwell says ten thousand hours is the magic number that researchers have agreed on for true expertise. Two hundred blog posts is not yet 10,000 hours. Practice: Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.

5.
The line between just asking and a free consultation is smeared with politeness. Doctors and other professionals know this. I know this now; 200 blog posts means I have a feel for what makes a piece of writing work. A party is not the place to read me a sentence then ask if it is grammatically correct or whip out your phone to show me something you wrote. That is what emails are for. I do not carry a red pen in my clutch bag; I carry red lipstick and blue mascara. People ask me to be brutally honest in my feedback, but the only place to be brutal—savagely violent or unpleasant and harsh, is the gladiator’s ring. The only adjective that should go with honesty when it comes to feedback on a piece of writing is kind. I have made and kept more friends this way.

6.
Space is not a continuous area or expanse, which is free, available, or unoccupied. It is a place stamped with evidence of my presence, neatly littered with comforting memorabilia—a weathered collection of poems, old photos of my children, journals, books about writing, ideas on yellow post-its, and greeting cards that affirm who I can be. Space is freedom to live, think, and develop my writing in a way that suits me. It is saying no to play and living like a hermit Friday night and all day Saturday. Space is showing up for lunch or dinner with my laptop, typing away while conversation wafts around my head. Two hundred blog posts later, space is the greatest gift my family and friends have given me. Extroverted Introvert: Also called social introvert. Sociable and friendly but needs to recharge in solitude often.

7.
When I decided to start a blog, I had three options: WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr. I am yet to regret my choice. Often I struggle to leave a comment on other platforms but I have scarcely heard that anyone struggled to leave a comment on my blog. It is true that I do not want be bothered with technical things like code, wanting only to upload and publish, but more than that I have found a community of generous people who are curious about the world beyond them. Two hundred blog posts ago, I published my first post to a warm welcome from several bloggers who I did not court. Welcome on WordPress is like a revolving door. A good number of bloggers with whom I engaged in those early days have exited the blog stage and in their place, other bloggers have taken my hand. Welcome: Greet (someone arriving) in a polite or friendly way; React with pleasure or approval to (an event or development).

 

To all my readers: I owe you a debt of gratitude. You have pushed me to become better than I was.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

  1. All dictionary definitions from English Oxford Living Dictionaries
  2. Gladwell, Malcom, Outliers, The Story of Success, (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 43 -44

 

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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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.

 

 

Blogging 109 … Word Travel: combating prejudice 

travel

Mark Twain’s quote from his book, The Innocents Abroad, rings true.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

My travels overseas have shown me how little people know about Nigeria and the African continent and revealed my prejudice and penchant for stereotypes. If you never travel and watch only one TV channel, you may conclude that Europe is awash with refugees, America with gun violence, the Middle East with terrorism, and Africa with war, poverty, and disease.

But hopping on a plane, train, or bus and going miles and miles away from home can be expensive. However, we’re not limited by budget if we can read. Literacy and internet access provide cheaper alternatives to confront narrow-mindedness.

Like most of my friends, I remember travelling to faraway places as a girl through the books I read. The writers stimulated our senses as we journeyed with them, so we were familiar not only with the sights, sounds, and smells of places, but also with their peoples and culture. We lived in Mallory Towers and were Famous Five detectives.

What we enjoyed was a kind of unilateral intimacy. But now, the internet has not only made content readily available, but also fostered greater connection. In his book, Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt says that social media has taken connection to a whole new level. It makes possible bilateral intimacy—engagement. This means our virtual travel experiences are richer since we can confront a writer’s bias as well as ours in conversation. We can also give feedback and receive more insight from the contributions of others.

To me, one of the coolest things about blogging is the opportunity to travel—to journey along with readers to their worlds in the comments they leave behind. Every time I write, even on a subject I’m an authority on, I learn from the myriad perspectives readers bring. Sometimes I pour my jumbled thoughts down just waiting for readers’ comments to make sense of my thoughts.

It’s difficult to approach most topics with an ‘empty’ mind because our minds are usually already ‘full’. But if we’re willing to engage, we’ll see that we don’t have to agree with another viewpoint, sometimes all that’s needed is, “Oh, I see where you’re coming from; I’ve never walked that road before.”

Blogging has made travel—broad, wholesome, charitable (and uncharitable), views of men and things, possible for me.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/sign-places-travel-information-429419/

 

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.

Time to Read

Blog articles on my WordPress Reader started appearing with an estimated reading time (ERT) tucked at the bottom left-hand corner, about two weeks ago. So, for example, my blog posts looked like this.

 

ERT 1

 


ERT 2

 

Many writers I know, including myself, lean towards verbosity. We are in love with our words. When you are in love, words are harder to kill. A blog post may therefore take hours to complete. As Samuel Jackson notes, “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” At first, it was jarring to see work that took me seventy-two hours to produce reduced to a three-minute read, word count notwithstanding. But this is the reality of life online; writers have much to share, readers have little attention to spare. Erik Qualman caps the average person’s attention span at seven seconds, one second less than a goldfish’s eight seconds.

