Monday, January 28, 2008

On blogging... an update.

So, I've been mostly taking a break from blogging this month. Counting this post, it'll be six posts total in January.

Blogging really stresses me out.

There are things I love about blogging- I enjoy engaging with people. I enjoy reading what other people have to say. I enjoy having a place to say what I'm thinking and find out what other people have to say in response. I've learned a lot of things because of blogging- not just from people blogging about current events (which is also great), but from people correcting or analyzing the things that are written. When blogging is like a conversation, it can be a really interesting and exciting process.

But, there are a lot of things that I really hate about blogging. I hate how easy it is to read one thing that someone has written, and see that as the sum-total of that person's opinions and experiences. I hate how easy it is to misread or misinterpret what people are saying when they blog. I hate how easy it is to miss tone, or misunderstand sarcasm, or misread humor. I hate how quickly conversations escalate into arguments into flaming. I hate how easy it is to forget that bloggers are real people who have real feelings who have real experiences outside of the web who have complex opinions about issues that don't always come through in every post. I hate how easy it is to forget or ignore or simply not know about a person's many other good works and history of thought and action and activism when you read something that they've said that you disagree with or don't like. And on, and on.

And, no, it's not that all of those things happen to me (although, yeah, I absolutely hate it when they do)- it's also that I end up doing those things, too.

And I also hate not knowing if any of this is actually doing any good. I hate that I can spend a week researching and writing and rewriting something- hours and hours spent thinking about writing and working on a post, and I put it out there, and I have no idea whether it actually helps the cause. I hate feeling like I've put my heart and soul into something and feeling like the only people who are going to read it are:
1. People who already agree with what I'm saying.
2. People who are 100% against what I'm saying and only reading it to tear it apart.

And, it is hard writing. Writing is work. It's good work- it feels good to find the right words, to really bite into a tough subject, or to realize that you've just found exactly the right way of saying something so that it clicks in your head in a way that it hadn't before. But, it's still work. It's hard. It's hard, in part, because of constraints I put on myself.

And I'm having all of these feelings, and then I go to the doctor, and I find out that I have a stress related chronic condition. The more stressed I get, the worse the condition gets. Which is a vicious circle, because the worse the condition gets, the more I stress out, but whatever.

So, I'm not sure what to do. Blogging is hurting me, and I'm not really convinced that it's actually doing good, but not blogging is actually starting to stress me out a little too, and I miss it, and I miss the sense of community that I felt when I first started.

I haven't yet figured out how this all works. I'm unhappy with the way things were going, but I'm not ready to throw in the towel, either. I'm thinking that I need to change my idea of what this blog should be, but I'm not really sure what it looks like or what it ought to be, either.


N1nj4G1rl said...

I understand how you feel in some capacity. Writing good stuff is so f'ing hard. When I first started blogging I wanted to write all these great posts about feminism and pop culture and all the intersections therein. Now I mostly write about my cats and my pregnancy and the boring crap that happens to me on a daily basis. Not because I feel fulfilled writing that stuff, but because I want to write something. Occasionally I manage to spit out something that I'm actually proud to have written. So I keep trying to get past the fear of rejection and confrontation and keep writing in the hopes that someday I'll be able to write stuff I'm proud of on a regular basis.
I love reading your stuff, it usually gives me a different perspective on issues and I've been wondering where you were and hoping that it wasn't a sign of you getting the dreaded blog burnout. I hear you also on the problems with blogging, too often I've seen intelligent posts get ripped apart and the comments descend into sarcastic flaming and blogbattles get started simply because of misunderstandings or ambiguous writing or refusing to see things from outside their own perspective. It's a big part of why I don't post a whole lot of comments. I'm guilty of it too, but I usually don't post my angry responses.
Anyway after all that long and ranty commentary I really just wanted to say that you were missed, and I hope that you can find a way to manage your stress condition that works well for you.

Cara said...

I've missed your writing, Roy. And I definitely agree: blogging is stressful. I hope that you work it all out soon.

Feminist Gal said...

I'm a frequent lurker on your blog and really enjoy to read your stuff. I'm also in the #1 category (the people who already agree with what you're saying.) It's tough to navigate between loving to write, writing for change, and coming off the way you want. you're right, a lot is missed with the written word, tone, sarcasm, humor, frustration, but finding the exact words to convey exactly what you're implying makes it worthwhile (sometimes). That is, until it starts to make you sick (literally). Bummer that your medical condition is stress (therefore blog) related.

I hope you don't stop writing though, i think your posts really do make an impact and on a more selfish note, i enjoy reading them.

J said...

I say follow your heart.
If yuo trust your inner intuition, you will already know what to do.
We love you...just don't forget that. =)

Nique said...

Damn, you're such a whiner! ;)

Sarah said...

I'm sorry to hear you have a stress condition and that blogging is contributing to it. I enjoy reading your posts and hearing your perspective on things, but I can understand how it could be stressful. I find just trying to keep up with *reading* several different feminist/political blogs to be stressful at times, so I can't imagine trying to actually *write* about issues as well! That's probably one of the reasons why I stuck to a relatively innocuous topic for my own blog...

I hope you manage to figure something out that works for you, and I selfishly hope it does not involve you disappearing from blogging entirely :)

jeff said...

