It's something of a comfort to see something new at your favorite blogs every day. But as each morning brings a new posting--maybe followed by one at lunchtime and others in the afternoon and at night--you may forget that there's a human being with a day job and non-computing interests at the other end of the line.
And so, sadly enough, some of the best bloggers sometimes elect to call it quits. That happened Tuesday to one of my favorite daily distractions since the fall of 2004, the Washington Nationals fan blog Capitol Punishment. Author Chris Needham signed off late Tuesday night in a post titled "Tonight's The Night":
... things change. I've done plenty of writing these last few years. Lord knows how many books I've essentially written. And finding new things to say is tough. (I'd say 'interesting' things, too, but that'd imply that half my posts were!)
It's time to move on.
To characterize the quality of Needham's work, I'll turn to The Post's Nationals beat writer, Barry Svrluga, who commented on it in his Web chat:
I have to say, I was crushed by this. There are lots of Nationals blogs. Only one was bookmarked on my computer and in my BlackBerry. Chris offered intelligent, analytical, scathing and funny takes on the Nationals.
Svrluga followed up with a blog post later that day. How often do you see the beat writer for the biggest newspaper in town lauding the work of an unpaid amateur writing on his own time?
I e-mailed Needham to ask what led him to hang it up (and it wasn't too few hours in the day):
The actual writing -- as evidenced by my frequent typos and incomplete thoughts -- was surprisingly little. I could dash off a short post in 10 minutes or so. Something longer, where I'd dig up some stats, took maybe an hour. I would've been doing all the reading anyway, which is what takes up the bulk of the time, so I'm not sure it's really 'fair' to consider that as part of the blogging time.
Instead, the well had just run dry:
I imagine that all bloggers go through phases. Some days, there's a lot to say. Others, there's nothing. Lately, finding new or interesting things has been quite a bit more difficult, especially all off-season, when there wasn't a whole lot of activity compared to previous off-seasons. I thought about seriously going out on opening night, but figured I'd give it a few more weeks to see if my feelings would change. They didn't, so off I go.
(He could have fooled me. Needham was cranking out a post about every day up until the end, making me look like a lightweight the whole time.)
Needham's story isn't all that unusual. I've seen many other blogs expire over the past few years. Sometimes, the postings gradually peter out, and in other cases a "goodbye" or "I quit!" notice marks the occasion. Either way, when you've gotten used to enjoying this person's work, it's a sad day when you realize that you'll be deprived of their writing from now on.
It's like learning that one of your favorite bands has broken up, except that with blogs you feel much more like you've been having this long, involved conversation with somebody else.
If you've staked out a corner of the blogosphere for yourself, the end of somebody else's blog may also be an unsettling reminder of your own effort's mortality. That's something I can't help but think about as I've stepped up my own output--on top of the weekly Fast Forward and Help File columns, there's my PostPoints tip-of-the-week e-mail, our weekly podcast, every-workday posts on this blog, daily status updates on Facebook for friends and even-more-frequent posts at Twitter for the general public.
I need to make sure that I can keep some kind of balance between these pursuits and all the other parts of my life. (And yet as I type this, it's past 7 p.m. on Wednesday night. Hmm.)
Have you started a blog, then given up on it? Please tell your story in the comments.
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