Monday, February 12, 2007

Change of policy

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.


Anonymous said...

A million thanks for your million words.

Your blog has been a joy. I have suffered many a belly laugh here and your ideas and insights invariably stay with me throughout the day and beyond.

I have also enjoyed the comments from your fine readers very much indeed.

You have shown that there are blogs that ooze class. If there were a newspaper with the standard of commentary I have enjoyed here I would start buying newspapers again.

I'm sad that I can no longer look in here every day for a pearl or two of wisdom but I will look forward to any and all pieces you decide to post.

And from the bottom of my heart I thank you for the treatment you gave my novel.

You are a true gentleman with a unique writing style and a beautiful mind.

Thanks, and best of fortune for the future.

(This will give me some time to trawl through your 'back catalogue' to satiate my withdrawal symptoms.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, but the itch to weblog will come again, I have to warn.

On a different note, is it possible to show links somewhere to your archived posts? I've been an avid reader ever since the autumn 2005 or so, and now it pains me to know I missed almost half the fun.

Kitty said...

There must be something in the water because there are several bloggers who have closed shop in the past couple of weeks and left the door unlocked. I've been blogging since Nov 30th, 2003, and I've tried to quit. And I do for a week or two at a time. Then something draws me right back in.

A blogger's lifespan seems to be a short one -- maybe 2 years on average.

Like everyone else here, I thank you for your marvelous posts. I shall miss you.

Simon Haynes said...

I've enjoyed your views on publishing, books, current events and all the other matters you've blogged about, and will keep checking back regularly just in case you change your mind.

Effective blogging is more than just posting words, as you're well aware, and discovering an interesting blog is always rewarding. Yours was well worth the daily visit, and I'll miss the regular updates.

Here's wishing you fruitful bedroom-decorating and pic-taking, a couple of things which I should really be doing myself. (And the paving, the pergola, the decorating, the ...)

Anonymous said...

Oh dear...Black Monday!

Your blog has long been one of my daily "treats".

Have taken your advice and signed up with Bloglines.

Recently I've been trying to restrict my blogs to 400 words a day, or 2,000 words from Mon-Fri. But invariably they overrun.

Shall look forward to hearing, eventually, what your new project is.

Meanwhile, thanks for a great deal of interesting reading.


Anonymous said...

Weird - the only other blogger I read regularly, sci-fi author Charlie Stross, has recently recently done some similar soul-searching. He estimates he has blogged about 5 novels worth, but he has decided to keep at it. Hooray!
I shall miss you GOB.

Susan Hill said...

However long do you spend on blogging then Michael ? Mine takes me about 10-15 minutes a day MAX. I couldn`t decorate a room in that time, or write much of my book either.

Anonymous said...

When Conan Doyle attempted to kill off Sherlock Holmes, men wore black armbands in the street. I know how they felt.

The Grumpy Old Bookman is the living proof that Sam Johnson's dictum (which I have quoted twice in these pages) is not quite a hudred per cent true: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

But you see, a blogger is very like a newspaper columnist. In fact, the only real distinction, apart from the different platforms, is that the columnists get handsomely paid for their efforts. Nice work if you can get it.

No, you can't expect anyone to blog daily ad infinitum. I'm only surprised that the GOB has gone on so long. I'd been expecting this for some time.

Still, our hero turns out to be no more dead than Sherlock Holmes was -- not much more dead, anyway. We'll all be looking out for future posts.

In the meantime, though, Mondays just won't be the same. Nor Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays.

I must look out that black armband . . .

Anonymous said...

It's been a pleasure. You will be missed. I hope everything goes well for you in the future.

Anonymous said...

Many, many thanks. I second everything Francis Ellen posted. All the very best to you and yours. I sincerely wish you to enjoy every single day of your well earned semi-retirement. ¡Salut!

pundy said...

Your words will be read for a long time to come. Thanks, you've been brilliant.

Dr Ian Hocking said...

Well, Michael, thanks for all the words...alas I can't take comfort in your back catalogue because I've already read it! I'll stay on the look out for fresh words from you, and perhaps another book?


Maria said...

I shall miss your Grumpiness. I read all the time and am still hoping to figure out what the term "Crumbs" means. It's not something we use over on this side of the pond and you seem to use it as a curse word, a word to show a small amount and now and then in a context I can't figure out. I kept reading knowing there would be more clues about these "crumbs."

I'll just have to keep checking back in hopes of following the crumbs.

Best wishes!


Anonymous said...

