Housekeeping

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And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot…

‘Macbeth’

I’ve fallen into the habit of posting every two days with either a review or a discussion; I’ve also found it’s becoming a bit obsessive. Well, more than a bit if I’m honest. I’ve always tried to post regularly (bearing in mind WordPress advice regarding maintaining a blog) but the curse of social media online is that increasingly we’re living in the here and now, too often ignoring the past and future darknesses which the light from this very moment’s candle doesn’t reach.

When I look at my stats over the years I see that the greater part of the site’s traffic occurs in the winter months, tailing off in the summer; but that hasn’t stopped me feeling that, if I don’t keep posting, posting, posting, followers will stop visiting, my online presence will fade, I’ll become a shadow presence and my idiot tales will be heard no more …

I know very well where this personal malaise comes from, fuelled by multiple sources, many of which you will be familiar with since they’ll be common to many of us in these strange times. And I know that reading and blogging represent distractions from the many stark realities that would overwhelm me if they were all that I chose to contemplate.

Which leads me on to housekeeping.

This blog is fast approaching its tenth anniversary, sometime in March or April 2022. Looking back over the early posts I’ve been struck by a few things; principally they’ve been that many posts have been ephemeral, and that some half-decent reviews attracted little notice. Some of the ephemera can be (and much has now been) safely deleted: these have included mutterings about spam and hiccups in WordPress processes, or political rants (chiefly about Brexit and demagoguery) and reblogs (particularly those past their ‘use by’ date). Unless they were followed by lengthy or worthy responses in the comments section they are now gone, deleted, ex-posts, dead parrots which have joined the choir invisible. (Unless they’re archived in some way-back machine in the Cloud.)

So, like the poor woman who’d lost a drachma, I’ve lit my lamp and swept through my domain to seek out the missing treasure among the dross, gems to flourish aloft and proclaim Hurrah! Look at what I’ve retrieved! I’ve already been rescheduling past reviews now and again for reposting, and I shall continue to do so—essays you may have missed, or weren’t aware of because they appeared before your time here.

Are you like this too? I know a number of you repost past compositions, dusting off the cobwebs and displaying them afresh, but do you also clear out accumulated lumber that’s no longer relevant, or not up to your current standards, or simply cluttering up your storage?

49 thoughts on “Housekeeping

  1. First of all, congrats, Chris! I will be congratulating you properly on or around the fateful date in 2022, but even now – to maintain a blog that’s been around for almost 10 years is very impressive!!! 😀

    As for the housekeeping, nah. I’m too busy with the regular type – and with reading and posting 1 review per week – to fret about the blog’s cobwebbed corners 😉 They have a special charm to me, anyway – it’s like reading an old diary that can transport you back in time and let you see the person you were back then: almost the same as now, buy never entirely 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks, Ola. 😊 I see I have written well over 1200 posts so far over the last nine or so years (and, by the way, I still feel a newbie as I know a few bloggers who’ve been going way longer than that!) but I know by the law of averages or some similar mathematical legality that there’ll be some stinkers among them that need pruning. Since WP tells me I’m up to 88% of my allowed free storage I’m looking to delay the moment when I have to fork out some dosh for a paid site…

      Still, I do like the idea of a blog being like an old diary—wasn’t that how they started out, as a ‘Web log’?—but at least with a virtual journal you can go back and edit the bits where you show your less than virtuous self!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think I am rather of your inclination when it comes to regarding the blog as a kind of public/ personal record.

      The old post of mine that sometimes do get a little google traction are indications of what’s on people’s minds. Or rather – what content has currently received a social media push from someplace or other.

      For example – my posts on the Pentrich Martyrs, P.G. Wodehouse, the Taranto rebellion, Sarah Remond, Gregory Corso, and “In Parenthesis” are regularly “discovered” and receive a (small) burst of hits. And for some reason, the 2013 Hokey Pokey post is a perennial favorite.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha, I’ll definitely check out your Hokey Pokey post then! 😀 8 years and running, it must be something!
        Yes, I too have some older posts that remain quite popular – I guess I can thank Google for it, as it directs the adventurous searchers of reviews of some choice titles to our blog 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations in advance on the approaching anniversary.

    Housekeeping is something I am honestly very much in need of doing, both in real life and on wordpress. But jokes aside, I am in the process of going though my posts so far, clearing out a few and also organising what I keep better for I realised, I’ve been really sloppy with this so far.

    Looking forward to reading the old treasures you have identified.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mallika, I try not to make too much of a song and dance about special occasions, but I feel it’s nice to note them when they’re coming up or to mark them as they arrive.

