"Crazy, the problem is you're bored. With blogging. Your blog is long overdue for a shift of some kind, or something. This has been true for months."
I found this insight, well, shocking. Because the thing is, he's kind of right. Which, of course, was mildly annoying, and it meant I had to interrogate him about how long he knew these things and demand why he'd not mentioned them to me sooner, so I didn't get to think at length about the actual content of his insight, for it was time to go to bed after we got off the phone. But here's an overview of what I briefly mused about once the interrogation and wild demands were taken care of:
- When I began blogging, I began it as a writing experiment, and the whole "community" aspect of things really wasn't primary to me. As I've continued with the blog, the writing experiment has fallen by the wayside in favor of the "community" part. In some ways this is great. In others - like in terms of the actual content of what ends up on the blog - it's less so. See, the writing changes when you feel like you're updating people who know you about your life, etc., and I think it necessarily does become a bit boring. That's not necessarily bad, but it does mean that the blog no longer works as a terribly interesting medium within which I play with my writing.
- Part of my boredom with blogging isn't so much about my blog but about the fact that my plate is pretty much clear of writing projects. Yep, that's right. Clear. The book is to come out in a couple of months, I've got no articles I'm working on, no conferences in the pipeline, nothing. So what is my next project? And how do I write an academic blog that's interesting when I've not really got any new ideas at the moment and when I'm teaching stuff I've pretty much taught before except for the one class that I'm only teaching because I don't care about it and it means less time in the real-life classroom?
- Part of my feeling... hemmed in by blogging as a genre has to do with.... Ok, I'm not sure of the word to use here. Competitiveness? No, that's not right. Envy? Not really. Something in that area of words, though. See, there's something about the fact that I feel like many of the people I read are having these big life changes (career changes, babies, marriages, major moves, etc.) and I... well, I feel like my stupid life just doesn't really measure up. And that sucks, because one of the reasons that I started this blog in the first place was because I felt like lives like mine and voices like mine were drowned out by the voices of parents and people with two-body problems, etc., and I was sick of feeling like my concerns didn't "count" as worthy of discussion. But now, even in the blogosphere I feel like everybody is singing those same songs, and the fact is, I don't want to write about that stuff even if I am experiencing it because I feel like we've heard it all before. But let me say that when I write this, this is really about my own writing preferences and issues with voice and it's not meant to be mean to any of you who do write about these things. It's just that I chafe against the feeling that if I'm not writing about that stuff that I'm not... something. Again, I don't even know what words really apply to this vague sense of dissatisfaction and inadequacy.
- Then I wonder whether some of my chafing against blogging and the genre isn't just my typical back-to-school feeling of being in limbo and vaguely disgruntled - looking forward to having things going on again while at the same time resenting that I'll have things going on again. Blogging since 2004, I've got to say, I know that I go through these phases. It's not that I want to stop blogging - not an option I'm considering at all - but I do want to be interesting again. And I just don't feel like I've been interesting here in quite some time. Dude, I feel like my most interesting posts are the ones that I write in the voices of my cats. And that's just pathetic.
At the same time, how many to-do lists can I reasonably expect people to read without deciding I'm the most boring person in the world? I suspect I've already hit that number and surpassed it.
And so, I think the thing that I need to force myself to think about is "what next?" Do I want to start with another scholarly book project? Do I want to write a series of articles and forgo the whole book idea for a while? Do I want to write a novel? Do I want to write a text book? What role to do I want blogging to play in my post-tenure academic life (crossing fingers about tenure this year, etc.)? I doubt I'll be able to decide this without a great deal of moaning and whinging and ruminating. But I think that these are the questions that are on the table, and that must remain on the table if I'm going to get out of my disgruntled funk.
Or maybe school just needs to start again, in which case in two weeks everything will be grand.