I wish the title of this post foreshadowed a review of John Barth’s Sabbatical, but I’m really writing to announce that I’m interrupting indefinitely my blogging activity at St. Orberose.
For more than a year now I’ve been thinking of closing this place up; at first my reason had to do with my difficulty in reconciling my needing time to write a novel with my keeping a blog. I began my novel in September 2013 as a project that I thought would take up a few months only; but a few months became around two years as I grew more entangled in the responsibility of writing something I could be proud of; so that meant sacrificing practically all my personal life to it: I gave up going to the movies, going out with friends, visiting relatives; I moved from a full- to a part-time job to have more hours. Eventually last January I was fired, and I was actually elated because I acquired more spare time to finish my novel. (Writing does strange things to the mind, is what I’m saying.) Blogging was in fact the time-wasting activity I most tenaciously clung to – because the one I most liked – as I slowly divested myself of everything else.
Anyway, that was my reason at first; my current reason is because I feel despondent, bitter and unsociable right now. I finished a novel I can’t interest any editor in publishing it; to keep myself busy while jobless I translated a novel I can’t interest any editor in publishing it either; and a few weeks ago I finally got a new dreary office job that, although a monetary relief, is of no interest to me with its rigid routine. So little in my life has turned out the way I hoped. As if this weren’t bad enough, notwithstanding my feeble first frolic through the world of letters I’ve been at work on a second, equally useless book for months now; why I don’t know; perhaps because nothing else cheers me up except writing, although insanabile cacoethes scribendi is not all it’s cracked up to be; in my case it cracked me up to such an extent I still can’t find joy except when I’m writing – hardly a recipe for happiness when the world isn’t built to make life easier for someone who takes joy in writing. No, I guess the real reason for the second book is because, at the age of 31, not having accomplished anything of value, it helps me pretend I’m not a total failure, although it doesn’t help that well since I know full well I am one.
I should have ended St. Orberose, as I intended, after the “Eça de Queiroz Month”, the best thing I wrote for my blog. Instead I let it wither with growingly-infrequent posts that were becoming more and more tedious to cobble together. So instead of going out on a bombastic bang, it ends with a whinny whimper. Well, why not? So much of my life has followed that pattern recently, why should my blog be exempt from it? I always wanted it to be a reflection of my self – so I guess it is.
I don’t plan to disappear; I’ll be around reading other blogs and commenting whenever I can; I’ll continue to exchange e-mails with some of the wonderful bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting and who have entertained, delighted and taught me so much about literature and other things. I enjoyed very much these years belonging to the merry band of book bloggers, which includes some of the kindest, funniest and smartest people I’ve met. I hope my critical scribbles have been as enjoyable and worthwhile to those who came across them as so many blogs out there have been for me. And let me thank everybody who read my blog and took the time to comment; and apologize for so many asinine, impatient, ungenerous views about books. I had to write a fickle one to realize how hard it is to write literature; it’s so easy to patch up a few sentences to tear apart writers who can combine words in a more complex, vivid, unpredictable, emotional way than I can ever hope to achieve. If my useless novel has taught me how to read others with more care and tolerance, perhaps it’s not a complete fiasco.
Shantih shantih shantih