Saturday, February 25, 2012

Writers write

You may have noticed that I haven't been writing here every day. I made a special effort -- sometimes a superhuman one, it felt like -- to blog every day for several years. But after missing a day or two inadvertently recently, the imperative has seemed less urgent. I've tried not to let more than a couple of days go by without writing, but when I've been traveling, or writing elsewhere, or just didn't have anything to say ... I let it go.

And I've been having a lot of trouble figuring out what to write about for quite a long time. I feel like I need to stay away from religion and politics, except in a careful and general way, because people close to me whose views aren't really congruent with mine make up a big chunk of my readership. I doubt they want to read any tossed-off rants, and walking a tightrope of appropriate tone and balance isn't something I'm usually excited about doing in my leisure time. For some reason, other topics that have made up a big chunk of my posting in the past -- anecdotes about the kids, popular culture, technology -- have fallen by the wayside. I'm left with my crafting (which also takes a lot of effort to write about, what with the template I've set for myself) and my work. And every time I finish a post about administration or teaching, I wonder whether I'm really communicating with anybody but myself and a couple of other academic types.

Writing every day was important to me for a long time. I used it as a discipline that gave my life order. I tried to keep my chops honed for the many pages of text I'm regularly asked to grind out on short notice. And I felt an obligation to my readers to be there for them.

I have plenty of other disciplines these days, from classwork to service to sticking with my diet. My readers are few, and if they are anything like me, the way they read blogs (through RSS feeds or aggregated subscriptions) prevents them from noticing when I take a day or two off.

What I worry most about, by letting the blog relax into a more occasional thing, is whether I will lose my ability to crank it out. I don't want to become a writer who needs inspiration to get the words flowing. There's too much prose for which colleagues rely on me to become an artistic type. Every week when I have to produce a TV review in an hour or so, I feel relieved to find out I can still do it. Whether I come back to this blog on a daily basis, continue at this relaxed pace, or let it slide into abandonment, will depend less on whether I find subject matter that motivates me, and more on whether I feel I need the structure.


Pilgrim said...

I have noticed your slipping, but agree that you do not need to feel any guilt about it. I like to keep up with things in AR this way, and I read them all.

You have a lot of balls to keep in the air, so write when you can, when you have something to say and don't worry about it.

Ali said...

I faithfully check it every day, but I certainly forgive a few days off. :) But only a few. ;)