Doubts about the utility of blogging continue to swarm like those flies this week. I am not, for the record, feeling discouraged, bored, burnt out, or like there is nothing left to say; it's more a generalized doubt about the throwaway nature of producing Internet content.
A glance at my “top ten most viewed” list—over there on the right-hand tool bar, scroll down a bit—just seems to reinforce that feeling. I am struck by how few on that list feel like they merit being there.
Most certainly aren't on there because they were my most incisive, best executed, or content-chocked work, but because of one or two almost-random factors that created readership spikes. Several (the map-related posts, the one about Gor) are on there for the simple fact that they come up high in some big-ticket Google searches and drive traffic here on almost daily basis. Two others (the variant Charisma and zero-level ones) are there because it kicked up discussion on Reddit. Two were quick, disposable jokes.
In itself none of that bothers me--it's a fine and healthy thing for a writer to be pulled out of their self-indulgence by recognizing that readers want at times different things then you. It's the flipside of that coin that gnaws at me—the fact that many of the posts I feel had more work pored into them or seemed to hit deeper notes with readers just seem to float away into the ether.
And not just over months or years, but over days. The amnesia of this medium in fact is so bad at times that I catch myself writing something in a post and then remembering that I had already written that very same thing three months back. At best, you can labor to bring something back from the archive graveyard, restarting a theme and backlinking hoping that it still carries some freshness.
I am guessing that many of you who do blog have experienced this feeling many times. Or is it just me?
The wind-up here is that I miss the staying power of things recorded on paper.
Under my bed in a battered, sticker-splattered trunk lies three decades of printed material, the flotsam and jetsom of my life zig-zags. Here are the photocopied collage zines of punk rawk culture and screw-you politics I produced in the 80s and early 90s, there my “stringbook” of hundreds of newspaper articles from the high school paper to the paying gigs. In an even-more battered box is my real treasure, personal letters, many running well over 10 pages.
It's not just the bitter-sweet sting of nostalgia that pulls me back to the trunk, it's their physical presence. They have weight.
While the 350 posts here would likely total something like 700-900 pages if printed up, they seem much less real then the two non-fiction books above my desk that contain sections running only about 60 pages each written by me.
Closer to our gaming home, I was struck by how attractive Christian's project of doing homemade, self-distributed zines seemed to me. It was one of the few ideas that knocked its way onto my to-do list when the Borderlands monkey is off my back.
Come to think of it, it's a large part of what motivates me on getting Hill Cantons: Borderlands to print as a sourcebook. To be perfectly honest, I could care very little about it as a consumable product, and the thrill of a byline has long since passed in my day-job career arc.
It's just that I want something I can hold in my hand, some piece of this whole blogging experience that too endures. Something that has weight.