For the record, Michael:

1) I looked up RSS and still don't know what it is. So I will continue to ck the GOB link on my website to ck for notes from you.
2) I didn't realize we were to ask something of you. While I'd like to think of something witty, all I can say is have a great day, Mate. I wish you the best. Keep us updated from time to time.
3) I won't miss you. Your wit and charm are tucked in my writer's heart all these thousands of miles away. So, it is hard to miss someone who has quite unexpectedly become a part of my life, and not apart from it.

Via con Dios from Arizona USA.


Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog every day even if I rarely comment. I also use Bloglines so I'll continue to enjoy reading however often you post. I seem to be either in a state of frantic blogging or burnout. Slowing down might be a better alternative. Your thoughts on the publishing industry have really been helpful. They made sense of what I was seeing but had not yet understood and having a realistic idea of what's truly going on in publishing actually makes it easier to keep writing without becoming angry and frustrated and ditching the endeavor entirely. So thanks for that.

Anonymous said...


I understand your decision 110%.

Thank you so much for your kindness in helping me find a larger audience for MY blog. You have been so very, very generous.

What makes me think you will be stunned by the newfound free time you will have now?

My very best wishes,


Anonymous said...

I've only recently found your blog but it rapidly became the one blog that I always read on a daily basis - so I'm very sorry to read that you're closing up shop - or at least suspending operations. I do, however, have the consolation that I have all your backlist to work through. Nevertheless I shall miss your sanely jaundiced view of the publishing world.
I shall never forget reading your masterly summation of the publishing industry (p. 132 The Truth About Writing)which confirmed a suspicion I had long held myself.
Now to investigate RSS feeds (I shall really miss all your links).
Enjoy your free time (although I suspect there won't be that much of it - something will come along to fill it up).
Thanks for a great blog.

Martin said...

One word doesn't come as easy as another: specifically, if you'd spent the past three years' blogging time writing fiction, then you would have produced far less than a million words.

I look forward to reading whatever you write in the future!

archer said...

We'll miss you. For a while. And then you'll be back. You'll try to leave again, and you'll be back again. After a few more cycles, you'll surrender. You won't even recall that once you dreamt of escape. Because that's the way it is. You're one of us now.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on finding a comfortable middle ground for yourself. I don't even know how long I've been following you, but it's been long enough for you to have become daily reading for me.

You've always shared a marvelous blend of humor, insight and controversy worthy of comment. You've made your own unforgettable works available works available to us for free.

I shall continue to click on you each morning--sorrry, but it's an ingrained habit. And, human nature being what it is, I suspect you will be back more frequently than you realize (I hope).

Anonymous said...

and lo, both 'Francis Ellen' and 'Iain' post long-winded comments at around the same time on the same day. Some things never change...

Lee said...

Thank you for everything, and best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Grumpy, thank you for all you've done. It has been a pleasure reading your blog. Enjoy those dangerous walks and whatever else you get yourself into.

This would be a good time for everyone to fill the void by reading all of your books.

Very best,

Anonymous said...

I knew this was going to be a rotten day.

Oh, go and enjoy yourself. Don't give us another thought...

(Thanks for absolutely everything, GOB.)

Madame Arcati said...

He'll be back ... there's an interview yet ....

Anonymous said...

You are going to be missed Grumpy.

I started about the same time you did, and find it highly addictive, and yes, it takes away from serious writing and marketing.


Zen of Writing said...

You will be missed, or perhaps "savored" is a better word.

Anonymous said...

You will be sorely missed! By many and esp by me.

Please feel free to guest blog over at my blog whenever you need a hit.

Anonymous said...

I've lurked for a while, so this is not good news at all. Yesterday I printed off both of your e-books and am half-way through The Truth about Writing. I'm enjoying it, of course. Thanks for taking the time.

Anonymous said...

Personally I'm glad he's gone, now maybe I can get some work done without having to read the hundreds of very worthwhile and knowledgable posts the endless bits of sound advice. Not to mention the encouraging emails.
Now I don't have to make this my first stop on the morning blog reads!
It's liberating in a "ah shit now what are we going to do" kinda way.

I will await your inconsistent posts with bated breath and believe me you don't want to be around me once my breath has been baited!

May your inkwell always be full and your quill never drip.Write well.

Anonymous said...

Sad news, grumpy. You will be missed. I am going to keep my bookmark and wait for a comeback.
Thank you for so many intriguing articles.


Kriti said...

I've read your blog for nearly 3 years.
The recurrent theme I've taken from it is keep writing if it matters to you.

