After barely six months, the excellent Cassilis has given up blogging, and he’s posted in some detail about his reasons for doing so.
I started blogging because I loved political writing. I wanted to be able to craft a sentence like Orwell or Hitchens, Chomsky or Hennessy … Looking back over what I’ve written is a depressing experience – there’s a few half decent posts and I know I can pull a half-decent paragraph or two together but by the standards I set myself (however ludicrously high they may have been) I haven’t succeeded.
Much the same can be said of me. There’s an awful lot of crap and bilge on this blog, particularly from the earlier days. Some of it is embarrassingly terrible. But there are nuggets of decent writing in there, too. Hopefully, as time has passed, the nugget to mud ratio has increased, and with any luck will continue to increase. I post a lot less often than I once did, but I’d like to think that each post was better for it. It’s certainly more satisfying.
What’s more the medium itself isn’t what I envisaged it to be – the hype surrounding blogs is all about an alternative media, the democratisation of journalism and the ‘voice’ of the ordinary people. But bloggers aren’t ordinary people – most of them, like me, are political nerds or obsessives who get off on the idea of interacting with like-minded people. Looking back over the six months or so I’ve been doing this the posts that have generated the most comments are those that deal directly with blogging itself (or comments from mainstream pundits on blogging) … So the fact that the topic that generates most interaction is blogging itself tells you something about the medium – most of us read blogs to see if anyone has read our blogs, given us a link or has any interesting widget in their sidebar that we could pinch. Comments are used rarely to advance genuine debate or discussion – simply to say ‘ hey, here’s what I think and I have a blog too’. It’s all about the traffic no matter what anyone tells you.
It’s true to say that I’m probably a political nerd or blogging obsessive, but I disagree that I write to interact with like-minded people. That’s never been the point. And similarly, traffic isn’t hugely important to me.
If I had ever been overly bothered about traffic, I wouldn’t be blogging now. In the first month of sjhoward.co.uk being online, I received 133 visits – many of which were from me. If that had unduly concerned me, then I’d have stopped writing long ago. Instead, I continue to write. I blog primarily because I enjoy writing, and it allows me to rationalise my thinking about current affairs. If I decide to write about something, then I have to think and form a rational opinion on the subject, rather than just mulling it over. It’s good for the brain, and good for the soul. If someone then comes along and reads these things what I write, then that’s a bonus – admittedly a very rewarding bonus, but it certainly isn’t the raison d’etre for the blog.
If I’d lived 50 years ago, I’d probably have written a diary reflecting on issues, which no-one would read. This place is merely a modern-day way of challenging myself to think about what I think, how I think, and why I think about certain issues. Sometimes, I’m not in a reflective mood, and I don’t post. I’m not a career blogger, and I’m not unduly concerned with hits. Though they’re nice.
I’m unusual in the blogging world in that I rarely post about blogging itself. I tend to just get on and do it. I don’t think I tend to enter into the community spirit of blogging. Yes, I have the obligatory blog roll, but I don’t have series of in-jokes between bloggers, I don’t constantly link to my favourites, and I’m not forever obsessed with what others are writing on topics. Occasionally, I’ll reference other blogs as they’ve made me think about issues, but I think I’m largely independent of the ‘community’ at large.
For me, blogging is a means to an end, not an end in itself. And perhaps that’s why I don’t see myself giving up any time soon.