Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reflections

Right now, I feel that I’m at a crossroads, perhaps a fork in the road, or even a simple dead end. This blog has been around since early 2006 and I’ve been a part of on-line fandom in one way or another since the late 1990s. But I’m worn out and questioning whether or not to continue.
 
First, let me say, this is not a post to say I’m shutting this blog down or that I’m quitting reviewing. I don’t plan to do either, but I am considering both options. This is not a post where I’m seeking attention and an ego massage from those saying how great I am and that I should stay around – frankly, I doubt many would notice if I closed shop (hell, it’s been 2 months since I posted my last review). From the beginning I’ve simply blogged what I feel like blogging about, and today it’s my mid-blog crisis.
 
I won’t belabor how busy my life is with work, family, social, and other commitments. How I simply don’t have the time and energy for perusing much outside of the immediate. Though to be entirely frank, watching my son play t-ball is simply way more appealing and way more important in my life. But it’s more than that.
 
Others have blogged lately about the evolution of blogging and reviewing and where it’s been and where it’s come to. Again, I can’t be bothered to link those right now, but Tobias Buckell and Larry Nolen are two come to mind, not that I’ve had time to read either (bets on me eventually linking them anyway?). The main thing is that blogging has begun to affect my reading in what I consider a negative way. In the past blogging has been a very positive influence – it’s made me a much more critical and informed reader and it’s lead me to books that I likely wouldn’t have found otherwise. But now it leads me away from the books I want to read.
 
Blogging, or at least the clique (or tribe) of bloggers that I’m generally apart of, has become a bit too insular in many ways. Everyone seemingly reads the same stuff. A book comes along, I’m excited and think it’ll be great – but then I see that 4 other bloggers read it before I did and have already reviewed it. Suddenly, I’m not as interested – simply because the book has gotten quite a bit of coverage and I don’t want to just blog about the same thing as everyone else. No longer am I choosing books because I want to read them, but because of how much coverage other bloggers are giving them.
 
I can’t keep up with bloggers that have the time and energy to read and review way more than I do. Much less keep ahead of them. And what’s worse, I hate that I’ve come to think in that way.
 
This is not what I read for and it’s draining the energy out of me. I’m tired of it and fuck it, I’m not going to read that way anymore.
 
Reviewing is the same way. Search out the oldest review on this site, then read the last one I published. In my mind the contrast is striking. I’ve come a long way. My standards have as well. If I write a review I need to put a lot of thought into, and make it a ‘proper’ review (though I’ve always defined proper in my own way). Long gone are the days of simply saying what I feel about a book. I’m not sure yet, but I think I’m done with that as well. While I think I’ll always write occasional long, in-depth reviews, right now I’m just interested in less than 400 words about what I think. Gone will be in-depth explanations, clever openings and closings, plot summary, etc.
 
What now? Hell, I don’t know. For a while anyway I doubt I’ll post anymore than once or twice a month. I don’t know how many of those will be reviews, mini-reviews or whatever. I think there will be fairly regular and long periods where I’m generally absent. And those may be punctuated by periods where I do 4 or 5 posts in a week. We’ll see.
 
But for now, I’ve got a t-ball game to go to. 

10 comments:

Brett said...

You don't have to promise anything. Just say it's going to be a while between posts, and leave it at that. Picking up occasional posts of yours is what RSS Readers make easy.

I'm amazed you get any long-form reading done with two young children and your job, to be honest.

Mark said...

You don't "owe" your readers anything. As a new father myself, I'm surprised you've done as well as you have with your postings. I'd be prevaricating if I didn't say I enjoy your posts and would miss them should you choose to shut down, but at the same time I would completely understand. My advice: If it's not enjoyable anymore, quit. Shut it down. Best wishes in whatever you decide, and thank you for the insightful posts the last 6 years.

Larry Nolen said...

Eh, I think the ennui is overrated :P Nah, seriously though, I've found if you don't write what interests you, then it's best to be quiet until you have something you must write/blog about.

As for the keeping up with the Joneses, I finished that rat race three years ago. Why worry about "the scoop" when most of those books flame out after 4-12 weeks of online discussions anyways? Ever considered just re-reading old favorites and saying a few things on them when the mood strikes? Those tend to be of more interest than just "the new shiny."

