Sunday, September 2, 2007

Losing Readers Fast

You can’t please everyone so why even try?
by Charlie Leck

Dennis, a friend and regular reader from just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, writes with just a touch of temper:

You must be losing readers fast.
I think your opinion essays are really good,
but for the last four blogs you’ve bored
of us with silly remembrances of
past. Get back to doing what you do
well, will you? What’s going on with the
debacle? Write more about matters
liberals want to read. On ethics and
, you’re top-notch. On lost love
you’re not so hot.

Know this about Dennis. I love him. He’s a great old grad-school-mate and passionate about America being fair to all its citizens; however, he cares nothing about literature and the arts. He reads only politics and community organization and lives them both.

Here’s my reply to Dennis:

Dennis, my friend:
I need a break once in a while. I love your
passion and I care deeply about the things
you stand for. Nevertheless, I need a break
occasionally from the tedium of only following
current events. I know you come to this blog
because you miss your home state so much.
Minnesota misses you and your activism too.
Just understand, please,that there are other
things in my life as well.
A few weeks ago, another friend and regular
, Jonathan, wrote and told me to write
less about politics and the issues he can read
about in the NY Times if he wishes. He wants
to read more cluttered memories and
mementos from my life.You can’t please
everyone, so why even try? Dennis, I’m
trying to write my memoirs for my
, so they have something by
which they can remember me, even though
these events in my life aren’t all that
distinguished. As I write various sections,
I get the idea that they would make good
reading on my blog. You have to remember
that the largest percentage of my readers
are old friends, family and colleagues.
Only occasionally do perfect strangers stumble
. Please keep reading, Dennis, but let my
mind wander once in awhile. If a piece bores
you move your mouse to the back arrow on
you navigation bar and click on it quickly.
Then come back in few days to see what’s new!

There is an Aesop Fable called The Man, the Boy and the Donkey. It makes a relevant point.

A man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passersby began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?”

The man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey's feet to it, and raised the
pole and the Donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together, he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them: “Please all, and you will please none.”

Perhaps it’s a bit strong for the point here; yet, maybe not! Thanks to David W. Deley and his HomePage on the web for reminding me of this fable.

Another old friend from Georgia writes:

You really write well – the Little League story was wonderful – should be a children’s book. Have you thought of that?

Leonard, from New Jersey writes:

How’ya doin, man? I was just on the web, lookin’ for info ‘bout the upcomin’ reunion at Roxbury and Google led me to your blog.
Ah, man, you should come. It’ll be a gas! ‘Member the fun we had in those plays with dear old Mrs. Call? ‘Member that Norwegian chick you fell in love with during one of the plays, who wouldn’t give you the time of day? She was too grown up for you anyway, buddy, if you know what I mean.
I’ll come back to read more of your blogs. Keep writin’ them blogs ‘bout Roxbury.
Change your mind ‘bout comin’ to the reunion. I’m gonna bug you ‘bout it.

You really can’t please everybody, so why even try? Bestselling novelist, Tess Gerritsen (author of Harvest; Life Support and The Surgeon)writes:

First, I’ll admit it. It hurts when someone criticizes one of my babies. I worked hard on every single one so of course I don’t like to hear that someone, somewhere,
thought the book stank. But the longer I’m in this business, the more I realize that reader opinions are all over the damn place. If you write to please one reader, inevitably you’ll disappoint a different one. Plus, some letter writers have their own agendas. They’re looking for reasons to be upset...

And, remember Ricky Nelson and his song, I Went to a Garden Party… I was a pretty big Ricky Nelson fan. I didn’t admit it too openly because he wasn’t all that popular among the people with whom I hung out. Yet, in the closet, I listened to all his songs and bought his albums. Ricky’s words are to point here and they say something about that coming 50th Class Reunion also.

I went to a Garden Party
reminisce with my old friends
chance to share old memories
play our songs again.

When I got to the Garden Party
all knew my name
no one recognized me
didn’t look the same.

But it’s all right now.
I learned my lesson well.
You see you can’t please everyone
you got to please yourself.

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