Writing and Reading, blogs and books

Untitled drawing

I have lost my way as a blogger. This site no longer gives me joy, and I’m not sure why or what to do about it. It is at the same time too public and not public enough. Too public for me to feel comfortable being too forthright. Not public enough for me to enjoy the profits of my labor.

Is it that I’m done with the midlife schtick? I feel as if I’m repeating myself, and what’s the point of that?

What is the point, actually? Of blogging, I mean. And I mean the question only for me.

Why continue?

Why do I still read those blogs I visit see regularly? I had to cross out visit because I don’t deliberately go to any blogs. They come to me, via e-mail. Where it is all too easy to pass them up like I do the ads. I just read three of the latest I received this weekend.

One was an illustrated picaresque  of the blogger’s walk with her dog. This is someone who I believe posts a full-fledged, well-written blog post every day. This too was well-written (not to mention full-fledged). And the dog is cute. But–it doesn’t fill me with any particular emotion, nor is it informational, so why bother?

Another post was also an illustrated photo, but the text this time was clearly fiction. The blogger was, I suspect, entertaining himself, and maybe showing off his fiction-writing, not to mention photography chops to the world. And he does have those chops.

The final post I read was–well, I’m not sure what these bloggers are up to. Their site is part travelogue and part advertorial and part, gee I’m not sure what. Alas for me, this combo is not one that makes me lust after their latest post.

So what am I reading these days, if not blogs? Books. Novels. Yes, I seem to have returned to my first love, and this after a many-year hiatus in which I practiced the profession of book-reading. That profession will quickly kill one’s love of reading, at least it did for me. But it just occurred to me that perhaps my antipathy isn’t typical. Perhaps it’s a function of my oppositional personality. You say I must do nothing but read, think and write about novels. Well, goddamit, I will soon hate the very things.

I just finished Admissions, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I read her latest, You Should Have Known, last month. She writes a densely lived story, and one where the plotting is wild and wooly. Both of her protagonists are women who seem to be thriving, at least by society’s benchmarks, but in reality, they are stunted emotionally. I’m fascinated by that dichotomy and what a delicate balancing act Korelitz must do to bring it off.

I’ve returned to reading to see how the writer does it. For all those years when I practiced the profession of book-reading, I ignored the how of the writing to pay attention to the what was being said. Now I’m back to watching fiction writers write. Is it happenstance that two weeks ago, I delved into my archives and pulled out an unfinished story from twenty-odd years ago? Hah,I think not.

  • http://www.weightchronicles.com/ Kay Lynn

    I think it’s good to re-evaluate why you blog and if it’s something to continue once in a while. In the five years I’ve sold one blog, just shut down another after three years and and still write often at a third.

    This blog keeps me accountable to my goals and if it provides inspiration, information or entertainment to someone else that’s all the better.

  • The happy midlife woman

    Hi, I’ve been enjoying your posts for a couple of weeks, and started a blog of my own recently. I started blogging because I love to write, but didn’t realise how much it would be about all the stuff that goes alongside the writing! The writing is easy, the rest not so much! But, as part of my midlife adventure I decided to give it a go, and will persevere. Good luck whatever you decide, and hat off to you – it’s way harder than it seems!

    • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

      After ten years, the question I still have is–is all the stuff that goes alongside the writing really important to me. And why? When I taught a course in Blogging, the first day’s work was to think hard and long about WHY each person wanted to blog. There are different reasons and they don’t all lead to the same road.

  • Ally Bean

    I’ve kept a personal blog off and on for over 10 years, occasionally taking a few months off here and there. I understand how defeating and repetitive blogging can be. I’ve found that for me the key is to remember that I create my own expectations about what is good and what is successful. So I give myself a break about being dynamic with every post– and take comfort in the fact that I show up. Plus I also consider other bloggers to be friends who deserve my support regardless of what they write, so I read what they post & when possible leave a comment. I keep my friend circle small, so I’m not overwhelmed with commenting. Small changes in how I keep a blog have allowed me to stay involved in the medium this long. And as for the future, looking good.

    • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

      The salient phrase for me, Ally, is “my own expectations about what is good and what is successful.” This, more than anything, tends to run me off the rails. I’ve said it before: I wish I could put those blinders on the use with horses to keep them looking straight ahead. I so need to mind my own business and listen to my voice as opposed to the loudest one in the crowd. So–I’m curious, what are your “expectations, etc….”?

  • Mark Paxson

    I think there’s a cycle to blogging just as there is with so much else. I haven’t been blogging as long as you have, but I have gone through a number of phases with my blog that seem comparable to you. First, there’s the initial stages — dipping the toe into the water to see what this might look like. Second, if something clicks, the blogger develops a desire to say something every day (or if something doesn’t click, the blog dies an invisible death). Third, followers began to show up, stats matter; and you start reading other blogs and are intrigued by all these incredibly talented people out there. Fourth, the blogger sticks there for awhile. Fifth, at some point it starts to seem somehow artificial and all of those talented people? Well, they’re saying a lot of the same things and wasting a lot of your time. And, hey, isn’t this like the seventh time you posted about how you’re not finding the time to write or do what you really like? Sixth, you realize you’re saying the same thing over and over again and reading the same stuff and the reality is that great big blogging world isn’t really as big as it seems. It’s actually a pretty small universe of bloggers that are following each other. Seventh, you retrench. You step back. You don’t post as much, you stop following new bloggers, maybe even delete a few. Eighth, you turn the page and start something new or go back to something old. I think you’re in the eighth stage. I also think I may have just applied my blogging experience to you without any basis for doing so. :) Personally, it sounds to me like you want to get back into writing fiction. Not for your blog or for your classes. For yourself.

    • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

      Love your taxonomy of blogging, Mark–and I’m not surprised that you’re the one to come up with it. I’m not sure that it’s fiction I want to be getting back to writing so much as…well, I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out. There’s definitely something going on with me and I hope I have the patience to just let it evolve.

      • Mark Paxson

        In looking at your replies to other commenters, it seems you’re in the same place with blogging that I am with both blogging and writing. What exactly is the point of it all? That is a constant and daily struggle for me. I have so little time to devote to this stuff after the day job and family responsibilities, I am in regular battle with whether I should even bother with blogging and writing. But, it seems to have gotten into my blood — it is now a part of who I am, so resistance is futile. But, yes, I’m right there with you — trying to make sense of it all and figuring out where I want to head with it.

  • http://www.AnyShinyThing.com/ Lynne Spreen

    Too many people think they have to blog. After all, that’s what EVERYBODY tells them, but I say, more people should give it up. If there’s no compelling purpose or satisfaction in it, people should have the strength to walk away. I know you’ve grappled with this before. Best wishes with your reading. (Are you on Goodreads? Very satisfying. If you’d like to know more about it from my POV, let me know.) Enjoy your future!

    • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

      Lynn, I must not be running in the same circles as you are where people are told they have to blog. Maybe that’s because I’ve cut myself off from the entrepreneurial bloggers. For me, blogging has always been–as is all writing–about communication. What I’m questioning here is not that I want to communicate, but what I want to communicate.

      • http://www.AnyShinyThing.com/ Lynne Spreen

        Mainly what I am referring to is authors.

        • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

          Oh god yes! How to write a best-seller Web 2.0 style. I just read a concise synopsis of marketing for authors on the blog of a writer I know and it made me want to, well, to PUKE. I wondered where the energy in your opening statement was coming from–and look, it’s here in mine as well. Don’t even get me started……

          • http://www.AnyShinyThing.com/ Lynne Spreen

            Exactly!! Thanks.

  • Mo at Mocadeaux

    And so maybe it is time for a new chapter (no pun intended) in your life. I understand what you mean when you say, “what’s the point”. My little blog has been slow to grow. That’s fine with me because I’m not in this for any great financial windfall. But sometimes it seems like I read and comment on all the same blogs, they read and comment on mine and around and around we go. What’s the point?
    I also think I understand what mimijk means about the responsibility. For me it is the piles of unread emails that need attention, blogs to read, comments to answer, the nagging guilt that I’m not active enough on social media, etc. All that being said, I do love (almost) all aspects of my blog and will continue to do it – but on my own terms.
    Best of luck to you, Jane. And thanks for allowing me to be one of your guest posters!

    • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

      Mo, It’s interesting, the point you make about reading and commenting on the same blogs. I think you’re on to something there, which goes along with your feelings about “responsibility.” Why do we read and comment on blogs? I think a lot of us have gotten into the pattern of doing it to “support” each other’s blogging efforts. What is missing there, at least for me, is any interest beyond a ‘you scratch mine & I’ll scratch yours.’ Another instance, I believe, in which the urge to “professionalize” or become entrepreneurs has unintended consequences.

  • suzanne robertson

    I am fairly new to blogging so I’m on the opposite end from your experience, However, I do ask myself the same question… “what’s the point” I like having a voice and beyond that my blog has morphed from talking about things I love, like fashion and decorating to things I’m passionate about… life experiences that move me. I most enjoy writing about things I find inspirational. I love true stories, present day and historical… stories about remarkable people. It feels better when I write less about “me” and more about this amazing world I live in. I quickly learned that writing to entertain my “readers” felt very shallow. Things got better after that. Good luck

  • ccassara

    I think a break from blogging is calling your name. I’ve been thinking the same thing about social media. Too much. I read a lot of blogs, too, but they hardly ever fill me with emotion and they don’t have to. For me some can be like brain candy. But then again, some are boring. Why not put your blog on hiatus for a month or two, without guilt? You deserve it. Oh and bTW, I blog for me, not for my readers –and so if you’re not blogging for you at this time it really is going to be way more fun to read novels. Let me know your top 3 recommendations if you are inclined–always looking!

    • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

      I am on a kind of break from blogging, Carol. I’ve gone from posting three times a week to maybe once a week. MidLifeBloggers has gone from being an on-line publication featuring many other writers back to being my personal blog. I think this post is part of my effort to figure out what that evolution means to me.

      • ccassara

        Regeneration is always a good thing and who knows, you may reinvent yourself yet again. That’s the beauty of life!

  • mimijk

    I have been on hiatus from writing my blog for a few weeks now. I needed the break, for I too had grown weary of my own voice, feeling redundant and way too responsible (for what I don’t know). And similarly, I have been reading constantly. I am going to return to my blog later this week – I think I am ready to try again. We shall see. Enjoy this break, take what time you need…

    • http://midlifebloggers.com janegassner

      Ah, when one is weary of one’s own voice, one is weary of life…. No–that quote was about London, wasn’t it? I’m fascinated by what you mean when you say you’re feeling “way too responsible.”

      • mimijk

        As much as it delights me that there is an audience out in cyberspace that enjoy my writing (and that was a wonderful surprise, believe me), I began to feel a pressure to produce – and post something in a particular vein – and that was difficult (a by-product of trying not to let people down). There is a small group with whom I have become friendly offline, and there are others who have reached out to me asking for advice, money and/or other assistance who remain unknown to me. So, I was growing weary of my voice and wary about why people were choosing to hear it. Does that make sense?

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