On Standby


So here’s the thing.

Regular visitors may have noticed a few things around here recently. Shorter posts. Fewer posts.  Even fewer responses than usual (by me) to the very kind Comments left. New series’ started then quickly dropped or left in limbo (actually, that’s not that unusual).

I’ve realised that I’ve got a bit bored, disinterested, unmotivated to keep doing this.

See, I’m a lazy old sod at heart. To keep me interested in long-term projects like this, I need to have targets to reach, deadlines to beat. And the thing is, at the start of the year I set myself a target which I passed a month or so ago, and it’s been since then that I’ve found it hard to write anything.

I’ll try to explain. I think this writer’s block/burn-out/call it what you will happens to many of us every now and then; I certainly can think of at least two regular readers who have decided to take some time out, or reduce their output, recently in order to reignite their interest (and it seems to have worked for them, by the way). And when they announced their intentions, I left them what I hope were encouraging comments, about how it’s important that you recognise that when writing becomes a chore it’s time to take a break, how once you start chasing the statistics which you get supplied when you write one of these blogs it can become quite addictive (and that should be avoided), and not to worry if you need to take a little time out because your readers will wait for you. (I still have When You Can’t Remember Anything saved in my favourites in the hope that Badger and SWC will start it up again; old-time bloggers may remember a great blog called Best of Both Worlds – that stayed in my favourites for at least a year after the writer died, just in case.)

My real life friends and family will be spluttering in surprise at my mention of not chasing the statistics, for every one of them will tell you that on the occasions when they have unwisely stumbled into a conversation with me about this place, very little time has passed before I’m waving my phone under their noses, showing them how many hits this place gets.

Earlier this year, I tried an experiment. I’m very aware that the most popular thing I write here is The Chain and I wanted to see what happened if I stopped writing it for a while. Yes, I know I told you all it was because it took up too much time (sorry!) and that really was part of it.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that visits here didn’t drop off, in fact they increased.

I’ll show you what I mean, and forgive me if what I’m about to write seems boastful or self-indulgent, it’s not intended to, it’s merely to illustrate the point.

I started writing this blog in 2013. In 2013, the site attracted 1 “hit”, and I think that was probably me checking it worked.

In 2014, 70 hits. Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly setting the blogging world alight at this point.

In 2015, 2,316 hits. A marked improvement. I can’t pretend I wasn’t delighted.

And then, in 2016, three things happened. Firstly, quite a lot of “my era” pop stars and celebrities started keeling over and dying and suddenly I had plenty of material to write about. Secondly, in April 2016 I wrote the first post in The Chain. And thirdly, and most importantly, several more of my blogging peers added a link to this place on their blogs (I think a couple may have done so in 2015). I know before I started blogging, browsing the sidebar on blogs I followed was my doorway to finding more and more great blogs, incredible writing and wonderful tunes, and I’m forever indebted to those of you who like what I do enough here to endorse it on your own blogs.

So in 2016, the blog had 36,963 hits, which frankly blew me away.

And so come 2017 I set myself the target of at least equalling that.

And here we are, October 2017, and I’ve passed 40,000 hits. Again, I’m blown away.

Back in 2015, I was delighted if the blog got 100 hits in a month. Now, I find myself getting annoyed if I’ve not hit that in a day, or more recently, if I’ve not hit 1000 in a week.

I know, I know. Arrogant and vain, not characteristics I admire in anyone else, less still in myself.

And on top of that, I’ve found I have very little time to do other stuff. My weekends are generally spent either writing here, or trying to think of stuff to write about, or trying to find songs suggested for The Chain. This weekend, I intended to move the unit which houses my turntable and vinyl approximately six inches to the left. Did I do it? No. I have a flat-pack cabinet which has been propped up in the corner of my living room for two weeks now which needs at the very least opening. In an effort to lose some weight I bought a rowing machine in January 2016, and I still haven’t put that together. The composite parts just get rearranged around the living room every couple of months.

So for a couple of weeks now I’ve been thinking about taking a break, and just catching up on life.

And then two things happened this week that made me decide the time is right.

Firstly, I realised on Sunday evening that I hadn’t even started to try and source the records for the scheduled edition of The Chain this week. Normally, I have this nailed down by Saturday lunchtime and am just waiting for the last suggestions to come in. And my reaction was not to buckle down and get it sorted; instead I decided it could wait another week.

And secondly, Tom Petty died. I’m not a massive fan of Petty, but there a couple of songs of his that I like, one of which reminds me of happy times in my early twenties working in the Virgin Megastore in Cardiff, which I thought I might write about. But when it came to it, I decided to watch some TV instead. And ignore the flat-pack cabinet/rowing machine for at least another day.

