There’s been a long break from the blog – and here’s why. Because of the booming stats.
Now, wait a minute, I hear you say. This person stopped writing her blog because the stats were booming? Surely, it would make more sense for her to stop writing when no one is reading her.
Well, no. Not exactly.
A while ago (2019) I tried to start a series called “Poem of the Week” – in which I would close-read a poem once a week . This was partially to prove to myself that I had not lost the abilities I had cultivated as an English student, partially to get myself read more poetry. It took a bit of effort to analyse these three poems (and yes, three weeks: that’s how long ‘Poem of the Week’ lasted). A while after I had stopped writing the poem posts, I realized that they were some of the most read posts on the blog.
I wasn’t quite sure why. So I looked at the referral links. And what I saw made me really sad. These are basically links from sites helping students cheat in writing their essays.
Now, don’t get me wrong – it is somewhat flattering to think that someone somewhere is reading my weird interpretations of Keats as gospel truth.
Then it got worse, because I realized that some of my other reviews- those of books more commonly thought of as ‘classics’ – were also being linked to from some occasionally dodgy websites, focused on improving your grades, but not really giving you an education of any sort. Often these were compiled by bots, trawling the internet for something you can use as your own book review.
And I guess that sort of broke me.
It shouldn’t have, I know. These are the joys of free content. Aren’t my own texts formed of my own reading – and even though I do try to provide the correct citation – is there ever a text that is truly original? I am reminded of Roland Barthes’s famous essay on the death of the author – only the author was me this time, and I didn’t terribly like it.
After it was MY thoughts about Madame Bovary – it was me who read the Nabokov essay on the novel before I read the novel itself. And it was me who was reading it on holiday in Bretagne, and me who felt slightly nauseous after the suicide scene. This is my version of Madame Bovary, and if you read the novel, you might experience something different entirely – a variation of the same melody – recognisable but utterly different. You might like the book. You might hate it. You will never know until you read it.
The reader is like the cameraman who shoots the film. Even with the same director and actors, there will still be a crucial and substantial difference in style.
People should read the novel – shoot their own movie. Not claim they filmed mine. I’m not claiming my reading insight is great, very likely worse less than theirs — but it is my own and I damned if I’m going to let people pretend I was not involved in it.
Also these classic books are excellent: don’t settle for my reviews of them! Honestly, I am not that great a reviewer. Even when Nabokov wrote about Madame Bovary and I read his essay, I still ended up reading the original novel. And I am nowhere near as great a writer as he was.
So was this possessiveness over my book reviews and poetry readings really the reason that the blog has had such a long break?
Possibly. It certainly did not help. But I do not really know. It could be laziness too!
All along, I was worried by the thought that maybe writing the reviews slowed down the process of reading and picking up a new book. I wanted to read only for pleasure, so I stopped writing blog reviews, for the most part.
I am not sure it helped much with reading for pleasure, but there you go. This is my excuse.
Image credit: pixabay by GraphicMama-team