It’s been a good run, but I’m shuttering this blog.
Since writing my PhD dissertation in March, the bulk of my time has been devoted to working on my fiction and pitching and writing essays and reviews for publications which actually pay me. Astonishing, I know, that they would do that. I’ve no idea what they’re thinking either, foolish publications. But as long as I can keep scamming them into paying me for words, I’m gonna do it. Soon I’ll attend the writing workshop Clarion West, during which I won’t have time to blog anyway, and when I return, in August, I’ll devote myself with even more fervor to writing professionally. It seems I can scrape along this way, and so far I’ve never been happier with my days in my life.
At first I thought my transition from academia to writing wouldn’t necessitate any change in my blogging habits. I love blogging — I love blogs. Folks like Steve Mitchelmore, Amateur Reader, Anthony, Melissa Beck, Dorian Stuber, Rohan Maitzen, The Untranslated, Joe Schreiber, and so on (go read them all!), have my endless admiration for their diligent and consistently excellent investment in significant blogging projects. They show that blogging isn’t just unimportant byplay, that it can support serious writing and thinking.
This month I haven’t published much on the blog, but I’ve drafted almost fifteen posts (most too half-baked to show the world; but a few made it through my gate). Almost 20k words. I suspect I could have pitched and written three or four more reviews or essays, or finished an additional short story or two, if I hadn’t been distracted, every day, by the immediate response I knew I could get if I posted something here.
Getting published at the places that pay is a long game. At minimum a month usually separates a final draft from its reception by any sort of public; recently, it took five months between submitting a final draft of something I was very keen on and seeing it in print. The only way to speed up that process would be to throw myself into the take-writing game, to get people to start paying me for little squibs on the news cycle, and I’d rather not write at all, frankly. Still, the reason I write, the thing that makes me want to be a writer even if it means lifelong poverty and long hours every day to produce enough to get along, is the sheer delight I take in seeing people read and respond to my work, when it’s the best I can do. I suspect that as long as I have a blog where I can get quick inferior hits of that delight, the complex, slow, gratification-delaying writing for which people will pay me, and thereby sustain me in the attempt to write even more, will never win in the daily gladiatorial arena of my time. Sometimes willpower or mental discipline just isn’t enough, and you have to cut off something you love in order to do something you love even more.
While I was researching and writing a dissertation, this blog provided a nice outlet for non-dissertation-related mini-essays, and it was a hedge against loneliness. With The Forced and the Glib, On Apophatic Criticism, and On Melting, I even felt as if I was breaking interesting ground; but now I fear the blog’s become competition for my real work.
It’s not all bad news, though! I’ll leave the archives where they are, since they contain some things of which I’m moderately proud. And when I publish elsewhere I’ll post a notice right here, with a link, if one’s available. If you’re subscribed by email or rss feed to the blog, you’ll get those notices (so don’t unsubscribe, please). Why — it will be as if the blog never ceased, but just spread out across magazines and the internet, in a diaspora of words, each little migrant writing home to the motherland! That’s not so bad, right? And if you want to talk about the stuff that I publish elsewhere — well, here you’ll have the same good old comment section to talk to me as of old.
Thanks so much to those of you who stuck faithfully with me through my wayward and highly inconsistent time as a blogger. I hope you’ll find the stuff I write elsewhere a satisfying compensation.