The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 August 2003

Taking stock

If a blog lasts a year, it's a safe bet that the blogger will have something to say about it on the first anniversary. Usually it's no big deal, but sometimes it gets seriously introspective. Costa Tsiokos at The Critical 'I' demonstrates:

After one year, the end result — and to a certain extent, this blog is still evolving, so perhaps characterizing it as an "end result" is a bit inaccurate — hasn't been quite what I envisioned.

For one, I haven't dwelled on a great deal of deep personal stuff, mainly because I've felt rather awkward in doing so in this format. Partly, that's because I know my writing here is going out to a group of strangers, and while that can be a liberating feeling in one sense, in another it's inhibiting. I mean, no offense, but I don't know you people. From what I've gathered, my offline friends and family read this blog only occasionally, if at all, so it's not like I'm going to write a whole lot for an infrequent audience. Plus, I'm sure anything of that nature will be appreciated much more coming from me "live", i.e. not on a website.

No offense taken. I've dredged up some seriously painful stuff over the years, but there are some boundaries I haven't dared to cross, partly because I'm not comfortable with what lies beyond, partly because I can't imagine any of my handful of regular readers being the slightest bit interested. And as it happens, hardly any of my relatives qualify as regular readers, which is probably a Good Thing.

To continue with Costa:

I've found that, for myself, the blog format just doesn't lend itself particularly well to long-form essay writing. I'm not saying you can't write a lengthy, well-structured piece on anything you care to — fiction, opinion, commentary, reminscences, etc. But for some reason, I can't, not on this blog. It could be due to something as simple as the layout, the font, the background colors. It could be that, as has often been suggested, content on the web isn't meant to be presented or consumed in traditional long form, but rather as shorter, bite-sized morsels — and for the most part, that's the type of stuff I offer up on this site every day.

There is, I think, some resistance to really long blog articles, which explains why so many of them end with a link reading "Continued..." On the other hand, getting the first few words in an RSS feed frustrates some readers, who want the whole ball of wax at one fell swoop. (And believe me, if there's enough wax, I'll swoop and fall.)

I don't want to make this sound like a total drag. Overall, I'm satisfied with what I've done here. I like that I've made myself stick to a daily writing schedule; that the writing is not always top-calibre is beside the point. It's rarely ever a chore; in fact, I'm more often frustrated that I can't write more here. So, I think I've gained something useful out of this.

I think I could say that myself, though probably not as clearly or as eloquently.

Here's to another year of The Critical 'I'.

Posted at 6:39 AM to Blogorrhea

Thanks so much for the commentary! Another year... we'll see.

The appearance of blog entries that started with teasers and ended with a "Continued" link was something I really didn't like; I'd rather have the whole thing right there, rather than dive through links. I assumed it took root thanks to some default option on a particular blogging software (I know it's not on Blogger). I was afraid it was going to become the dominant trend; it seems to me that it hasn't caught on in a widespread way.

In any case, I'm not sure something like that would be the antidote for me, anyway. It's not as much the initial presentation of a posted entry; even if I link it to another page, it's still a long entry, and I can't seem to get into writing something like that for a blog. Further, there's something about staring at a lengthy narrative on a monitor screen that just puts me off. I suppose, ideally, an extended essay that was well-structured, with enough paragraph breaks and topic focus, makes reading something like that more palatable. That means editing, and like the lawyer who represents himself, he who edits his own work...

Posted by: CT at 12:57 PM on 21 August 2003

If I edited my stuff with an eye to making it readable, nary a word would show up in this domain.

The sort-of-weekly Vent series, which predates the actual blog by four years, is now more or less the home for extended pieces; more than once I've pulled something off the blog before release and set it up as a Vent, simply because it was too darn long. Curiously, the Vents and the blog draw slightly-different audiences; many blog regulars have no idea that the Vents even exist, let alone that there are three hundred of them, and some of the folks who started reading me back in 1996 have stayed with the Vents and don't read the blog. Admittedly, I don't go to a lot of trouble to cross-promote, and some things, I suspect, wound up as Vents because I didn't want them too widely read.

Anyway, now you know how the Established Hack does it. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 3:52 PM on 21 August 2003