Tuesday, 31 July 2012

My Readers

Well, poppets, what a fuss yesterday. The last time my traffic bounced like that it was on account of Mark Shea, who was so charmed by little me that he thought someone ought to marry me pronto. From this it is clear that Mark was not a daily reader, but I was delighted all the same.

Yesterday was not like that. Yesterday a blogger used my blog and--I might add--my thoughts as an excuse to sound off on What Catholic Girls Should Expect From Us Catholic He-Men and, to add insult to injury, revealed--clumsily, without malice--that he thought my readers were risible.

A bull in the china shop of the heart, perhaps?

The silver lining is that some Single women must have found my blog through his link and that they will find interesting things to read here and also the fellowship of my readers.

I blog here at least five times a week, and am not paid a dime to do it. Once in a blue moon, I put up a tip jar. And I've stopped counting how many emails I've received asking for advice. I'm sure it's over 100, but not how much over 100. In the past, I did not have an honorarium for speaking engagements, but just let whoever invited me give me what they thought fair. (Thanks to the contemporary realities of writing life, and my looming old age, I've changed my thinking on this.)

Meanwhile, I'm never, ever going to get signed on as a staff writer by a big Catholic Singles site because they deal in Catholic dating websites and, poppets, you know what I think about that. If it weren't for B.A., I would be the proverbial starving writer. (Of course, if it weren't for moving to super-secular Scotland, I'd probably have a great job in Catholic publishing, but let's not go there.)

In my six years of writing about the Single life, I've been married for three. So why do I blog on the Single Life?

Answer: You.

It's hard to say for sure, but I think I have a core readership of 200-250. These are the girls and the two or three guys who read every day or almost every day.

My elementary school had 250 students, so it's a staggering thought.

Meanwhile, I can't keep you girls straight because I get so many letters and so many comments and since you write to me of such personal stuff, I've trained myself to forget who says what.

But I do remember that somebody American said that she and her roommate start their day by reading my blog out loud. And since the majority of my readers are in the USA, I try to have my article done by the time the East Coast wakes up.

Writers love to write, but we also love being read. And what I love about blogging is that I get almost immediate feedback from readers. And what readers!

You're doctors. You're surgeons. You're scientists. You're professors. You're grad students. You're poets. You're professional singers. You're lawyers. You're soldiers. You're homeschoolers. You're high schoolers. You're engineers. You're mothers. You're teachers. You're lay ministers. You're PR pros. One of you may be an astronaut. One of you is a top mathematician.

You work in publishing. You work in laboratories. You work in studios. You work in schools. You work in sales. You work at home.

You're in the USA, most of you, but you're also in Canada, in the UK, in Poland, in Germany, in Australia, in New Zealand, in France, in South Africa, in Russia, in Asia, in the Caribbean.

Apparently most of you are in your twenties. Most of you are Roman Catholics, but some of you are Anglicans and Protestants and East Orthodox, and if Jenny from my town is still reading, at least one of you is a Jew. (And at least one is a Catholic Jew when Dawn Eden comes by.)

You're mostly women, Single women. And from your emails and your comments,I know you're pretty darn bright. And it is because of your emails and your comments that I am still writing this blog.

Incidentally, my blog readers have done more to promote my books than anyone else with the possible exception of the team at Homo Dei. The invitations to speak in the UK and the USA? The opportunity to lecture at the Edith Stein conference? Readers. You girls.

I met my husband because readers alerted him to my existence. The reader who set off the astonishing chain reaction of our romance is now a cloistered nun

I'm not Single anymore, but I am still childless, which is sometimes a burden, to be honest, since I seem to have grown into a motherly type, very interested in younger people, especially if you are bright. And somewhere along the I-93, the wheels of my shiny academic career fell off, so I don't have students either. What I have are readers, and you are such a gift to me. You, Science Girl, and you, Med School Girl, and you Charming Disarray, and theobromophile, and Nzie, and Aussie Girl in New Zealand, and Urszula, and Tess, and the girl whose email I answered when I got up this morning.

