Blah, Blah, Blah, Blog On…Why I Quit Blogging Part 2

I couldn’t give a shit about your blog. I’d say it’s nothing personal, but in truth that’s exactly what it is, because your blog is you, your life, your innermost thoughts, out there, in the public domain. I should admire your courage, your openness and honesty. Your brutal truth. Your disarming humility, your humanity. The fact you’re so willing to open up and reveal your insecurities, the mechanisms of your daily existence. You’re real, you’re normal: we’re all insecure, we all eat, sleep, dream. I almost feel as though I know you, as if I’m living your life with you, like I’m there, a part of you and your life, your beautiful, brilliant, ordinary life, where I’m sharing your dreams and hopes, your knock-backs, disappointments and failures, the long, hard hours you put into your work, your family, your writing, your emotional release.

 

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Do as the sign says and love yourself a bit more

 

And therein lies the problem. We all do exactly the same, fundamentally, and it’s no secret as to what it is to be human. Get a fucking grip. you’re not special.

Half the people who have blogs harbour ambitions of being a writer. Stop telling me about how you’re so engrossed in mapping the plot, how you’re starting to live and breathe the characters, your creations, your babies and get on and write it. The endless hours spent writing blog posts about your writing process could be spent actually writing something. But then, so could the hours spent arranging flowers (and posting pretty pictures of your arrangements on your blog), baking (and posting semi-pro shots of your magnificent cakes and mouthwatering confectionary), taking coffee with friends, making – and photographing – endless pots of speciality teas in your humble, small but tasteful cottage kitchen. So you like Earl Grey, love brownies and hate confrontation but more than anything you want to write that book and see it published.

 

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So many blogs, so little time

Me, I like to keep quiet about my personal life, what I get up to. No-one gives a fuck that I suffer chronic insomnia, woke up at 4:30am in a state of panic and drenched in sweat as I wondered how I’m going to pay he next electricity bill and the rent while reeling amidst tumultuous thoughts whereby my abject failure both as an artist and a human being scream at me until the dawn breaks.

No-one cares that I stumbled downstairs in my dressing gown at half past six with a raging hangover, crazed and delirious from a fitful sleep punctuated by nightmares to make a cup of tea – no-brand with semi-skimmed milk from Asda, five days out of date and on the turn – that went cold while I emptied my bowels, a lose movement with a small trace of blood, before hauling my sorry arse into the spare room where the computer – hopelessly out-of-date and only semi-functional – sits and attempt to hack out some words. You don’t need to know how I pissed away my day in isolation, fielding phone calls from my mother and three different offshore sales departments. How I cooked a bland meal of pasty oven chips and a tepid frozen pizza before vegetating on the sofa in front of some brainrot ‘reality’ TV because there’s nothing else on on a Saturday night. No, you just don’t want to know.

Better just get on with it.

 

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You don’t have to have anything (important) to say to blog about it.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Get Over Brit! Or, Why I Quit Blogging

Time was when I would leap to the keyboard every time something in the news or in the mass media irritated me, and vent to the world through one blog outlet or another. Nowadays, not so much. In fact, my blog’s been pretty low on new content recently, and I’ve been concerned that this, in turn, is likely to impact on my overall profile, inasmuch as kicking out content is key to the art of self-promotion, which is vital when it comes to things like selling books (because yes, I write books. Music reviewing is, believe it or not, just a sideline).

So what’s changed? Has everything in the world turned a lovely rosey hue, whereby all is good and everything’s fine and I’m content with my lot? Far from it. In fact, the opposite is true, and that’s precisely why my blogging has tailed off. There simply isn’t the time to blog about everything that gets my goat, that grinds my gears. Moreover, while I love to rant, and it seems people enjoy reading rants more than the occasional positive piece I’ve posted (who wants a good news story? Put simply, many people are only happy when they’re unhappy), I simply found it was wearing me down.

The majority of my most ire-fuelled articles have focused on the vapidness of mainstream celebrity culture, corporate crap and advertising – which often go hand in hand when it comes to where the movements of money are concerned: they’re all integral parts of the capitalist equation in the 21st Century. It was while watching a few minutes of the BBC News Channel that crystallised precisely why I stopped blogging. The newscaster briefly mentioned the Brit Awards and reeled off a handful of winners announced at that point, with the promise that there would be more on the Brits later.

 

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The Brits: Corporate-sponsored self-congratulatory bollocks

 

The Brit Awards aren’t news and I couldn’t have cared less about who’d won one. I found myself wondering just how many people outside the mainstream music industry give a shit about the Brits. Reading a headline in The Metro over someone’s shoulder a few days later about the TV viewing figures for the awards, it would appear the answer is very few. Or, more to the point, people are more interested in exchanging opinion about such events on-line than in the actual events themselves.