So a break it is. Not for long. Two or three weeks maybe.

And I know that a day or two after I’ve posted this, I’ll think of something I want to write about, or hear a song that sparks a memory that I want to share, or, more likely, Trump, Farage or Johnson will say or do something that makes me so fucking furious I won’t be able to stop myself.

So I will be back. The Chain will be back. Most of the other old favourites will be back. Maybe some new ones.

Until then, friends:


Grandaddy – I’m On Standby

More soon(ish).

(And when I do, that bloody sign-off is getting changed.)


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Contact me by email at: dubioustaste26@gmail.com Follow me on Twitter: @atastehistory Or do both. Whatever.

24 thoughts on “On Standby”

  1. From my point of view, the hiatus is an absolute must. As you know I’m posting very irregularly at the moment and it’s so much better for me this way. I’m more chilled out and find myself enjoying more foreign language crime dramas on Netflix than I did before. Result! Looking forward to your return but don’t rush it. We’ll all be the better for it.

  2. I have a lot to say on this and don’t want to fill your comments boxes but will send a message later – As you know I’ve been there, so understand how you feel. Only fellow bloggers understand this kind of addiction (a lot of it down to the stats granted) and non-bloggers would find it ridiculous, but definitely “a thing”. My bit of advice however would be to also have a holiday from reading the other blogs you follow, which I didn’t do. A clean break for about four weeks will really make you see all this malarkey for what it is – Something really quite wonderful, and truly special, but ultimately virtual – You must never let it take over from the real world (which I think it did for me for a while).

    I can see that poor neglected rowing machine just crying out for usage and whatever happened to my challenge that you take enough time out to find yourself a Mrs Jez by the end of the year? I expect to hear of some progress having been made on that front after this break!

    Actually I’ve ended up saying enough now I think so no need for a message but just a little analogy I thought of when I was writing a post that included the song from the TV Show Cheers – Just like Sam Malone’s bar in Boston, I think of this little corner of the blogosphere as being such a place: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same, you wanna be where everybody knows your name”. (Ok my cred now totally gone!)

    Thanks to stumbling upon your blog I feel I have now made some tremendous like-minded virtual friends – Enjoy the break and look forward to seeing some posts from you when you’re all fired up and enthusiastic again, it should never, ever be a chore. Take care.

  3. I totally can understand every word you wrote Jez and it’s the same to me. Take your hiatus and cool down. Don’t set yourself under pressure and I am sure all the other bloggers will understand your descision. I am looking forward when you’ll be back at his place.

  4. I’ve said many times before in various comments sections that I really do take my hat off to those of you who can find the time and the continued motivation to blog on a regular basis. I assume that you’re all doing this for fun, but obviously when there are other pressures and tasks there, it can become more chore-like and difficult to justify the time spent.

    I set up a blog page on 29th July. I have yet to post anything to it, as I feel obliged to prioritise other things – my resignation period from the swimming club is dragging on forever as no-one is willing to pick up certain tasks and I’m not prepared to let the club and its 130+ young swimmers suffer because of that. It’s a shame as I would certainly have written Walter Becker and Tom Petty tributes.

    So, enjoy and make the most of your time out – it’s well-deserved. Looking forward to your return, refreshed and as entertaining as ever.

  5. Right decision, mate, take your time and come back relaxed and full of fine new ideas! As mentioned above: it will forever be beyond my understanding how someone can find something interesting to write about on a daily basis … these people have my deepest respect indeed!

    As for the rowing machine: bugger off and go to a pub instead, that’s much more worthwile at the end of the day!

  6. As everyone above says! I know so many of us identify with everything you’ve said, the blogging mojo comes and goes, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes not, and that’s fine. What I love about this place is that doesn’t feel pressured, we all ‘get it’ and no-one feels any obligation to post or comment or whatever, in fact everything anyone does is a bonus, a lovely add-on to normal life – and it’s not meant to be the other way around!
    Take care, enjoy your recharge time and look forward to more whenever that may be.

  7. It’s all been said by my learned friends, except for two things:
    1) My advice is don’t look at stats. I’ve done so exactly 3 times since I set up my blog in 2008, usually as a result of other bloggers mentioning them. On my last look (a couple of months back) I noted that I had between 25 and 60 hits per post according to the stats page I checked in on and I’m still not sure if that’s good or bad. There were all kinds of other graphs and things available, but I really couldn’t be arsed to work out what they all meant. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing and we’re enjoying what you’re doing (and we are), stats don’t matter.
    2) I’m gutted that you didn’t take this God-given opportunity to feature ‘On Standby’ by Shed Seven. Gutted.
    Enjoy your feng shui Jez. We expect to see photographic evidence of a fully constructed cabinet and well used rowing machine on your return.

