The OF Blog: "Should I stay or should I go?"

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Should I stay or should I go?"

It seems one online reviewer has decided to stay, while another has decided to go.  Each has their own rationale for doing so and more power to them if this indeed are right decisions for both of them.  All this serves to underscore for myself is that even something like online story commentary, which many seem to view as a hobby of some sort, can lead to cases of burnout (if they don't lead, in some cases, to career changes and increased prosperity). 

I always am bewildered whenever I pause and think about what's transpired since I started this blog back in August 2004.  In the interim, I've seen dozens (if not hundreds) of blog sites start, often full of vim and vigor, before most would crash and burn, usually in a matter of months, if not a year or two.  Some others (and this blog is one of them) change their focus in order to enliven matters, but even then there is the threat of burnout.  I used to worry about that constantly, considering how in my professional life I have twice experienced such an acute case of burnout that I twice resigned positions (in 2002 and 2007, for those that care to know such matters).

But those events happened when I was more immature than I am today (I struggle to think of the words "maturity" and "Larry" appearing in the same sentence, to be honest).  It's funny the sort of perspective that can develop when one outlasts so many others.  It's not wisdom that emerges from "surviving" the blogging issues when others founder, but rather that sense that experience can be a callous bitch.  Of course, this is really amusing when considered in the light that so many former (and soon to be former) bloggers seem to have this approach toward blogging about books as if it were some fun event that leads to cool experiences.

I've never really indulged myself in that way.  There's something to be said for approaching online reviewing (if not the other aspects of blogging here) as a sort of practice in a particular craft.  Despite what some might think, I've never considered myself to be a particularly gifted reviewer or columnist.  If I were, don't you think I might have been more happy to have remained in grad school and have earned my Ph.D. in 20th Century German Cultural and Religious History?  No, sometimes it's instructive to have experienced burnout and to have walked away from that which you love the most.

Sometimes, the act of giving up and starting elsewhere with something new can lead to new discoveries.  Recently, I've been moving further and further away from this perceived "rat race" of certain book bloggers discussing the same types of new books as if they were great prizes that were won due luck and/or blog visibility.  In fact, I'm in the process of trying to reduce my personal library by 25-50% over the next few months.  That means I want to take around 350-500 books that I've purchased and trade them in at local used bookstores, buying mostly books for my classroom in return (minus the foreign language editions, which I'll mostly keep) or taking all those stacks of unwanted ARC editions from books over the past few years and either give them away to friends of mine or take them to Goodwill.  I'm trying to break myself of the jackdaw habit of acquisitive behavior (which seems to manifest itself primarily in books and not in other objects) and I hope this will free up some space and monetary resources in the process.

So what's the point of this?  Am I changing things again around here?  Perhaps, to some small extent.  I enjoy blogging about what interests me and I care little about what others think of what I cover (if I said I care nothing about that, I'd be a liar).  Since I'm going to have some translation projects appear online and in print in the coming months, there might be a greater focus on that (I feel most comfortable translating from Spanish into English, although I can do Portuguese to English as well now) than on anything "new."  There are a few upcoming releases I want to cover, but for the most part, I think 2011 will see me blogging about discoveries that might not promoted ad nauseam elsewhere.  Perhaps there will be a few more commentaries about matters of interest.  Certainly the focus will not remain primarily on speculative fictions; maybe more non-fiction and histories could be covered on occasion.  Maybe I'll even blog on matters of religion, since that has long been an interest of mine.  I could even review Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin for shits and giggles, I suppose...

Isn't life more fun when you can remove as many limits as possible?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like Pat's site but think he's been playing everyone all along with his indecision to leave or not. I wouldn't be surprised if others call him out on trying to milk the sympathies and attention. Ah well.

Derrick said...

Go the ebook route! Then you can have ALL the books you want without the space issues :-)
That's the reason I started down that path. My wife and I had almost filled up our "book room" [wall to wall 6ft high bookshelves] and we live on the third floor.
So we've been reducing my hardcover non-essential scifi-fantasy books with ebooks and almost all of my new books are now ebooks. And it all fits on a cd![or thumbdrive]
with ebooks, there is no reason you can't have your cake and eat it too :-D

James said...

Losing Pat's constant string of shit content and his ridiculous rating system would be a blow to community.

It serves as an example: if you want to succeed, just revel in mediocrity and use a scoring system that ensures every book, no matter how dreadful, gets a reasonably high score. You can sit back and smirk as the free books pile up around you.

Losing his blog would also damper our ability to mock it relentlessly and that, well, surely that is too profound a loss to bear.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Larry, this blog is about you and what YOU enjoy. Some might blog about certain topics or items (or books) because it will make them more popular, but if you're excited about your topics, then it won't matter! Buck the trends. Your passion becomes your readers' passion.
And I got a chuckle out of James's comment!

Larry said...

Hrmm...well, I wasn't blogging about particular sites as much as just making a commentary on burnout. Then again, if it gives people schadenfreude-type joy that Pat is still blogging, then keep on keeping on or something? :P

As for me and e-books, I don't know. There's a symbolic element to the book reduction, more than just reducing space. I doubt I'd want most of those books in an e-book format. If anything, I'm more inclined to just buy fewer, more expensive books once I've replaced my desktop.

As for format here, I'm beginning to feel an urge to return to non-speculative readings, at least for a while. Just how things are, I guess.

Jason said...

Larry, whatever you choose to blog about, this reader will continue to read it.

You bring knowledge and passion to all of your writing. Keep up the good work.

Larry said...

Even if I were to start posting Squirrel Porn of the Week here? :P

I have some vague plans for 2011, things that will entertain myself at the least, if not everyone else.

 
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