 

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Who? More to the point, who gives a fuck? Critics’ Choice nominees, apparently. No, I didn’t get to nominate or vote.

 

I should perhaps also mention at this juncture that I used to skim The Metro on the way to work: not having the time to immerse myself in in-depth news reportage but wanting to keep abreast of current affairs, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. But having concluded that the majority of the ‘news’ in the paper was out of date, sensationalist, or otherwise fluff and outright drivel, I prefer to read a novel while in transit these days. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in current affairs: I’m simply of the opinion that most mainstream news media aren’t covering much of what’s important, and there has to be more happening than political bickering, the continued rumblings of the phone hacking ‘scandal’, allegations about DJs and soap stars with wandering hands and floods. Equally, flippant, punny headlines and tabloid trash about ‘celebrity’ nonentities say nothing to me about my life and convey nothing of real importance.

 

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Pundemoneum, sensationalism and advertising. Keeping the masses indignant, ill-informed and buying stuff they don’t need with money they haven’t got. 

This isn’t to say that the novels I read, the novels I write, the music I review are more important: in the grand scheme of things, I realise all too well that nothing I do amounts to anything. And this is precisely why blogging seems like a waste of time and energy. My real work is the novels, the reviews, the spoken word performances, and reading the fiction of others is enriching and makes for vital research. Meanwhile, keeping my mouth shut and my virtual pen lowered when it comes to everything else means I can maintain focus, because it’s all just pissing in the wind. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up and surrendered to the world, or that my dissenting voice has been silenced: it just means there are other ways of rebelling.

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at christophernosnibor.co.uk

Too Busy to Blog!

For many writers – both accomplished and aspiring – a common obstacle to productivity is inspiration. Most people run dry at some point. It’s not a brag when I say that this isn’t a problem for me: no, my real problem is time. There simply isn’t enough, and there are only so many ways to stretch it.

Over the past few years, a fair few people have asked me how I manage to maintain my output, how I find the time. The answer has always been that I make time, and type quickly. But then, every now and again, it becomes insustainable, and when it does, something’s gotta give.

I didn’t set out to become a music writer: it was something I once dreamed off, made a few stabs at and did on a very part-time and voluntary basis for a couple of local and regional papers back in the early 90s before giving it up. My applications to music papers for paid work had been unsuccessful, to the extent that none of them had even bothered to reject me, and I decided it was simply too competitive for me, a person who’s not particularly competitive by nature. Moreover, not given to being all that outgoing, and steadfastly refusing to suck up or otherwise ingratiate myself, I decided music journalism wasn’t the career for me. I was 25, working full time and studying at the same time, and in my spare time, attempting to carve out a novel. I was going to be a proper writer!

It took another five years to get my first book, Bad Houses out into the world, and the novel I had been working on, Exiled in Domestic Life, along with its sequel, Rusty Bullet Wounds, remains languishing, unpublished. Still, a lot’s happened since then, and while I have received some help and support – not to mention invaluable exposure – from people who I’ve encountered along the way, my weekly blog on MySpace did contribute considerably to whatever readership I achieved.

People are always going on about the importance of maintaining a blog as a means of building and maintaining one’s profile, and at the time, it seemed that they were right, but when the MySpace community dissolved before my eyes, so the hits to my blog plummeted. Rebuilding a readership from scratch just felt like too much effort for questionable reward, and by this time I had begun reviewing for Whisperin’ and Hollerin’, something I had fallen into quite by accident, but it felt good to be reviewing again. It had been noticeable that the reviews I had posted on my blog had been the least successful by miles, receiving half the hits of my rants. Having a proper outlet for the reviews was an extremely positive thing, and besides, it meant that even if I wasn’t being paid, I was getting free CDs and entry to gigs – plus being able to say that I was a writer for a recognised site meant I was able to approach PR companies directly and have them add me to their mailing lists. This meant even more freeness.

At present, I’m managing to review approximately half of the stuff I get sent, and given that I’m kicking out an average of one to two reviews per day, you can get an idea of just how much the reviewing gig’s grown in the last couple of years. But I don’t want to be known simply as a music writer: I do still write fiction, after all, and have some pretty hefty projects in the works, with the story ‘Corrupted from Memory’ which appears in the new Paraphilia anthology A Dream of Stone being the first of a new wave of fairly dense pieces penned recently.

