All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
I suppose the same could be said about many book blogs. So many people fretting about this or that about themselves, it reminds me of the youth in this poem. So insecure, so quick to see insult even when none is intended, so worried to make sure everything is "fun" and yet "good." It is not like the beginning, wondering if there would be any readers at all, when all the world is indeed that vast stage upon which the blogger can make his or her entrance or exit unnoticed.
After a while, though, things change. There might be a "mid-blog crisis," where one wonders if s/he's lost everything of value to gain material treasures. Or perhaps there's an age-hardened cynical phase, where the blogger just feels as though s/he's seen it all (or close enough) and doesn't want to run in the rat race any longer. Sometimes, just sometimes, that blogger might just rediscover something in narrowing the connections and returning to that rich self-exploration that might not garner him/her many followers but instead rewards her/him with wisdom that was lacking when s/he was sallying forth to engage foes in spirited Twitter/Facebook/blog comment arguments.
That final stage is what I hope I'm reaching now. After blogging for nearly 6.5 years and modding a major fantasy fansite's "other fantasy" section for a further 3, there have to be new challenges or at least a return to older readings to rejuvenate. Hopefully, some of the newer bloggers will come to realize that blogging isn't about challenges, review copies, contests, conventions, and their ilk. Those are extraneous to the discoveries that can take place when one dares to enjoy things below the surface level. Perhaps those who do delve deeper and learn to question what is being read know the secrets to entertainment a bit more than others might realize...