Here’s the big news this week, gang: 317am will go on an indefinite hiatus after Kaze’s valedictory post tomorrow. Call it a sabbatical, call it a vacation, call it what Mark Twain would call an extended period of letting the tank full up. No fresh posts are planned – though the 317am archive will stay live online, a free resource for desperate term-paper writers the world over.
Why are we shutting down? In recent weeks Kaze and I — each in our own way and independent of each other – have had a minor epiphany. Much as we’ve enjoyed 317am, the blog was beginning to get in the way of other kinds of writing we want to try. For both of us it was draining off time and a bit of precious creativity.
“In almost every case the glory days of a small literary or intellectual review,” the poet Adam Kirsch has written, “come at the beginning, fueled by the editors’ need to make a point, or a name, or both.” I have a suspicion that the same could be said of blogs. Kirsch puts the natural life span of little magazines at five or 10 years. In blog years, that’s two to five. Here at 317am we’ve been rolling for more than two-and-a-half years now, and a certain midlife restlessness has set in.
I’ve enjoyed this project immensely and have learned a huge amount about blogging by bumbling through it. Probably the thing I’ll miss most is the back-and-forth with our faithful readers, many of whom seem to get the spirit of playfulness that is the essence of 317am. I’ll not name names here because I don’t want to leave anyone out, but you regulars know who you are, and you can be sure that Kaze and I have appreciated your attention, your comments, and your opinions.
One of the presiding spirits of this blog, Michel de Montaigne, once asked the famous question: “When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not making me her pastime more than I make her mine?” It was this kind of unresolved cat-plaything relationship with readers that I treasure.
I also expect to mourn the diminution of my own hyperalert vigilance for the next new thing in the worlds of literature, writing, and new media. There’s nothing like a hunger for blog fodder to make all manner of ideas, news, and trivia meaningful, downright fascinating even.
What I’m quite ready to set aside is the need to have opinions, so, so many opinions. A blogger with wishy-washy thoughts is providing no entertainment and little else of value to his readers. But the burden of thinking up opinions and articulating them gets to be wearying after a while. The corner of my brain that generates chutzpah, the part of my psyche that enables me to believe others may care what I think, is wearing down as well.
Will there be a second act for 317am? The best answer is probably that all-purpose hunk of Buddhist wisdom: “We’ll see.” No promises, no expectations on our part, one way or the other.
One of our basic tropes here at 317am has always been to quote greater artists than ourselves, liberally. In that regard the great Stanley Kubrick’s ending to Dr. Strangelove can’t be topped for conveying my emotions at this moment. Check it out here. I’m a word man in my bones, but thank heavens for YouTube.