Blogger’s Existential Crisis

Does that make it a Blogxistential Crisis? Er…

  1. This blog has been neglected. That’s something that’s going round, of course.
  2. I’d apologize, except that comments on what I do post are so rare that I don’t know who I’d be apologizing to. I don’t meant to sound like I’m whining—I’m not heartbroken. (This blog certainly isn’t the only one in that situation, and like I say, it’s been neglected.) And yet…
  3. Wish I could say the hiatus here was just due to adjusting to parenthood, but it’s not. I’ve been struggling with my motivation to keep this blog going for a few years now. But lately I’ve kind of hit blogger’s existential crisis: what am I doing this for? Or what is it I’d be doing, that I feel this weird dissatisfaction at not doing?
  4. Mind you, the posts that are here do still get comments, and some of them are great, and I appreciate them deeply. But most of them suck.
  5. Seriously, three quarters of the comments I get are either racist expat sewage, or defensive ranting, mostly by overseas Koreans who don’t have to live in Korea with the social problems I criticize (and, unlike them, live with on a daily basis).
  6. I actually have several hundred draft posts sitting in the hopper. Most—especially those dealing with Korea-related stuff—I will never post, but some are pretty much ready to go and probably are worthwhile, if only I can get a few minutes to polish them. Some of them were me working out things for myself; some were me letting off steam. The world doesn’t need another rant about a piece of shit taxi driver in some Korean city, or some incisive commenary on season 1 of Serial, does it? But some of them are interesting stuff, and should get posted, since I went to the trouble of writing them.
  7. Part of the inertia is also writer’s block generally. I haven’t worked on my book(s) since my son was born. That’s not unusual, from what I hear. Blogging is hard when you get interrupted so often you rarely complete a thought for yourself. (It doesn’t last forever, I know. I’m hanging in there.) But that’s not the main reason, I don’t think.
  8. Another part of the inertia traces to what we often call the “death” of the blogosphere. I full admit that I am part of the problem, since I rarely read blogs anymore and almost never comment on them.
  9. Not that the blogosphere has actually died, mind you. Blogs that are focused on specific subjects (or feature a stream of neato diversions)—and those that are written by people already famous—seem to be thriving, especially when they’re multi-author blogs. But I’m neither of those things.
  10. It’s not that I long for a high-traffic blog. I have a day job, and my writing, and a family. That’s enough for now. But I do think this blog needs some reworking, all the same.
  11. The internet is full of writer blogs. The internet is full of ranting expat in Korea blogs. Those veins of ore (if indeed they are ore—sometimes they resemble sewage) are pretty tapped out. And really, I’ve moved into other areas: I’m interested in Georgian London, and in technical fiddly ideas about writing, and tabletop RPG design, and jazz music, and finishing blogging Ezra Pound’s The Cantos.
  12. Unfortunately for me, people interested in one of those areas usually aren’t interested in the others. It’s not like, say, Do the Math, one of my favorite blogs these days, which is mainly about jazz music, but also discusses race relations in America, and crime novels. (And those things do link: the connections are obvious to people who like all those things.) Georgian London and jazz don’t connect. Homebrewing and science fiction? D&D and modernist poetry? Yeah, no, not really.
  13. So I’m thinking about what to do with this site. Do I pick a thing and zoom in, focus on that? But isn’t this blog for me? Is it really so bad to have ten core interests and post about all of them?
  14. I think part of the answer to my fundamental question (what to do with this site?) is evident from the question above: I need to write about things I’m interested in, not things (like the annoyances of daily life in Korea) that bother me. Nobody wants to read a blog of complaints. That’s the guy at the bar everyone shuns.
  15. We’ll see. I’m thinking I’ll go through the drafts over the next few months, posting what doesn’t suck and isn’t pointless, and then reevaluate.
  16. I don’t want to close comments on everything older than X months old, because some of the best comments I get are on things I wrote a long time ago. However, I am pretty fed up of the trolling. I may close comments on anything related to Korea, because that’s where most of the trolling comes in. (And, not coincidentally, that’s the area I’m pretty sure I won’t be blogging much about in the future.)
  17. Not blogging about Korea is something I’ve been talking about for a while. Living here makes it difficult, of course—one’s life does tend to come into it, and there’s stuff that’s newsworthy in Korea that doesn’t make it into the English-language news, or get global coverage—but, well, I find writing about subject less rewarding than other subjects, and I suppose that’s why, though I’ve written about Korea for a long time, I was never quite regarded as a Korea-blogger. I’ve (almost) always been fine with that, too.
  18. But the internet is full of SF blogs, and writer blogs, and gaming geek blogs. What have I to contribute? I’m not sure. Maybe thinking about it as contributing is the wrong way round. I’m not sure. This is what I’m thinking about now, when I do think about this blog.
  19. I am playing with the idea that maybe I need to rebuild the site, narrowing the topics on offer to what I want to write about; making the site reflect structurally my desire not to write so much about Korea anymore, and prioritizing other subjects in a way that urges me on in writing about them, in other words.
  20. Your thoughts and responses are welcome—not that I expect much response, because, hey, I don’t read blogs much, so why would you?—but I am curious how many people still read this blog, and how many have thoughts about it. Ha… and watch the trolls pour in with their pseudo-opinions.

