Richard Fernandez reflects on the announcement by blogger Marc Danziger (former “Armed Liberal,” in recent years at Winds of Change, and friend of mine from some years back) that Danziger is taking a break from blogging.
Once, at the first and only time I ever sat on a panel in New York City, I described the pressure that comes with having a modest readership. “When you’ve got ten visitors a day you can say what you like. When you have ten thousand, you become very careful.” The other rule, which Marc has probably discovered, is that at ten visitors a day you don’t give a hoot whether you write that day or not. When the site gets to a certain level of traffic, that luxury disappears. You have to show up every day because you know ten thousand readers will. The only thing worse than having your own business is having a moderately successful blog.
That made me smile.
I don’t have a readership of ten thousand readers a day, but I have considerably more than ten. This blog could definitely be described as “moderately successful,” and I understand the feeling of not wanting to disappoint my readers, many of whom come here not just to read me but to talk to each other.
A very successful blog, such as Instapundit, is more like a job, and probably a fairly lucrative one at that. Although money is hardly the entire impetus that drives it, and most likely wasn’t at the blog’s inception, it can mightily reinforce the desire to continue.
But a “moderately successful” blog can never be the monetary equivalent of a job, despite the wonderful efforts of readers (thanks again, all who have donated here!) to help out as best they can. So it will always be mostly a labor of love—or perhaps of OCD.
I keep taking vacations from blogging, always with the thought that I might never return. After a while I come back because I feel something inside compelling me to write about what’s going on. I suppose as long as I have something to say, I will continue. I will say this: it was liberating to get rid of the sitemeter and not worry about how many people were coming to the blog.
I share Dr. Sanity’s compulsion to write; it’s what drove me to blog in the first place. I had spent spent quite a few years with lots of opinions and few people to listen to them. I realize now I was often composing blog posts (even though I’d never heard of blogs), if only in my head, and wanting to discuss them with a group of people I hadn’t yet met but assumed existed out there. So blogging, for me, has had its own substantial rewards, not the least of which has been talking with all of you, and meeting other simpatico bloggers such as Dr. Sanity herself.
I haven’t yet freed myself of the tyranny of the sitemeter, although I don’t check it all that often and I’m not ruled by it. I still write pretty much what I please, although I don’t do a lot of personal stuff about other people in my life, in order to protect my privacy and theirs.
But it’s still hard to watch that sitemeter climb (for example, in the months before the 2010 election, when traffic in general was up around the blogosphere) and then see it drop afterwards. It would be so very nice if traffic just built and built and built, instead. I know life is full of ups and downs, but a sitemeter is so—well, so graphic about showing them.
For several months now news and traffic has been relatively slow. Yes, there’s the occasional big story such as Bin Laden’s death. But that doesn’t really change the fact that energy in general is low right now for politics, and that I’ve been doing this for over (gulp!) six years.
Don’t worry, I have no plans to follow in Danziger’s footsteps and quit blogging, although I might take a few days’ vacation here and there. No biggee. But I think I understand quite well what drove him to make that decision, and I wish him the best.