It's very humbling, actually.

Aw, shoot. Crying. It's Tess's fault for being so sweet.

And it's also the fault of that young woman from Warsaw. During the Krakow conference, there was a session where I was booked to hear women's concerns and to give Auntish advice. This young woman from Warsaw came in, wreathed in smiles. She didn't have a concern. She just wanted to say thank you and that she and other Single women in Warsaw had created a support group called the Anielskie Singles.

Trying to remain rooted in reality here. For after all, this is blogging. Blogging is somewhat removed from the real, physical world, and you can't know a whole person just over the net, as I've said a hundred times. But you can know something, and one thing that I've noticed is that my readers sound a lot like themselves in person. Berenike, for example. Benedict Ambrose.

So I feel like I know my regular readers, just from your comments and your emails over the years, and I think you're fantastic. Sure, you make mistakes. Sure, you commit sins. Sure, you lose it on men-in-general and wallow a bit in vinegar. But you're sorry, and you pick yourselves up, and you trust in God, and you keep going.

I'm crying again. The eavesdroppers are rolling their eyes at such girliness. Well, I am a girl, so they can go boil their heads (bless their little hearts).

Anyway, that's why I lost it a bit on Ryan yesterday.

Thanks, girls, for everything.


Sarah said...

Well, thanks you for continuing to write, Seraphic!

I've been reading for three years, and though I don't always agree with you, I continue reading because I feel like this is a bit of a "safe space" on the internet. I felt that way even before the Ban on Boys was enacted. ;)

Not only do I receive valuable advice from you, but I think it's great to read the comments from other regular readers, and I've even made a real life friend, thanks to your combox.

American in Deutschland and I got together last night before she heads back to the States (sob. It's so sad that we've lived so close, but we were so worried about creeping the other out that we didn't connect earlier).

I hope you keep writing for us for a long time.

Charming Disarray said...

Well, this made me teary! Thank you so much for all you do. Finding your blog was genuinely life-changing for me. I had been looking for something like it for a long time, and it's completely unique. So much of what is aimed at Catholic women is either downright harmful or, even if it's well-meaning, seems a bit naive and disconnected from the realities of living in a very fallen world, usually peddling some sort of "smile and wear pretty clothes and say your rosary" type of philosophy. Not that there's anything wrong with doing those things, but life is full of complexities, and your writing never shies away from dealing with those complexities head-on.

Sitting Pretty said...

Thank YOU, Seraphic! Reading your blog is part of my morning routine as well, and I can't help coming back to it later in the day to see the fascinating comments your other readers leave. It's a testament to the quality of your writing that you attract such intelligent fans! Your time and effort are greatly appreciated-- probably more than you will ever know, this side of heaven!

Also... if you ever chose to write more of "the Bodis Riper", and distribute it on some sort of an online subscription plan, I would pay for that. I have no idea why, but that story, (with that spelling!) just cracks me up.

Catherine said...

Thank you, Auntie S., for your sharing your time, perspective, wisdom, and humor with us!! Perhaps more than anything else, the little community of this blog has given me a sense of solidarity. It's SUCH a relief to be assured, time and time again, that I'm not as abnormal a case as the secular world would have me think. Your well-reasoned, tough-love approach has snapped me out of many a bout of self-pity, and helped me develop a healthier attitude towards my single state. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank YOU, Auntie (older sister?) Seraphic, for all that you do.

We probably couldn't be more different, in many ways, and it influences how we look at situations. (If you ever need the "my family keeps divorce lawyers in business" perspective, you know where to find me.) Nevertheless, I absolutely love reading your blog, am so thankful that you keep writing it, and am so very excited - still! - that you met and wed B.A..


sciencegirl said...

AW! I read your blog first thing when I get up, and it does brighten my day. I love that there's somewhere on the Net for good Catholic women who are single.

Irenaeus G. Saintonge said...