  8. Re-charge and return.You always write with wit and wisdom and do “source” lots of material. I’ve got to admit I get a it Stat-obsessed but my net is extremely wide so I’m not used to great rapport with visitors. It’s a bit like a tacky Gift Shop in Skegness where people come into to browse, some come in for a laugh, some find something useful. Your blog always amazes on what you can write, The Chain was amazing! Kick back and enjoy a little rest.

  9. My posts tend to be short and often with little or no work involved unlike The Chain for example
    It is easy to burn out or struggle for inspiration
    When it’s a chore time to step back for a bit but I have every confidence that you will return refreshed soon

  10. Completely understand, Jez, take your time, pal. I went through a similar process at the beginning of the summer. And as you say, after a week or so I started getting ideas for new posts. Rather than launch right back into it though, I built up a collection which have served me very well in August and September once I restarted. It now looks like I’m blogging almost every day, which would be bloody impossible at this time of year, the start of a new year etc. Being as busy as I am right now though, it’s good to have a stash of I Made This One Earliers to keep me going, interspersed with the occasional new one.

    Sorry, it’ a all about me me me, isn’t it? The only reason I’m telling you this is because you might want to consider something similar before jumping back in: it takes the pressure off. Or you might wish to ignore me completely. Most sane people do.

    Whatever, enjoy yourself. We’ll miss you. Send the occasional postcard.

    (I still don’t know how anyone could produce something like The Chain on a weekly basis and hold down a job / life at the same time. That will always make you a legend in the blogging community.)

  11. I agree with everyone, and echo GreatGog’s statement of admiration for those of you who actually maintain blogs on an ongoing basis. I love to submit the occasional bit at JC’s place, but there’s never any pressure to do so. Pretty sure I don’t have that in me like you guys. So, my respect and understanding and I look forward to reading you again when you damn well feel like it.

  12. The great thing about telling everyone you’re going to have a break is that you get all these fine comments – Feelin’ the love? Also when you start again everyone jumps in with fine comments then too. The challenge is keeping it going the rest of the time – Wait until you really feel the need to post something and it will become fun again.

    1. I’ve been trying to work out how to respond to all the kind words, without actually writing a post, which seems a little contradictory. To all who have left a comment, cheers, much appreciated! (And so many hits….!)

  13. I agree with Dirk about the rowing machine. I am finding I difficult to post as often as I used to and mines are short , petty and Ill-informed, to steal a phrase from a great show on Radio Scotland, compared to the thought and effort you put into yours.

    Do what makes you happy.

    This comment is longer than many of my posts of late.

  14. Many moons ago before Fibre optic using a 56k dial up I myself wrote a reasonably sucessfull blog going under the title of sounds of the suburbs. For over 2 years I would dutifully penn my thoughts and ilustrate them with downloadable links. 5 days a week I would do this after work, it became rather a ritual. Then I did what turned out to be Reginald Perrin, I went on holiday to a wonderful place without internet and in many ways never quite came back. I lft a lovely photo for my readers saying I’d gone on hoilday and would be back in three weeks, but upon my return my work load was too much and I never got round to picking up where I had left off. I regret it in many ways and have often thought of starting another adventure maybe one day…… All this to say I will understand if you retire but would love to see you back. Thanks for the good times.

  15. I can certainly relate, Jez. In my case, I was posting almost every day for the first three years – then the rot set in. I’m one of that small coterie of bloggers whose knickers get in a twist when there are lots of downloads and next to no comments.

    I’m sure once you take a break, your enthusiasm will return. Why not forget the Chain for awhile, even when you come back? That gargantuan obligation looming every week must surely have been exhausting.

    A wee request from a fusspot: When you do come back, could you add the final “s” to It’s All in the Grooves in your blogroll? Thanks! 😉

  16. Cheers for your commitment to all things Chain-y, Clappy, Clicky, Whistly and Stargaze-y.
    Stuff & Nonsense went dormant for a bit this year because I ran out of inspiration/stuff to say/something exciting or just plain boring drivel.
    I can’t be ar*ed to write anything most weeks, so how you can come up with original material for The Chain and all other regulars, well my gast is truly flabbered
    (and that goes to all other erstwhile bloggers out there)

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