Saturday, June 5, 2010

Post-TC, the Road goes ever on, but to what end?

Sorry for the recent wall of silence around here, but I just returned from an incredibly busy, terribly stressful, but ultimately very successful business conference in Chicago. My blogging during the last week was non-existent and my weekly post over at The Cimmerian consisted of a re-print of an old Silver Key piece, a review of Mark Finn's fine Robert E. Howard biography Blood & Thunder. Weak, but under the circumstances it was the best I could manage.

But as Sam Gamgee famously said, "well, I'm back." A loaded, bittersweet phrase if there ever was one. Like Sam I've returned home, but changed from the experience, and finding that everything around me seems to have been altered irrevocably as well.

The big change of course is the impending demise of The Cimmerian, aka TC, which shuts its doors permanently as a blog on June 11. I was asked by the late, great Steve Tompkins to join the pirate crew as a weekly contributor to the TC in Feb. 2009. Very humbly, I accepted his erudite offer. Here's part of his first e-mail to me, which I continue to cherish for vain reasons and as a reminder of Steve's unique sense of humor:

Now that the doleful secret is out about the grand finale of THE CIMMERIAN as a print journal, I'm eager to get started on sustaining the blog as a clearinghouse for posts about Howard, Tolkien, Karl Edward Wagner, Poul Anderson, David Gemmell, Charles R. Saunders, horror (whether Stephen King, Thomas Ligotti, or big screen releases), fantasy movies, Westerns, and anything else within a hard day's ride of our particular Border Kingdom.

I hope you'll be able to join in. I uneasily recall some interviews Keith Richards and Pete Townsend gave way back when before they embarked on solo recordings wherein they said they would never want to be placed in the position of having to choose whether the Stones or Who got their "A" songwriting material or they kept it for themselves. Here's hoping you don't feel like you're ever robbing THE SILVER KEY, of which Leo and I are major fans, to pay THE CIMMERIAN.

For the next year and four months I did join in, writing posts every week on everything from horror to heavy metal to REH to Tolkien, including a lengthy series of which I'm rather proud, Blogging The Silmarillion. I told the current crew of guys over at TC that writing for that publication was an honor and a privelege, which sounds rather phony and cliche' but is quite genuine. Writing for TC forced me to be regular (though looking back I think I produced a few bowel movements) and pushed me to excel. Stepping into a shieldwall of talented writers elevated my own game. I hope you enjoyed my many posts there. I'm sad to see that fine blog come to a end.

Now that the halcyon days of TC are drawing to a Camlann-like end, it's time to figure out what I want to do next. Fellow TC blogger Al Harron posed a similar question over at his wild, wooly, and compulsively readable bit of cyberspace, The Blog that Time Forgot, and I now find myself confronted with a similar set of questions.

Should I become my own Mayor of Michel Delving and focus my attention here on making The Silver Key a better and more regularly updated place, should I move on to other established heroic fantasy websites, or should I strike out on the Road on some grand new adventure? My problem is that my interests range too broadly and far afield: One week I'm obsessed with Conan, the next week I'm poring through books on The Third Reich, the next I'm delving back into old tomes of Tolkien criticism. The wide-ranging reach of The Silver Key reflects my eclectic tendencies. All the advice I've read on successful blogging says that you should keep your focus narrow, but although it may cost me readers I can't ever see myself writing about any single author or genre. There's too much cool shit in the world to put blinders on.

I'll be giving these questions some thought in the coming days, but for now I'm just glad to be home with my own Rosie and my two wonderful daughters.


Mike in MN said...

It's been a long while since I've commented here. I first heard about the Cimmerian after I found your blog about a year ago. Like the Silver Key, TC was one of the blogs I tried to read whenever I had some free time to get online (not too frequent with a 2-year old boy running amok). I am sad to see it go. It's clear you're at something of a crossroads. I know you didn't really ask for a vote, but I have really enjoyed The Silver Key, as-is, for all it has offered. Best wishes to you in your decision-making. As Treebeard might say, don't let it be too hasty.

David J. West said...

Brian-I like having the variety, keep doing whatever you want.

Oh and I do think Blogging the Silmarillion is possibly my favorite post series of all time.

Gabriele C. said...

I have no problems with some variety on blogs - most of the time it's fun, and at worst there will be the odd post I don't read because it's too outside my interests, but that wont make me give up on a blog.

I'd say transfer the full text of the Cimmerian posts to your blog (esp. the Silmarillion, and give that one a master link that collects all the posts; it's easier to link to from another blog), finish your Ten Best Battles series and just keep posting. :)

Trey said...

It is a balance, but I think variety is ok, in interests that are often "fellow travellers." The set of Conan fans probably only overlaps slightly with the fans of the French New Wave, but has a great deal of overlap with fans of Tolkien, or Thundarr.

Atom Kid said...

I'm going to miss the Cimmerian a lot. But for my two cents, I hope you make The Silver Key a regular thing instead of branching out. But that's just my opinion.

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks for the comments, all. I am going to keep The Silver Key going--it really does give me the flexibility to write what I want, since it is my own little bit of cyberspace and I'm not beholden to anyone or any topic (not that I ever felt constrained over at TC--you can see from the invite I received that most fantastic and historic topics were allowed).

I very much appreciate the kind words about my Silmarillion posts, David.

Gabriele, now I really will finish that series, promise.

Trey :).

Eric D. Lehman said...

Keep up the blog - but put out those Silmarillion posts in a book! There's got to be tons of small pubs looking for Tolkien scholarship.

Like all the best magazines/blogs/etc, The Silver Key draws us in with what we are familiar with, and introduces us to the new. Keep that up...