I'm one of those several guys who reads your blog daily, or almost daily. I have to say, your advice for young women was nearly as helpful for me as it is for them. After a few months of reading your blog, I started to feel that I understood how a young woman's mind works, far better than I did before. I definitely believe that indirectly it helped me a significantly to find and court my now-fiancee.

So, thanks for your writing and all your hard work. :) You do so much good, and I'm sure you gain a lot of grace by it.

Seraphic said...

Thanks, people! WHAT an emo-post, eh? Very emo. I am being an emo-blogger for a day.


Anna said...

I was sold on this blog within a few seconds of reading. I've read some posts multiple times. I've solicited you advice many times and in one case in particular you gave me push I needed to get out of a bad situation (that was written pseudonymously, I admit).

I also have a bit of a "support group" going on here with some girlfriends in Chicago. We sometimes jokingly wonder if people think that we're related since we all seem to have an "Auntie Seraphic". ;)

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Oh, thank you, Auntie - I do try to check in as my morning routine - and what do I find after a few days out of it (travel and closing conference for my summer work) but I come to catch up and find your lovely note. I don't know what God has in store for me - I hope it's marriage but it's great to have a positive view of single life here, and to have a little community of sorts talking about things in a way that is fun and meaningful. Thank you so much for holding the conversation and taking care of us single ladies. :-) I've shared some of these with my next sister down, and she's loved it - maybe it will become a tradition.

Best always,

ceciliamaria said...

I've been reading for several years now, ever since the Curt Jester linked to you... gosh, maybe four and a half/five years ago... I love your direct and practical advice, and most especially, your support and encouragement for living a happy single life.

I still read your blog, even though I met the love of my life just over a year ago. (He's working ever-so-hard on what he calls "Operation Engagement Ring"!!!! I'll let you know when it's official!) :) The timing of our relationship couldn't have been better, but it wouldn't have worked out had I not put into practice all I had learned from you regarding another young man. I moved on from Mr. Emotionally Unavailable just in time to be swept off my feet by my soon-to-be future husband.

So... thanks, Auntie!! I still get a lot out of your blog, and plan on reading you as long as you continue to write. :)

Eowyn said...

I read you first thing in the morning from my phone while I'm trying to talk my brain into functioning and my feet into hitting the floor, and then I check later in the day to read the comments from your brilliant readers. I've said it before, but reading your blog makes me feel normal and sane and that is huge. To add to all that I learn stuff here that helps me immensely (the number of times in a week when I remind myself to stay rooted in reality and that men are as they are and not as I would wish them to be us entirely thanks to you!)

I recommend your blog to pretty much everyone (like n. panchancha who I get to SEE soon!) .

Eowyn said...

Typo police: "IS entirely thanks to you"*

Mustard Seed said...

Seraphic, I too have learned a great deal from you and the other ladies in the combox! Ever since I discovered your blog, I've been checking in regularly, and your words have helped me find a happier, more fulfilling perspective on the single life. There just aren't enough voices for single Catholic women in the world. Thank you for caring enough to keep writing :)

Lydia Cubbedge said...

A little note from one of the married girls. I keep reading because it's so darn refreshing to read something about relationships between men and women that isn't naive or doesn't in some way, force a cookie cutter "Catholic" image on individuals. It's helped me understand my husband of several years better and has helped heal some of the daft ideas I picked up in the Catholic college scene. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Eeek, returning to post something else:

Seraphic, your readers and commenters are among the nicest people on the internet.

I don't know if y'all make the mistake of reading the comments of other blogs, but whoa, they often vary between crazy and mean to downright sewer-like.

Maybe it's me, but it REALLY rubs me the wrong way when someone condescends to genuinely kind people. Intelligence is a gift - one to be made the best of - but kindness is a virtue, and it's just plain wrong to be mean to the virtuous.

If Ryan wants to snark at my cynical self, fine - go ahead, Ryan, just please don't do it in Auntie's nice commbox - but have the decency to be nice to kind women. When in doubt, follow Thumper's Mom's rule.


