Andrew Sullivan‘s decision to put andrewsullivan.com on “hiatus” is the talk of the political sector of the blogosphere. Whatever you may think of Andrew’s politics, there’s no doubt that he’s been hugely influential in helping to put blogging on the map. After all, he’s been doing it every day for the past five years, well before most of us even knew what a blog was, and it was from him that a great many people–myself included–first got the idea to start blogs of their own. Well do I remember the morning I looked at andrewsullivan.com and said to myself, I’d like to do something just like this, only about the arts. A couple of years went by before I finally jumped in the pond, but that was how “About Last Night” came to be.
Andrew’s explanation of why he’s decided to give up regular posting is worth reading:
I want to take a breather, to write a long-overdue book, to read some more, travel to Europe and the Middle East, and work on some longer projects. Much as I would like to do everything, I’ve been unable to give the blog my full attention and make any progress on a book (and I’m two years behind). It’s not so much the time as the mindset. The ability to keep on top of almost everything on a daily and hourly basis just isn’t compatible with the time and space to mull over some difficult issues in a leisurely and deliberate manner. Others might be able to do it. But I’ve tried and failed….
I know whereof he speaks, though so far I’ve managed to keep all my journalistic balls in the air (that’ll be enough out of you, Mr. TMFTML). Even though I don’t post as often as Andrew does, “About Last Night” is still updated at least once each weekday, a schedule that has yet to stop me from also turning out a weekly drama column, three monthly essays, and a not-inconsiderable amount of miscellaneous writing. In addition, I’ve published two books since launching this blog, one of which I wrote from scratch (and whose progress I chronicled in this space).
On the other hand, All in the Dances was a brief life, whereas the biography of Louis Armstrong on which I just started work will be at least as long as The Skeptic. It’s going to be interesting, to put it mildly, to see whether working on the Armstrong book is compatible with writing as much as I do for newspapers and magazines. (I sure hope so–I need the money!)
And what about blogging? Believe it or not, I have few doubts about being able to keep that up. Paul Gigot, my boss at The Wall Street Journal, asked me not long ago where I found the energy to blog each day. I replied that writing “About Last Night” was so intellectually stimulating that the energy seemed to generate itself. As I’ve said before, I think of this blog as a kind of sketchbook, a public place in which I can think out loud in front of an audience, playing with ideas that in time may find their way into more elaborate print-media pieces. (H.L. Mencken did much the same thing with his weekly op-ed column in the Baltimore Sun, which is where I got the idea.) It’s a different kind of writing, of course, more immediate and less formal, which makes it easier to turn out. In addition, I’ve noticed that my contributions to “About Last Night” have grown considerably more personal in tone over the past year and a half, and I gather from your e-mail and our statistics that many of you have been pleased with the results.
Be that as it may, I know my compulsive tendencies are a part of what fuels “About Last Night,” which can’t be a good thing. One of the reasons why I asked Our Girl in Chicago to join me was that I thought her presence might free me to post less often. Instead, it’s encouraged me to post more often. About that I have mixed feelings (though definitely not about the contributions of my adored co-blogger). Those of you who’ve been reading “About Last Night” from the beginning are aware that I’ve been trying to teach myself how to take time off, not just from blogging but from work in general. Though it may not be immediately apparent, I’ve had a pretty fair amount of success at this, especially in the past four or five months, and I hope to have still more.
If you’re expecting me to segue deftly into an announcement to the effect that I won’t be posting as regularly in the future as I have in the past, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. I love “About Last Night,” and I intend to keep on writing it pretty much the way I have all along. But one thing I am going to do (or at least try to do–we’ll see how it goes) is take an occasional impromptu day off without posting my usual I’m-up-to-my-ears-see-you-tomorrow notice. I think that’ll be good for me. Writing this blog is the furthest possible thing from a chore, and I want it to stay that way. So please don’t be alarmed when you come calling one day and find nothing new to read but the daily almanac. Instead, smile knowingly and say, Good boy, Terry! I hope you’re having fun today. And stay cool–I’ll be back.