      Good luck with your own housekeeping! Meanwhile I shall have to consider which reviews and discussions are worth resurrecting for a new outing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m very happy to see that you will be reblogging some of your older posts because I’ve only followed you for about a year and I love reading your thought-provoking posts 😊 Congratulations on almost 10 years 🎉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so pleased you think my posts are thought-provoking, Veronica, in a good way I hope rather than screaming at some crass statement I’ve made! I have no idea what will guide my choices of what to repost but it will probably be spur of the moment decisions, and some will undoubtedly include children’s books, mainly from late pre-teens to YA but possibly earlier too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. piotrek

    I reposted several times, and I’m looking forward to seeing what old gems you’ll show us 🙂 I like to sometimes browse through old posts on my favourite blogs, these little, brilliant essays deserve to live longer than a few days after publication…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mini-essays are indeed what many of my reviews are turning into, Piotrek—all I need to add now are abstracts, conclusion and references!

      But reposting is now my preferred strategy rather than reblogging, because all the latter usually does is to give you a short extract followed by a link to the original post. In an age of short attention spans and instant online gratification, such processes represent a frustrating extra step for many of us not enamoured by clickbait invitations to ‘read on’ for more salacious tittle-tattle.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve been blogging for 13 years (14 coming up on Feb. 3) and the only thing I’ve ever cleaned out is the literary quiz I used to post on Fridays for a while, from the printed version of my blog. I order a print copy every year in February. I keep everything online, though, so I can admit to my mistakes and sometimes the crossness that made me dislike a good book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hah, I knew I was an inexperienced greenhorn compared to hardened oldtimers … I was going to add ‘like you’ until I realised that didn’t sound good! Admitting to mistakes and irritation is essential for an honest record, I agree, and when I delete and lightly edit I try to retain that honesty, not adapting any opinions for any false expediency.

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  6. I should do more housekeeping on my blog, and sometimes I have little fits of it. I don’t really repost, but do like referring back to old stuff – and am thinking about adding some more compilation posts and index pages for some of my topical posts, like my ephemera ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pleased there are others who feel the need for housekeeping! Your mention of compilation posts and, especially, index pages reminds me that I really ought to tidy up my categories, if not tags — except I’m never sure if anyone ever really uses them to find their way here or to navigate around the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The productivity bears a direct relationship with the amount of leisure time I have, thanks to retirement! In fact it almost equates to a job in terms of preparation, writing and aftercare, and because it’s not paid work I do it for sheer enjoyment, not because it’s a monetary commitment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Frankly, I never do any housekeeping and I should – particularly as some of my early posts were a tad basic. Maybe when I get closer to my 10th next year I will do! Look forward to seeing what else you come up with – I always find your posts most interesting!

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  8. How interesting that you repost to engage a more recent audience with past writing. And that you choose not to reblog. I enjoy digging back through posts on blogs I’m new to, using tags and categories to curate my journey. Your Talking Tolkien is a case in point.

    Although I’ve blogged in different guises and on different platforms for around 15 years, I only started my book blog five years ago, so haven’t had to think about storage limits. I follow other bloggers who have had clear outs, though, for just that reason.

    Although I’ve deleted entire blogs in the past, or chosen not to migrate them from a defunct platform, I don’t know if I could discard anything from my book blog. Maybe my Six Degrees posts, as I rarely revisit them. The reviews are a journal of my reading, interspersed with my random thoughts on literary fripperies, and something I use to remind me of how I felt about a book. But who knows, maybe in another five years, if I’m still at it, I’ll think differently!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The reviews are a journal of my reading, interspersed with my random thoughts on literary fripperies” perfectly describes my intentions here too, Jan! And I’m glad my own fripperies, like Talking Tolkien, are of interest, as I always post them with a degree of diffidence. Unlike you I’ve not blogged ‘serially’ as it were but simultaneously, with separate sites of photos, creative writing and Arthuriana, but my main platform will always be focused on books.

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  9. I find reposts useful when scraping the bottom of the barrel, when everything I’ve read or thought recently seems weary, flat, stale and unprofitable but that twice-a-week deadline is coming up. I usually choose short things I particularly like myself, often a poem that I want to give a life in the world, rather than a book review (though I must admit when I reread them I sometimes think, Mmm, not bad). In your case there have been many reviews that have clearly taken a lot of work and thought, and it would be a serious pity for them never to see the light of day again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I concur with your thoughts on reposts, Gert, for when the uses of the world get too distressing or depressing (all too frequent these days) or when I haven’t settled to a review that’s proving tricky or have failed to come up with an apt aperçu. (This last word is currently my favourite term from my reading of Robertson Davies’ Leaven of Malice.)

      By the way, I’m pleased you note I often put in a lot of work and thought into my reviews—I do try to avoid saying the obvious or parroting the usual opinions about works, but it’s often difficult not to go with the consensus view.

