Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Have a Question...

... this morning. I'm in a bit of a quandary, and would love to hear the wisdom and experience of readers of The Buddha Diaries--most of whom, I assume, are fellow-bloggers.

Here's the context: I need to take a vacation. I started blogging shortly after the November, 2004 presidential election. I was in shock and disbelief that the American electorate had "re-elected" (I still don't believe Ohio) the current occupant of the White House, and wanted to "do something." Writing is the only thing I know how to do, and I fell into the blogosphere like Alice through the looking-glass. I started with The Bush Diaries, and when I tired of waking up with that man in bed with me every morning, I switched to The Buddha Diaries. Altogether, it has been nearly four years of almost daily entries.

And now I worry about taking a vacation. In part, it's the old, irrational writer's problem that I'm sure many of us are familiar with: if I don't get up and write this morning, will I ever be able to do it again? Will I lose motivation and momentum? Will I lose my thread? It's that compulsion, that fear, that insecurity about doing something so totally beyond the norms of profession and career, so much about the inner rather than the outer necessities. I recognize all that and live with it. You can't help me there.

The other part has to do with blogging, and there you might well have wisdom and experience that could be valuable, if you'd be willing to share it. My concern is about the momentum of the blog itself. I have been fortunate in putting together a wonderful readership over the years, and have this superstitious feeling that unless I continue to up the ante on a daily basis, I risk losing the interest and support of you good people out-there.

So here's my question: what's your experience of taking a long-ish vacation? I'm talking three-four weeks. As I've mentioned here before, Ellie and I are taking a road trip up north with George the dog, while work continues on our cottage down here in Laguna Beach. I'll likely be writing along the way--I'm thinking something along the lines of "On the Road with George." (John Steinbeck did something similar with Charley: I have his book on order from the library.) But I think I want to relieve myself of that sense of daily necessity, which those who follow The Buddha Diaries will know about from past travels, when I have dutifully made my entries every day that I find access to the Internet. I want, in a way, to liberate myself, to wake up in the morning and, er... lie in bed. Listen to the birds. Without needing to gather thoughts to punch into my laptop.

What's your experience? Did your readership lag? How did you set about building the blog again, on your return? Was it hard to get back? I'd love to know...

11 comments:

MandT said...

Interesting times and question P. We have always thought of our blog as an event horizon where creativity and communication either happened or didn't. It was the pleasure of it that mattered and the contact with kindred spirits. Our greatest reward has been connected with a handful of regulars over the years. Although we are a tiny site (no more than 25,000 hits a month or so) we keep it small and always enjoy the process and variety of approaches. In peeling back the'wise sayings' calender that has managed to lag behind, I came across this: "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world." The Buddha
Share your travels with us. On the road again! :)

Roger said...

as the slacker on our blog i am hardly one to offer much advice....but that won't stop me. many of my favorite bloggers don't post daily, or even on a recognizable schedule. i keep checking anyway. and some of my faves who do post daily don't always do their best work. i still check it out.

for myself i aim to post what interests me without being self referential. others sometimes talk about posting but i just can't. i do of course like feedback, and my ego likes strokes.

i say take a break when you want. we'll be here.

robin andrea said...

I think it is absolutely fine (and sometimes necessary) to take a break from blogging. It can be restorative to live without the self-imposed assignment to be reflective and creative.

Your blog has a loyal readership. Trust that we will return when you do. Put up a post that says when you plan to be back, and voila, we'll be here too.

Enjoy the journey.

John Torcello said...

Because I chose to piggy-back on a hosted site (www.care2.com) for my blogging, I don't believe I ever shared in growing the readership of my posts; nor do I have any known way of analyzing who/how many 'hits' to the site...
I haven't posted nor written in some 100+ days now. I've never considered myself a writer per se...but, some friends and acquaintances said they appreciated my thoughts, particularly when put down on (virtual) paper...so I wrote.
I never lacked for 'words'; and, I never felt the 'panic' of losing it...I stopped because I felt my writing was becoming too introspective (and hence, too 'boring' for most readers)...
I'm confident, should I choose to continue, the thoughts would 'flow' once again...
I remember once when John Lennon was asked about 'who' he wrote his songs...and he replied something to the effect that he wrote for himself; first and foremost...and,if others found solace and connection too; well, that was good...I'd like to think, at least in my case, my writing was really just for my own sake and the one-sided 'conversation' it presented will one day be of service to another reader (or not)...
My advice...take a break!...don't allow your feelings of responsibility to the blog to control what you're thinking you need to do right now...we'll be back...we'll miss your posts...we'll anticipate the 'new you' when you return...have a restful time...John

Danny Fisher said...

