(And in which I make excessive use of numbered lists.)
So hey, look, it’s me! Kate! Blogging! At one of my blogs!
I really did not expect to neglect all my blogs for the entire summer — which is why I never put up a warning that I’d be doing so — and I sincerely apologize to anyone who was worried. But a couple things happened:
1) I quit smoking, which sapped about 99% of my will to live, let alone my will to blog, for a solid two months in there.
2) I realized how much more peaceful my life is when I don’t blog. More on that below.
Nevertheless, I miss it, so I’m getting back on the horse. Sort of.
The deal is this: all summer, I kept thinking, “I really want to start blogging again soon,” and then not doing it. Usually, that “I’m totally going to except oops I didn’t but I’m totally going to” cycle means I really do not want to do the thing I keep telling myself I really want to do. So eventually, I had to admit I really did not want to blog anymore and ask myself why.
There are several answers.
1) After three years of writing primarily on controversial topics, I am so sick of this shit, I have basically lost my stomach for making any argument more inflammatory than “Personally — and I am in no way saying you should agree with me — I enjoy sunshine and puppy dogs and rainbows.” Except we all know even that will lead to 300 impassioned comments about melanoma, drought, puppy mills, dog fighting, DOMA and DADT, most of which I will actually agree with and be appropriately incensed by, but all of which I will find exhausting because the point of writing about sunshine and puppy dogs and rainbows was to AVOID DOING THAT JUST FUCKING ONCE.
And I mean, I’m sick of writing posts that follow the formula Chris Clarke so delightfully outlined at that link, just as much as I am of reading ones designed to rile me up, and really, REALLY sick of the inevitable comments (familiar types of which are also brilliantly and extensively catalogued there). By last spring, I became increasingly aware that I was doing a lot of “Stock Intro A + Stock Feminism/Fat Acceptance Points B and C + Free-Form Outrage Interlude + Stock Conclusion D = done for the day,” and that is really not the kind of writing I want to be doing.
Which leads me to the next point.
2) I’ve really missed writing longer things that undergo substantial revision over time and actually — get this! — become much better and more interesting than the first drafts I knocked out in a couple of hours. I’m given to understand that some people who call themselves writers actually do nothing but that, instead of making every thought they have public ten minutes after they have it! Can you imagine?
It’s been ages since I finished working on the book, and my plan was always to write one by myself after that — but for a long time, I was too busy writing stuff for immediate publication. Once I deliberately shifted my focus to the next book instead, my brain was usually too tired for blogging when I had the time, and pretty soon, I was well out of “Spit it out and hit ‘publish’” mode, so blogging just didn’t happen.
A couple of weeks ago, I contributed a piece to Salon that only reinforced how different blogging is from the kind of writing I’ve been doing over the summer (well, ever since I could pick myself up off the floor and function sans cigarettes). I had a full day between the assignment and the deadline — a positively luxurious amount of time by paid blogging standards — and still felt like it was about half-cooked (and yet way too long, since part of my “process” is writing twice as much as I’ll eventually use) when the deadline came and the editor gave me the grown-up equivalent of “Put your pencils down NOW.” The piece is okay, but I’m not terribly proud of it as a blog post or a personal essay, because I took too leisurely an approach to the former and too hasty an approach to the latter. I either needed more time or less time to do it right.
At the moment, I am all about the leisurely approach — which is a bit of a misnomer, since it still involves a lot of hard work. But basically, I’d rather work hard on quality and depth than on churning out a mostly coherent argument a.s.a.p. (Unfortunately, it’s much easier to get paid — at least in the short term — for fast, mostly coherent arguments. I am very lucky to have the choice right now.) I’m at the point where I think I can build semi-regular blogging for my own amusement back into my schedule — hi! — but I had to let myself fall off the face of the internet for a while to get back into a slower, more deliberate writing rhythm.
Even though the comments policy meant we didn’t have too many trolls to deal with, moderating SP was — as all of us who did it noted repeatedly — a ridiculously time-consuming, tiring, and dispiriting job. By last spring, the sheer volume of comments was overwhelming, even if they were mostly quite pleasant (and often fantastic). Part of the reason our commenting policy worked was because we were committed to at least one moderator reading every single one of them — and we generally tried to stay on top of our co-bloggers’ comments, too. But that’s also part of the reason why every single moderator eventually decided she couldn’t keep doing it. And it’s a big part of the reason why, when the blog went back to just me, it soon went totally dark.
The ugly truth is, for the last several months, I haven’t wanted to read comments. Any comments. Not even comments saying, “You’re awesome,” or “Here’s a really smart, unexpected take on a subject that fascinates you,” or “Look at this picture of an indisputably adorable, rescued, mixed-breed, clean, well-cared-for, non-aggressive, hypoallergenic COMPLETELY NON-CONTROVERSIAL PUPPY.” I just didn’t want to read comments at all. Which meant I certainly didn’t want to write anything that would invite a couple hundred new comments. So I didn’t write anything on Shapely Prose and barely wrote anything online at all.
Now, I’m ready to come back in some capacity, but I’m still pretty gunshy and a bit out of practice. So I’ve made a few decisions to minimize my anxiety and maximize the fun, self-reinforcing parts of blogging. Decisions such as…
1) I’m going to officially admit — to myself and you all — what should be clear by now anyway: Shapely Prose is over. Maybe not forever, but definitely for the forseeable future.
The archive will remain up, and I will remain committed to feminism and fat acceptance. I will even keep writing about both things for various publications, including this here blog! But in addition to the fact that nearly a year ago, I was thoroughly burned out on Shapely Prose and really just prolonging the inevitable, I’ve realized it feels too weird going back to it as a solo blog. (I guess that could also have been point 4 on the list of reasons why I didn’t blog for so long.)
Shapely Prose really hit its stride and thrived as a group blog, but as the original members moved on, I just couldn’t bring myself to recruit replacements. I would have felt too much like the former lead singer of a once-popular band desperately wringing every ounce of marketability out of the name, even if none of the other original members want anything to do with the project, and most of the old fans just think I’m pathetic. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I definitely feel like it’s time to admit the glory days of my first internet baby are long past, and I just need to let it go.
Shapely Prose will remain up at kateharding.net, with over 1,200 posts and 100,000 comments for your reading enjoyment, but I don’t plan to add anything new there (unless something changes). When I am moved to blog, it will be here, at kateharding.info.
2) I’m not approving any more comments on Shapely Prose. There are like a million in the mod queue right now, and I’m sure some of them are great and heartfelt and fascinating, and that good people spent a lot of time on them, so I’m really sorry about that. But I just can’t. Please see point 3 on the previous list.
3) Comments on this blog, when allowed, are going to be automatically closed after 24 hours. And they won’t always be allowed; it’ll depend on how much time and energy I have at any given moment/for any given subject. I expect that a long hiatus, a new url and new rules will mean a dramatic drop in the number of readers and commenters, so it’ll probably be far more manageable, and I’ll soon get over being gunshy. But as much as I appreciate the feedback — and really enjoy interacting with readers, I swear! — I cannot ever, EVER again let myself get to a point where posts are going up daily (or close to it) and getting hundreds of comments a piece, and I’m committed to reading all of them, yet it is not actually a full-time job for which someone pays me a great deal of money. I just had no idea what I was getting into before.
OK, I think that’s all my lists. And with that out of the way, I really do look forward to blogging again! I’ll see you here soon.