The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Blogger’s block or worsening CFS?

Nearly 3 years, over 50,000 visits and more than 360 posts since I began blogging, I find I’m struggling more than I ever have to write something worth reading.

I must admit I don’t visit as many blogs as frequently, the number of visitors to my ramblings has halved over the past year and several of my favourite bloggers have either stopped, become very sporadic or are on some kind of indefinite sabbatical.

Blogging is a strange activity. We begin with some idea of what we want out of it – perhaps to practice our writing skills, meet new people, dream of being discovered and offered a book deal, but then it becomes all too easy to fall into chit-chat between pals.

There’s no doubt I’ve made some extraordinarily wonderful friends and for them it becomes easy to write, “My son’s doing this, my wife’s doing that, isn’t the weather grim for the time of year, did you see that programme on TV last night…” etc. But it’s not the way I like to blog.

What I really love is to find a story, a conversation snippet, a window, a snapshot, a chuckle, a sudden moment of insight into the human condition. In other words, some kind of pay off for the reader.

I don’t take it for granted anyone reads this blog, in fact I can feel pitifully grateful. So if anyone is prepared to invest the time in reading what I have written, I feel they deserve at least some kind of reward for having done so. Otherwise I’ve just wasted several moments of their life.

Without doubt the bloggers I return to again and again, the ones I visit every day desperately hoping there’s something more from them, are the storytellers – Mary, Restaurant Gal, Sam, Pat and the like. When I read them I feel I have gained from doing so.

And this is what I aspire to do with these Ramblings.

But whether I’m blogged out or, as I suspect is more likely, with the CFS getting steadily worse my mind isn’t always as clear as it was, I’m aware it’s increasingly difficult to find the story, the insight, the payoff to create worthwhile blog posts.

Even this post, I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to get across. Is it an apology or an explanation for why the quantity and perhaps quality of my posts is faltering (in which case, so much for the old adage never explain, never apologise)? But to whom? If it is for the reader, then this too is just chit-chat.

Upon reflection, this one’s just for me. I feel the need to write down what’s happening to me, whether anyone reads it or not.


debra said...

I sometimes think that blogging is a way to put thoughts on (cyber)paper and the responses reflect back to us---kind of providing food for thought. I like blogging, and I certain like to read what others have written. The time involved is an issue for me at times--especially when my energy is low.
I wish you well

Sayre said...

If you took a break, would you miss it? Perhaps you need to recharge your brain cells just as much as your body and NEED a break.

I feel that way at times. I sit down in front of the computer and just... nothing. I don't visit as much; I don't write as much, but I find that I miss being here if I leave it for too long.

I'm amazed when people come to visit. My blog is a record for my son - sometimes involving other bloggers who make me remember things with their memes or think somewhat profound thoughts with their challenges. But mostly it's for him - so he'll know who I was, who we were, and what was happening as he grew up. There is no such record for most of our family and I feel that loss most keenly. So whether I feel like it or not, I sit down every couple of days and write for him. (This would not be the weightloss blog, but the "main" blog at SayreSmiles.)

Think about why. That may hold the key for you.

Carole said...

I love your blog, short or long, sporadic or frequent, pictures or words. Hope you continue. Your very tiniest thoughts are wiser than most of my brows-furrowed thinking so I say, keep blogging when you can.

Eryl Shields said...

So you're a nosy bugger then!

Just keep writing what you want to write, even if sometimes that is nothing, there are plenty of us who won't desert you.

Kanani said...

There are times when there's something I really want to say or share, and then.. well... quieter times when frankly, I feel like giving my blog a pitch!

I find blogging is sort of an odd therapy. Gives me a chance in the day to share and say things that otherwise might go unexplored.

Canadian Girl said...

Whether you write humour, chit chat or intellectually weighty posts, I'll still return to read.

Fat Lazy Guy said...

I'll read pretty much anything you write, man. Perhaps you could continue that plant blog you made for a laugh :D

Christina said...

