As some of you may already know, I write a Sunday blog – both on WordPress and here, at The Red Room.
Last Sunday evening, I received an e-mail from one of the editors at WordPress, informing me that my latest post The Delight of Hand Writing had been selected for the Freshly Pressed Homepage, and that it would go live within a day or two. Naturally, I was delighted. I have been writing a weekly column on WordPress since February 2011, and this is a first for me. I figured I would get a couple of hundred views, as a result. On Monday night, just before going to bed, I checked the Freshly Pressed page, but my piece was not on it, yet.
Yesterday morning, like every morning, the first thing I did was switch on my BlackBerry. The e-mail notification alert started beeping continuously. It would not stop. I panicked. Last time I had received so many e-mails was when I had been hacked. I looked on the display screen. 253 e-mails. I rushed to my laptop, my BlackBerry still beeping every few seconds, demanding my attention.
While I was asleep, my blog piece had gone live on WordPress. While I was asleep, in England, other parts of the world were awake – and 1,853 people had read my blog, some of whom had clicked the "Like" stars, commented, reblogged me and/or subscribed. Hence, all the e-mail notifications. There were 85 comments pending.
In a state of overcharged joy, anxiety and disbelief, I went to work. I desperately wanted to tell someone about what was happening, and how my head was reeling but there was nobody I could ring at 7.45 a.m. Many of my friends are showbiz people – and so would not be awake then; and those with daytime jobs would be busy. I took myself to my morning class on automatic pilot, utterly stunned, trying hard to focus on what I was going to teach. Vocabulary. Animal idioms. Infinitive and gerund verb forms.
After class, when I switched on my BlackBerry again, more e-mails started flooding in. The view count had reached 2,984, and there were 130 comments pending. Europe was awake.
Back home, I began to read the comments, and approving them one by one. I was overwhelmed by the response and by the kindness of people's remarks. I was spinning but one thing I was sure of. I was determined (and still am) to respond to each and every comment. "You can't do that," a friend said. "It'll take you ages." He is right, of course. However, I feel that if people take the time and trouble to comment on your post – especially with such lovely comments, then the least you can do, is acknowledge them. After all, it is expected that an actor sign autographs and have a brief word with audience members at Stage Door, after a show. How is this different? I remember, a few years ago, leaving a gushing comment on Nicholas Evans's website, after reading his wonderful book, The Loop. I did not expect a reply, so you can imagine just how thrilled I was, when he e-mailed me back, thanking me. I still have a printout of that e-mail tucked into my copy of The Loop.
I spent most of yesterday afternoon replying to comments, and thanking people for reblogging and tweeting my post. By the time I collapsed into bed, and checked the stats, they showed over 4,000 views, and nearly 300 "Like" stars.
I wonder what, about this particular post, rather than any other so far, touched a chord. I do not suppose I shall ever know. Still, it has been an overwhelming experience, and one for which I am deeply grateful.