When I began this blog, I enjoyed having my post, “Surrounded by Sheep,” selected for WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” feature. Over two days, over five thousand hits came to my blog from Illinois to Afghanistan. As every celebrity who has enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame knows, such attention proves addictive. WordPress advised that to be a ‘real’ blogger you must post twice weekly and have an image in every post. I set forth in an attempt to reach the ‘real blogger’ bar. I maintained a steady stream of twice-weekly postings and stepped down to one blog per week only over holidays. Then we went to England, and I went cold turkey. I came back with a flurry of my contributions to Inside Higher Ed’s University of Venus, which had appeared while I was away, but after that I sputtered: a brief, exhausted statement on Sunday night and silence until now.
I return to this regularly scheduled programming as a result of an unsolicited email from a marketing coordinator at Henry Holt & Co., who sought me out to write a book review for this blog. I had not thought anyone outside my immediate circle of influence really read it more than once. I dream of having some Bollywood magnate offer to fly me to Mumbai for an inside look at the Hindi film industry, but my map of hits from India makes this seem unlikely in the extreme. The email this afternoon makes my effort more worthwhile.
Everything comes down to an issue of time. I sat in a lecture yesterday and contemplated how much time it would take me to write two scholarly articles. I left the lecture early to rush back to my office – via a coffee stand to combat my doldrums – for a meeting. I couldn’t complete the thought let alone the project. It’s after five on a Friday. I finally have time to think, and the question boils down to the following. Blogging takes time away during which I could compose articles or the nearly farcical fantasy of a book, BUT blogging also offers me a critical opportunity to write in my own voice without the pressure of scholarly apparatus. Here I can find the voice that might make fantasy worthy of reality.
Given that I appear unable to organize my life around an ideal schedule of research weeks and writing days, is erratic experimentation with the art a plausible substitute for dedicated pursuit of the science? Am I keeping my authorial muscles primed for the moment when I can finally run the marathon towards a monograph? Or do I suffer a sellout’s delusion?