My evening is winding down. The cats are fed, an oatmeal stout has been uncapped, Greg is staring into his computer screen with an intensity I dare not interrupt, and I'm finally considering taking off the sweaty clothes I've been wearing since I returned from the gym five hours ago. Any minute now I'll swig back a little cup of NyQuil and quell my coughing until election day morning.
I've had a productive evening, packing four miles onto the treadmill, uploading a Literary Disco episode, cooking a bunch of vegetables doused in peanut sauce, and, mainly, writing a grant for Sea Tea. As usual, each of these activities was a little sin wave of related joys and anxieties, self-congratulation mixed with "what do I have to do after this?" But, all in all, a normal day. As normal as I force myself to have.
But then, gleefully looking around for responses to the Literary Disco takedown of The Pillars of the Earth, I decided to check up on our stats.
Tomorrow, after a mere 16 episodes, we will almost certainly cross 20,000 downloads. 20,000! That is an incomprehensible number to me. The most people I have ever seen in one room was a group of Chinese students in Dongying, Shinjang, for whom I and a friend sang an a cappella rendition of "Country Roads, Take Me Home" at their request. That was perhaps 2,500 students listening to my somewhat-experienced, somewhat-overgleeful, somewhat-absurd voice.
This feels the same.
Why do 20,000 people care what I have to say about anything? Or, accounting for people who listen to most of the episodes-- why does a virtual room approximately the same size as that Chinese auditorium have any interest in the boom of my voice? Tod and Rider are not experiencing the same thing-- they've almost always had the disembodied names floating to them across the planet. But not me. Accounting for Tod and Rider's popularity, I've brought perhaps a hundred or so people to the podcast, so the rest are true strangers. They write to me, a little. Today someone I don't know bought a book because I said I liked it. That is power.
The connections are strange, and surreal and feel at once too huge and too small. Just know, if you're out there, strangers, I appreciate every listen.
Here's to tomorrow, and here's to 20,000, a number that may someday feel small.
In the meantime, please listen to literarydisco.com if you haven't already.