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Writing and Divine Providence

One of the pleasing things about writing, is being read. And receiving feedback is even more gratifying, all the more so when it engenders discussion, for and agin.

I write to entertain, to inform, to teach . . . and to be controversial, to the point that I wish to engender thinking and discussion. I don't ask for more than that. I have been accused of extrapolating and of being shallow. I spend an average of four to five hours on each piece. There is a limit to the effort I can input into an article. Unfortunately the time I have available for adequate reseach is too limited.

One of the satisfying things about publishing on the web is providing readers easy access, both immediately, and hopefully well into the future. The Internet allows a form of eternity, as, even after an author's demise, his words continue on. Given the way search engines [currently] work, as the articles "live" on, they gradually appear higher on the search results, potentially increasing the number of readers.

Another eternity that writing brings, is a steady income stream. Again depending on Google's future policies (currently their sole revenue stream is ad income -- last week Steve Jobs announced Apple's intention to incorporate advertising into its applications, rather than only link from searches) readers are always "tempted" by advertisements appearing, dispersed, within my articles. [Interesting tax question: who will pay the income tax on post mortem income from information available in the public domain?] So the more readers who click on ad links, the more money an author, dead or alive, earns. The greater the number of readers visiting a site, the larger the earning capacity.

A paradox: writing too well may be detrimental to earning power. An author spreads ads throughout his narratives, but perhaps only bored readers click on a link, to get out of there. Interested readers automatically skip the third party advertising. Not everyone is aware that when an ad catches the corner of their eye, they can click with the centre button (or click on the roller) on the mouse. This opens the link in new tab of the browser, allowing the link to be read later. Readers can get the best of both worlds.

I note a fault in Google's strategy. They only reindex sites weekly. As a result, until the next Google scan, advertisements are not related directly to the material in the article, but rather to the site in general. Surely the number of ad hits is related to the relevance of the ads to the text on the screen. And, on the negative side, the greatest number of readers arrive a short time after publication, within the day or two.

The important thing for any author is letting the world know that they have written something new. An author, unless he is a megastar, relies heavily on his publisher to spread the word about his fresh output. This, to a large extent, is the reason most published works earn much more money for everyone involved in the publication process (publisher, printer, distributor, retailer) other than the author.

In a real shift in publishing, the Internet author leaves all of these people out of the loop, making them redundant. The author publishes directly, at no direct expense. But, just as with the author of printed works, the Internet writer needs to tell her potential audience that she has released new material. A number of tools are at her disposal: Facebook, Twitter, Plaxo, etc. But to be effective, these tools require signing up friends, followers and colleagues. I believe the most effective publicity tool is readers informing their compatriots of new work they like, and they their friends and so on.

Other than writing essays for my site, I am active on other fora, especially Facebook. This is "nice" as it allows quick responses, almost a conversation. The downside is that the words disappear somewhere into the ether, at the most, after a few days, never to be seen again. The eternity of the Internet is lost, as is the ability to found on searches.

To increase my readership beyond my Facebook friends and to give some of my thoughts an increased life, I have decided to post some of the highlights of my discussions onto my writings site.

The background

My friend, Henri, teaches people to drive. Judging by his posts, he's pretty good at what he does [free plug]. Last week he wrote that he was having a good week, with everyone passing their tests. Only one candidate to go to complete the week. He posted, "Henri hopes the last student of the week will pass her drive test today -- an overseas driver transferring her licence -- hope so anyway, that would make it 4 out of 4, and keep my first time pass stats for the year over 90%"

In my familiar style, facetiously responded, "Since when has hope replaced prayer?"

"hmmm . . . I believe the Israeli National Anthem is called haTikvah (the Hope), not haTefilla (the Prayer) . . . question answered?

"Oh, and I once had a student that recited Tehillim before the test . . . she failed . . . so prayer has nothing to do with it at all, does it? Only the skill of the teacher, and the choices of the student is what makes them pass or fail."

Howard, my number one fan, commented, "Most of the time Kuch is right, but I gotta give it to Henri on this one. Come over here and stick it to him."

Never to give someone else the last word, I retort:

"'The Hope', Israel's pathetic anthem, was written by a drunk who eventually was found dead in a gutter in America. He had no interest in Judaism nor Jewish destiny as pretold by our prophets of old.

"And only a fool believes that God answers everyone's requests in prayer, immediately if ever, because a loving God knows better than his servants, as to what is good for them.

"But I do agree with Henri, the skill of the teacher and the attention of the student are supreme. Sure God doesn't want bad drivers out there on the road. But you used the word 'hope'. You shouldn't hope either. You should know the skills of both yourself and your students, before you present them to the tester. Then the only thing that can go wrong cannot be corrected by hope, but perhaps, and only perhaps, by prayer.

"And saying t'hilim [Psalms], which I do do myself, is not a straightforward request of God. One must not fear approaching God directly with one's specific needs and not beat around the bush. We must realise that God is approachable, and wants us to approach him.

"But only ask for what is feasible (as we find in the mishna). Don't expect complete miracles. I'm happy with a small one every now and again."

To summarise, I hope you enjoy reading what I write. I hope I tickle your interest, your intellect, make you laugh and make you cry. And please feel free to respond, argue, yell and correct me.

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