Still alive!

by Suw on July 12, 2009

Dear me, it’s been ages since I last wrote a blog post here. How things have changed since I first started Chocolate and Vodka seven years ago!

Mainly, the problem has been one of time and energy. The last few years seem to have been an almost constant sequence of events and projects that have taken all my attention and left me little time to blog, and even less inclination. I think being on Twitter has rather decreased the desire to write here too – if I have something on my mind I can tell everyone via Twitter and get pretty much instant feedback. In the years BT (Before Twitter), if I got myself some sort of brainworm, it would just wriggle round in my head until I finally found time to get it out into a blog post. Now that happens a lot less often. Mostly, I think to myself “I must blog that some time” and then promptly forget it.

Back then I also had a life that I really wanted to escape from. When I started this blog, I was living on my own in Reading, knew no one there, rarely socialised, and was stressed beyond belief trying to get my business to work. When it failed, I used my blog and my online network of friend to keep me sane. The blog then wasn’t a luxury, it was a necessity. Without it I would have felt intolerably isolated and unhappy.

Then I started consulting, moved to London, started the Open Rights Group, met my husband, got married, moved house twice, and generally got myself so busy that half the time I barely knew which way to turn. My underemployed days were over. And when business wasn’t doing great, I busied myself trying to plump up my client list, and blogging then felt like the ultimate indulgence.

I wonder too if I shouldn’t have kept all my writing here, on Chocolate and Vodka. My other blogs, notably Kits and Mortar, Lost Yod, and Finding Ada could, I suppose, all have lived as categories here, but for some reason that didn’t quite feel right. I wonder if perhaps I shouldn’t amalgamate them, bring them all in under Chocolate and Vodka’s roof and at least then there’d be a bit more blogging going on.

I’m not sure why I create a new site every time I have a new idea. I think part of it is because I worry that those of you who come here to find out about me, or my writing, or whatever it is that draws you here, would be put off by an influx of posts about cats or self-build, or women in tech, or jewellery-making. But even having created, say, Kits and Mortar to be home to my thoughts on moggies and house building, even there I worry that the balance is wrong, and that those who go there for building ideas would be pissed off if I write too much about cats.

To be fair, I did think that Kits and Mortar might become more commercial than it is. Yes, ok, it’s got advertising on it, but I don’t have the time or the wherewithal to really make it work as a pro-blog. I think in the year and a bit it’s been live I’ve earnt probably about 20 quid from the ads, so it’s hardly worth it. And although lots of people told me when I launched it that it was a great niche idea and that I could make a killing, the only thing it killed was time.

Part of the fear of being as much of an intellectual magpie – ooh! shiny! – as I am is that people will view me as a generalist and will think less of me because of it. This is a theme that both Stephanie Troeth and Stephanie Booth have discussed in recent days, and I feel that both of them have hit the nail on the head.

But the truth is that I have always had what might these days be diagnosed as ADD. I don’t think that it’s a disorder – I think it’s just curiosity. I am curious about everything, from what makes cats tick to how to have large windows without wasting huge amounts of energy through them to the jewellery styles favoured by the Elizabethans.

So I find myself seriously considering migrating all the content from all my other blogs to here, and shutting them down. I’m paying quite a bit, yearly, on hosting fees that perhaps I don’t need to. Certainly I’ve given up on the idea that I’m ever going to have time to focus fully on Kits and Mortar or Lost Yod, or even the ill-fated Fruitful Seminars. Finding Ada I’ll probably keep as a separate entity as it may one day grow up to be a bigger organisation than it currently is, but the rest of it really is just me exploring whatever takes my fancy. And what is Chocolate and Vodka for if not for me to take my fancy wherever it wants to go?

Gordon Rae July 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

Ahhh, so that’s what’s been going on! I really identify with a lot in this post. Twitter gives me the satisfaction of blogging, but in a totally different time-frame (periodicity, yay) Having lots of work stops me hanging out on teh Interwebs cruising for intellectual companionship. And I daren’t try and start a relationship, in case it borks my chances of being rich and famous for good.

I don’t think you have ADD. I think you are a curious polymath and a stranger tractor. I mean.. well, you know what I mean. Even Stephen Fry has started to apologise for not posting very often. So…take your fancy and run with it.

Lily July 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm

It’s really interesting to read that because I definitely understand the desire to keep content separate – I actually spent this weekend taking my women-in-tech blog and separating it from my ‘personal’ site so that it has it’s own identity for people specifically interested in it to follow, and like you, I hope that it might grow into something larger as I get more involved in that world. At the same time, I already know that my personal site isn’t going to grow very much because I don’t have time to generate content for it. I hope that you find a good way to balance your online content, I’ll be interested to see which way you choose to go.

Carl Morris July 13, 2009 at 12:34 pm

On hosting you could probably roll it all into an overlord reseller account and put all the hosting eggs there?

Also, if “ADD” worked for the likes of Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci then it works for me too.

Happy blogging – as and when.

Jonathan Brusby July 13, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Very thought provoking post…it’s an interesting conundrum that many are facing.

I’ve been thinking recently how we’re having to learn to adapt ourselves to the new technological world, learn how to edit our own lives in a public sphere.

We try to second guess what our audience will or won’t be interested in, and try to compartmentalise different areas of life/business to give a sense of coherence. But maybe people actually prefer some juxtaposition of topics? Just like there’s a trend for businesses to write blogs and engage in social media , not just about their dealings but including aspects of daily life and opinions that they think will connect with consumers. It gives them a more human face, which I think is what people are looking for these days – more feeling of openness and understanding. So perhaps there isn’t a need to grow so many tentacles across the web to separate out all our interests…

And curiosity is good and healthy. Feel free to write about whatever takes your fancy. I doubt anyone will complain, probably the opposite.

Caitlin July 20, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Yay, for being a generalist! I think it’s entirely possible to have three or four specialties – after that then they are probably no longer specialties. I totally relate to always wanting to try new topics on for size – and for feeling less urge to blog now that Twitter exists. I loved your post on that Morgan Stanley ‘research note’ recently by the way.

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