Most of the time when authors quit their blogs or scale back to major-announcements-only, they cite waning interest (or energy) as the cause. Makes sense to me--one of the reasons I don't use Twitter, and try to limit Facebook activity, is that the internet is such a huge and limitless timesuck. Most people don't define an exit strategy before launching a blog; it's not like a book MS that finally gets taken up for publication, or a class that you graduate. No one gives you permission to move on.
A blog just...waits. Like a plant waiting to be watered. Except if this plant dies, you can't just surreptitiously pitch it down your building's trash chute in the dead of night, swearing to yourself that you'll do better next time. It's a little more public.
Right now there is a glut of guides to "Being an Author in the Age of Web 2.0!" We're told to use blogs in the following ways:
-Test out drafts of what may be bigger projects (to develop your skill)
-Coordinate and promote book readings (to sustain your career)
-Post mini-reviews or interviews (to strengthen your community)
-Create a storehouse of helpful tips and links (to pull in Googlers)
Okay. Logical. And yet...those blog-posts aren't the ones I get excited to read. I'm not saying they aren't important--they are--but they have to be balanced with humor, revelation, a little bit of risk. Intimacy. The blog posts I get excited about feature the goofy thing someone's kid said, or wall colors for a new house, or a take on the last American Idol Episode, or a stream-of-conscious meditation on the moon, a violin, and fresh honeycomb. The best blogs are, at the end of the day, powered by a cult of personality.
Two of my favorite ladies in the poetry world have recently reincarnated their blogs. Five Feet Above Water became Miss Gin. Home-Schooled By a Cackling Jackal became (or rather, always was) Reb Livingston. In both cases, the original blogs had found a good mix of what the guides would call "compelling 2.0 content" and what I would call "crunchy, sticky, gossipy, snarky real-life anecdotes that make me come back for more."
In both cases, the author decided to change not only her theme but her URL. Oh no! moan the 2.0 Web Gurus. All those lost links! All that wasted traffic!
Part of me agrees--because if your blog is shaped primarily by your personality (versus a definite project), then it should be able to evolve with you. But part of me knows that sometimes you have to honor an impulse. It's like paying a bundle to maintain your same old hairstyle one week, and a week later admitting your profound need to look completely different. Purple hair dye: $70. Fresh start: priceless.
As I embark on a more substantial prose career, I've been wondering how much of that should be reflected on the blog. Maybe I could use this blog as the real diary of a freelancer. Not self-help tips, but the real stuff. Whether one should drink & draft. The critical misstep of downloading Snood. The awkwardness of networking with DC journalists when you don't give a damn about politics. The perils of researching for a book that relies on a medical term not even coined until 1906.
Part of me thinks that could be a fun blog. Part of me thinks that this blog is called "Chicks Dig Poetry" for a reason, and I should honor that. Part of me thinks the more empathetic readers for the blog, the better the readers for the book. Part of me thinks that a little bit of distance adds credibility and import.
If you're looking for a firm conclusion, sorry! Blogs aren't the place for firm conclusions, at least not for me. I see them as organic structures, plants with dirty, messy, unstoppable roots. You can feed them, or tear 'em out by those roots when the time comes.