I have decided, for a variety of reasons, to make some changes in the way the GOB blog operates.
In short, I have decided not to post material here on a regular, five-day-a-week basis. I am not going to retire from blogging completely, and will appear here from time to time. But posts will be irregular and less frequent than they used to be.
Everything that follows in this post is background to that decision -- background which may be of interest to some, especially anyone who is thinking of running a blog of their own.
I began writing this blog on Monday 22 March 2004, which is three years ago, near as dammit. Since then I have posted something on every weekday, except when I was away from home or unwell. There are, including this one, 1,119 posts on this blog.
I have just done a crude calculation, picking one month from each year, at random, counting the number of words published in those months, and multiplying out the monthly average by the appropriate number of months. The result is just short of a million.
One million words in three years. This is rather a lot. Verbal diarrhoea just about covers it.
During those three years, I have, I think, somewhere or other, conveyed to readers more or less everything that I know about books read (so far), the technique of writing fiction, and the nature and hazards of the world of publishing. I know for a fact that I have repeated myself from time to time.
It has all been extremely interesting and very rewarding. It has put me in touch with quite a few people whom I would never otherwise have had contact with, and I am grateful for that.
Neither has blogging ever been a chore or a burden. Hard work, yes; but tedious, no. However, you don't have to be blogging for long before you have your nose rubbed in one of the eternal verities of the universe: namely, that time cannot be used twice.
Time spent on blogging cannot be used for writing one's own fiction, or for taking photographs, or walking in the Wiltshire countryside; or even, if all else fails, decorating the bedroom. And I am acutely conscious that the time commitment to blogging has meant that other things have been pushed into the background. There are other projects that I want (and need) to work on, and something has to give somewhere.
So, that is the way it is going to be.
I appreciate that some people will be disappointed (particularly those who have just written to me, asking me to mention their book, blog, web site, or whatever; it's not their fault that they chose the wrong moment). However, all those who are disappointed will quickly get over it. Believe me.
It is not, after all, as if there are no alternatives. Three years is not really a long period in a life, but it's a hell of a long time in the blogosphere; and when I first started there weren't all that many blogs about books. But now, you can hardly move for them. Most of them have quite a lot to offer, one way and another, and the problem is, as ever, finding the time to look at them all.
Should you wish to keep in touch with whatever may, or may not, appear here in future, may I suggest that, rather than clicking here once a week or whatever, you use what I believe the techies call an RSS feed. I use Bloglines, but I believe there are other, similar services. You simply sign up (if I can do it, anyone can) and name the blogs you want to keep track of. Then, whenever you go to Bloglines, you get a neat little panel showing you how many posts have appeared on all your listed blogs since you last checked in, together with a summary of them -- or even the whole of them, which should be the case with my posts.
Older readers will know that I am not the only blogger who has said farewell or disappeared for a while. Mad Max and Moby Lives are examples. But in any case this is not a permanent goodbye. It's just that... well, there will be less here than you're used to.