Three Years

This blog turns three years old today—it started as a new year’s resolution I made in 2008, and it’s the only one I’ve kept for so long. In all the time I’ve been blogging I’ve heard background chatter that blogging is a dying if not dead medium; the most popular blogs now look more like websites for mass-media properties, and a lot of what would fit best on a blog a few years ago now gets Tweeted or Tumblr’d. It may say something about our culture that we talk often about how books matter less and less, while we sign up for tools that offer subtle gradations of saying things briefly.

But the book still lives, as an idea if not always as a business proposition. And as for blogging, well, I’m stubborn, through the baby fog and all the rest, for the same reasons I gave last year. Blogging makes me a better reader, and though I do Tweet and (very rarely) use Tumblr, only here can I work out the kind of thoughts I can’t compress into 140 characters but which aren’t quite ready for prime time (i.e., a published review). I blog less than I used to, but, I think, with more of a purpose now: Though I swore to myself when I started blogging that I wouldn’t write what would formally qualify as a “review” here, these days I’m more interested in expanding on ideas contained in individual books or stories, either riffing on something I’ve written for print or exploring ideas that would be hard for me to summarize in a 600-word assignment. If I’m disappointed at how much word counts have diminished since I began writing book reviews for publication (oh, jeez) 15 years ago, I can’t complain that I lack the space to say what I’m thinking about. Here, the only limitations are available time and, perhaps, a good editor, still one of the benefits of writing for publication.

But if I don’t have a backstop, I’m not doing this entirely alone. The comments, email exchanges, and personal conversations I’ve had as a result of this blog have been profoundly important to me, and that in itself is a reason to keep doing this. As always, thanks for reading.

11 responses to “Three Years

  1. Happy three-year anniversary. Your blog is a gift. Thank you.

  2. One of the most thoughtful lit blogs out there. Thanks.

  3. Three years already? I’m a Jan 08 new year’s resolution blogging baby as well, and it has been an interesting road. Please keep up your highly enjoyable work, which so many of us have taken great pleasure in following. Happy new year, and happy anniversary.

  4. Happy three year anniversarry Mark! I recently found out about your blog and have been reading it regulalry… Keep it up!

  5. I heard about your blog a couple years ago via Readerville and am glad I did. I always feel comforted after coming here and finding another post full of good writing and good thinking.

  6. We are all lucky you kept that resolution.

  7. Congratulations on three years. I’ve been reading along for about half of that.

    I don’t know if blogs are “dying” or not, but I have a theory — probably articulated better by someone else somewhere else — that the best blogs have gone in the opposite direction than most people predicted in that they enable more deliberation and care than we tend to give the internet credit for. Originally, blogs were supposed to indulge our sonic-speed low-attention impulses, but I think they’ve turned out to revive our old inclinations “to essay” — to try and put forth. My favorite blogs end up having longer posts than the conventional wisdom (and the web copywriter’s rulebook) says we are supposed to be able to tolerate. They do what you’re describing above — discussing books rather than reviewing them, often at a surprising length.

  8. Many happy returns, Mark. American Fiction Notes is nearly out of diapers!

  9. Happy blogoversary! I’ve been blogging since late 2007 and last year I only wrote half as many posts. Some of it was lack of time, some of it was spending more time on Twitter. If you don’t get a lot of comments blogging can be a solitary activity. Whereas Twitter is a running conversation with people who share your interests. I still enjoy blogging but I’ve come to realize that being able to write as much as you want is both a blessing and a curse. Anyway, I’m keeping it up and glad you are, too.

  10. Mark, obviously it’s in my best interests to believe that the blog is not dead—it doesn’t even smell funny—but even more than that, yours is always an inspiration to me. Blog on, and happy anniversary.

  11. Congratulations! And keep going…. I always turn to your blog knowing I’ll read informed, and in-depth literary criticism, of a calibre rarely found elsewhere. Saves me time too! I often just link to your wisdom directly from my blog… makes me feel smart through association…

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