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  10. Wow – ten years coming up! That’s pretty amazing! I am not doing any housekeeping at the moment, although I do have a plan for when my content reaches 75% of the maximum I’m alllowed free. Once I get there I’m going to go back and strip out the poorer posts from the first year to make room for new ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re sensible to have 75% capacity as your target to settle to housekeeping—at 88% mine is way overdue, largely I suspect because of the storage required for the overuse of my own photos! I need to address that issue sometime.

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  11. It’s never occurred to me to do a housecleaning and get rid of useless old posts. Hmmm. I don’t know, I think I might value them for their commentary on times past. I enjoyed reading your Brexit thoughts back in the day! And I certainly don’t want to get rid of my few posts on the fires and whatnot, although I also have had a regrettable tendency to say vague things like “Wow, the current situation is really worrying,” which is NOT helpful 3 years later.

    I must confess that I am waaaay behind on your posts. Well, I’m behind on everything, but your posts are generally long and interesting, so I save them for when I have ‘more time,’ which is a super-bad idea. But since I’m subscribed on my RSS feed, they are waiting for me patiently…

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    1. I too now have an email whenever you post (because of course WordPress and Blogspot don’t talk to each other!); and though I miss clicking on a ‘like’ button to acknowledge that I have at least seen and read your posts I’m glad to have finally got around to subscribing rather than relying on a random visit to your site. So I too have the opportunity to do catch-up on your posts when time allows!

      I’m careful in what I delete, Jean, but it’s a necessary if tedious task: I have a mild tendency to hoard and have to steel myself to get rid of clutter which really serves no purpose … even if it’s eventually replaced by more clutter that serves no purpose! 🙂

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  12. Please do keep unearthing gems to “flourish aloft” Chris as I’m enjoying catching up with reviews and posts from before I discovered you. Congratulations on your approaching ten year anniversary too. In marriage years that would be tin, I can’t think how we can make that relevant to blogging but will have a think! As a relative newbie to blogging I haven’t given much thought to housekeeping as such but perhaps I should. Like you I’ve noticed that there is much less traffic in the summer so I’m a bit quieter in response to that. It’s tricky to know how to manage timing of posts sometimes but I suppose that is easier with experience. I do always look forward to reading your views.

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    1. Thanks so much for your appreciative comments, Anne, and being myself a frequent reviewer I too appreciate the care and attention you give to your reviews. I think of blogging as an art as much as a craft but have to guard against falling into easy but repetitive habits—looking back at my earlier reviews I see that most were shorter than now but that paragraphs were longer, so at least some things have changed!

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  13. I understand the idea of order and housekeeping but in general, not for me! The record is the record and I rather like looking back. And when by chance I come across a post from – say ten or more years ago – I enjoy the “stimmung” of the moment. I remember what I was thinking, where I was sitting, what I was feeling.

    You do raise an interesting point about recycling good content that received little attention back then but that might now. But …c’est la blogging vie.

    I do find it amusing though that my evergreen popular tweets have to do with snow days and the hokey-pokey. The latter is in the top three most popular of the week over and over again. It’s from almost ten years ago.

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    1. There’s no crystal-clear accounting, Josie, for which of my posts get multiple viewings: I suspect my ‘Unreadable nonsense’ review for example is linked on some forum, while spam comments seem to target particular posts (which suggests they’re on several spammers’ lists); but others trend now and again and then interest disappears as quickly as it came.

      As for preserving ‘the record’, I feel no such compunction for certain posts, and so-so reviews of mediocre publications which I’ve previously duplicated on Goodreads or LibraryThing can go too.

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  14. One can never know which reviews will be enjoyed and commented on and which won’t (although I see patterns with my blog and sometimes they make me sad). I don’t remove old content but I don’t repost it either. I do still get hits on various slightly random-seeming old posts, though, and the FIRST post on my work blog still gets regular views!

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  16. I admit the only time I have done any housecleaning was when I moved from LiveJournal to WordPress (and shifted from a personal blog to a book blog), but I quite like the idea. I like the idea of reposting even more – I shall look forward to you re-airing some older gems and I may follow your example if I get organised 🙂

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    1. Me + organisation aren’t a common pairing, but I occasionally do a good imitation of getting my act together — before it’s all revealed as a façade! Moving platforms sounds like a mammoth task though and not one I’d willingly embark on.

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  17. I do blog housekeeping in a similar way to my domestic chores – i start with enthusiasm and then lose interest. Hence why my clean up of tags and categories has stalled. It’s definitely worth reposting those older posts to give them a longer life. You have followers now who were not around five or so years ago so they will unlikely ever find some of the earlier gems. I try to do one a month but have slipped a bit recently.

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    1. Hah! It’s that enthusiasm versus boredom thing, isn’t it. As for reposts, I aim to link old reviews with an event or just before a sequel; I have also been using the shortlink to all my old posts, that way there’s no confusion when dates don’t match up.

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