The end of all things — or not

Two weeks ago, I announced that I intend to close down this blog on July 20 — one month from today. But, like Frodo standing at the edge of Sammath Naur, looking down into the fires of Mount Doom, I find myself wavering and wondering whether I should "choose to do what I came to do," if you will.

In my June 6 post, I mentioned that Becky had initially suggested an alternative solution to my bloggy dilemma: I could simply "cut back drastically… by maintaining the current blog but committing to do just one post per week." But I explained that I had rejected this idea on the grounds that it "wouldn’t work" (because I’d cheat) and that ultimately, "it wouldn’t be desirable" (because "the Irish Trojan community would die a slow and painful death," waning due to bloggy inactivity rather than "go[ing] out while I’m on top").

In comments on the post, however, several readers endorsed the weekly-blog idea. Bea, for instance, wrote, "I like Becky’s idea of a weekly column of sorts. So what if you spend a
little time every week thinking about the topic and a little time on
research? I think it’s doable, a great outlet and, hey, the WIFE is ok
with this!" Christine also made a compelling case:

Life is about limits and prioritizing and relaxing (oh and a few other things). But if you enjoy having a blog (which I get the feeling you do, as well as your mentioned past blog-like antics), then you really should keep going. Just tweek it. … I LOVE the idea of a weekly column of sorts. Gives you something to ponder (nothing wrong with that) all week AND an outlet! And your loyal fans have something to look forward to! If something is particularly intriguing to you, you can blog more on that topic, but I would hope it would allow you to not feel like a slave to brendanloy.com but still give you the freedom to write and get your ideas out there.

If you have a problem with setting limits, then set some (I personally hate limits) but it’s kinda like you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water … Life (or blogs) don’t have to be all or nothing.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come around to the idea that a weekly blog might work, provided that I structure it in such a way as to reduce the temptation to "cheat." The goal would be to create basically the same situation that I described with regard to the photoblog: making the new blog so obviously different from the old that I won’t "be overly tempted to co-opt it" for the old-style "hyperactive" blogging, because doing so "would be so foreign to the nature of the blog itself."

If I can manage that — and if I can prevent my blogging "schedule" from feeling like an obligation or assignment — then I think a weekly blog would be worth doing, and preferable to the alternative of quitting cold turkey. In other words, I am increasingly tempted to declare:
"I will not do this deed. The Blog is mine!" :) But for me, unlike for
Frodo, I think this actually might be the correct decision. (And
hopefully I won’t lose a finger over it!)

For one thing, blogging weekly would be a new challenge, as it would effectively force me to hone a very different writing style: the lengthy, essay-ish, often multi-topic blog post (a la Lileks’s "Bleat"), as opposed to the clipped immediacy of hyperactive blogging, usually about one topic at a time (but many per day). To keep things flowing, interesting, and adequately focused in such a format can be difficult, and trying to become as good at writing in that style as I’ve become in the current format would be a worthwhile endeavor unto itself, methinks.

Furthermore, although my audience would undoubtedly shrink markedly, many of the die-hards would presumably stick around, and that’d be nice; I’d hate to lose touch with the Nadines and kcatnds of the world. :) Also, maintaining a textual blogospheric presence would mean that I won’t have to improvise something — like temporarily co-opting
the photoblog — in the event I’m caught up in breaking news, or otherwise have
a burning desire to share my thoughts on a particular topic with, say,
InstaPundit’s readers. I’d still have a public blog for such things;
I’d just use it less often.

But perhaps most importantly, I’d be following the sage advice of the fourth one:

Make sure that, in addition to dedicating yourself to family, career,
and community, you have at least one important outlet that belongs just
to YOU, and that speaks to you in a way that nothing else does. In my
own life, I have found that kind of independence and release to be
vital, not only for my own personal well-being, but for energizing me
in a way that allows me to give even more to the people I love.

Or, as Alasdair put it, "be careful that you don’t make a void in your Life without having something useful and positive with which to fill said void."

