Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dead? Dude, I Thought I Was Just On Vacation

While I am pleased to be included in Peter Spiro's list of blogs by "professionals aimed at professional audiences, many of which started with great stuff," his report of the abandonment--impliedly, death--of Law and Letters I protest as premature.

This is what Peter wrote, bemoaning the abandonment of certain law blogs as indicia of the blogging phenomenon peaking:

One sign that the blogging phenomenon may have peaked is the number of abandoned blogs one comes across these days — blogs that are still up, but on which nothing's been posted for months. And I'm not talking about personal blogs (among which there must be millions), but ones by professionals aimed at professional audiences, many of which started with great stuff (law-related examples here, here, and here). There's something a little saddening about these sites, like a nice house that's gone vacant or a favorite restaurant that is closed "for renovations."

I suppose they remain available for revival or adoption, but otherwise I guess they'd be less saddening if they included a exit line - something along the lines of, this was fun (or not fun) while it lasted, but now it's over... In the meantime, the number of abandoned blogs shows at least that the medium is still a fluid and unstable one.

To this I responded:

Rumors of the demise of Law and Letters, while not unwarranted, are premature. I admit I have not blogged consistently for the last two months. But it was always with the good faith intention of returning to a regular schedule that I warned my readers of the current paucity of postings. However, just because one door is kind of creeping shut doesn't mean that another one doesn't open. Blog forums are more open access, and do not possess the same rigid gatekeepers as do other media. If we complain about the dearth of female blawggers, we must note there increasing presence as guest blawggers on male-dominated fora such as Prawfsblawg or Concurring Opinions. Indeed, while Law and Letters is struggling to figure out whether its future shall be as personal or professional blawg, I have continued to post on the group blog MoneyLaw. Belle Lettre lives on, but she has a couple of places where she hangs her hat. So don't pronounce her dead
just yet.

Perhaps the writing on the wall indicates the slow demise of personal
soap boxes in favor of easier to maintain group efforts. While I am all in favor of the former, I admit that the latter is a more effective platform for communication, and is more in keeping with the spirit of collaboration and collegiality that is (hopefully) especial to academia. Such group efforts make it easier for occasional bloggers, and allows individual bloggers a bigger forum without the difficulty of posting every day--all of which might help young academics (and particularly female ones) like myself.

But thanks for the final push to make me resurrect Law and Letters. Nothing spurs you to vitality like reports of your death. "Really?" the allegedly comatose patient who actually went on a Carribean cruise asks--"is that where everyone thinks I've gone?"

True, I have not blogged for a month or so, and what was once a daily or multiple-times-per-week schedule (just see September's!) has gone beyond sporadic to, well, sparse, I wouldn't call Law and Letters--or myself, Belle Lettre--dead just yet! Plenty of celebs take "breaks" due to "exhaustion," i.e., go into rehab for some drug or alcohol-related addiction. Can't a blogger take a break as well, and sincerely due to exhaustion? I promise you, I am not writing this from some clinic in Arizona.

The fluidity of blog fora is something I celebrate. It might be an unstable medium, but thank goodness for that, that there's no one measuring your LSAT or GPA, or examining your school rank or journal membership (and if you care to know, plumb through my archives to parse out the loftiness of my credentials from my cumbersome-but-not-opaque pseudonyms). I can't believe that this little blog got me into contact with so many other amazing academics. You know, real law professors, not just aspiring ones. From faculty hiring chairs who without knowing the real me ask me when I'm going on the market, to the deans who become friends, to con law superstars who email me out of the blue, it's a demonstration of the little blog that could. Without this blog I can't imagine being invited to join the Jurisdynamics network, a much more august forum (even if younger than mine!). I did this blog an injustice by not writing more consistently, but if you know me (and if you are a long-time reader you do), you know that these 2000+ essays that take 1.5 hours to write don't come easily. And so rather than write shoddily, I chose not to write at all. But that doesn't mean that I never intended to write again.

I really do appreciate all the emails from readers gently prodding me back into the blogosophere. My real-life alter ego toils in such obscurity that such kind notice is quite flattering. Many of you understand that trying to keep up with academic writing can often supplant other writing goals (how Kermit Roosevelt ever wrote a novel while being a law prof), just as blogging can take over your life at the expense of your scholarship. Indeed, when I found myself obsessively checking my Sitemeter stats on an hourly basis, or writing blog posts full of typographical and spelling errors because my budgeted blog time was between 1 am to 3 am, I felt a complete burn out. So I had to take a break or else go mad. I was the Mariah Carey of blawggers.

But as I wrote to Peter et. al. on Opinion Juris, nothing like reports of your death to spur you to life.

I have not cross-posted something I wrote for MoneyLaw yet because I have been trying to figure out how to fix my template, and because I was toying with the idea of keeping my blogging gigs separate. But if that comes at the expense of this blog's mortality, well then. Just call me Money Belle.

So, I can't promise to blog every day, but I promise to blog more often, and my goal is a couple of times a week. At least. And do check out MoneyLaw. I can't praise it enough. It is funny how in my End of Eras post (which was a sort of Mariah Carey-esque "bye for now" post to signal that I couldn't post as regularly), I compared this blog to a house where you might pass by and wonder at the geraniums in the window. Peter maybe sees such empty structures as sad and hollow, a house ready to decay. I always like to think that the owners are just on vacation and will be back when they're ready.

And I'm ready. See you around.