Writing Into Thin Air

images (2)  A significant part of my day job involves sending updates to our customer service area regarding new, events and customer mailings that may generate phone calls, changes in or reminders of department procedures, and initiatives taking place in other departments within our organization that might impact their jobs.

At first, the service staff said they were getting too many email communications, so we changed the format to two “daily news” email messages each day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, each containing a few updates.

But then they said they couldn’t easily go back and reference specific email messages, so I pitched the idea of creating a customer service blog to our department’s VP. She happily gave the green light and, for over a year now, I have been posting daily updates there, sprinkled with photos of staff celebrations and the occasional contributions from department management. I then send daily morning and afternoon digest emails to alert the staff of the latest posts.

Despite of all this, and the fact that the customer service employees know they should be reading these, I still receive fairly regular questions from them asking for the status of something I just wrote about within the last day or so. Or I get asked to remind the staff about an issue I very recently already reminded them about. And yes, the blog has a search box. And I also use tags and categories to guide them to whatever kind of information they’re looking for.

It sometimes makes me feel like I write these messages, send them, and poof!  They vanish into thin air, unread.

I guess all writing can feel like that sometimes, too, right?  You brainstorm topics or stories, write, rewrite, edit, proofread. You send queries to agents and editors, or you post to your own blog, and…nothing.  No comments.  No feedback. It can feel like you’re writing into thin air.

But of course, that’s not true.  I think about all of the articles, posts and books I’ve read over the years where it never even occurred to me to reach out to the author, thank him or her, or share my reaction to their work. Writers just don’t often get the kind of immediate and tangible reactions from their audiences that other professions do. That doesn’t at all mean we’re not appreciated.

Once published, your words remain out there indefinitely, unless you  choose to remove or change them.  They are there for anyone who happens to search for a topic you’ve written about, receives a link to your blog from a friend, finds your article in a magazine or your book on Amazon.

And once the words are published, they are there for you to revisit as well, to recycle or repurpose into another blog post, article or book chapter.  You can link back to them in your newer posts.  Add to them. Build upon them. Share them again with prospective readers who may have missed them the first few times around.

At my day job, I know there are customer service employees who do read and appreciate the daily updates I send to them.  Every once in a while, one of them even lets me know with a heartfelt thank you email, or a question or comment about a particular post.

No, our words don’t vanish once we send them out into the world. Every word we write, every post or page we publish, is then forever available for someone to discover, learn from, enjoy and maybe even share. And for us to build upon.

Instead they become a very part of the air, the content that fills the internet, libraries, bookstores and magazine racks, those places where people go to look for our work.

We’re appreciated more than we’ll ever know. And you know what? That’s okay.

4 responses to “Writing Into Thin Air

  1. We are reading and you are appreciated!

  2. I had this very experience recently on my own blog. I re-posted something I had written a few years ago, and to my genuine surprise, it had five times as many hits in a few days as it had in the entire time it’s been out there “in thin air.”

    I have no idea why it touched a nerve with readers this time, vs. when I originally posted it, any more than I understand why sometimes an older post I link *to* does better than the post I link *from* – sometimes, there’s no explaining it, is there?

    • hahnmah@gmail.com

      Serendipity? Capriciousness? Fate? Dumb luck? Who knows how people come across what we’ve written sometimes? 🙂 Keep writing, Sue.

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