When the Magic Kingdom in Orlando opened in October 1971, success was far from certain. Oh sure, Walt Disney had opened Disneyland in Anaheim in 1955 and its success hinted at what was to come, but the Magic Kingdom was significantly larger and Walt Disney had passed away five years prior to the opening.
When the movie Casablanca was released, the film earned $3.7, a substantial but not spectacular box-office success. No one predicted what was to come, that the film would win the Oscars for best picture, director, and screenplay, and would go on to be ranked as one of the best American movies of all time.
Throwing darts blindfolded
This is my long way of saying that predicting the future success of a creative piece is a challenging endeavor. In my own life, I’m a horrible predictor of what people want to read or watch on my blog. I map out my blogs each week and naturally think about which ones will be well-read and which ones are there for me, meaning I like them, but I don’t expect them to earn much of an audience. In the end, I’ve come to one simple conclusion: I have no idea what’s going to do well or not well.
For example, my biggest story from a readership standpoint so far this year has been a “throwaway story” — one that I wrote in a flurry of activity one night after my wife and I went out to dinner and learned that a friend’s husband had passed away. I felt bad for my wife’s friend and jotted down a few of my feelings. It was cathartic for me. I let my emotions go and got them down on the computer screen. I wasn’t sure if the story worked or not, but the more I read it, the more I thought it might touch others too.
And the survey says!
From those little kernels of creativity, my blog post, Making the most of every second, emerged and ranks as the biggest hits leader this year. Right up there is a silly little post I wrote poking fun of Nittany, our Lhasa Apso-Bichon Frise, and about her getting older. The post titled appropriately, Turning 13, has done better than I ever expected. And yes, the little bugger, God bless her, has to love that even on the World Wide Web, she still finds a way to annoy and bug me.
Yes, yes, I’ve read my share of Do It Yourself stories about blogging. I know that I really should do more marketing and social media. I’ve learned too that you shouldn’t place too much emphasis on hits. I watch the hits more than anything to amuse myself. I’ve found lately that the stories that I expect to do well or love because of the writing and how they make me feel … perform good, but not great.
A roll of the dice
I have many personal favorites. I’m talking about stories like Semper Fi on my son’s decision to enlist in the United State Marine Corps or A quilt made with love on the family quilt that my mom and dad made my wife and I when we were newlyweds.
They’ve had their share of reader spikes, but not nearly as well as another story I wrote tongue in cheek, called Why didn’t anyone tell me? on the silly, but important things I learned about myself watching of all things — crummy morning television.
I’m left with one simple, but nagging thought: People are crazy!