I've been in a strangely similar state of mind this month, Roy, and I am also thinking of various ways of continuing to write that don't involve quite as much stress about it all--and in ways that might feel more effective.

Also: Sometimes just taking a break rejuvenates. I've gone through that a few times before, and come back to writing full force...until the next break!

Kristen said...

I’ve enjoyed your blog for quite awhile now. I think you have an important voice. I just wanted to share two things with you.
First, this is your health and your life. You don’t “owe” anyone your continued participation in the blogosphere. The things we do in life should give us joy and peace (of the inner variety at the very least), if blogging doesn’t then I’m sure you can find ways to continue your intellectual conversations that will provide you with joy and peace.
Second, my husband is a writer and the process of writing wears on him terribly. He is often conflicted and filled with self doubt despite the fact that he is a brilliant writer. He has from time to time tried to quit writing and move on to something else, but it has never worked. I believe that some people process the world around them through writing. It can be tough. Writing is a very vulnerable experience. You put your truest self out into the world for others to judge. Often those who judge fail to take sufficient time or are unwilling to understanding your meaning. Some will judge without compassion or consideration. Some judgments will be unflatteringly correct. But as my husband says every time he picks up his metaphoric pen, in the end writers must write for themselves. Not because their voice can change the world. Not because others will understand. Not because they even have something unique to contribute. But because they have something they need to say, regardless of whether anyone is listening.
Of course despite those pearls of wisdom, after a critical review he still wants to quit (particularly if that review has a slight grain of truth in there). But eventually, he’ll dust himself off and pick up his pen.
My point isn’t to necessarily encourage you to continue with this (or any other blog), as I said above do what brings you joy, but rather to encourage you to continue writing in some form or another…not for other people, but for yourself.

Autumnal Harvest said...


I'm sorry to hear about your stress-related chronic condition. I'm sure you'll figure out what the right thing to do for yourself is. I enjoy your blog, and will be sad if it goes away, but obviously your health is more important than the blog, and you should take care of yourself.

As for your worry that your readers only either already agree, or are 100% against it, I will say that, I at least, don't fall in that category. There are lots of your posts, or comments at Feministe, where you gave me a perspective on things that I hadn't thought about before, and some where I disagreed with you, but where you at least made me at least reconsider my assumptions. (I think in all the disagreement cases I was just lurking.) So I've certainly found your blog valuable. Admittedly, I already have a similar general view of the world as you, so it's not like you've converted an MRA to a feminist. But that's probably not a realistic goal. But if your goal is to give interesting and useful perspectives to non-MRA's, then I'd say you do a darn fine job of that.

Calcifer said...

Hi Roy,
As a long time lurker I just want to say that whatever you decide to do I think your blog is great.

Opposition said...

If blogging is actually affecting your health, then you should obviously stop.

I, for one, am in neither of your defined categories. I agree with maybe 80% of what you say. That is to say, I think there are some things you need to rethink; but you've also changed my opinion more than once.

So, amid all the echo-chamber talk and the pointless flamewars, there are occasionally people whose opinions you have modified for the better.

EG said...

I have been unsure what to say for a while. I really enjoy your writing--I always looked forward to your comments on feministing, you do often modify my opinion, and I truly appreciate your calm, polite, level-headed mode of address. I was really excited when you started your own blog.

But you know, blogging is a leisure activity (unless you're getting paid for it and haven't mentioned it!). If it's not bringing you joy and/or some kind of fulfillment, if it's actively making you unhappy, you don't owe it to anybody to keep it up. It's a personal decision, and life is short, and nobody has infinite energies. If you decide that blogging isn't where you want to put your energies, I don't think anybody has the right to blame you. Do what makes you feel good. In my opinion, you'll do good no matter what you do, and everyone is most effective when doing something they enjoy.

alto said...

For what it's worth, I don't think you are alone in this feeling. As a guy who often writes from a pro feminist perspective, though I have only been reading you recently, I have certainly enjoyed your thoughts so far.

I think burnout is common in this area as we are often writing about important and highly charged emotional issues. Two, a lot of people don't really know how to take those opinions from a male, so occasionally we will get unsupportive feedback, and often no feedback at all. Over time that can take a toll.

One way that I've found to maintain my motivation is to write on a wider variety of topics (personal, career, other issues) while still keeping a heavy pro feminist perspective in my writing. In that respect I find my writing is usually better and has a sharper focus in all areas. I do realize that is highly personally specific but thought I'd offer you what has worked for me.

Good luck, I hope you keep writing but also find a solution that is acceptable to you.

assembling words to armory, she waits... said...

i hear you on all points, roy. health should be your number one priority. knowing when and how to back away is a complicated lesson to learn, and one with which we all deal. i just posted around five sentences on my blog ~ the first since the beginning of january. it's tough, no lie. and you've endured quite a shitstorm lately, to be sure.

however, i also know you fairly well, and i think that NOT blogging would cause you even more stress than the alternative. i think that you simply doing your best to step back, breathe, and come back to the computer when it seems enjoyable and a valuable use of your time is the best option. health and life come first. blogging should be a happy and passionate supplement to those things, not a detriment. bon sante!