Monday 18 March 2013

Spinning Wheels

There’s a fine line between being in a groove and being in a rut. That’s a quote I’ve used before but it’s a good one so I’m recycling it here without any shame whatsoever. I am slightly more ashamed that I seem to have wobbled out of the former and into the latter, and even more embarrassed to be blogging about blogging, because these types of post normally bore me to tears. I promise I’ll keep this short.
I’ve just not been feeling it recently, to be blunt. I can’t escape the nagging sense that the recent Charisma Man posts were fairly ill-conceived, and the last thing I wrote that I was even halfway happy with was in January. I was marginally pleased with the Kimigayo thing because I wrote and put it up in a single evening instead of picking over it for days like normal, but then I realized it was essentially just a copy of something I’d already done before. That wouldn’t be so bad if the first attempt hadn’t been markedly better than the second. At what point does a ‘signature style’ tip over into self-plagiarism?

The family situation obviously cuts massively into my time, but that’s not it, I don’t think. Or maybe it is; the kids mean that I’ve got less stuff coming in by way of TV and other media, so there’s less stuff to come out. It’s maybe why this place has been a little book-heavy of late. That’s fine as far as it goes, but not really what I want this blog to be. However, books are the only proper input I’ve got right now, so that’s all I've got to put out. It also doesn’t help that it’s the end of the school year so I’ve been much busier than normal with the students’ assessments and whatnot, but have had much less interaction with the students themselves. And honestly that’s where a lot of ideas come from; the lessons I’d like to give if I thought they’d understand.

This blog’s primary roles are for my own amusement and improvement, which is why I’ve not taken a break, and won’t be. I know myself a little too well by this point so understand that if I don’t maintain a schedule I won’t maintain anything at all. And none of you are obliged to read anything here if it’s not to your taste.

However, a few of you do, and do so regularly. Some of you are even kind enough to have me on your blogrolls, and that’s really why I’m writing this. You’re giving me something of a public endorsement, and while that’s not a pressure exactly it does slightly, ever-so-slightly, dilute my claims that this is only and all about me. If it truly was I’d just keep a private diary.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with it. Sometimes it does feel like I’m essentially spamming your sites, for which I apologise. I’d like to be able to promise an upturn in the very near future, but if I could honestly guarantee that I will write better stuff (or at least stuff I’m happier with) then I’d actually be doing that instead of conducting this self-indulgent hand-wringing.

Or maybe none of you have noticed anything. Or maybe you did but don’t care. Maybe I’m massively overthinking the whole thing.

Which, of course, is kind of the point.


  1. Been through much the same crisis with my own blogging. I had three blogs, only two of which were active at all, and the only two I could settle on a proper theme for were those that got little traffic and less of my own attention. I also have the same family/media situation. You may write for the same reason I do: exorcism.

    I envy and respect those bloggers I read who have a single theme; they have more traffic, too. However, though I'll never meet most people who write blogs I return to, they are 'kindred spirits' to some extent. They teach me things I have an interest in, reassure me I am not entirely mad, take the edges off my alienation.

    Write on!

    1. Exorcism, eh? That's not so very far from the truth, I think.

      I know what you mean about a single theme. Every so often one of my posts will get picked up by another blog or someone on twitter, and you can almost guarantee that whatever their focus is, then there'll be something totally unrelated as my most recent post. Ah well. Chasing hits isn't the point. You want enough to provide for some interesting conversations, but after a certain point you're just increasing your likelihood of uninteresting ones as well. Maybe.

  2. I think you are being overly self-critical. I enjoy a lot of your posts, books or otherwise, and even though I am guilty of skimming over a few, I would put that down to me being overly tired and lacking suitable attention span for anything. Actually reading your book review posts is great motivation for me to keep up the reading too. I also enjoy the retrospective/introspective posts as I live in a bit of a bubble and so it is nice to read the thoughts of others.

    I was contemplating starting up a blog about my cycling adventures and this and that, but that was soon put to rest due to: acquiring a knee injury, being so sensitive about criticism that I think about what I am about to write too much and hence strangle the essence, a complete sense of aversion towards a computer at home resulting from being in front of one all day and a reluctance of sharing things which I thought were awesome to people who may not think the same.

    All in all, I am too anal and hate making mistakes, I even look up words in the dictionary to confirm their proper meaning writing replies in blog posts, which is why I am probably suited to reading in a second language (or my first) and looking up everything instead. So I envy you in producing readable content with the frequency you do.

    1. "a reluctance of sharing things which I thought were awesome to people who may not think the same."

      Here's the thing (and pace Ant's comment above), the internet is huge, so there's almost certainly a few people out there who do think the same. I guess it's just a question of finding your niche. Might take a while, though.

      On a related note, I'll point you in this direction, as it's possibly something you may (or may not) be interested in.

      Thanks for the kind words, btw :)

  3. "it does slightly, ever-so-slightly, dilute my claims that this is only and all about me. If it truly was I’d just keep a private diary."

    I have never understood why anyone would talk about anything and leave a comment section open and then claim it doesn't really matter if they get comments.....what?


    Goes against human nature. Who wants to hear the sound of their own voice all the time when they can hear those of others. My site is doing well when the comment section becomes far more interesting than the post itself. Otherwise I have stimulate anything. I KNOW what I think. I wanna know what OTHERS think.

    I have rubbed so many folks wrong.. I got the traffic and about 8,500 comments but it comes with a price. Folks will use their currency called "comments" and spend it somewhere other then where they really want because they don't want to contribute (in their mind they are denying you something). I don't use Twitter and my Blogroll is my live line. I keep the statcounter up just to show the Voyeurs that they can withhold their currency but I'm still taxing their asses.

    1. "just to show the Voyeurs that they can withhold their currency but I'm still taxing their asses."

      Every so often you do come up with some annoyingly well turned phrases ;)

      I do envy you slightly in knowing what you think. Often (but not always) this is about me thinking out loud. Working it out as I go along. Always good to have other people around to fact-check that kind of stuff.

      It's that balance I think I remember you talking about before, isn't it? You want to write and engage people, but as soon as you start writing for other people, as opposed to for yourself, it's a quick and sure way to lose the whole point of keeping a blog.

      If you build it, they will come. Or something...

  4. As a recently hooked passerby, I can't really comment. I enjoy your writing because it mirrors a lot of my Japan experience, and happens to involve SF frequently enough. (Though that may be mostly because of the SF experience.) I dunno if you've lost your edge recently, but they're all still fun for me.

    Sympathetic with the family bit though. Without my daily commute, I would be reduced to Dragon Tales and Taylor Swift, with occasional breaks for sport.

    1. Cheers. SF usually features fairly regularly, it just got a bit more slumped together this year because of the SF Experience. I'm feeling almost up to having a bash at some more again now, but might ease myself back in with some fantasy or the like.

  5. Blogging = Brain-vomiting. Keep up the good spew...

    1. Brain-vomiting, eh? That's a definition I can certainly work with. Figuratively speaking. Thanks.