I am still reading - I just have you on my google reader, and there is no automatic way of leavng comments fr that reader.... And I am a lazy a*s and therefore I don't click over ...

But I am still reading ;-)

Restaurant Gal said...

Just when I despair that I have nothing left to say, just when it has been days and days since the muse has even tapped on my shoulder, much less spoken, life unfolds before me in an uncanny way. It is then that I can't wait to get to my computer and tell it all. Thank you for your complimentary words about my writing. Please, allow room on your blog for the dry spells, because when next it rains, I promise, it will pour forth inspiration.

Brave Astronaut said...

Inspiration comes where we look for it. I, like you, was unaware of where my blogging would lead. I have sort of pigeon-holed myself into my Recipe Mondays, my now Presidential Tuesdays (maybe I will do British PMs when I get done) and then a few other posts in the course of a week.

I don't always feel that I am being all that original some days, I sometimes find myself relating some event and then giving my perspective on it. I think much of it has to do with the lives that we lead. One has to have priorities.

You do what you need to do. We'll be here. But I'll keep reading and visiting. Besides, you don't want the bamboo in your office to have all the fun, do you?

Kim Ayres said...

Debra - I find it's easy enough to scribble thoughts, the challenge is in making them of interest to anyone else

Sayre - I have gone several days without attempting to blog before now, but could I go several days without going online or near the computer? Hmmm, that would be challenging...

Carole - I don't intend to stop blogging altogether, I'm just aware that I'm finding it increasingly difficult to write the kind of posts I like to write. It's like my brain is steadily slowing down, which is more than a little scary if I'm honest.

Eryl - I've always been a nosy bugger, although it was called being inquisitive ;)

Kanani - there are many different reasons to blog, and venting, or exploring thoughts are as valid as any other. When I began this blog my primary aim was to improve my writing and storytelling and that's been at the heart of most posts. Benficial side effects have included meeting wonderful people such as yourself, so I like to chat more in the comments

Canadian Girl - I'm sure if I descend into teenage txt-speek your visits would drop off ;)

FLG - the bamboo's been in a grump for a week or two. I think it was hoping to be sold along with Maggie's artwork to a more considerate owner...

Christina - I'm still reading you too, although I know I don't comment much. I always love your photos of Vince :)

RG - maybe it's time to pull you over for another guest post...

Brave Astronaut - As I mentioned to FLG above, I don't think I'm in the Bamboo's good books lately

Mary Witzl said...

Wow, am I thrilled to have made that list! All I do is blither on -- does that really make me a storyteller?

I started my blog mainly to give myself a means of productive procrastination, though partly also because I hoped an agent looking at one of my manuscripts might find my blog and realize I could keep that text coming, if so required. The problem for me is that blogging is too good a distraction.

And I absolutely love chit chat...

Like so many others, I enjoy your philosophical posts and I will keep coming to visit whatever you write. If the writing is good, it doesn't really matter what the content is about.

Stinkypaw said...

I know that feeling and sometimes it also feels good to write just for us.
Do what you need to do. I'll still come around. :-)

savannah said...

the most wonderful thing about your blog, sugar, is that i hear your voice as i read the words! so, as i said to another blogger (in comments) , i'd read your grocery list if you posted it! ;-) seriously, do what you need to do, but i will always check in! xoxox

PI said...

Kim: don't be so hard on your self. We can't all vomit diamonds everyday but personally I enjoy reading minutiae of daily life if it is someone I care about and it's a pleasant background to when the jewels spill forth.
Caviare everyday would be too much; we need some good wholegrain bread betwixt. Something tells me it's lunch time.
BTW I find sometimes when I have written something particularly inane there will be a lively exchange whereas if I write about something I feel passionately about - Flo Nightingale in yesterday's post - I can hear the yawns:)

michael greenwell said...

as ever, orwell put this rather well..

why i write (1947)

1. Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen -- in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all -- and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money .
2. Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
3. Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
4. Political purpose -- using the word "political" in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples' idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

Mary Witzl said...

