Despite what it may look like, the blog has been on my mind quite a bit over the past several months. I still have a lot of things I want to write about, but as these things tend to do, the blog took on a life of its own after I started it. One of the reasons I haven't written anything here is that there's sort of two kinds of things I've written here over time that have become less and less compatible for the same space, due to a number of events. The first is the sort of news/extended commentary/urban design kind of post, like the Two-Way Love series, or comments on world events, or general notes on Durham stuff, while the second is the more personal rumination on mental health, rants about food, religion, O Holy Night, and all that kind of stuff.
This has caused a kind of writer's paralysis in me, that's left me to neglect the blog in a way that I'm really kind of bummed about. There's a number of things that contribute to this. First off, I got the feeling that the majority of my readership was here for the first kind of post, and when my blog was more active, I felt much more a part of the burgeoning local Durham blogosphere, getting shout-outs from City Council members from the dias about my work, getting links from Kevin, Barry, Joe, Phil, Durham Bull Pen, and others, poking the hornet's nest that was the "Liestoppers" crowd (a sure fire way to drive my page views through the roof), and all that. And speaking of page views, I discovered the strong temptation to get hypnotized by Google Analytics, needing a spike in the little line graph to validate what I had to say, and finding myself trying to do tailor what I was writing to that graph.
In the middle of all of this, I've had my primary role in Durham community affairs and politics change rather abruptly. When I started this, I saw myself as somewhat of a local gadfly -- I'd introduce myself to elected officials as a "local pain in the ass, um, I mean, activist." Without really meaning to, I've found myself as president of the board of a rather ambitious project, meaning that I now have a public face far beyond that of a blogger and guy-who-shows-up-at-government-meetings-to-rant. I have to watch what I say a little bit more, because at some level that reflects on DCM. And, beyond that, whereas the energy that sprung from wanting to "make Durham better" or whatever now gets channeled into thinking about ways to sell more shares, rather than thinking about how the roads should be re-aligned.
The only real inspirations I've had to write in the past six months have been items that, quite frankly, the "local Durham activist" readership probably doesn't care much about -- things that fall into that second category. Furthermore, Kevin has essentially invited me to submit stories to BCR about any local news items, where they're guaranteed to be read by about ten times as many people as if I just drop them here. And yes, while at some level, this blog is for me, if I'm writing from the perspective of an activist, I do want someone to read it. Still, I've had enough people who I know more through my avocations in local stuff than at a personal level tell me they read my blog that it's essentially scared me off from posting more personal stuff here.
I think ideally, I always wanted to emulate Andrew Sullivan, who somehow manages to interleave posts about religion, HIV, his husband, his dogs, and his thing for beards with posts about Iraq, marijuana legalization, new media, and his brand of conservatism without it seeming incongruous at all. Alas, I think I'm giving up on that. I don't think I can do it. At the very least, I need to put out this post as a waymarker making it clear what I'm trying to do here and what I'm not trying to do. For several months now, I contemplated writing a post called "The End," essentially wrapping up The Bull in Full as a blog, slotting all of my local issues stuff over to Bull City Rising, and going and starting a LiveJournal or something and only telling my friends about it for the other stuff. I still may do that, but the fact that I haven't done that suggests that either it's more trouble than I'm willing to put into it, or that it seems to interrupt the conversation in the middle (despite the fact that that conversation has been pretty damned silent for a while).
Perhaps what's kicked me to write this is that a friend recently started writing on Facebook about a lot of personal issues, leading me to pass her a link to the "Celexa" topic here. She thanked me for the post, and asked me how the story ended, and said, "I can't find any of the new posts on your blog!" (Um, that's because there haven't been any... ) It was a reminder that even if I'm not writing anything new, an awful lot of personal thoughts are sitting out here on the internet, waiting for anyone to come along and read them, with my name splattered all over them. I can yank that back, or I can just get over it and enjoy the anxiety release that comes from putting these things out in the open. Very simply, I want this blog back as a place that I can write about personal stuff. It's either that or shutting it down, and I think the experience last week with my friend convinced me that I don't want to shut it down.
Still, if I'm going to do that, I feel like it's important to lay down a mile marker. I was never sure how people found their way to the blog, and I don't know how many people have me plugged into to automatic readers, RSS feeds, or who's linking to me. So here's the deal: there's going to be some personal stuff coming out here. No horrible, dark secrets, but stuff that may bore those who read for more local news stuff. In fact, there's likely going to be a lot less of the local news stuff here for a while, at least until I do a big blog re-structuring, at which point, there's likely to be another meta-post about it. If you're linking to me as a local news commentator, it's probably not worth linking to me anymore, because I'm not likely to put up a lot about that.
This may seem overly apologetic, but what can I say, I find that apologies like that sometimes help me write more freely. And, in the end, this is my blog, and if I can't write what I want, what's the point?