Let's commune a bit over the topic of blogging. You may have noticed I haven't done much of it in the past week-and-a-half.
Whenever I have these occasional near droughts, I inevitably get very kind and concerned emails asking if everything is well.
I usually say - as I will now - that everything is just fine. In fact, if I can borrow a classic relationship cliche: it's not you; it's me!
It's also not my job. I can't complain about my job. Fact is, outside of clergyman, astronaut, parent, teacher, wealthy-but-lazy heir, porn star (kidding!), or overpaid athlete, I have the best gig in the world.
But blogging can be weirdly draining sometimes, when you do it in addition to reporting the news - serious or lighthearted news.
Years ago I developed a thick skin when it came to critiques of my reporting. I had to or I would have gone crazy. At the time I was the cops/crime reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And most of my reporting had to do with the general woes and growing pains of the city's struggling Northside neighborhoods, where the vast majority of violent crime was committed. I was also writing about the inner workings and office politics of the police department. The kick I got out of reader comments then was that none were on the fence. Either readers would call or write to say they appreciated the light I'd shed on a particular crime or law enforcement issue, or they'd call and write to say a trained chimp could've done a better job telling the truth than me.
But blogging's different. At most mainstream news outlets, reporters blog because its an opportunity they don't have in their news stories to opine on topics they strongly care about. So when your reward leans toward the mental, the emotional, or the academic, as opposed to material, I think you care more about how your work is received.
If you've read my rants for any amount of time, you know there's no single topic for me. I'm all over the place. And I appreciate the feedback, even the crazy stuff most of the time. But for every thoughtful comment - whether in agreement or disagreement with my opinion - I often get an equal or greater number of emails from people whose comments are personal and peppered with venom.
Yeah, I'm grown. And I'm a big boy. And after this post I'll continue to welcome all commenters - even those whose writing suggests they're not all that bright.
But surely you understand that when the debates get mean-spirited for no other reason than an individual can't figure out how to voice opposition in a sensible way, inspiration to share your opinion can be temporarily in short supply.
So every now and then I have to purge myself for a few days of all writing that requires my opinion. I have to do only old-fashioned reporting. I have to make sure my life outside of work is healthy and not on life-support. And I have to re-balance things, get my Zen back in order.
All that being said, I had a good clarification "session" most of last week. And now we have some blogging to do.
For starters, here is an article I had in today's paper. No opinion, just the facts.