Friday, November 10, 2006

Blog changes imminent...

Blogging has continued to be intermittent here for a couple of months - but all that is (probably) set to change. As from 17th November, I will be full-time freelance after three solid years working day-in, day-out producing lovely glossy history and travel magazines aimed largely at Americans planning to visit Britain. My final issue, on which I was Acting Editor, should be on the shelves in larger branches of WH Smith and Borders now, and in good bookshops and news agents in the US and Canada in a month's time.

Naturally enough, I have a lot to get sorted to ensure a smooth transition from office to home-based working. Plenty of projects lined up - from the BBC through to some agency writing, plus a spot of online content consultation - means I'll be OK financially, but taxes, portfolios, and a few longer-term cunning business plans have yet to be finalised.

One of the other things I need to sort out is the future direction of this blog, and what its purpose is. Much like Gary of the soon to be defunct Coffee and PC, I've increasingly come to think that "There's 101 blogs out there that write about similar topics... Why post night after night if you're just posting for the sake of it? A prolific blogger with nothing to say is just that. Why are you writing?"

This place started off as a way for me to teach myself more about European politics and train myself to write every day without fail. The former partially worked (though there are still huge gaps in my knowledge and understanding), the latter is more than sorted - and utterly unnecessary now that I am, on average, churning out between 500 and 1,000 words every day that I'm (mostly) getting paid for.

Over the last couple of years, I've shifted far more towards writing about British politics - largely because it was easier and meant reading less French. Now I'm bored out of my mind with the whole shebang. Every week, it's the same old stories - Blair/Brown, ID cards, sucking up to the US, immigration, the imminent collapse of the NHS, civil liberties, blah blah blah. Considering that I approach all of these from a loosely "liberal" perspective, my opinions almost always tally pretty much perfectly with at least a dozen or so other Britbloggers, all of whom will these days normally have posted before I can find the time to.

So - what to do with this place? Well, my thinking is this:

1) Scale back on UK politics coverage, and stop the lazy, obvious posts pointing out that the illiberal policies of the current government are, erm... illiberal - they've been done to death, and there's little new that can constructively be said unless you're prepared to do some serious, in-depth research of the kind in which Spyblog and Unity excel.

2) Try to cover a bit more European politics again - largely to boost my shaky knowledge of the domestic affairs of our dear EU neighbours. Because without knowing the domestic political situation of each member state, undertanding their attitudes in Brussels is well nigh impossible. Where possible/relevant, show how these may impact on the UK.

3) Try and write more interestingly, for a change. Blogging is - again, as Gary pointed out in his valedictory post - not supposed to be a chore. It's meant to be done for fun, for the love of it. Why rattle off poorly-written drivel when you can experiment a bit with the words, and use the English language - one of the most versatile and subtle in the world - in more interesting ways? It's down to either inability or laziness. And considering I make my living from working with words, I'd better hope it's not the former in my case...

In other words, this place is likely to have a bit of a relaunch at some point in the next month or so. I may even shift to a new address, as I'm increasingly fed up with Blogger and have been using Wordpress for other projects for about 18 months now. Hopefully, the end result will be that I get back to the more interesting, more worthwhile kind of writing that I was doing a year or more back - when this place was getting around ten times the visitors it attracts now.

With any luck, this will be the last boring post I'll write for a bit. From here on out, if I haven't got anything interesting to say, I'll keep my virtual mouth well and truly shut. Promise. (Probably.)

6 Comments:

Anonymous Jawbox said...

I suspect this is becoming a more widespread problem for broadly left/liberty-minded bloggers; as you say, the common topics have been done to death, and repeated blogging about them is both pointless and dull.

In my case, the problem is trying to combine blogging of some substance with doing A-levels. I'm increasingly finding that it simply doesn't work; this will inevitably get worse as the next set of exams approach. Ultimately, even if I did have the time to spare on a regular basis I still find myself with very little to write about. Which is disappointing.

Gary's pretty much right; bloggers shouldn't force themselves to write things for the hell of it. I like your ideas for this blog, but am seriously wondering how valid mine will be in the next year or so.

/disappointment with life and the way of things

11/10/2006 01:44:00 pm  
Blogger AnotherToby said...

Personally, I'd love you to go back to the European side of things. It was why I read your blog to begin with and, although I enjoy your UK politics stuff, your blog was telling me more about Europe that Europe was letting known, and helped me towards a much greater understanding of what was going on...

11/10/2006 05:02:00 pm  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

I also think you should stick to the European issues. As you say, there are plenty of blogs concentrating on UK and/or US politics (mine included). Fewer blogs, however deal with the EU and its incredibly complicated (to me anyway)systems. A blog that makes the EU a bit more understandable without either praising it to the skies or utterly condemning it would be a useful asset for interested readers.

Congratulations on your other projects and on becoming freelance.

11/11/2006 08:56:00 am  
Anonymous Longrider said...

Although I try to write regularly, if there is nothing to inspire me, I'll not force the matter. Usually something triggers my interest after a lapse of a day or two.

My advice, for what it's worth; go with the flow. Do what you want to do.

11/12/2006 09:59:00 am  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

"Why rattle off poorly-written drivel when you can experiment a bit with the words…"

Oh, I don't know: poorly-written drivel works for me…!

I look forward to you resuming your output (assuming that you do, of course) and I'll be happy to cross foils with you on European issues (and who knows, even agree or -- better -- learn something from you!)…

DK

11/13/2006 12:24:00 pm  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

I hear all that. Looking forward to your experimental new direction then. I hope you'll keep up the Euro-stuff though - you've definitely carved out a niche for yourslef there - and you can always use the Sharpener if you want to do something new here.

11/18/2006 04:46:00 pm  

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