I’m one of the paying supporters of The Dish; I’ve read Sullivan for years. I watched, since he took his Dish blog away from the The Daily Beast and went full independent, his delight and triumph as he created a more or less financially sustainable writing business and news site.
And over the longer term, I’ve watched him go through a spiritual transformation, as much of the cold edge, the viciousness of the Gulf War period, seeped out of his writing. The Dish increasingly became a place of peace and mutual consideration, a place where people who did not feel at home in society’s normal categories wrote letters to Sullivan and each other.
So I read the post announcing Sullivan’s departure and gasped. I had to check it was not April 1st.
… when you write every day for readers for years and years, as I’ve done, there’s not much left to hide. And that’s why, before our annual auto-renewals, I want to let you know I’ve decided to stop blogging in the near future.
Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.
The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.
I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real.
John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, comments:
Blogging isn’t hard work in the way that coal mining is, but above all else it demands enthusiasm. There’s no other way to keep going — blogs cease when their authors run out of enthusiasm. For many people, the enthusiasm seems to run out after just a few months, maybe a few years. For Sullivan, it took a decade and a half. A good reminder that nothing lasts forever.
(the photo, I think, is Sullivan’s own.)