I'm indebted to Orwell; I fit into every category there -- even that bit about typography and width of margins makes sense to me.

I love the phrase 'smothered under drudgery.' I know how that feels.

Kanani said...

Well I have an idea.
Why don't we all agree to take a few weeks off this summer?

Seriously... why not? A holiday? We could all come back at the same time. Now wouldn't that be fun? Sort of a holiday without one another?

Or if the timing doesn't work, we could do like we do at work. You could be Easy-Writer and post as me, I'll take over Mary's blog. Eryl could do Carol for awhile, and Pat could fill in for you.

How 'bout it?

karatemom said...

Just to let you know..I read..sometimes I comment sometimes I don't. I know I would miss you if you weren't blogging though , that is for sure. ( hope that helps ).

Sini said...

I check your blog everyday to see if you have updated..


Kim Ayres said...

Mary - you don't just blether on, you construct your writing such that even someone who doesn't know you is able to enjoy your post - the story is always well constructed and fun to read. That's quite rare :)

Stinkypaw - thank you :)

Savannah - hmmm, grocery list... I'll have a think about that one

Pat - well that's certainly true - some of my finest crafted blog posts have barely raised a twitter, yet a throw-away comment can create a hive of activity.

Michael - that is superb, thank you very much for posting it

Mary - yup, I fit every category too

Kanani - there does sound something fun in that idea. Perhaps we should set up a day when we all do a post for the next person on the list... hmmm, with think about this...

Karatemom - thank you :)

Sini - I seem to be having a problem accessing your site at the moment. For the past few days it's been refusing to load. Is anything wrong?

Foot Eater said...

I know what you mean, Kim. I got so fed up with visiting my own blog day after day and finding no new posts that I stopped.

Dr Maroon said...

since it was for you, I didn't read it.

Writing something worth reading? surely that should be something worth writing.

just type out any old shite and we'll do the critique. It'll be great.

michael greenwell said...

no problem

read the entire essay...

Kim Ayres said...

Foot Eater - is the fact that you only post these days when Dr Maroon does a deliberate attempt to create identity confusion?

Dr Maroon - ah, well if I knew you'd critique it I might just expand on my any old shite range. Are you back for a while now or is this just another flying visit?

Michael - that's great, thank you :)

Dr Maroon said...

I'm connected mate. I've got a dongo.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I've just linked you so you've got to carry on. Pin a picture of Hillary Clinton over your computer.

I think I'm going to start a Ph.D thesis on "Blogging and Depression". Does one cause the other? Or is the first free voluntary therapy for the second?

Anyway I'm going to be reading you regularly now young man, so make sure your shoes are shiny.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,
Long time reader; first time commenter.

Daphne Wayne-Bough’s observations have given me food for thought. I’ve suffered mild bouts of depression for years but have discovered that they usually dissipate after a few days if I become involved with something else and am able to move beyond the morass of overwhelming and somewhat confusing emotions.

However, I’ve noticed that since I’ve been blogging, I’ve been plagued with states of low spirits more frequently. Perhaps bloggers tend to be more introspective than the “average Joe” and are more susceptible to feelings of dejection and hopelessness. Do you think we’re own worst enemies?

Please continue to post if you can…you’re a breath of fresh air in the sometimes stuffy atmosphere of cyberspace.

The Hangar Queen said...

Just about eveyone I 'know' in blogland hits the odd plateau every now and again.There are as many reasons for this as there are blogs and I've hit more than a few myself.Some things to consider.
1.This is your creation.You own it,shape it,revamp it if/as needed.You don't work to its, or anyone else's ,schedule.

2.Has it veered off course? By that I mean did you start this with any goals/intentions or are you content with the direction it meanders in? Nothing wrong with that of course but if you had a plan and it turned into something else I can see how that could get annoying.

3.You are allowed to take a break you know :) Stepping back is a great way to gain perspective after all.It's your creation and it will be there when/if you come back to it.

