The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

All Blogged Out

Reports of my demise have been exaggerated, but only slightly.

Seriously, though. I don’t know how many people emailed me about that New York Times story on blogger burn-out, but it was enough that I began to wonder whether people were worried about me. Yes, I’ve been stressed lately. And yes, some of that stress has been blog-related. But I haven’t reached the end of my tether.

Not yet, anyway. But I can see it from here.

I didn’t get a chance to comment on the NYT story when it came out, but the disappearance of two important voices from the blogosphere in the last couple of weeks — seemingly swallowed up by the same conflict — brought it back to mind.

I remembered that NYT when I read that Jill at Femeniste is hanging up her keyboard; temporarily it seems.

I need to leave the internets for a while.

I also need to focus on my real life. I need to take exams. I need to write papers. I need to get up in the morning and study. I need to do the job I actually get paid for. I need to go to sleep at night, instead of tossing and turning and obsessing over what I broke today and whether it can be fixed. I need to graduate from law school in three weeks.

So I need to leave the internets for a while. I know it’s time to stop blogging when it’s doing me more harm than good, or when I’m doing others more harm than good. Right now, both of those things are true.

And Jill’s departure is related to the controversy that led to BrownFemiPower’s decision to shut down her blog.

Oi. I feel something vaguely similar to their pain. In the ensuing shit storm that ensued after I posted about the Clinton blogger lunch, and again after resurrecting Blog Amnesty Day.

In the middle of all that stress, I seriously considered shutting down this blog and calling it a day. And the insane thing was that I’d volunteered for it. After all, I’d stirred up all this drama on my personal blog, driven in part by the constant need (?) to generate content.

A couple of weeks ago, during a discussion about the NYT article, a coworker of mine referred to me as a “professional blogger.” I laughed. Me? A professional blogger? I don’t make a living from blogging, and certainly not from this blog. The things I write about and the way that I write do not make for droves of traffic.

On the other hand, my blogging has helped me get my last two jobs, and opened the door to other opportunities. And for the most part it stems from what I do at this blog. So, I can relate to the bloggers in the Times article

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

…Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it.

Like I said, I don’t make a living from this blog, or any of my other blogging. I’m not technically a “professional blogger” at work either. (Though I prefer to think of myself as a “blogging professional.”) But I can relate to the “around-the-clock internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and content.”

There are growing legions of online chroniclers, reporting on and reflecting about sports, politics, business, celebrities and every other conceivable niche. Some write for fun, but thousands write for Web publishers — as employees or as contractors — or have started their own online media outlets with profit in mind.

…To the victor go the ego points, and, potentially, the advertising. Bloggers for such sites are often paid for each post, though some are paid based on how many people read their material. They build that audience through scoops or volume or both.

Speed can be of the essence. If a blogger is beaten by a millisecond, someone else’s post on the subject will bring in the audience, the links and the bigger share of the ad revenue.

“There’s no time ever — including when you’re sleeping — when you’re not worried about missing a story,” Mr. Arrington said.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we said no blogger or journalist could write a story between 8 p.m. Pacific time and dawn? Then we could all take a break,” he added. “But that’s never going to happen.

Speed is definitely of the essence. And that’s why, as a “non-professional blogger” who’s also a “blogging professional,” I’ve strayed from the kind of blgging that requires speed. There’s almost no chance I’m going to be first with a story. My best shot is to put a story into a context that connects it with other stories, and offer a unique perspective.

There’s just not enough time. There never was. But now I’m juggling a full time job and a family, there’s even less. By the time I get done with work, get home, have dinner with the family, spend time with Parker and Dylan, help put the kids to bed, and share in whatever needs doing around the house, I have a little bit of time for uninterrupted writing. And, inevitably, I find myself nodding off before I can finish writing anything.

With this blog being a one man shop, I feel compelled (by no one but myself) to post on a daily basis. But lately it’s just not always possible. One the other hand it’s necessary, and not just in terms of being a “successful” blogger.

I’ve found that I need to write, in the same way that a painter needs to paint or a dancer needs to dance. It keeps me sane, and if I go too long without writing, I get grumpy, irritable, morose, etc., and not much fun to live with.

I’ve thought once or twice about shutting down this blog and moving permanently over to one of the places I’m blogging regularly now. But this blog is like a first home that you don’t want to give up and move away from. The difference is that I don’t want to rent it out either.

So, no, I’m not shutting this blog down any time soon. But I do wonder how I’m going to keep it up.

One Comment

  1. I’ve found that I need to write, in the same way that a painter needs to paint or a dancer needs to dance. It keeps me sane, and if I go too long without writing, I get grumpy, irritable, morose, etc., and not much fun to live with.

    Yep. I journal for myself. If other people like it, great, and I like having it as a communication medium, but I write to keep a record of things that interest me.

    It’s part of why I chose to keep a journal, rather than a blog. I didn’t want to feel like I had to stick to one subject most of the time on behalf of my audience, and I wanted to do it at my own pace, rather than trying to feed the demand for fresh content. Thus, when I need to write, I write, without pressure or constraint. 🙂

    Everyone must walk their own path, however, and I am definitely not saying this is the best way or the preferred way — it’s just what works for me.