The Last Post

Last PostIt’s been over a year since I posted, and this post will be the last. I’ve had a lot of fun here and learnt a great deal from all the people I’ve come into contact with through blogging, but since my very first post in 2011 I’ve also struggled with a number of recurring reservations and dilemmas that have never been resolved to my own satisfaction.

It seems to me that in the blogosphere, the pressures of finding weekly topics, of building and engaging with an audience, of being ‘PR friendly’ and of having a shot at that most holiest of grails – the viral post – results in blogs tending to cluster around a number of familiar styles within any given ‘genre’.

In the case of expat blogs there are those that enthuse with florid prose adorned with diligently attributed photos, and those that emote with self-deprecation and dark humour, and those that proffer coping strategies, reinforced with panaceas of positivity and a self-published ebook on Amazon. This list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, of course, but I’d be surprised if 90% of expat blogs couldn’t be listed in around half a dozen categories such as these.

A pattern has emerged among parent blogs too, featuring, for example, the sassy and irreverent (usually moms), or the quirky & ‘random’ (usually dads), not to mention the wholesome and didactic, best delivered, in my view, by a spousal joint venture in association with Jesus.

I don’t mean to be dismissive. The best of each type are very high quality, extremely popular, lucrative and almost certainly of great benefit to their readers. And there are still bloggers who break through with a new angle from time to time, although they will inevitably attract their own emulating cluster too.

I never found any new angles, but even if I had, the often conflicting requirements of authenticity, entertainment and discretion that made the writing process problematic for me would have remained. Should I name my children? Or refer to them by pet pseudonyms, which might arguably be more embarrassing to their futures selves? Should I be writing about something that I ought really to stop dwelling on, just because it might be a popular post? Is exaggeration for comic or rhetorical effect dishonest, or is it necessary and justified for the sake of impact?

In the end I realised that I was never going to be entirely comfortable with what I’d started, so I stopped and (eventually) started something new. That something new is a movie review blog aimed at the more discerning of Netflix Instant subscribers. You can take a look at it here if you like. It’s more review than blog, in that I only talk about myself in the context of what a good movie means to me, but it is still a personal record of sorts. So far it’s been even more fun for me and (if early twitter activity is anything to by) of more interest to others than this, so I’m going to stick with it and see where it takes me.

So long and thanks for all the page views!

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5 Responses to The Last Post

  1. bravenewmalden says:

    A shame. I have enjoyed reading your blog posts, when I’ve remembered to. I’ll switch tracks and read your movie reviews now.

    The fresh angle does seem to be difficult to find, but is it really necessary? You write what you want to write in the style that suits you. It’s not a competition. I suppose it’s all down to why you want to keep a blog in the first place.

    For me, it’s generally to get things off my chest. No fresh angle there. But I try to write entertainingly (as you do, and succeed in) and make people feel that they haven’t just wasted a few minutes of their time. Being English, I can’t bring myself to pimp the blog beyond nodding in its general direction, in the style of Eddie Izzard. So it shouldn’t surprise me that each post only gets read a few dozen times and that only a handful of people ever comment on what I say.

    I just don’t get how so-so blogs are followed by thousands of people. Or how piss-poor Instagrammers’s efforts are rewarded by umpteen likes. Or how someone’s vacuous observation about the weather can be retweeted a zillion times. So I’ve quit worrying about it all. I just plough (sorry, plow) my own furrow and ignore the stats.

    Right, I’m off to see what you thought of Gone Girl.

    • TrailingHusband says:

      I think it’s less about the need to stand out from the crowd than feeling a bit disillusioned with the crowd I was in. I’d kind of committed to the parent / expat thing here and pretty soon decided I didn’t want to blog about either. I could have made it completely random, I suppose, but then I suspect I’d rarely have the discipline to put a post together. At least with the Netflix blog I have a regular prompt to write, and it’s easier for me to write about a film than about my family or circumstances.

      Being read is also a big bonus, though. It’s easier to put the time & effort into writing something when you expect it to be read.

      Anyway, thanks for your kind words, and for pointing out the problem with the link – all fixed now!

  2. bravenewmalden says:

    No I’m not. The link appears to be broken.

  3. I hope you enjoy the new blog and it brings you what you are looking for in terms of blogging/writing.
    I can certainly understand some of the dilemmas you mention here. There are times where I think of sailing off as well.

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