The reality, as I said in my June 6 is post, is that "I’ll still need some way of
expressing myself, of publishing my thoughts to the world, of letting
loose the occasional rant; I’ve always had, and needed, such an outlet,
at least since seventh grade." My original thought was to satisfy this need by way of the photoblog and Flickr, my Pajamas Media hurricane-blogging, and perhaps the occasional Facebook post. But if I’m going to post bloggy rants on Facebook anyway, why not channel that aspect of my creative energy in a more productive direction by still maintaining a public blog, just on a weekly basis? With the right amount of structure and discipline, I think the latter solution is better than the former.

Crucially, the calendar gives me time to do a "trial run" of this weekly blog idea, before the impending changes in our lives. If it works, I can keep doing it; if it fails — whether because I can’t resist the temptation to "cheat," or because the scheduled nature of it (most likely, I would try to blog every Sunday) makes blogging feel less fun and more obligatory, or for some other reason — then I can go back to the original, cold-turkey plan.

I haven’t yet finally decided what to do; I’m going to sleep on it this weekend. But if I do decide to switch (on a trial basis) to a weekly blog format, I will actually move up the date of this blog’s retirement — most likely to June 30 — and start up my weekly blog (which would be a new blog, separate and distinct from this one) in early July. That would give me time to test out the concept and see how it works.

I will, of course, keep y’all informed about what I decide to do. In the mean time, your feedback is much appreciated. One big question for my regulars: do you anticipate that you would continue to regularly read my blog if it were updated only once a week, provided of course that those weekly updates are interesting and worth reading? Also, in terms of keeping the discussion going and the community alive, would it make a difference if I disabled purely anonymous commenting, such that you’d at least need an OpenID account, or perhaps a WordPress.com account, in order to comment?

[Bumped from 12:07 PM to 5:00 PM. -ed.]

22 Responses to “The end of all things — or not”

  1. Jeff Freeze says:

    Brendan,

    As a father of two, a professional (albeit not an attorney), a husband, a son, the Planning Commmission President in my small community, board member of various non-profits, and myself, I empathize with your challenge. I agree with others, that having a release and something that is soley for you will be important. Just remember that you also fear blogging could impact your career as you begin on that journey.

    As a fan (and winner of this year’s Womens Pool) I surely want to keep reading your writings. I have seen some other bloggers leave the arena, some without explanation and it is very hard for the “customer” of your product to be left without the resource. I also have seen essay style bloggers have a hard time with the writing method. It is a very different style than you currently employ. I think you have the logic and reasoning skills to execute essays effectively. As one vote, | would certainly continue to visit the new blog weekly to read your latest writing. I look forward to the threads on the election this community could have this year. If you and Becky decide that this project is worth continuing, I will continue to try and be a part of the community.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You asked: “do you anticipate that you would continue to regularly read my blog if it were updated only once a week…?”

    I don’t know if my opinion counts, because I rarely comment, although I do read your blog regularily (it’s one of my favorites).

    Yes, I would continue to read your blog, even if it was only updated weekly. Shoot, once-a-week is better than not-at-all!

  3. Jim says:

    I would continue to read.

  4. john says:

    Yes, I would still read. I just wouldn’t check it 10 times a day any more.

  5. Alasdair says:

    What john said ! (grin)

    Looks like I get to be the first to welcome the ‘buxom barmaid’ back to the planet !

  6. Jenn says:

    I would read it and look forward to it like I do when Postsecret.com is updated every Sunday. I think it is a great idea and I agree with other readers — you need something that is all yours — whatever that may be.

  7. Angela says:

    Yes, I would continue to read it. I enjoy it very much!

  8. invernessie says:

    Brendan – I would most definitely continue to read your blog. Once a week, or whenever a topic calls for you to weigh in, it’s all good.

    I visit several blogs that have no set publishing pattern, so it is always a happy surprise when I see a new post.

    Best wishes….

  9. Tbone says:

    I think the temptation to cheat will be too overwhelming. Will you be able to avoid round the clock coverage of major hurricanes?

    I will of course continue to read, but I suspect it will wane over time.

    I say keep the anon commenting going.

  10. Andrew says:

    The levee has broken, Brendan’s resolve has failed. Where’s Gollum when you need him?