I've "retired" from blogging twice now. And I've taken extended breaks (like the one you're anticipating) from time to time. I usually have no trouble picking it right back up again--in fact, in some cases (like when I have something I really want to blog about), I'm dying to get back to it. I've yet to have a problem getting the momentum back. As long as you like to blog and have things to talk about and share, it'll all be fine, I think.

Doctor Noe said...

Peter, interesting question, but a no-brainer it seems to me. I am not nearly as regular a blogger as you -- and I doubt I have anywhere near the following you do -- because I blog when I feel I have something important to share or something momentous to explore for myself. The act of writing (and illustrating with art, pics & quicktime movies) is a revelation to me. The audience's pat on the back is gravy.

Travels with Charlie is a Good experiment for you. I'm in fact working on a novel that is told through the voice of my English Lab Charlie, with alternating chapters from a different narrator -- As I Lay Fido-ing or Wild Palms something like that. But I digress (enough about me): Point I'm trying to make is if I check your blog every once in a while and you've got gthat "gone fishin'" sign up, I'll still be back the next day to see if you're still there. And if it's a month between posts, that'd be fine too.

Your navel pickins are interesting to me because you are who you are. And if you leave a few dog droppings on this page, I'll haul 'em to the trash can for ya till you get back.

I was thinking about yesterday's post about mortality, old-age homes and not wanting to face negativity when I wandered across this interesting -- and germane -- parable from another blogger, Michael Berg of the Kabbalah Centre, Check it out and tell me if it doesn't relate to your quandary about turning off "The Savages": http://www.kabbalah.com/newsletters/2008_10cancer/english/?page=michael

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, everyone. Just to clarify: I appreciate all the advice, always welcome from those I respect as writers. But thanks especially to those who told me of their own experiences with this dilemma. I have things to think about before we leave!

They call him James Ure said...

I use the Google reader so I know when my fav's publish posts. So I will know when you post again and I'll be there.

I recommend Google reader for anyone wanting to read all new posts of your favorite bloggers but don't want to constantly check their blog.

The reader will notify you when a new post goes up. Have a good break!!

TaraDharma said...

Peter, I've taken breaks. My readership is teeny tiny but consistent and I love hearing from folks after I've been away for awhile. They always come back, because there is an interest and connection.

Go away, already!

We WILL be back!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Peter, I’ve been off line several times since I began blogging three years ago. None were intentional: crashed computers, being hospitalized due to pneumonia and Blogger malfunctions have been the causes. Each time, fellow bloggers from hundreds of miles away have made telephone calls to inquire about me.

The last episode was having Nick’s Bytes inaccessible for about six days due to a code problem with a blogger widget I had placed on my sidebar. Thankfully, Alex’s blog was still operational and, once the word was out, folks came there. Still, I know that many had no idea what had happened to me or the URL of my cat’s blog.

When my blog reappeared the word must have spread rapidly: I had 83 visitors that first day and have averaged about 150 a day since then.

As for taking a vacation from blogging, may I suggest that you use you blog to inform folks how long the vacation will last and when you’ll be back. Then, when you activate your blog, visit other bloggers and let them know you are back. If you are thinking about a short—a few weeks—vacation, you can always have guest posters cover for you while you are gone.

I hope my words have been of some help.

Blessings!

hele said...

My readership did lag and sometimes I find myself unable to ride a wave of emotion into my blog. However, for me blogging is a bit like a love affair. It goes through stages. And everyone is just right because it takes me deeper into an unexplored life.

I will be happy to wait as long as it takes to read about your travels.