On (Not) Retiring

Rasputin’s extremely touching words have reached me. And perhaps I should clarify a few things:

1. When someone like TMFTML retires or posts infrequently to live life or preserve a perceived drop in quality, it is a very sad thing. But one thing that strikes me about our ready band of regulars is that when they stop blogging and they transpose their talents elsewhere, it sometimes doesn’t occur to them to tell their readership where they go. And that is even more tragic. They’re not entitled to, of course. But why isn’t there a print venue which preserves the best of their work, or leaves a permanent record to the universe that they existed? (The Internet is, after all, so ephemeral.) For all the gardyloo and tomfoolery here, I do take blogs seriously. They’ve opened up an incredible array of friends, thinkers, opportunities, and ideas, and united a motley group who express more passion on a daily basis than a jaded steeldog journalist does in a year. They’ve done the world of books, I believe, a great deal of good and probably turned more than a few people on to titles and authors that would have ordinarily fallen by the wayside (think of the Complete Review’s indefatigable coverage). And it delights me to see a continuous barrage of new litblogs pouring out of the woodworks as the beat goes on.

2. If I had to be pinned down, I don’t know how long this blog will last. It could be three weeks. It could be three years. Nor is there any guarantee that I’ll be prolific on any particular day. All of this depends upon existential factors that I won’t go into. The problem is that synapses constantly fire off in my brain, curiosity must be fulfilled, and it’s so easy to ramble in the little box.

3. Since Points (1) and (2) are in direct conflict of each other, why am I here? Well, because Point (1) is so appealing, even with limited time. And because, as my main squeeze constantly reminds me, more ambitious than realistic about things. (Yet I do them anyway and sleep like a prisoner in D Block.) If I weren’t here, I’d be somewhere else (and sometimes am) doing something similar.

4. No matter what happens, life is the grand pursuit.

5. When someone takes a break from a blog, it’s more of a severe interruption than a blog’s readership might contemplate. You’re banging out several hundred words a day in a format that’s as set as a review. Then all of a sudden, you feel as if you’re repeating yourself or it’s just not fun anymore. Or you’ve said all there is to say. Or you see yourself suffering. So you feed the impulse and then you stop, only realizing that it’s just as much a daily part of your routine as everything else. And then you return, sometimes in an overwhelming manner. Confusion sets in before the next troubling dip. And so it goes — like a starter pistol firing in slow motion. You can’t win. You’ve got other irons in the fire. But the sound of that pistol is so irresistable. The question is whether or not it’s good for you. Well, maybe. But then they also say that about a low-carb diet.

As I said, we’ll see how it goes. The refreshing thing is that no one is holding a gun or a deadline to my head. (At least not now.) But so long as the water’s fresh and my pecs hold up, I’m in for the swim.

That’s the last word (for now) on that.

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  1. Interesting thoughts. As someone who has retired 12,567 times in the past four years, I know what you mean about that starter pistol. And it’s so easy to forget that this is a personal pursuit that one is perfectly entitled to start or stop at any time, for any reason. But you’re doing good stuff here and I hope you don’t close up shop.

  2. As someone with an insatiable appetite for gardyloo, I am well thrilled that you’re back doing that thing you do.

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