11 thoughts on “Blogger’s Existential Crisis

  1. I never write comments, because a lot of what I’m reading was posted so long ago and I figured the topics moved on even thought it’s a blog and that’s clearly not the case.

    It’s your blog, so I do think you should do what you like. I’d hope the prior Korea stuff stays–that’s how I found you, and reading your comments and you pointing to other blogs that weren’t 100% complaining has helped shaped a lot of my life in Korea for the better, and made it so I do take a lot of time to go out and explore the country. It’s definitely helped me fall in love with the country, and your post about places to eat in Jeonju shaped a whole trip I organized for me and my friends.

    I totally understand not wanting to keep writing about it–especially if you feel like you don’t have anything super new to say!! It sucks feeling like your stuck in a rut on a topic. But as a fellow writer who doesn’t deal with sci-fi that often but wants to, I find your insights on the genre and tabletop stuff more recently super interesting, and I enjoy hearing what you’ve read and your thoughts on it. Whatever you write about, when I get an RSS notification about a new post I’m usually pretty happy.

    I think if you do end up focusing more on writing and sci-fi, you probably shouldn’t try to focus on ‘what can I contribute’ to start with. Maybe later down the road, but at least when I start exploring a new topic I tend to just record things I”m noticing and observing, or interesting patterns. It doesn’t matter if everyone else and their mother already knows about it. Writing that stuff down in an organized way lets me organize it and build up my foundation in the topic. That’s personal experience though, and might not apply so much to you.

    Basically do whatever you like. I really enjoy the blog, and it has made my life in Korea so much better. Whatever you end up doing next with it, I look forward to. It’s always been a pleasure to read whatever has your interest recently, and I’ll try to make a better effort to leave comments no matter how much or little you decide to add things here.

  2. I’m a reader, and owner of a blog defunct for more or less five years. I can’t remember how I found your blog, but it was a couple of yeas ago I think. Everyone who blogs faces this “no one cares including me” moment sooner or later. Obviously I hope you keep at it, but I’d prefer if you didn’t make it a single or dual or tri-al issue blog, What’s really lacking these days is general all-purpose blogs. But ultimately you’ll write what you want to write. And thanks.

  3. Hey Gord, I still often read your posts. I like beer but am not all that interested in making it. I have almost no opinion on jazz music. I am interested in Cthulhu and steampunk and your writing process. As we both live in Korea, I follow your discussions on local themes some of the time.

    My own blogs are more a place for me to post information interesting to me. I have no idea how many people are reading it; every once in a while I see a sudden spat of 100 views all from Russia and I have no idea what that means. i am careful not to click on the ‘referring links’ that blogger offers.

    No one comments on my blogs but I reread them for old posts which have info I need again.

    I comment on the Big Hominid’s blog more than anywhere else. Usually, this is on his personal posts and not on whatever issues he is discussing.

  4. I agree with the others. Keep blogging about whatever interests you and I’ll keep reading it.
    The Georgian London thing especially sounds cool to me, but I think many of us readers appreciate your thoughtful takes on whatever you are dealing with.

  5. For my completely selfish reasons I hope that you continue to blog. My suggestion is to do it for your own selfish reasons. If blogging doesn’t satisfy your personal agenda, then screw it!!! But I’m guessing that you come across too many cool things not to share. I’m guessing that you stress over your blog format/structure a lot… Really, who cares about that Gord, it’s all about your writing and posted media. Add a tag and put the onus on your readers! Heh heh. But yeah, obviously your novel writing should be the higher priority. So decrease the friction to the post and keep posting dammit! Think about your poor readers in the U.S. you selfish bastard!!! Heh heh

  6. Thanks for the comments and encouragement, everyone! I wasn’t really thinking about quitting blogging, so much as uncertain how to proceed from now. I think I’ll start with working through posts that have sat in the Drafts pile, and then see how I feel about reorienting after that.

  7. I do enjoy your blog as you tend to get in depth on whatever topic you’re writing about. But I can see the perils of the Expat blog. So many of them start to look alike and then disappear when the travels are over – or they only concern themselves with the most surface level things. Of course the expat forums are worse, and I suspect those are being written by bots at this point. Unless you’re going to translate articles re: Korean current events, you’re likely only ever to stay focused on the surface. Like I hardly saw much mention of the recent filibuster or election results on any Expat sites. Meanwhile, I’ve already read two articles on the Busan slave factory.