Domestic Diva said...

Dearest Seraphic, I have learned so much from you, and while I don't often comment, I certainly read daily and try to practice what you preach. Thank you for offering the suffering of your childlessness for our benefit...while I certainly pray for God to bless you with a child(ren), I am extremely grateful for your ministry here in the meantime.

Urszula said...

Auntie Seraphic, what a beautiful and touching post! I found your blog a few years ago when Dawn Eden linked up to your story about meeting BA - and I've been logging in ever since! I genuinely look forward to every one of your posts, as you are really the only Catholic 'singles' blogger who has a grip on reality and gives practical, no-nonsense, yet firm and forgiving advice on remaining Catholic - and seraphic - in this crazy world.

And the community of strong, lovely women gathered here - I haven't met any of them in person, but honestly I look forward to combox discussions as much as I would to conversations with my high-school girl friends - I feel there is so much honesty and yes, kindness - that it is a space where we can really open up and learn from each other. And it's only thanks to YOU that it's possible.

Thank you again! And may God bless you for everything you do for us!

Larissa L. said...

your little corner is one of my favorites places on the web. I'm so thankfull for and all the other ladies that I've discovered through your blog. And I can't wait to amazon to starts shipping to my country so I can buy your book.
Keep the good work, Auntie S.

Kate P said...

I visit your blog daily, too, to see what's on Seraphic's mind and just not feel alone in "fighting the good fight" as a faithful Catholic single (and feeling O.K. to be girly!).
For every hater on this blog there are ten-plus coming up to say you rock. :)

Meredith said...

As medieval college students said, pereant osores. You are my favorite blogger, Auntie Seraphic, and I read way too many blogs. I don't know if I'd be engaged to my fiancée now if I hadn't read you religiously in college.

Magdalen said...

I don't remember the exact chain of events that led me to your blog a number of months ago, but since then, I have been a daily reader.

Thank you so much for your auntish wisdom! I'm an Anglican on my way to becoming an RC, and have no local RC perspective on things, as all my Christian friends are Evangelical/Calvinist types.

I especially like the University of Toronto dimension, as I am also a UofT survivor.

It's a pity that the menfolk are giving you (us?) grief, but it's pretty objectively obvious that what your detractors claim exists in this blog... doesn't.

Keep writing, we adore you!

Joan of Quark said...

What first drew me to your blog was when I chanced on the excellent post 'Discern This, Drama Boy!'

I laughed and laughed and laughed; it quite took me back about 20 years when I knew guys like that. (PS None of them made it - either with me, or to the priesthood).

From thereon, I was hooked.

Seraphic said...

Ah, girls. Thank you very much.

Ania said...

Thank you Auntie Seraphic for everything! God bless you.

Tess said...

We love you so much, Auntie, and I'm SO GLAD you keep up this blog - even if you would be the proverbial starving writer without BA! I read it every day and tell all my single friends to read it too. Can blogging be a charism? It's certainly a ministry, because you've ministered to so many single girls and helped us so much, being a sort of surrogate mother and saying the things our own mothers and grandmothers don't know how to say. I'll be honest - when I think of spiritual motherhood, you're one of the women I think of first.

bolyongok said...

Auntie Seraphic, I can't properly express how much I enjoy reading your blog! Thank you for being you, thank you for responding to emails and writing such thought-provoking and thoroughly awesome blog-posts! You are a much-needed voice of sanity, wisdom and humour for single women!

amy said...

Dear Auntie, Thank you for your blog. Although a married lady myself, I glean so much wisdom and good sense from your writings... I've played "auntie" and confidant many times and it seems that I am likely to keep this role as I age. I have learned so much from you, including how to articulate certain things that I have known, but not known the reason for.
(On a side note, I would be curious to see a poll numbering the singles ladies and the married ladies. I suspect that there are a good number of us here lurking and learning.)