This Blog began ten years ago yesterday . There are older posts because I imported book related posts from Kevin Holtsberry Dot Com but for original content it all started ten years ago.
Kinda wild to think about that.
I will admit that I have been tempted to quit many times and these days I often struggle with whether it is still worth it. I still read a lot and would like to think I am still engaged with the world of ideas. But with two young kids, a full-time job, a habit of watching lots of football, and the distractions of social media (and, you know, reading books) I find it hard to find the time and focus for well written reviews.
The biggest change over the years is probably in my online reading and its impact on my blogging. When I started I read “lit” blogs regularly and engaged with the writers. It felt like a community (the “about” page covers this some). It was a little odd, as the vast majority of those bloggers were liberal and with a very different perspective from my own. But in many ways the love of books and reading meant there was a common language and interest. When I look back at those early years, I enjoyed the ability to interact with other writers, and authors, about books, ideas, literature, culture and more. Now, I read a smattering of blogs covering politics, culture, theology, sports but like most people come to these views links on social media. That sense of being part of a larger community is gone.
This relates to the other big change: the rise of micro-blogging and social media. When I started blogging, it was a way to offer your thoughts to the world. I started blogging in 2011 (archive here) and it was just a platform for opinion and engagement with ideas (the original name was Ideas, etc.) on a wide variety of topics (politics, faith, sports, culture, and whatever else I felt compelled to opine on). It really did have a day-in-the-life diary feeling with op-ed or news and notes type content mixed in.
These two played a role in undermining my blogging. The growth of blogging and online writing both made the blogging community harder to get your hands around but also undermined my sense of having something to say. I started CM to find an outlet for writing that didn’t focus on politics but as my life became busier and as book blogging took off I felt I had less to add somehow. I was never particularly plugged into publishing or the literary world so curating links and news wasn’t really something I could do well. Quality over quantity was always the game plan but life, and a lack of discipline or drive, just seemed to undercut that approach. Add in the instant nature of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. and you have a lot less traditional blogging.
It is hard to judge your own writing output over ten years but if I had to offer a judgement I would say that I have been inconsistent but persistent. I think some of my reviews and posts hold up quite well over time and I interviewed some interesting authors; and felt like I was able to ask some good questions and produce some quality content. On the flip side, I will freely admit that at times my reviews were not all that deep; consisting mostly of a plot recap and a few paragraphs about why I liked or disliked the book. It has morphed into more of a reading log than a literary site.
But hey, there are over 2,800 posts here at CM (with 2,275 of those authored by me) so that is worth something. And to post semi-regularly for ten years shows at the very least a marked determination.
The thing that keeps me at it is a sense that all that history is worth something and a squeamishness about quitting. Oh, and the free books. It still amazes me that publishers (well, some publishers) will give me review copies simply for offering my opinions. Along with the opportunity to connect with authors, that has been the most enchanting thing about this blog.
So thank you to those of you who have continued to read CM over the years (and to those readers who drop in from search engines). And thanks to the authors, publishers and publicists who have enabled me to read so many great books and feel connected to the world of literature, publishing and ideas. It has been a wild ten years.