Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Going Meta in a Somewhat Fragmented Way

[Given that I have vowed to eschew blog angst, I want to make it perfectly clear from the start that this is a blog analysis post, not a blog angst post.]

I was searching through my archives the other day, trying to remember which Passover cake was so good, and I realized that a lot of people who used to read my blog appear no longer to do so. I felt kind of bad, but then I realized that I used to read a lot of blogs that I no longer read--some of them written by my apparently former readers. I also realized, once I started poking around in my archives, that I used to be a better blogger--more interesting, more engaged, funnier.

The problem, I think, with a blog like mine, which is basically generated by my thoughts about stuff that happens and stuff I see, is that eventually it gets to the point where the blogger has said most of what she thinks, and there isn't much point in saying it again (or, by extension, reading it again). I mean, am I really going to come up with anything new to say about Passover this year? Doubtful. And over the last couple of days I've thought of blogging about Manny (nice to see you back, dude) and Ellsbury (was that a great catch or what? and he was so casual about it!) (I actually wrote that one, then deleted it), but, really, haven't I said those things a million times? And is anything gained, for me or my readers, by my saying them yet again?

It seems easier, perhaps--I wouldn't know--for bloggers who write about a single topic or who focus more closely on their daily lives. There is always another book to read, another campaign gaffe to analyze, another Sox game to chronicle, and if you expect that of yourself, and your readers expect that of you, there is a difference: this week in Cleveland was a lot like last October in Cleveland, but it was different too, and if you are paying the right kind of attention, you will always have something new to say. But I'm not: I just want to say, again, "Jacoby Ellsbury is the bomb, I want to be his baby's mom."

In turn, if you are sharing the narrative of your daily life, there's always something new, the denouement of yesterday's developments, the beginning seeds of what will come to fruition next week, whether it is toilet training, garden growing, screenplay writing... This is the universal appeal of narrative.

Or sometimes not. Years ago, I read a woman's diary that had been edited and published by her daughter. I'm not sure it matters that the daughter was a friend of a friend, but at the time it did, because I felt even more guilty for finding the diary so unenlightening. Basically, this woman had a rough life, and she kept resolving to make a change...and then not changing. Over and over. So by the time I got to the umpteenth resolution to change, I just rolled my eyes, because I knew exactly what was (not) coming. I can see why this diary might have been revelatory for the daughter, who could come to some understanding of her personal relationship with a difficult mother, but in that case the motivation for meaning was readerly, and I did not bring that motivation, so the book didn't work for me.

This is all, of course, about the nature of time (when I said meta, I meant meta). Time goes forward--2008, 2009, 2010--but it also cycles--spring, summer, winter, fall, spring, 4/16/08, 4/16/09, 4/16/10. That's the beauty of it. Blogs are essentially temporal: the two things that make a blog a blog are the computer and time as the organizing structure of the post. The topical blogger and the narrative blogger can, I think, take better advantage of this nexus of the progressive and the cyclical. But the rambling blogger too often falls prey to the perils of repetition inherent in that nexus (of course I'm talking about myself, but I don't think this only applies to me--I think of the blogs I've stopped reading, and the bloggers who've stopped blogging--at a certain point, so to speak, there is only so far you can go).

In other words, I think I'm saying (and this will sound familiar to a few of you), that, unlike the blogger who tries for a bit and then realizes he or she isn't really into it (i.e. the blog that lasts a few posts or a few months), the ending (or dwindling, or petering out) of the long-time blog is as much a structural effect of the nature of blogging as it is a personal reflection of the blogger.


Libby said...

sounds familiar to me, Becca. But then again, if you're the kind of blogger who posts about stuff that's going on (in the world, your life, the Style section of the NYT)--as you often do--well, sometimes there's new stuff going on and there's an opportunity to say something new about it.

postacademic said...

What's that quote from Robinson's Housekeeping? 'breakfast time, tea time, lilac time, apple time' or something like that. I feel this way about the Berkeley Farmer's market. Peas and fava beans and spring onions - we celebrate their arrival every year - but I didn't write about them this year, because I "already" wrote about them last year, or maybe the year before.

Kelly said...

yes, yes and yes. I get up every morning and stare at my wordpress dashboard and think "I already wrote about that. and that. and that, too."

I keep wondering if I've just forgotten how to engage, or if it's just that I'm too busy to put any thought into it. But I also keep thinking I should just stop blogging already.

I should post today. I don't have any idea what to post. The seeds are up. The squirrels didn't get as many of the peas and fava beans as I thought and they're poking up? snore.