4.Kind of similar to the previous one.Just have a peek at the vast majority of blogs.Then come back and look at what YOU have done and listen to your friends(for that is what we are)here.You could recite toothpaste ingredients and we would flock to you.

I find myself at my own crossroads and I have been giving some thought to ending HQ.It began as an option to suicide and turned into a celebration of life's victory instead.Those are the beginning and end points though.It's the journey that matters.It's the VERY thing and I think the best is yet to come...for both of us.

Anonymous said...

What I find disheartening is when I post a “happy-happy” blog, I’ll receive a few comments of similar nature. However, if I DARE to write about something meaningful and worthwhile (in my never-so-humble-opinion) regarding the horrendous war in the Middle East, the tanking economy (I’m in the U.S.) or anything that isn’t “sunshine and roses”, there are no comments or a couple of insubstantial, flimsy retorts that have no relevance whatsoever to what I wrote about. So, I find myself in a dilemma: do I write asinine, fluff that leaves me cold and smelling like three day old fish left out in the sun or do I write about things that are of consequence and meaning to me and have the blog sit there like a turd in a punchbowl?

I’ve quit blogging more times than Barbra Streisand has retired from show business, but keep returning for more abuse. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

Keep On Truckin’

Kim Ayres said...

Dr Maroon - now you're just making me jealous

Daphne - I think Depressives are drawn to blogging because it gives us a place to comment about our perspective on the world without friends and family just saying, "for gods sake, just snap out of it and pull yourself together. Go and have a brisk walk or something and stop moaning about it..." (although Dr Maroon is generally more than happy to fill that role here in Kim's World)

And I'm honoured by your link and have returned it :)

Anonymous 1 - thanks for poking your head out of the undergrowth and commenting. Next time, please leave a name so I can distinguish you from other anonymous commenters :)

If your own depressive bouts are getting worse, it is probably worth checking with the doctor. Unless it is actually dealt with, depression rarely cures itself

Hangar Queen - I appreciate your thoughts on this. Ultimately, though, what I'm aware of is that my mind is slowing down. I think it's less to do with blogger's block and more to do with the CFS getting worse and this actually frightens me a bit.

Meanwhile, I hope you don't stop blogging, but just allow it to evolve. There's still a great deal of story left in you, Devin :)

Anonymous 2 - thank you for taking the time to comment. Like I mentioned to the other anonymous commenter above, could you leave a name next time, so I know which Anon is which? Thanks :)

As for the comments diverstity you write of, I realised a while back that unless you specifically state you are up for debate and welcome an online argument, most commenters don't like to disagree with the blogger. So if you write something people don't agree with they are more likely to say nothing than challenge you.

But remember you are writing for you. If you want to scream at the world, and writing light and fluffy leaves you cold, then scream at the world and avoid the light and fluffy. Who are you trying to please?

problemchildbride said...

CFS really sounds like a right bugger of a thing. I'm so sorry you've been lumped with it. Don't resign yourself to having your brain slow down though. Brains are bouncy - they can rebound pretty amazingly and most of the time they do. The waiting's the hard, discouraging part - bloody-minded old Life is a geezer who deserves a good whack in the chops.

I agree with those who say just write whatever you feel like. This is your blog and the beauty of having your own blog is getting to put whatever you damn well like there. It's your's, your whim, your fancy, your rant and rave, your up days, your down days. Whatever you feel like.

I think the bloggers who run the gamut of all these things above are very often the ones you end up being most fond of and I definitely number you as a blogger I'm exceedingly fond of. You are a very interesting man with a headful of ideas and I've delighted many times in reading them.

Blog what you like, Kim. Unless you confess to a heinous crime or liking Rick Astley, I'll be visiting you still.

Kim Ayres said...

Sam - the only one to notice, or at least comment on, my brain slowing down being my bigger fear. You caress the soul with your insights and words.

Fortunately I hold Rick Astley in as much esteem as seagulls

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