Those reading this are no doubt fully aware, by now, of the recent disappearance of my former blog, martinjclemens.com. I didn’t make any kind of deal, big or small, about its closure. In fact, I didn’t say a word about it to anyone. That wasn’t by accident.
Those reading this likely also know about my personal troubles; that I’m consistent only in being inconsistent; that I tend to be unstable, in every sense of the word; that I live in a precarious state, both financially and emotionally; and that I often take things to heart which should not be taken to heart.
Writing a blog, popular or not (and I hold no illusions that my blog was popular in the…popular sense), comes with an unbalanced ledger of wins and losses. It’s a lot of work. Or, rather, it can be a lot of work. Glossing over the fact that writing well isn’t something everyone can do, there’s a good deal more to it than just being able to conjugate verbs. And I’ll tell you now, there were times that I really enjoyed all the extra work that comes with owning, running, and writing for a blog at any level of success. But it’s still a burden. I’m talking about all the thankless tasks one must endure, like learning how to build a blog, and keep it more or less up to date with the current standards and trends in web design, SEO, OpenGraph, Twitter Cards, link building, and mobile responsiveness. There’s also learning how to secure a website, and keep it secured. And comment systems, and moderating the constant stream of asshats who populate comment systems, for better or worse.
And this doesn’t even get to the point of owning a blog in the first place…writing content. When I started that blog – MJC was the third iteration of it over almost a decade of continuous operation – my interest in the topic was really sort of fleeting, and in fact, I chose weird shit because I felt like it was both an untapped well, and a bottomless pit. I was right and wrong on both counts. My curse was, essentially, that I can’t do a thing like that halfway. Over the years, I tried to go the easy route with posts. I tried to manufacture click-bait fluff, I tried lists, I tried posts filled mostly with pictures, I tried all of the shortcuts bloggers use to make it look like a blog is successful (because apparently volume is more important than substance in the blogging world). But I couldn’t keep that up, because I felt like I was cheating readers out of something. Which is ironic, given the final straw on my back. So I decided – and this was a conscious decision – that I wasn’t going to use any of those shortcuts. I decided that I was going to focus on quality over quantity. And as anyone who’s been with me for more than a year or two knows, quantity isn’t something I’m known for.
The point is, I think I succeeded. That work ethic, if you can call that a work ethic, somehow grabbed the attention of readers and other authorities in the field, and things seemed like they were going well. But nothing lasts forever…
It’s not just about being a capable writer. I said that before, but it’s an important point. There’s a lot that goes into a well written 1000+ word blog post on a topic like brain scanning technology, or the truth behind the Waffle Rock of West Virginia. There’s a lot of reading and research involved. And I mean a lot. There’s notes, and citations, and clipped links, sourcing journal articles and obscure books, and sorting through all the bullshit other people have flooded the world with on a given topic, to try and find the single small kernel of truth in it all. And then comes staring at a blank page and feeling like I have no idea what I’m talking about and no authority to say it, and “why would anyone ever read this tripe?”
It is…it was a constant struggle. But you know what? It was a struggle I was happy to undertake, because over those 10 years of reading, and researching, and writing, and struggling, I grew to love my chosen field of study. I met some amazingly brilliant and talented people doing exactly the same thing I was doing. I was invited to participate in a community that, to me, seemed more genuine and accepting than any I’d ever been involved with.
But seasons change. I soured, and I soured the work. Those topics that once fascinated me became old hat. They became the same-old, same-old BS that everyone and their brother was writing about, and saying the exact same things about. Everywhere I look is someone spewing their own distorted version of the truth, and selling it wholesale to virtually anyone with an ear to swallow it. Every once in a while I’d strike a vein of novelty and spark some discussion, but that was rare. Common was the tl:dr commentary from self-important and anonymous non-readers who always know better the topic at hand. Common was finding my hard work reproduced without credit or attribution on some disreputable website at the hands of some unscrupulous and lazy pseudo-intellect looking for quick traffic and ad money. All too common was me struggling to pay for my hosting and domain costs, all while watching others in my field enjoy the favour of the masses (and as such their revenue generating traffic) by producing precisely the thing I decided I wouldn’t.
Don’t get that twisted though, I’m glad they’re seeing success, such as it is. I’m glad they found a formula that works for them, lines their pockets, and keeps them intellectually satisfied. That’s not my concern. I actually don’t have a complaint, of them or of my own experience. These are simply the truths of blogging in the Fortean realm. Some of those truths even transcend a single subject and apply to blogging as a whole. My purpose here isn’t to disparage the online writing profession, it’s simply to say goodbye, and explain how I came to this end.
You see, all of the above is a burden – some of it heavier, some of it lighter – but it’s a burden nonetheless. And it was a burden I was willing – and even happy – to carry…but that’s changed. Whatever happened, whatever instability reared its head, whatever emotional bomb exploded in my head…I no longer find my opus interesting. I no longer feel like the cost of this endeavour is worth whatever reward I imagined was coming my way. I give up. I’m done.
That seems pretty final, I know, and maybe it is. I’m not a see’er of the future, I’m not a diviner of what’s to come, but the way I feel now offers a simple foreclosure on the idea that I’m a blogger, that I’m a writer. Ultimately, it was the financial costs of owning a website that marked the end of MJC, but that’s a shallow answer to the question “what happened to your blog?”
I said long ago, and a few times since then, that being good at writing is as useless a skill as you can find when you have nothing to say. For me, at least, that still rings true. I am still technically an official contributor to Mysterious Universe and The Daily Grail, and though MU seems to be going in a different direction than I would have predicted, I still have much respect for my fellow Fortean bloggers at both of those hallowed institutions. Over the last while I’ve been republishing older posts from MJC, spreading them between MU and TDG, but I haven’t composed anything new in some months. And I don’t feel like I will be doing so again in the foreseeable future. This might be the end, or it might just be an extended break.
I’d ask that you not write me off, but just accept that I’m still finding my way.