Blogging about not blogging
So my blogging’s been painfully slow over the last while. I’ve been trying to figure out why.
Most people who know me for blogging know me for a tech blog I (increasingly fail to) write, Coyote Tracks, but that’s neither my first nor my only blog. I made Coyote Tracks on Tumblr because it started out as a linkblog annex to my LiveJournal; Tumblr’s format is all about sharing found digital objects. But my LJ is-slash-was considerably more personal. That’s not to say that I was out there opening veins for random strangers, but, well, it was a journal. I wrote about technology there, too, and my fiction writing, and what kind of days I’d been having — and my hopes and fears, worries and joys.
(Brief aside: if Twitter offered even half of the fine-grained access, filtering and moderation controls that LiveJournal had a decade ago, the collective conversation about online harassment over the last year or two might be dramatically different.)
I kept that journal up regularly from mid-2001 through 2008, posting several times every week. In 2009, though, it began to putter; in the last few years updates have dropped to quarterly-if-that. My desolate friends page demonstrates I’m not alone. I assign Twitter the lion’s share of the blame for the demise of journaling. If you tweet about what you’re thinking, where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with, it feels like you’ve already said everything.
So I repurposed my fallow tumbleblog as a tech blog, writing about Apple matters, more general tech topics, and occasionally cocktails. Some of what I wrote caught the eye of others. That’s been terrific — beyond the bit of ego boost, it’s put me in touch with interesting folk I wouldn’t have likely met any other way. It’s arguably even helped me get jobs.
Yet my writing there’s gotten more sporadic, too. Part of that simply comes from less time: I have an actual office job again, which started right when I restarted a novel from scratch; it turns out writing 120,000 words eats up a lot of spare time. But it’s not just that. There’s a definite sense of burnout. It’s not a wholesale burnout on tech — I don’t want to sell all my gadgets and flee to the woods. (Okay, I’d love to move up to Sonoma County, west of Highway 101, but I’m keeping the gadgets.) I’m still a computer nerd. I work for a Silicon Valley startup as a technical writer, and I love my job and the people I work with. I’m learning Elixir and Clojure.
What I’ve burned out on is the minutiae. I’m tired of combing the internet looking for tech links and trying to come up with something insightful, or at least pithy, to say about a few each week. So many other people do that as their full time job! I’m tired of reading facile critiques of the latest gadgets. I’m tired of reading critiques of those critiques. (Yes, some pundits produce flamebait for money. We get it.) I’m tired of writing those critiques.
So what do I want write about, and where do I want to write it? Frankly, I don’t know. That’s why this post is on Medium; it’s my designated “none of the above” kiosk.
I’ve mentioned that novel in passing before for years, going back to at least 2011, but — you know those people who have a novel they’re “working on” rather than working on? Right. The shift for me was getting into a by-audition science fiction novel writing workshop last year. I finished the first draft of the resulting novel, Kismet, on April 26th. I could write about that, but I won’t. The internet is thick with unpublished novelists writing about their writing journey. They all mostly say the same set of things, and those things are, unless you are also an aspiring novelist, mostly not that interesting.
It’s possible that once the novel is through an editing pass and out to a critique group, I’ll rediscover my mindspace for tech-blogging. I’d like that, but I’d also like to keep writing a few thousand words of fiction a week on one project or another. So.
If I had only one blog, only one internet presence, this would be simpler in some respects. But I don’t. Watts Martin, the me who writes about Apple, technology, and cocktails, has one presence; Watts Martin, the me who writes sf/fantasy, often with animal-people, has another. Both of me have the same Twitter name, which undoubtedly creates fascinating algorithmic recommendations. (“If you’ve followed Watts, you may also want to follow this former editor of Macworld, and this furry cartoonist!”)
What I’m considering doing, though, circles back around to where I started: journaling. Twitter replaces journaling the way a drive-thru replaces having a pleasant lunch at a quiet café — you get what you want out of it, mostly, but it’s hardly the same. I have stuff I’d occasionally like to write that isn’t tech, and isn’t fiction, either. There’s an equally underutilized Octopress blog I’ve had set up for a while intended as a “writing blog” (whatever the hell that is) that could become a journal merely through declaration.
But now you know why I haven’t been blogging much recently — or at least you know as much as I do. Because I’ve just blogged about it.