Thank you so much for that message and the generosity of spirit that you've shown to writers.

I have hiccupped along and I'm still writing and that's largely your fault!

Good luck and don't go too far away please.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I will miss you.

Nicholas Clee said...

Thank you, Michael. I read your blog for professional reasons, and I shall miss the information; but I have found it tremendously entertaining too.

Having blogged for just three months, I can understand your decision. I still find this first job of the morning enjoyable and stimulating. I won't be stopping next week. I'm sure, though, that I'll arrive at a point when I'll want to cut back.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Thank god for RSS.

We'll miss the daily reckonings. It's been great and thanks for that. Don't stop entirely, though...and best of luck for the future, GOB.

Anonymous said...

It has all been extremely interesting and very rewarding for us, too. So good to know that it's not going to dry up altogether. Best wishes.

Kate Allan said...

You will be missed! But life goes on and I hope very much to see you at the RNA Award lunch in April.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for being a beacon to navigate this big old blogosphere by. I appreciate your work very much!

Peace and be well...

Phil Ribaudo

Anonymous said...

Since "Systematic failure and cores for concern", Monday, 28 August 2006, I have been - and still am - an addict to you, Grumpy.
Do enjoy your nearly blog-free life!

Anonymous said...

This blog is respectfully dedicated to geekz n sad ppl everywhere.

There are still some of us around, Grumpy

Anonymous said...

You're on my daily read too! None of that RSS stuff for me - I can't understand it either - I just drop in daily; it's like having a delicious coffee in the forecourt of a nice cafe with a good view on the passing world - publishing and books in this/your case.

And now comes the bombshell! But I hope that, as you say, it's less posts, as opposed to no more posts.

You've enlightened, educated and entertained so many of us along the way. I'm sure we all hope that while you seek a main road in other aspects of life, that this blog won't be a cul de sac either. Perhaps just an occasional lane walk for you instead? I certainly hope so.

I can't imagine you gone from here. You breath life into too much, GOB!

I hope you enjoy what you now choose to focus on and I wish you all the best. But I also still look forward to reading your posts whenever you make them.

An occasional diamond is an antidote for a lifetime of graphite.

Roger Morris said...

Your blog has been an act of extended generosity. Thank you for it. And for all the plugs!

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Your posts were a joy!
Perhaps if you think of your blog as having been a hazy diary, penning all of your energy and thoughts on books into it, then no, it wasn't time wasted and certainly not for the education it served to so many aspiring writers, authors and book enthusiasts along the way.
I wish you the very best and much happiness as you pursue other things. I recognise, it's time for a change. I'll definitely look out for you in Bloglines. :-)
take care.

Glynn James said...


What am i going to do now?

Words Worth Blogs! said...

Ah, hell. As other have said, I'll check back frequently. GOB was a daily joy. Thanks for your irreverence and insight.

Anonymous said...

But there ARE still going to be rumbles from the cellarage when the moon is full or the ire is up, aren't there, Grumpy? Please say it's not all over for ever! Sob.


Anonymous said...

One I do hope you continue to leave available on line is your "On the Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile," perhaps one of the most brilliant essays written on the dilemma faced by writers in the world of publishing. I still continue to suggest it as must reading to all with whom I come in contact.

S. Kearney said...

Hell! But I totally understand. I realised very early on in the piece that my writing blog could not be a daily thing ... I post every two or three days now. It seems people also need time to get around to reading the posts.
I'll never forget that you were the first person to spot and mention my blog, which instantly gave me a wider audience - wider than my cat and me, that is. Thank you for all your words, which have always been generous, intelligent and measured. I look forward to reading your "irregular" posts. :)
Good luck with the decorating.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Bookman, posting only two - or three - or four times a week is not the end of the world. I have notice in Late Life Crisis that I get more comments to a posting when I leave it up for three or four days. When a new piece is posted, the preceding posting gets very few comments.

But what I want ot say is that I am most impressed by the dliligence you have shown in maintaining your blog.

Anonymous said...

Another thanks. You're blog has been very useful, even though I'm relatively new to it. Best wishes and regards, -tgs-

Anonymous said...

Oh, man, who's gonna protect and defend me now? Nobody. G.

Anonymous said...

One whole week. sigh

Julia Buckley said...

Sorry to hear you're not going to be posting so much, but I can understand you probably need a break!

Your book landed on my doormat (from amazon) a few days ago, so I'll top up my GOB fix with that.

Thanks for your blog, I've already learned a lot from you - looking forward to learning more.


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Anonymous said...