Monday, 16 May 2016

The Beat Goes On

I'm not the biggest fan of blogging about blogging. I was hoping I might get past the latest wave of despondency without comment but it seems a little disingenuous to carry on as though my Feedly wasn't filled with posts bemoaning boredom, burnout, or malaise.

It's not as if we haven't been here before. MMO blogging has a handful of themes that play over and over again like the never-ending musical loops in the games themselves. After a few years of reading blogs it becomes apparent that there are only so many topics and all of them have been done to death.

The same thing happens with the MMOs. Killed one dragon, you've killed them all. The tunes you can play on a fiddle may be without number but if you're bored of hearing the sound of four strings being scraped, plucked or struck then it hardly matters how many ways someone can come up with to go on doing it.

On the other hand, if you're someone who just purely loves the sound, who can't but jump up and dance every time the fiddler begins to play, then the very idea of ennui never enters the picture. Folk and jazz clubs around the world are busy with aficionados who've been nodding along for decades.

Most of us, though, go through a folk club phase only for a while, if we ever go through one at all. For a few weeks or months or years little seems more appealing than an evening in the pub with a pint of Old Duckfeather in hand and a buzz of conversation counterpointing the tales of maidens' virtue lost.


And then one day going to the club doesn't feel like such a great idea any more. The thought of another night of men with full beards and fingered ears bellowing into a mic, while intent young women saw earnestly at the catgut, seems oddly unappealing. And it's starting to rain and there's that new HBO series people at work keep talking about that you haven't caught up with yet, so you decide to stay in, just for tonight.

Next thing you know you're someone who used to go to folk clubs but doesn't any more. Then, in a while, folk clubs are a thing of the past. Your past. Probably a thing you don't even mention. Your new, non-folkie friends would find it all a bit...well, you know...

So there you are, or rather there you aren't. You're not at the folk club any more but the folk club is still there. People who aren't you still go. For a while people ask where you are and then they don't, any more, only once in a while, when someone says "oh that reminds me of old whatshername. Whatever happened to her, anyway?".

Maybe one day, a long while later, you get that feeling - is it nostalgia? You wonder what the old place is like these days. Do any of the old gang still go? But when you wander along - just out of curiosity, you don't really miss it, you've moved on, it was your past but still, you just wonder - the club has gone.

The pub has closed. It's a coffee place now. They don't have live music. You feel something's been lost but you don't know what it is. You walked away. You didn't want it. Why should you care that it's gone?

Except it hasn't gone. Only gone away from you. Somewhere in town some of those same earnest young women, not so young any more, are still sawing away. They have children now and their children are dancing to the fiddler's tune.

About the only thing that you can't have back is your past. That and the time you spent there. If that's what you're searching for you'll come home sad and disappointed. But if it was the music...well, the music never stopped. The music never does stop. It never will. Just listen and you'll hear it.

Which is why you shouldn't worry over taking a break, over walking away, over moving on. If you're done, you're done. Maybe you're done for now, maybe you're done for good. Either way, if you're not feeling it you can't force it. Listen to your heart.

Forget about folk music. I wish I could. Let's get back to MMOs and blogging about them.

MMOs aren't going anywhere. They're going to be around longer than you are. If you need them, if you want them, they'll be there. And while there are MMOs there will be bloggers blogging about them. Take your time out, your sabbatical, your re-calibration.

We'll miss you. We'll welcome you when - if - you come back. Some of the faces may have changed. You might have to find a new game to call home. The club moved along a few streets, some new people joined, some old people left but really nothing changed. You'll fit right in. It'll be like you never left.

Or maybe it won't. Maybe you'll come a couple of times and realize it was a bad idea. That you don't really know any of these people and you don't want to play the games they're playing now, or read about them, or write about them. Now you know. It was just a phase after all. And that's fine, too

This time last year we had the 2015 Newbie Blogger Initiative. For once I thought to tag all the blogs that came out of it as I added them to my blogroll, so I can see who's still around. I added sixteen of them. Ten of those blogs were still posting in 2016. Four posted in the last week.

It looked as though we weren't going to have an NBI this year but Aywren let slip the news that Doone is going to host the event a month later than usual, in June. The well replenishes itself. Let's hope so, anyway. Spread the word.

I should declare self-interest here. I read a lot of MMO blogs and I need a steady supply. If people are leaving then new people need to start! It's fun. Really, it is. Give it a go. If you don't like it you can stop. And start again. And stop. As often as you want.

If you want proof, look at Nils. Hasn't posted a word for two years. Comes back, posts once, gets nine comments. The folk club door is always open. And it's always open mic night.

Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a "folkie". I did go to some folk clubs a few times back in the late 80s but only against my better judgment and only because someone else made me. I do not have a beard. I will never have a beard. I don't even drink real ale. It was just an analogy, all right? Geez, don't take things so literally, you guys...

16 comments:

  1. Good post -- I'm right there with you. Though I'd probably like to check out a folk club one day (I've never been to a club at all). Sounds fun. XD

    The only way life doesn't change you, even in small subtle ways, is when you're dead. We get caught up in what we think we should be and overlook what we're actually becoming, or already are, as people. But change happens, and it's no one's fault.

    I'm looking forward to this year's NBI, too. I wanted to leave a comment on Doone's post to let him know I'd offer what help I could, but it didn't appear I could at the time. I suppose I can search him out on the forums instead.

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    1. I really have no idea why I started riffing on folk clubs today. It just sort of happened.

      If it wasn't for your link to the 2016 NBI I'd have had no idea it was happening. I surprised myself with how pleased I was when I found out we weren't skipping a year.

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  2. I really appreciate this post. Honestly I am constantly in awe of the support that the community is willing to give anytime someone starts to stumble. The connection transcends whatever we happen to be talking about at the moment. I do appreciate the perspective that posts like this one give.

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    1. You're more than welcome. Most of us will never meet but still we do kind of know each other in a way that's hard to explain. It's the modern world and I can't help but like it.

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  3. I'm usually hesitant about blogging about blogging, too, so I don't really have the right to say this, but: I really enjoyed this post, so please don't be! You are, of course, right, but for me the problem is that when I start something, I want to be *good* at it. The same counts for blogging. Even if I don't really have the time, I do want to blog. As always, my ability to write compelling comments fails me, but maybe I'll write a proper response to this in the form of a blog post - if everyone hasn't gone *snore* by then already, that is.

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    1. I think this topic's going to rumble on for a while...

      I think my reluctance to blog about blogging is wrapped up in my lack of patience, as a reader, with novels about writing or, worse still, reading. It always strikes me as bubble-thinking, like when the only "man in the street" a journalist can think to quote is the taxi driver who drove him to the studio. Still, there are times when it has to be done and there are people who do it well. Not saying that's me!

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  4. Always a pleasure to read here. I am one of those bloggers who have taking two extended vacations from blogging over the past 7 years and found people do not like me any less when I get back. =)

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  5. (sorry comments seem to be broken...)

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    1. I know! What's up with that? I can't even see my own comments when I post them. Blogger being Blogger I guess because I haven't changed anything.

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  6. Great post. Personally I'm forever moving from one interest to another, and then back again. Yet the set of things that I love has stayed remarkably constant from late childhood until even now. It's true some of them go on the backburner for years at a time, but they can always re-emerge later when the right stimulus or circumstances come around.

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    1. Me too. If I like something I tend to go on liking it. I'm not a big one for going off things although it does happen now and again. Not quite sure if that's consistency or if I'm just too easily pleased. I certainly am easily pleased...

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  7. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I've taken breaks in the past due to burn out, brought about by my own unrealistic posting schedule. From 2011 to February this year I've written a post pretty much every day and it can be at times, both enjoyable and an insufferable chore. Yet whenever I'm on a hiatus, I miss blogging like crazy.

    In March I found that I had to put a lot of things on hold due to real world changes in my life (I have familiy that are getting old and sick) so once again I pulled the plug. Two months on I have now found that my daily routine has far more order and structure than I expected. Thus I have made a tentative returned to podcasting.

    I'm pleased that Doone has chosen to run a scaled down NBI this year. It's a great event and personally I would like to see it extend beyond gaming blogs. I may resurrect Contains Moderate Peril and endeavour to take part in some capacity. I would certainly encourage those toying with the idea of blogging to start. I live in hope of find a good source of in-depth, long form gaming criticism.

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    1. I definitely think there could be a wider "give blogging a go" event that wasn't genre-specific although at this stage it would probably better if it was a separate event from the NBI. The question is, even if someone was willing to host and organize it, where would they advertise and promote it? I wouldn't have a clue where to begin on that.

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    2. I've tried to spread the world a bit to outside our gamer blogger circles in the past (geeky lifestyle bloggers that game & Second Life bloggers), but never met any enthusiasm. I guess there's too much of a "hardcore gamer" stigma attached to the NBI - to the outside world, that is, I believe the majority of gamer bloggers identify as "casual gamers". People are apparently reluctant to step outside their well-known blogger circle. So if we'd want that to work, we'd either need a separate event, or we'd need to enthuse key members of other blogger communities and let them spread the word.

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  8. Been feeling the same way really and more like I need to remember to balance what musical clubs I go to better haha

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