Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bookpeeping - 2013 Edition

Kids, a long time ago, it seemed that everyone was reading books on the subway. Now it'a all Candy Crush and tablets.

Yesterday I tried to do a little bookpeeping. That is, I tried to spy on what those rare book readers were perusing.

I had a bit of success as I traveled from Lower Manhattan to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

On the Z train (yes, there is a Z train):

The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams:

Then, after transferring at Canal, on the platform waiting for the N train, a gentleman was reading The One and the Many: Collaborative Art in a Global Context by Grant Kester:

On the N train, I spotted The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer:

When I transferred at 59th Street for the R in Brooklyn, I saw a woman reading The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant:

And then, on the R train, on the home stretch, I saw a woman reading How Does it Feel to be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi

I hope you've enjoyed this latest incarnation of biliophilic voyeurism that I call Bookpeeping!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How Long Do Blogs Live?

How long do blogs live?

Well, the most successful ones outgrow the name “blog” – they become websites. The Huffington Post started as a blog, for example, but it sure seems like a full-blown media outlet now.

And then there are all those short-lived one- or two-post specials. Someone said, “Let me blog!” and they started and then abruptly never posted again.

I've always heard that three years is the average lifespan of the blog. Balancing the HuffPos and the singular blips in the blogosphere, that seems about right. Heck, I have at least four blogs (yes, I lost track), including a project dedicated to discarded weather-worn umbrellas (Umbrellacide) and a brief celebration of the lives of recently-deceased poets (We Lost a Poet).

My original success as a blogger came with the autobiographical BillyBlog, which I associate with Hurricane Katrina, having started around the same time and, it is still lingering on life support, chalking up one or two posts a year. [I wrote this in a word document, and felt it most appropriate to post here, where it all started.]

BillyBlog gave birth to Tattoosday, an idea that outgrew its initial weekly inkiling, and became my most successful blog. It’s even part of my Facebook identity.

But something happened to Tattoosday, back in August 2012. I stopped posting whereas previously I posted daily and felt like an abject failure if I failed to do so.

I lost my job around the same time, and you would have thought that would have spurred a flurry of activity, but it didn't.

It looked like Tattoosday had a second wind in early 2013, but again, the summer seemed to kill it.
Ask my family – I wouldn't go anywhere without my notebook and Tattoosday fliers promoting the site. I ran out of fliers and haven’t reprinted. I only occasionally have my book with me and, despite still conducting the occasional interview, I still have material from five months ago, in June, that remains unpublished. 

How’s this for perspective: at its peak, I posted daily, seven times a week. In contrast, since I started my new job in September after a year out of work, I have posted just seven times. And I can’t tell you exactly why.

September marked our sixth anniversary.

I have spent more time wondering why I’m not writing Tattoosday than I have spent time writing Tattoosday.
My words fail me.

It is not that I am less interested in tattoos – I still jump at the chance to talk to people about them. I am guessing it is more just that, as I grow older, and have shifted focus onto a new job, I am focused on other things, things so mundane it is not even worth mentioning in a blog post.

So, I do not know what will happen with Tattoosday. I would like to think that I will keep posting, that I just need that spark to reignite the blogger fire within me. Right now, there are a few embers, smoldering. I have no idea what will happen – if the Tattoosday fire will blaze again, or if it will go out, quietly, with a thin white wisp of smoke, vanishing into the blogosphere.