Then there are the interviews. I’d be daft to turn down the chances I’ve had to meet up with various bands, or to conduct email interviews with Malcolm McNeill and JG Thirlwell. They’re once in a lifetime opportunities. None of them came about because of my blogging, though, and finding the bile to spew out a weekly rant in a blog just wasn’t something I had in me.

The discipline of maintaining a regular blog is healthy for a writer, primarily because it’s so easy to procrastinate, defer and postpone: a commitment to produce a piece each day or week can be a great motivator and can provide the impetus to knuckle down to writing and attempt something new. By the same token, it can all too easily become an obstacle to producing anything else, with the main work becoming sidelined by the thing that’s supposedly a mode of liberation and promotion. Moreover, in churning out pieces on not only a regular but a frequent basis, it’s easy for the quality of output to suffer and to find yourself saying the same thing. If it gets boring to write, it’s going to be equally boring to read: if and when that moment arrives, it’s time to quit.

I had other reasons to quit, or at least cut back though: well, something had to give. I’m no longer studying, but am still working full-time and then some. I can’t not: there are bills to pay, and very few writers actually get to make a living from it. Besides, getting to teach English Literature to undergraduates, albeit on a part-time basis, is often rewarding, but make no mistake, it’s hard work, especially in conjunction with holding down another job at the same time. So how do I find the time to write? Make time, and type fast, of course. But without blogging, at least as often. Has it damaged my readership? No, I don’t think so, and while I receive more hits to my site via searches for ‘Christopher Nonsibor reviewer’ and Christopher Nosnibor Whisperin and Hollerin’, I still get the same number who arrive at my site having searched for ‘Christopher Nosnibor writer’ or for one of my books (more often than not THE PLAGIARST).

But then, I’ve recently found myself wondering if maintaining a blog is as important as it used to be – not just for me, but in general. I still read voraciously, but the number of blogs I read has diminished, and I instead prefer to read a small number irregularly, rather than a large number regularly, partly because many of the blogs I follow tailed off around the same time I allowed my blogging activity to become less of a feature of my writing output. Is the golden age of blogging over? Does it really matter? A world in which everyone has a blog is a cluttered one, but shouldn’t be mistaken for a well-informed one. Knowledge may well equal power to an extent, but with no shortage of blogs brimming with ill-informed opinions and even outright hateful propaganda receiving ample traffic, it would equally appear that misinformation is power, and besides, who cares about what you’re saying as long as you’re popular. The interest in celebrity blogs and Tweets remains unabated. Ok, so bloggers like myself (i.e. the authors of the blogs I like to read) are never going to be in competition with these ‘celebrity’ retards, and never were, but there comes a time when pissing in the wind stops being fun and simply becomes a thankless slog.

For me, the blog always served a dual function: to vent or to comment on the things I had no other outlet for doing so, and, if I’m honest as an indirect means of promotion. Now, I have other channels for both promotion and venting, and besides, I’ve come to the conclusion that the world only needs so many producers of culture and of comment, given that there are only so many consumers. Personally, I try to do both, but it’s hard to consume while producing. It’s simply impossible to read an article and write one at the same time. So, while I continue to work on the job of perfecting a clone or two to enable me to multitask more effectively, the blogs will remain on the back burner while I crack on with the real work…

And of you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

A Dream of Stone (and Other Ghost Stories), edited by D M Mitchell and Dire Mccain is out now in the US through Paraphilia Books.

WordPressing Issues: New Blog Location and Other Changes

Having previously devoted some time to to finding a blogging platform that offered reasonable visibility, extreme ease of use and could be readily – and again, easily, given my limited technical skills – fed into my website, I’ve spent the last year or more augmenting my MySpace blog with pieces posted on my Windows Live blog. It wasn’t great and the limitations on comments were frustrating, (i.e. you need an account to comment, and I learned that much of my traffic is ‘casual’ rather than ‘networked’ or repeat visitors), but it did the job.

LiveSpaces are to be shut down early in 2011: they’re merging with (or, more specifically, being replaced by) WordPress. That’s cool, not least of all because WordPress offers a much greater and more flexible functionality, and during the period in the run-up to the end of LiveSpaces, the option to migrate existing Live blogs onto WordPress blogs has made the transition relatively smooth.

I say relatively, because a lot of the formatting has been screwed up in the process: line spacing, font colour, font types… the old blog is now here on WordPress, and while the contents has made it unscathed, aesthetically, it’s a bit of a mess. It’s something I will be attending to, in due course. However, it’s not a top priority at this moment in time, and I need to get myself acquainted with the workings of WordPress, which may take some time and could well result in things looking worse before they look better.

Hey ho. I’m here, and if you’re reading this, so are you. Thanks for stopping by: please com again. And remember, there’s always more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk.