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At the Blogging Crossroads

I’ve read (and written) any number of blog posts over the last few years analyzing the phenomenon of meta-blogging — posts that creep up on meta-meta-blogging, I guess: blogging about blogging about blogging. Some of these have focused on the notion of the “life cycle of the blog,” that most bloggers go through waves of excitement, enthusiasm, commitment, doubt, hiatus, return, re-commitment, boredom, and so forth, embroiled in an at time quite fraught tango with their blogs, built of love and hate, passion and violence and ennui, all entangled.

This is another one of those posts.

I find myself at a crossroads with this blogging thing, half losing confidence in it, and half still convinced that it’s important, to my work, my sense of myself as a scholar, my life. I’ve been pondering the possibility of stopping for a while — stopping with intent, rather than just drifting away — in part because I’m not sure how much good I’m doing here.

Frankly, I’m at a point where I’m just not all that interested in my own blogging, and I’m curious why. Perhaps it’s no more than a cyclical thing — it’s no accident that five years ago today I was thinking about much the same problem — feeling unable to come up with much interesting to say, in no small part because I’m unable to sit still and taskless long enough to think, unable to go through my daily life paying attention to the kinds of things worth writing about.

This time, however, these concerns are coupled with a set of less-than-attractive anxieties about falling readership. Partially, this is a stats-whore issue: since my migration to WordPress, my numbers are way down, and my Techorati “authority,” such as it ever was, has plummeted. These are probably not things I should be terribly concerned about — but, for better or for worse, I am.

So all of this — my apparently dwindling readership and my own diminishing interest — has me wondering why I’m still blogging. When I started, it was all about a need for immediate communication: I had all these small thoughts leftover from having just completed the book manuscript, and needed to get myself back into active conversation with other scholars after the isolation of grinding through such a long project. Lately, however, it seems like what I’ve been communicating has devolved into little more than rants and P.R., either complaining about being too busy or announcing the results of what I’ve been busy doing. And this dynamic doesn’t feel like it’s working anymore.

In part, I think, the problem has arisen because what I want right now is precisely that isolation that I needed to find my way out of five years ago; I’m moving into a phase of my scholarly life cycle when I want to stop everything else — stop writing smaller pieces and sit down with my research, trying to get a handle on the new, big project, which right now remains so amorphous that I can’t really grasp it.

What I need to do, if the blog is going to survive, is to find a way to make my blogging serve that project, to return on some level to writing for myself rather than an audience, to write less for communication and more for exploration, for investigation, for problem-solving — to make the blog part of the process, rather than something that’s working against the work I need to do.

Easier said than done, perhaps. But at least I’ve got a better sense of direction, and one that’s less reliant on my sense of an audience. The audience for the kind of work I need to do from here forward is, I think, primarily me, and the text I’m trying to write.


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