But T-ball already? :O Seems like it was just a short while ago you became a father for the first time! Maybe a few posts about what your kids are enjoying? :D

Neth said...

Thanks all for the encouraging comments.

@Larry - while I intentionally phrased it in a 'keeping up with the Joneses' way, I long ago gave that up. For me it's become more an issue of distinguishing myself from the Joneses in an area where everyone tends to read the same things and have relatively similar opinions. Take a look at the list of currently reading (which really means read but not reviewed)- 3/5 were published more than 10 years ago, so you can see I've had similar thought to your suggestion.

And yes t-ball - in fact his second (and last) season of t-ball. It'll be coach/machine pitch next year. And as much as I'd like to brag on my kids a bit, I try to maintain a fair bit separation between blog and personal life and keep my kids offline as much as possible.

Peter said...

Yes. Exactly.

Peter said...

I've been blogging for about a year now (late to the game). I am also late to reading SF, really only having a good five years under my belt. Bottom line is I read what I want, which means being the 2,483rd person to blog on Patrick Rothfuss's first book (years after the fact and recently blogging on some old Stephen King rereads I've done.

I probably get about 10 visitors a day, but continue at my own pace (I have twin toddlers). If I can help a new author sell a book or make a connection, great. But I admire what you've done. The quality. The length of time. If you post once a month and it is about whiskey, that's one cool thing for me to read this month.

Just leave your blog open. Post when you want, what you want. Who knows, you may get an itch later in the year or a year from now when school starts fresh, when your kids start doing their thing. My guess is you kept this up because you felt compelled to have a voice for something you enjoy. I also doubt it has completely faded.

I can't wait to do sports with my boys. I just built them a Gorilla swing set a few weeks ago and watching them on it is a blast.

Mihai A. said...

I reached a similar spot a while back and I sat down and reflected upon it for quite a while. As you said watching my son grow, playing with him and taking together long walks in the park are far more important. And while considering everything happening to me since I started to blog I came to the conclusion that I still enjoy it. For the books I read. Even if they are not the latest releases I like giving coverage for those I read and enjoy. For the Romanian speculative fiction, which I discovered in a new perspective since my blogging. And for other bookish subjects I love to talk about.
I perfectly aware that I was never a fast reader, but with the birth of my son the time for reading shrank further. But as long as my blogging gives me pleasure I'll be around I guess. No matter how often or what I am reading. After all, if that would not give me the smallest amount of pleasure it would definitely be the time to stop doing it.

bibliotropic said...

This sounds similar to what I experienced toward the end of last year. I hit a serious low moment when it came to blogging. Not reading, because I was still devouring books like there was no tomorrow, but the pressure kept mounting up. I had other obligations in life, my health sucked, and above all else, I felt like my growing pile of review copies meant that I couldn't read what I wanted to read simply because I had an obligation to read all those review copies first. No time for pleasure reading, even if all of my reading was still pleasurable.

Taking a 3-4 month hiatus helped. I read what I wanted to, as fast or as slow as I wanted, I ignored any guilty feelings I had because that time was me-time, and not time devoted to something I had to hurry up and review as soon as I could. Now I have a backlog of reviews that need writing, but I also came out of that hiatus feeling really refreshed, in no small part because I could read what I wanted, when I wanted.

I'm also somewhat lucky in that I have no kids to take care of (and thus eat up my time), and I've been so suck that I've been unable to work since February, which has allowed for ample reading time (one of the few things about being ill for which I'm somewhat thankful).

Mulluane said...

Heck Neth. I just took a break for 3 years.

It isn't like you can't walk away and come back later when the mood strikes you. Blog will still be here (unless you delete it). Even after 3 years I still have subscribers. Come, go, return, do whatever makes YOU happy :>)

Been there, done that.....

Braedonnal MacInnis said...

You stated in one of the above comments that you would like to "distinguish yourself from the Jones in an area where everybody reads the same thing." I think you've already distinguished yourself by your longevity and your unique style. If you want to try something different, how about making a list of books that you would like your kids to read some day and tell us why they are important to you? Anyway, I agree with Mulluane. Keep the site up and blog whenever the mood strikes you. Your readers will keep checking back. It doesn't look like you are concerned about advertising revenue from this site so there's no pressure to keep generating content.

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