On this day I begin my forty-eighth year. Time, beaut-i-ful friends, to bring things to a discrete conclusion at this blog, I think. Thank you to all those who've read and commented over the years; and I'm sorry to disappoint those of you who have asked me to keep going with it. I have enjoyed doing it, by and large; but by the same token it has entailed a great many bouts of long, hard work, for which I have neither been paid nor enjoyed any other material benefit -- rather the reverse, indeed, as the myriad commentors who have deprecated my more negative reviews have assured me. The energies that I've been putting into this blog are needed on another project.
Indeed, it seems to me that the interesting thing in a small non-event such as the closure of this blog is not the blog itself, which won't be missed (there being so many other online forums for SF discussion and review, many of which have done what I never have by way of garnering prizes and other testaments of community esteem). No, what's interesting is the appearance of the word 'sorry' in the first paragraph there. It is, I suppose, intriguingly symptomatic that I feel obliged to apologise for discontinuing the provision of free, publically available reviews and essays. I'm not being sarcastic when I say that; I genuinely do feel bad for stopping punkadiddling; for even though my audience has never been very large, binning this blog still feels rather like letting them down. In turn I wonder if that is one very small example of a very large shift in the Republic of Letters. Once upon a time writers were paid in money, but now writers are paid (in the first instance at any rate) in eyeballs, which may or may not at a later stage, underpants-gnomically, turn into money. Part of this new logic is that the writer ought to be grateful simply to have the attention of those eyeballs. I'm as deep into this new economy as anybody, of course; I read many thousands of fresh new words, free, online every day. But I wonder if it doesn't have more downsides than ups. Take the material contained in the archives of this blog. If the sort of thing I write is worth paying for then I'm a mug to give it away for free; and if it isn't worth paying for (of course a great deal of online writing isn't) then I'm wasting everyone's time, including my own, carrying on. To quote my beloved William Blake: enough! Or too much?