In many ways 2008 was a year to forget for me and my family. Too many health issues - wife, father, mother-in-law, and brother-in-law - dominated the whole of last year, and some of this, and produced a sense of lethargy that left little energy for much beyond the day to day stuff.
This lack of drive was rather evident in a few areas directly concerning this weblog: I didn't get much reading done in the second half of the year, and blog posts became perfunctory at best. I fell way behind in some reviews I intended to write - and I'm still behind on them (sorry Sophie). But just lately things have begun to settle down a bit and I can start to see my way through the haze.
I feel particularly embarrassed/annoyed that I didn't continue on with the "A Classic Year" reading program I set myself in 2008. I suppose, in my heart of hearts, I realised right from the outset that I was doomed not to finish the schedule in a single year but I did have the feeling that I would make a better fist of it than I did.
I blame Martin Boyd.
Well, not entirely. I struggled through Lucinda Brayford and didn't enjoy it very much. It is well-written and certainly a classic of Australian literature, but it was just the wrong book at the wrong time for me - much like The Tree of Man when I was 16. Anyway, I'm a little more hopeful for the year ahead: recognising the problem and the need for change is certainly a start in the right direction. Maybe the discussion about reviewing that is currently running on this weblog, or the questions I've been answering from a new weblogger looking for advice have been the final spur. I don't know. I just think things have started to turn around a little. So I'll be getting back into the reviewing business, restarting the Classic Year reading, and beginning a series of small pieces on classic Australian poems based on a book I've started dipping into.
You might notice that some regular features of this weblog will appear less often. The "Blast from the Past" series of reprints was taking up a lot of time to identify and type up each week, so they will be reduced this year. The "Reviews of Australian Books" feature is probably about dead by now. Again it was taking a lot of time to research and write up and has been superseded now by the more regular "Combined Reviews". The Saturday poem has been running pretty much since this weblog began in late 2004 and I can see that staying on, especially as last Saturday's Words by Charles Harpur was the 200th such entry. The rest of it will appear as and when it seems appropriate. If anything becomes too tedious then I'll drop it. I don't know how long I intended this weblog to run when I first started it. I've got a rather poor record when it comes to sticking to a particular task over a long period, so this one is probably hitting a turning
point of some sort. I'm not looking at this as a complete change of direction, more as a sort of streamlining and getting back to basics.
[Note: this is about the third version of this I've started. All the previous drafts came across as having a "woe-is-me" tone, and I'm not sure I've overcome that here. I haven't written this looking for comments of any sort, rather as a means of crystalising my own thoughts on this weblog's direction.]