I’ve been taking a bit of a break from the internet lately. Not a break from using it, although I probably should do that at some point, but a break from contributing anything more than a handful of tweets and Facebook status updates. You’ll have noticed my blog posts here being few and far between, and my videos even fewer and further between. I’ve been posting regular book reviews, by virtue of sitting down once every few weeks and scheduling enough to keep me going at least a month, but beyond that, I’ve not been all that active.
And it’s been kind of refreshing.
I’ve been blogging since 2009, in various forms. I started out just talking about my life, knowing that I could say anything because I had about two people reading my blog and I knew both of them from elsewhere. As I gained more confidence and followers, I became opinionated. I talked about popular culture, social issues, and politics. Recently, though, I’ve retreated back inside my head.
The fact is, the internet is a hell of a scary place to be opinionated these days. Maybe that’s because I spend too much time on Twitter, and you see people getting totally trashed by trolls for making one statement that people disagree with, but I can’t help feeling it’s not worth saying something you’re not absolutely happy to defend. And I’m not sure how many of my convictions are really that strong.
That said, I know I’ve always come to more conclusions and felt more strongly when I’ve had the chance to explore and defend my position against opposition … but there’s a difference between opposition and abuse, with the internet often falling on the wrong side of it. I don’t have the spoons to deal with that kind of thing on a regular basis, so I stick to cat pictures and bad puns and don’t share my opinion more often than I can help.
Goodbye, interesting blog posts that actually spark comments from readers. Hello, long silences and banal updates about my life.
It’s not just about that, of course. It’s partly laziness, and partly lack of material; it’s partly because I’ve been watching too much Netflix and partly because I was reading an excessive number of books — I’ve read more books so far this year than I did in the entirety of 2015, and given that I read 233 books last year, that’s saying something.
Also, I won’t deny that there’s an element of anxiety playing into this. Well, I’ve already mentioned my fear of being opinionated, but this is slightly different — it’s more that I’m anxious about my own authority to speak on any of the topics that interest me, as well as having regular crises of confidence about whether anybody cares what I have to say, and whether I should even be blogging, because really I haven’t got anywhere as a writer and I should wait until I have, right?
It’s funny how confident I used to be when I was thirteen and knew full well that my writing wasn’t very good. It’s like at that point, I knew nobody would take me seriously, so I had to be my own cheerleader. Now that I’m reaching an age and a level where I’m amongst pro writers, my own inadequacy is overwhelming, and I’m doing that thing of holding myself to impossible standards again, which I really have to get over.
I don’t know. I’ve just been finding the whole blogging thing overwhelming. I can write to spec for other sites much more easily — for example, I wrote an article for The Cambridge Student about which books to take to university. It’s not my first article for TCS and several of the others were under the Books section, but I’m hoping to write more regularly for them this year. In fact, I’m even considering applying to be a columnist, because I don’t have enough deadlines and things to write as it is, you know?
(I wrote them another article, about hopes and fears re: returning to Cambridge, but that one hasn’t been published yet and I’m not sure if it’ll be in the online edition or the print one. If it’s online, I’ll link you in my next post, which will hopefully not take more than a week to get around to…)
I figured that in order to take some of the pressure off the whole blogging thing — since reviewing doesn’t seem to have the same effect — I’m going to change up how I do things on the blog for a while. My friend Engie @ Musings From Neville’s Navel always amazes me with her ability to keep blogging even with a heavy college workload and the rest of life to deal with, and one of the ways she does that is to write shorter and less heavy-going posts. For example, she regularly participates in book tags, or write posts about things she intends to do but hasn’t done yet. She also gives regular updates on university life.
So, while I intend to maintain, to a certain extent, the long-form opinion style pieces that have characterised this blog for however long, I don’t think they’re going to be the only thing I write anymore, because frankly I just can’t keep that up. I’d rather write some more shorter posts and be able to keep on top of things than let months go by without a word, stressing me out until I evenutally write a post that’s just apologies.
I go back to Cambridge this Friday, which is frankly terrifying. I’m in the midst of packing up some of my stuff now, although the stuff won’t actually be following me to Cambridge until Saturday (I’m going up on the train, and my parents are following with the majority of my luggage. Long story). So once I have room to move again instead of stuff piled all over my floor, I’ll be back with some thoughts on the upcoming university term, and hopefully that’ll be start of some more regular blogging from here on out.