  11. Leanna Loomer says:

    I guess I am thinking backward rather than forward, but at each step along the way (from age 12, that is), you have had something that allowed you to write and, mostly, to edit. The Living Room Times was yours from start to finish, The (NHS) Scribe you were editor of for 2 1/2 years, the Daily Trojan, at least during the time you were a city editor, and for the past six years this blog. Isn’t there a pattern here? Unless you see something else coming along (and I’m not sure what that would be), it does seem like you can expect considerable frustration, given all the ideas you carry around in your head all the time. It only seems fair that you might share a few of those ideas with us. You make them matter.

  12. Lauren says:

    Yay! I was hoping that you would change your mind. I really enjoy your election coverage and I love the occasional Loyette updates and pictures! I don’t know what an OpenID or wordpress account is so I’d vote for anonymous posting… even though you know who I am.

  13. kcatnd says:

    Great! I would certainly keep reading every week. I wonder if, for certain events, you could go into a hyperactive mode (like election night or a major hurricane or Boise State) and then revert back to weekly blogging. I know that might be too difficult or too much of a temptation, but it was always fun to follow big news along with you. Maybe you could have certain criteria that had to be fulfilled in order to enter hyperactive mode – this would set some limits and draw a clear line. Overall, glad you’re reconsidering!

  14. JD says:

    Leave it to Brendan to work both ST:TNG and LOTR references into something as simple as deciding whether or not to blog.

    As someone who wrote an actual (print!) column for 2 1/2 years, let me tell you: It can be both frustrating and rewarding. If you follow the “typical” columnist path, and go on one subject for 700 or so words, you need to make sure the writing doesn’t die out. Going into multiple subjects under one post may fit your style a lot better. Besides, some weeks it will be VERY hard to pound out a column on a single subject. (Believe me. There’s at least one I regret.)

    If you do go for the “sit-down-and-write” type of column, I’d suggest setting a regular time. You can gather up stuff that piques your interest throughout the week and then compile it. (I wrote late Tuesday nights so it would be ready for the editor on Wednesday, but I’m a night person.)

    As you might tell by my long post, I really miss having that outlet, and am not happy about the fact that I have to stay out of this whole “blogging” thing.

    PS: I don’t have any accounts like OpenID or WordPress, so if you did set a registration rule like that I wouldn’t be able to comment anymore. I’d still try to read though, something that would be made easier if I knew when to “check in”.

  15. maxxman says:

    What about hurricanes? If there’s something on the magnitude of Katrina happening I’d hate for you to be posting just once a week.

    Your site was the 1st one to alert me to the threat Katrina posed to New Orleans (where I live) and since then I’ve been counting on you during every hurricane season to keep me (and others) aware of what’s going on.

  16. Brendan says:

    The thinking is that my liveblogging of hurricanes would be exclusively on Pajamas Media.

  17. maxxman says:

    “The thinking is that my liveblogging of hurricanes would be exclusively on Pajamas Media.”

    That would be great. I really count on you.

    I think I’ve posted this before, but THANKS for what you did before Katrina!!

  18. Mindsurfer says:

    Brendan:

    Two of the three most important women in you life have given you their wisdom. (Loyette will have her say in a few years.)

    I speak from the vantage of many years of experiance and observation.

    You may disagree with them on other subjects, but in the matter of “what makes Brendan tick”, you mother, you wife and your female children will almost always know more than anyone else ever will – including yourself.

    PS: No disrespect to Joe, just sayin.

  19. Mindsurfer says:

    PPS: Here are three more r’s. Put them where they belong in my previous comment. It’s late.

  20. Bea says:

    I knew you were not going to quit blogging :) You’d burst! I will certainly read the weekly column. In fact, it will be easier to keep up with that, with all my own projects going on, etc. I hope you keep anon. blogging, because the whole registering for an account thing is one more obstacle to posting. You’re concerned about a slow death, and I think “register to post” points that way more than free blogging does. I agree that the new format will require a new style of writing, so the blog would still be giving back to you (you mentioned the diminishing returns bit early on, but this allows the blog to challenge you by pursing a new format/style). Plus, since it’s obvious that you need a bloggy outlet, why not just come up with a realistic solution–cold turkey was never realistic imho.