What to do? What to do?
I said that to my dog Andy a little while ago, by way of remarking on his confusion and indecision. He is a Bichon Frisé--and no, as I know I've said here before, I never wanted a cute little dog--he came to us more or less by accident. (I started to say "wimpy little dog," but he's actually pretty brave--just the other day he challenged a dog that towered over him and must have weighed seventy pounds, as opposed to his twelve.) And the breed is genetically disposed toward a very strong need to be with people, even stronger than for most dogs. His main activity is to seek my wife or me and settle down to sleep as close to us as possible, preferably in physical contact. He's visibly distressed when we won't stay put. Before I sat down to write this my wife and I were both going about different activities, going to different rooms and perhaps sitting down for a few minutes, long enough for Andy to get settled, then getting up and going somewhere else. Finally he was trotting anxiously back and forth from one to the other of us, with a slightly frantic edge, unable to decide which of us was more likely to be still for a while.
Anyway, it occurred to me that "What to do?" is the right title for what I had planned to say today. I'm often in a state of mind similar to Andy's, going back and forth among things I want to do, and finding myself unable to stick with any of them for very long.
I've got to make a decision about the future of this blog. "Not again!", some of you will say. "He went off on that tear a few years ago." Well, yes, I did. And those who were reading then may remember that I gave up the Sunday Night Journal for a year, with the intention of focusing on other projects, and that I resumed it after that year because I hadn't made much actual progress on any of them. For a while after resuming the SNJ I made it a weekly chapter in a memoir. For complex reasons I stopped doing that, although the memoir remains a live, if rather neglected, project.
The memoir, in fact, is one of the reasons that I find myself again at the same place I was at in December 2009. (Question for grammar experts: is that sentence grammatically correct?) Without boring you with a lot of details, I have to say that it's become clear that I really must cut down the amount of time I spend online, and that includes the amount of time I spend on this blog.
I've given serious consideration to the possibility of doing away with it altogether, but I don't think I'll do that. The reason I'm discussing this out loud, so to speak, instead of just deciding what to do and then doing it, is that although I don't have a lot of readers, I really value you, and the conversations we have here. And there is good reason to believe some of you would miss the blog if it weren't there.
At this point those are really my strongest reasons for keeping it going. I've written enough here over the past eight years (it will be nine in January) that I don't feel the urge to keep producing material as strongly as I did. I could live without that now, but I really don't want to lose the talk. I've often wished that I had a neighborhood bar where I could have a couple of beers and some conversation with similarly-minded people--not identically-minded, but similar enough for good talk. I don't have that, and this serves a somewhat similar purpose.
I've read that blog readership in general has declined over the past few years, and I think part of the reason is Facebook. But although I'm on Facebook, it's not nearly as good a place for conversation as a blog, at least for me. For one thing, it just doesn't work that way. Everything flows into one feed, so that a topic appears, and may get a few comments, but soon is pushed way down or off the page. Just as important, for me, is that Facebook is a place where I have to practice the traditional caution in talking about religion and politics. I have Facebook "friends" with all sorts of views, some of them quite different from mine and held quite heatedly, and I don't want to find myself in unpleasant and unproductive arguments. But nobody comes here unless they want to, and so this entirely public forum seems more private.
I'd like to know what you think. Two things are pretty clear to me: I do want to keep the blog going, but I have to spend less time on it. So I can't continue the Sunday Night Journal as it is. Among other things, attendance at an Anglican Use Mass in Mobile has seriously reduced the amount of spare time I have on Sundays. And I think that I won't write as many lengthy serious pieces as I have done, at least for a while ("lengthy" in blog terms meaning more than 500 words or so)--not weekly, anyway.
Would it be better if I post something brief quite frequently, preferably every day or close to it, or that I publish a single weekly miscellany? Or perhaps more substantial posts, like the typical Sunday Night Journal, but at greater intervals? How about subject matter? Should I stick with my original books-music-movies-through-Catholic-eyes theme? Or have more posts on current affairs? I'm sometimes tempted to start another blog devoted entirely to politics and associated matters. I would probably have more readers if I did. But I suspect it is, literally, a temptation: I don't think it would be good for my mental health, possibly not for my soul, because I'd stay even more agitated about that stuff than I already do. And anyway, doing that would probably be even more demanding of my time, because the controversies of the day come and go fairly quickly, and if you don't write about them right away you might as well not bother. Also, I really would rather write things that might still be of interest five or ten or more years from now, which is not true of very much political commentary at all.
I do plan to continue the SNJ through the end of the year, by the way. It's sort of a compulsion.