If your ambitions are confined to nothing more than ambling up a twenty-foot hill and declaring this easily accomplished task as something special, that’s perfectly fine. I do not wish to judge. Ambition means different things to different people. But when you tread up and down a small hillock so many times, it becomes more like a flat prairie. It’s nice to saunter about a hardpan patch. There’s the comfort of the familiar, the warm faces smiling in the wind. But if you have any grandiose sense of adventure, you’re probably going to start searching about for a bigger mountain — something that requires intrepid stamina, a good deal of training and practice, one that is highly rewarding and highly challenging.
I am certainly not a mountain climber in the literal sense, and I may never take up the physical challenge (although I am known to try just about anything once). I don’t intend to forsake the metaphorical flatland, which would be this place, and I certainly don’t harbor any prejudices against one terrain or the other. I’m only trying to explain for readers who may have come to rely on this place in some small way, to which I apologize for any half-abandonment. All this is an oblique way of declaring that I’m now climbing quite an imposing mountain, and that this task, buttressed by my obstinate discipline, has forced me to cut down on numerous cultural activities. I’ve unsubscribed from enticing lists. I’ve reduced my interviewing schedule. I’ve attended very few literary events. I’ve taken on freelance work to get by, but have tried to keep this both fun and minimal. For the mountain must be climbed, the considerable crags must be explored. The mountain enters my dreams. It badgers me when I go for a walk. It sometimes keeps me up late. It haunts me. I really have no choice in the matter. It’s come to that. And I have a very kind and talented man (along with others) to thank for directing me up the ledge. The results may come to nothing, even when my journey is complete. But then I have at least two more mountains after that, another which I am now climbing as a goofy diversion from the main summit. All I can tell you is that I’m having a great deal of fun and that I have felt an unexpected calmness settle over me, save for the distressing seismic and political developments in the news that get me upset, which are strangely related to this mountain. I’ve asked friends not to forward me certain links that will spawn or instigate crazed essays, and they have kindly respected this.
Because I’m putting just about all of my emotional and mental energies into this, I’m left with little room to fill up this place with lengthy pieces. And since the present online climate demands for one to bang out multiple posts a day (or one daily post containing substance), I’m here to confess that I just don’t have that time right now. I will probably offer piecemeal posts in the interim. I did promise a slowdown not long ago. But I’ve always been committed to making everything I do fun. I certainly don’t want to slum it here or turn this place into a tedious series of roundups. Twitter has pretty much destroyed the need for any blog to maintain a series of literary links. By the time you’ve presented it on a blog, it’s already made the rounds. Unless you write something substantial about it or you have new information that nobody else has. Probably for the best. But, hey, this hasn’t really been a litblog for a while. I do have other interests.
Sure, I’m on Twitter. You can find me if you’re so inclined. But even that account will likely slow to a crawl. It’s just isn’t the same as the mountain. The energies are there. That’s what I’m doing right now.
This isn’t a hiatus. I’ll pop in here from time to time. But if weeks go by without a peep, well, you now know why. Should the mountain come to anything, I do hope you’ll take the climb with me. I’m doing my best to make it true and worth the while.
You’re only a few hours from the White Mountains. You should treat yourself to Mt. Washington at some point.
The open-endedness of this post might suggest you are suffering from writer’s block. If this is the case, I wish you a speedy recovery.