If the first three sentences of an article is followed by: read 1827 more words, only several things make me continue reading—familiarity with the author, curiosity occasioned by a superb opening line, the title, prior knowledge or interest in the subject, or a referral.

Time is like a loaf of bread, there are only so many slices I can cut. My life is characterized by acute time rationing—ever heard that time waits for no man? It is as if the world is spinning faster and faster on its axis and I am getting dizzier and dizzier from information pollution. How long, thus becomes a valid question.

I mean, if completion is my goal, then time is often the decider between a three-course meal and a sandwich-to-go at lunch break or between a 500-page novel and a collection of short stories on a one-hour flight. Would you watch a YouTube video without checking its length?

I find myself liking ERT appended to blog articles. ERT on platforms like Longreads and Medium helps me narrow my plethora of reading options. ERT even trumps word count in my view because it makes mathematics unnecessary i.e. dividing total number of words by average reading speed.

Similarly, in making a case for why we find listicles appealing, Maria Konnikova notes that an article written as a numbered list, “. . . promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront. Together, these create an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption—. . . And there’s little that our brains crave more than effortlessly acquired data.”

 

listicles

 

She writes, “The more we know about something—including precisely how much time it will consume—the greater the chance we will commit to it. The process is self-reinforcing: we recall with pleasure that we were able to complete the task (of reading the article) instead of leaving it undone and that satisfaction, in turn, makes us more likely to click on lists again—even ones we hate-read. The social psychologist Robert Zajonc, who made his name studying the connection between emotion and cognition, argued that the positive feeling of completion in and of itself is enough to inform future decisions. Preferences, goes his famous coinage, need no inferences.”

I cannot help but draw parallels, unscientific they may be, between these observations about listicles and the value of knowing ERT upfront. Hampered by time, ERT helps me choose what to read now and what to save for later.

When Slate introduced ERT, this 3.5-minute video mocked Millennials’ propensity to want to know everything now.

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/ppx1hm/slate-s–minu tes-to-read–feature 

Two years on, and I think Slate was on to something. Do you think blog articles should display estimated reading time?

 

©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.

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.

Two Years On

Two

My blog is one way by which I measure time. April marks two years since I began blogging. The earth spins on its axis as it revolves round the sun. The moon pulls the oceans and lets them go. If I did not write, the earth, sun, and moon, would not have stopped for me and I cannot imagine what else could have filled my days so.

Self-discipline is the hallmark of my journey. It is the ability to make yourself do what must be done.

When I’m in the zone, I could write forever. Ideas ooze from me and words tumble out faster than I can type them—I abandon current thought and scroll down the page to type perfect sentences and beautiful dialogue, falling from heaven like gold dust.

Many times, I’m out of sorts. Experiences burn me and disappointment visits nearly every day. My head hurts and my emotions are pink like cut salmon. I sing, tired oh so tired, and I’m too tired to compose a new song. I question which direction to take my blog or if I should quit. And most of all, I don’t feel like writing. Not writer’s block, but an insidious lethargy, which is akin to living with a low-grade fever.

I’m not unique in this regard. This is how we sometimes feel about our jobs and responsibilities. When did the things we love become a prison that we long to escape? But we show up at our jobs and dance on the stage of our lives anyway.

 

One Friday evening I’m moaning about how I don’t feel like writing.

My friend nods in understanding, “No, you don’t have to, it’s your blog. Not like anyone is paying you to. I’m sure people would understand.”

She is right. However, I can’t miss a Sunday post. Maybe it’s because growing up, my mum pushed me to outdo myself. Or it’s the result of my school principal repeating at assembly, “What is worth doing is worth doing well.”

“Yeah, but I have to,” I say.

 

So, that night, I discipline myself to write about an incident involving a friend and then launch into a broader conversation about what we value as a society. Disciplining myself to write means that I turn down many invitations, adjust my sleeping habits, watch less soaps, and read more stuff.

I muster all my skills and still feel as though the article could be better. Bloodshot eyes and new streaks of grey; five hours later, I know I have nothing more to give.

Eventually the article resonates with readers as reflected in the comments and shares.  In a sense, this is the reward of diligence—pushing past inner and outer turmoil and insisting on excellence from myself. The discipline of writing weekly provides momentum for those times when I’m flat. Still, I shake my head. I know this, and in fact all I’ve achieved, isn’t my doing. A wise man said:

The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant
or favour to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

If this is my time, then my blog has been my chance. And self-discipline would mean nothing if I didn’t have readers like you encouraging me week after week.

Thank you!

 

 

© Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Photo credit: http://pixabay.com/en/digits-pay-123-1-2-3-series-705666/

 

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.