RELATIONSHIP STATUS

So another war is starting, and it feels odd to write about myself while that's happening. But I feel like I owe an explanation of where I've been for the past two months.

They say ("they" always say) that if you love something you shouldn't do it for money, because eventually you will grow to hate it. I think that's a bit strong. Now that I make a living writing I don't hate writing. Far from it. It is fair to say, however, that my relationship with writing has changed. That's not necessarily a bad thing; hell, I've been doing this for 15+ years and if you don't change as a person over 15+ years that's pretty alarming.

The fact is that I'm now writing a ton, in multiple contexts and on multiple projects simultaneously. That has dampened my enthusiasm for what we might call Pleasure Writing, which is what this blog has always been. I still love it. I still have things I want to say that have no other outlet. A lot of times I simply find myself…written out, so to speak. Write for six or eight hours, then sit down and try to start writing something new from scratch and see how far you get. There are only so many sentences you can create in one day before the sentences start being forced and stop making sense.

The other issue at play, and this is an ongoing problem, is that blogging is a dead art form. Social media won. People are down to visiting all of, what, four websites? And anything that isn't channeled through that medium doesn't exist. The result is that, when I do feel "Hey I have an interesting thing to say about this!" it is no longer my first reaction to turn here and write 1000 words about it. That was my first reaction for a long time, but the way people consume information and interact with one another has changed. I can't stop that and it isn't up to me.

I've redirected a lot of my "free" time and energy to Mass for Shut-ins, since podcasts are 1) very fun, as it turns out, and 2) the more contemporary format in which people consume the kind of material, content, energy, and subject matter that was channeled into blogs back in the Aughts. Formats change. Vinyl becomes 8-track becomes cassette becomes CD becomes streaming audio. There are things that each new format adds, and things that are lost with each transition. Again, I can't exercise any control over that evolution. Instead I'm enjoying what the podcast format offers in terms of fun, content, and creative possibilities.

I also moved across the country on Nov. 1 and bought a house for the first time in my life. That transition – moving, getting used to a new place, settling in, keeping up with work – has been…time consuming. That's just a practical reality.

These points add up to a change in the way I utilize this format. I do need to get back to writing here more regularly, for the simple reason that the more I write the better. It's a muscle that requires regular exercise. I also continue to have plenty of things I'd like to write about that do not interest an editor and do not become paid pieces to run somewhere else. Some ideas are going to end up appealing mostly to me, which means the self-publishing format is the ideal outlet for them.

I don't think, given the nature of the change in the way people use the internet, that I will ever get back to posting five long pieces here every week. That era has passed, not just for me personally but for this format overall. However, I also want to do better (for myself and for you) than one sporadic piece per month. A couple times per week is a reasonable goal that shouldn't undermine my efforts in any other area – writing freelance, making a podcast, writing samples for a book proposal, etc. It's easy to make excuses not to do any additional writing, but the bottom line is that I want to and I should. Mea culpa.

Thanks for continuing to read this format, if you do. I don't want it to fall into disuse. I can't keep a format alive single-handedly, but I also do not need anyone else's permission or approval to continue to work in it when I feel the urge to do so and when it suits the point I want to make. It is, ultimately, what we make of it, and I think there is still something for us to make of it.

41 thoughts on “RELATIONSHIP STATUS”

  • Oh, it pains me to see you write so plainly that blogging is dead, because I very much mourn its loss. But I suppose I have to face the truth as clearly as you. I think you're right: social media killed it, and podcasting picked up the nascent demand for longer, loose-form discussion that blogging used to fill. But gosh, how I miss it.

    I've been in your audience for almost that whole 15 years and I'll stay that way, no matter which format you're working with.

    But I will be pretty happy when I see posts show up here, all the same.

  • This RSS die-hard is glad you're going to keep the blog kicking, however infrequently. Luckily, Mass for Shut-Ins is great, so you're not leaving anyone _too_ out in the cold.

  • Thank you for your years of free/uncluttered content provided to us. To the extent you can continue to do so, I'm sure I and others will appreciate it. I've been reading since the Ginaisssance. That's a hell of a run. So, again, thank you.

  • Dear Ed –
    Thank you.

    This blog – which I first found in 2005 while literally searching for a review of Hendrick's Gin – has been a bit of a fixed star in my political analysis website constellation. For that, even if this site falls into the black hole of some cached inter-webs server, I will be very grateful.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, words, insights, and sense of humor with us. I haven't always agreed with everything you've written, but I could never say that your writings weren't well thought out nor your opinions well-argued. I'll be sure to enjoy them as they pop up here in the future.

    -bill

  • Matt Finnigan says:

    I still read most of my aughties rabble-rousing blogs (except for Andrew Sullivan) via RSS, so I'm glad you'll continue here, however much or little. I'm definitely enjoying the podcast as well. Hey – speaking of social media's dominance, don't forget to fix your twitter sidebar on this site – since you renamed your handle to edburmila, it broke.

  • Keep blogging that dead horse. Maybe the “evolution” to drive-by videos and sloganeering Newspeak repetition will turn sideways and loop back at some point. It’s about the Essay.

  • I hope your new residence is more salubrious than the old one. Thanks for the update; I was fearing either some personal crisis or else (given your comment about writing a book) writer's block, stress, and generalized freak-out territory…though I suppose that falls under "personal crisis" as well.

    Blogs…aren't dead. But they've moved from right next to the bestseller rack to the obscure genre shelf back by the stairs, where the pickings are slim. It doesn't matter, because this is the place for the stuff that doesn't (or can't) sell. Write it for yourself. I'll drop by and read it.

    Subscribed to the podcast, by the way. Glad you're having fun with it–it's a good listen.