    Anyway, yeah, more blog posts!

    1. Hi Justin,

      Thanks, glad to know it’s appreciated, and I do try to go in-depth. I suppose that’s not for everyone.

      I also feel badly since I’m such an occasional reader of the blogs I enjoy—like yours. (I could plead new parenthood, but I’d fallen behind on blogs long before the kid showed up.)

      I agree completely about the expat blogs and forums. I was annoyed that nobody talked about the filibuster. Somewhere around here there’s a draft of a post about how books that were read from during the filibuster had become sudden bestsellers here (sort of like how macadamia nuts sold out a year or two back), and what that tells us about South Korea and its political consciousness, but like so many, it ended up in the Drafts bin.

      The Busan slave factory—the Boy’s Town thing? Yeah, modern slavery in Korea’s been kind of a thing among expats here lately, hasn’t it? It’s weird how the expat response has been more about luxuriating gleefully in how unbelievably horrible Korea is, rather than in saying, “Wow, all the salt and 김 we use is insanely cheap because of slavery? Time to stop buying cheap Korean salt and seaweed.” As you say, surface stuff wins out unless one’s translating new stories, and I don’t have the skills or time to do that… or, really, the interest, anymore. (Mrs. Jiwaku and I are pretty much set on leaving once it’s practicable for us to do so; the kid lit a fire beneath our asses, on top of everything else.)

      I’ll try get some more of the already-written posts up, and figure out in the meantime what I plan to do with this site.

      1. Come to think of it Jin did buy a bunch of books around that time – although she had been before that as research for her next serial: A paranormal murder mystery set against the back drop of 1960s/1970s Korean dictatorship.

        Maybe we should be looking into leaving too… or at least moving out of a pro-dictatorship city.

        One thing that’s going to be telling for me is whether the government manages to stop the Busan Film Festival from happening, and if so what the public reaction ends up being.

        1. Huh, I wonder if any of the books were ones mentioned during the filibuster?

          That paranormal mystery sounds interesting! Maybe when I get an iPad I’ll try read it. I could use some practice reading Korean. You may well find moving somewhere a little more liberal will make things easier. I feel like freedom of expression—which was never that well-respected here anyway—is getting stomped on a lot lately here, and not even just by the government. The right-wingers are loud and obnoxious in defending their clay-footed heroes. (Not that the heroes of the left here are saints either, really.)

          I’m pretty out of date when it comes to current events, but I imagine the government will have an out regarding Busan, if it’s still a case of directors boycotting: “It’s their decision not to submit films. We’re not blocking he festival, we’re just ensuring it’s artistic rather than political.” That kind of (ridiculous) rhetoric seems to gain traction with enough people for claims like that to fly, sometimes. Worse, it could just be the effective transformation of the festival into a right-wing-leaning institution.

          Did I ever tell you about the Bucheon film fest boycott? From what I heard, the people who’d built the fest in the first place (and run it excellently) forgot the mayor’s name on stage, and were basically ousted over that minor offense. There was some kind of boycott over that in 2005, but a year later it was back to business… except all the original people were shuffled out. There’s a piece by Darcy Paquet that discusses this, but only obliquely, and I heard it second hand (but from a few different people).

          My sense is there won’t be a shortage of submissions, because Korea’s got piles of aspiring filmmakers who’d kill to have a screening at PIFF on their resumes, and know it won’t kill the festival. (Nobody in the film industry wants that!) The public reaction, I wonder about, but I doubt it’d amount to much… though I guess we’ll see.

          Oh, and this article kind of suggests that the bigger problem isn’t new:

          While Park’s government is championing “cultural enrichment,” Nemo Kim, a film critic and lecturer of contemporary Korean culture at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, says the local theater scene is growing less diverse, with big conglomerates, or “chaebols,” gaining influence.

          The Busan festival is one of the few places where South Korean moviegoers can watch both big-budget and small-budget movies, she said.

          “Several art-house cinemas have shut down mainly due to changes in government subsidy policies. Blockbusters produced and distributed by chaebol-driven companies are the mainstays at Korean theaters, most of which are multiplex chains also run by chaebol companies,” Kim said.

          I remember back in my old indie band days, the brother of our bassist was an indie filmmaker, and his criticism pretty much was that: the government’s support of the arts was focused on corporate blockbuster stuff, and independent filmmaking was getting minimal support, if not being stymied outright. (And that was back in 2003-2005, under Kim Daejung and Roh Moohyun.)

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