Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. – Mark Twain
I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI last weekend. As usual, it was an incredible gathering of writers and readers, and my heart is stuffed to overflowing with the treasures from seminars and conversations.
One bit of information I’m still processing are the continuing announcements from famous, infamous, and not-famous-at-all bloggers that they’re suspending or greatly dialing back their online efforts. I’ve been hearing rumbles of this for some time now, but at the Festival, the rumbles were amplified through voices I respect including Amy Julia Becker, Sarah Bessey, Preston Yancey, and Addie Zierman. There are too many bloggers, too many trolls, and nowadays, readers are looking for smart, curated editorial/news analysis and less slice-of-life reflection. Blogging takes TIME, and the need to feed the beast once or twice or eight times a week can suffocate a writer’s muse.
The blogosphere is changing, to be sure. When I started blogging ten years ago, I treated my blog as a receptacle for slice-of-life observations, laments about church, theological questions, and bits of devotional writing. Frankly, I never considered that anyone except for like seven dedicated friends would ever read it. I was high from finishing my first book, and the words were still pouring out of me with nowhere to dump them. My blog became the slop bucket in which I could catch them.
In 2010, I started writing for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, and a couple of years later, I moved my mostly-invisible blog here to Patheos. With a bigger audience, I realized my blogging needed a focus. I could no longer waste anyone’s time rhapsodizing about donuts, for instance, even though I do love them. I needed to go less slice-of-life (or donut), more topical: theology, ecclesiology, current events. I don’t know if blogging was changing then, but my blogging was changing.I’m not remotely famous, but nonetheless, I’ve been on the receiving end of some soul-sucking trollery in the years since then. There was the time I got called a Mormon, or the many times a commenter has insinuated I’m a heretic, or that one horrifying moment my face was plastered across a white supremacist website, or…well, you get the idea. The anonymity of the net serves the haters well, while leaving good-hearted bloggers questioning themselves and preempting their thoughts. Blogging is definitely more difficult today than it was in 2006.
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one. – C. S. Lewis
Though I see myself primarily as a long-form (book) author, I appreciate the immediacy of blogging, and the feedback from readers who tell me that something I’ve written has helped them feel that they were not the only one.
That’s one core reason I write. Because when someone tells me this, they remind me I’m not the only one, either. And that’s why I can’t imagine at this point giving up blogging, no matter how the blogosphere shifts.
Thanks for reading, friends.