  • Social media? What's that?
    The blogosphere is hollow.
    Nothing's sacred anymore.
    Dare I say the center doesn't hold?
    Ah fuck it. Fifty years on and Barry Mcquire is proven right: we are truly on the eve of destruction.
    Thanks for popping back to share your insight and wisdom with benighted hicks such as myself while the empire self immolates.
    Myself, I have nothing to say or contribute but that doesn't seem to stop me.
    Anyway, thanks for providing a valuable service Ed.
    Hope you're living in a decent climate with good food.

  • I don't think I've ever commented here before, but I love the blog and have read it faithfully for years. I even have one of the T shirts. I hope you do continue to write here.

  • RSS fan here as well (thank you feedbin) but have been noticing the move towards newsletters (those old things). Maybe you should do that as well. I'd pay for the emails.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    We missed you, and your writing!
    Here, at any rate.

    Glad to hear you won't be such a stranger anymore!

    Btw – I'm so very happy you've left academia and found your true inner (outer?) calling!

  • Longtime reader, never commenter. I value your viewpoints on current events and will continue to check and read here as well as your other platforms. Hope your transplant is going well; as a veteran of multiple very long-distance moves, I can confirm it takes more time and effort than you might expect to get fully settled in a new place.

  • Blogging isn't dead. It's just gone from being mass market consumed by everyone to a niche product in a world that is now full of niches. It is still one place where a person can do a long form piece and know anyone reading it is going to read the whole thing, not just a few lines, and may actually pay attention to what was written. People scroll through social media. They skim, they glance, they don't usually focus much. Blog pieces get read.

    Congratulations, btw, on your successful escape from the world of snot-nosed undergraduates who assume paying tuition means they bought an A.

  • It was time.

    As a long time reader, I'll miss you, but it is obvious you have moved on in life and blogging has indeed changed. You needed a better life. For many, blogging is a form of therapy, a way of figuring things out. We get our English word "essay" from a French word for "try out". Blogging is about trying things out, writing essays. Like many other bloggers, you seem to have figured things out. All those essays finally got you somewhere. They made you a better writer. They let you figure out how tot make the jump to a better career and, I hope, a better life.

    P.S. I've never been able to figure out how to use social media. It seems to consist of random clauses and phrases from people I don't know and have never heard of. Is there a "Social Media for Dummies"?

    I've never had the patience to endure podcasts. Unlike reading, listening to audio is hard work.

    I'll still keep an eye on the site and check in now and then.

  • It is true that social media is much bigger than blogging now, but it is also true that I tend to share your posts on social media, and I am not the only I know who does that. I actually "found you" through a facebook friend who is a lawyer in Ontario. So anyway, there's that.

  • It's good to know the G&T site is still alive, even it's not as active as the other outlets. I feel like I've reached the same impasse with my own blog, and have already to planned to retire (98% retire anyway) mine at the end of 2020. I have some weird need to see through to the end of what is already a dismal, grueling slog of a campaign, but as you say, writing is a muscle and it needs to be exercised and flexed periodically.

  • Berkeley '74 says:

    What's a podcast ? I'm still reading things like this site, haven't noticed any real difference, except for the recent hiatus here. Perhaps I need to get out more often.

  • Well, I'm still here, for what it's worth, which isn't much. I understand all the reasons podcasting is taking over, but I'm still not with it.

  • > I've never been able to figure out how to use social media.

    google "hilzoy twitter"

    click on the link

    In the displayed list of tweets and re-tweets, if the thing that piques your interest has a "show this thread" link, open that in a new tab.

    In long threads, search for "unroll": the unroller will have merged the discrete chunks into a more-coherent block of text

  • I like Gin And Tacos. I've been coming here for years. I do not like podcasts, so I won't be following you there. I guess the world has left me behind. Such is life. I don't expect you to cater to my personal whims.

  • I appreciate your continued commitment.
    I keep trying to restart a blog, and I don't write for a living. (Well, I guess I do produce technical requirements, and those are written….but it's different.) And it's hard, given the social value of blogging, and the pervasive, proud ignorance that wants to comment.

  • Thanks for the update, glad you'll still be here for us, albeit less than before. You've been a touchstone for me for several years now and I am thankful for the sparks of inspiration you've given me that worm their way into my own lowly blog. Keep ripping it up and know how much we appreciate you.

  • Long time reader, hardly-ever commenter. Go do what you need to do! My only request is that you occasionally give us links on this website to things that you've written that appear elsewhere — Facebook's algorithms don't always give me your stuff and I don't remember to check your Facebook page as often as I remember to check this.

  • Ed, bless. Been reading here I guess for like 12 years(?) and am looking forward to your "Command And Control" or Taibbi type book. I know you ain't got the budget they do, but I'm pullin' for you bro. Hope you're well in these fucking evangelical-type End Times.

    CU and DC let's keep arguing ; )

  • Ed,

    Given that we assume you were in the Midwest, I would think you only moved halfway "across the country."

  • Chiming in to signal-boost J Dryden’s request for the Lieberman of the Year Award. Not that you owe us anything, but … you owe… yourself?

  • I'll still be checking in even though the pickings are to become slimmer. Good blog writers are rare and I am loyal to my favorites, of whom you are one. Congrats on all the good changes in your life.

  • I started with you here about 2009. At my age, i'm not really interested in twitter, but will probably be forced to go there. I haven't been on Facebook for months, other than to see you and a couple others that used to blog more often. I'm still considering dumping FB altogether, but it can be useful. Keep up the good work on whatever platform you use. If I see something you've written I try to read it.

  • Enjoyed watching you evolve. You must do what you must do. Will still visit at least monthly. Absolutely the sharpest, funniest, wisest commentators online. Love your writing, but adore the commentary.

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