This blog (1) – Mark Avery

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If you visit this blog a week today, on 22 April, you won’t find a new post here as this blog is downsizing for 6 months – and then I’ll decide what to do next. If that comes as a complete shock to you, as it has to a few people I’ve spoken to over the last few days, then that shows you aren’t a regular reader or you haven’t been paying attention. Rather than the question ‘Why are you stopping?’ the more interesting question is ‘Why did you ever start?’.

As best I can remember, the answers were, at the time:

  • habit (because I had written a blog for the RSPB for nearly two years)
  • to pass the time
  • as a shop window for my post-RSPB career (whatever that was going to be)
  • because I liked writing

Habit? Yes, once you start writing a daily blog then your mindset becomes ‘I could write a blog about that’ and you are always on the alert for how the mundane can be turned into something interesting either because the mundane really is interesting or because your writing can make it interesting. That’s how I have spent every day of the last decade writing this blog (and some of the two years before too).

To pass the time? Well, it really would have passed anyway, but in the decade since my first post here, I have published 8,415 posts in the roughly 3,653 days – that’s over two a day on average, for a decade. What were you doing on 21 April 2011? And what have you done 3,653 times since then? There’s no need to tell me. I haven’t written all those posts but I have been responsible for all of them, loaded them all up onto the system and fiddled about with them and moderated the comments they have attracted. It’s been a blast – I’ve enjoyed it.

Shop window? I really didn’t know what the world would offer me, and what I would choose to take, a decade ago, but it seemed a good idea to have shop window. It was a good idea and I’m very glad I did it. Over the next week I will post some blogs about what this blog has done, in my opinion, and I’ll use them to thank some people who have helped along the way, but a couple of people, with whom I’m not really in touch now, set up this website (I wouldn’t have had a clue) and got me on the road as it were. I’m grateful to them, and looking at this website today, it still looks pretty good to me. And it’s simple enough that I have made almost all the changes to it over time without having to ask, or pay, experts for help. It’s a source of satisfaction to me that I’ve done that.

I like writing? Yes, I do. I like talking too. I guess I like communicating, and the good thing about a blog is that nobody interrupts. When I left the RSPB I very deliberately went on a trip, a wonderful trip as it turned out, on my own. I drove across the USA from Washington DC to Los Angeles by a peculiar route over a period of seven weeks. It was a period of detox for me and I wrote a blog post every day as I travelled – in motel rooms from South Carolina to Montana and from New York to California. If you dip into the post I wrote on 15 June (in an overly expensive Los Angeles motel room) you’ll see that I had decided that writing would be a part of my future. Lucky I had a blog, then.

Over the next few days, I’ll write some conventional blog posts but I’ll also write some blogs about what I think this blog has achieved in a decade. And after 21 April the next blog posts will only (probably, more or less) happen at weekends until 21 October when I will have decided whether to pick up the blogging challenge again or whether to gently fade away (and if I knew, for sure, what the answer would be, then I’d tell you now).

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