March 30, 2015

Andrew Sullivan says blogging — 7 hours a day, day after day — "was killing me."

And that's why he quit.

Quit if you need to, and I appreciate what you gave us over the years, Andrew, but 7 hours of work a day is just not that grueling.
"And inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul."

Sullivan said the job resulted in lost friendships and minimal contact with his family. He said his husband, whom Sullivan married in 2007, called himself a "blog widow."
There are 24 hours in a day. Work 7 hours and sleep 7 hours, and there are still 10 hours left. The numbers just don't add up.

Now, I can see how a writer can burn out. The energy needs to come from somewhere to make those words. It's not the same as using manual skills to make something or fix something or doing routine clerical work, which you can bang out for 7 hours a day whether you mind is a blank or a fuzz. You need the spirit, and if the spirit dies and you labor on, maybe you do feel that it's killing you. There might be something about taking on a staff that you need to pay and accepting subscription money that makes it all too obligatory and not intrinsically valuable. But if it is intrinsically valuable, I don't think 7 hours a day, even 7 days a week, is all that hard, and I don't see why it would leave your husband aggrieved. I don't see why it would leave you feeling that you are not spending time with any actual human being.

48 comments:

fivewheels said...

It's been a long time since I read Sullivan. If he was spending seven hours a day back around the turn of the century, then he's not very efficient.

Just curious, Professor A: How many hours a day would you say you spend on the blog? Does that count reading things for possible blogging (even if they don't get blogged)?

mccullough said...

A man of leisure. I can respect that.

MadisonMan said...

I've also not read Sullivan in years. If he was actually writing 7 hours daily, and using the rest of the time away from his husband to read potential content, then I agree with fivewheels: Inefficient!

JackWayne said...

He would never make it as a programmer.

Greg Hlatky said...

Andrew Sullivan? Who's he?

kjbe said...

40 posts every 20 minutes is over 13 hours a day. Where's the 7 hours coming from?

Anthony said...

I quit reading Sullivan when he went birther on Palin, but give him a break - he has aids, and it's entirely possible that his drug regimen makes that much work more difficult than for normal healthy people.

Bob R said...

More Andrew self promotion, self aggrandizement (must be a better word.) As you say, ordinary, mundane, writer's burnout - by ordinary, mundane Andrew. Must really piss him off.

Will said...

The blogging monkey got on Sully's back and dug its fingers deep into his eyeballs. He thought he was going to die...

halojones-fan said...

What he wants, here, is to play it off like he didn't just get bored and give up--he wants the moral authority of having been forced to make this choice, the guilt-absolving fact of having been pushed. If he just quit then he's a wimp, a lightweight, a cream puff who couldn't go the distance. But if he had some reason why he couldn't continue then he's a noble hero who battled tragically against a sea of misfortune until he had to give way--for his family's sake.

Simon said...

What a baby. The sad part is, he wasn't even producing a good blog—you look up "hackneyed" in the Hitchhiker's Guide and it refers you to the Dish.

rcocean said...

Wait, didn't he have a whole staff HELPING him write blog posts?

Its not like HE was actually doing it every day, and sometimes he just posted a picture.

rcocean said...

And how many words did he actually turn out a day? I mean him, and not his staff.

Old time newspaper guys had to write several stories a day.

David said...

Different people react to the same work load in different ways. People who are first in their class at competitive law schools and become productive law professors tend to have a greater capacity for persistent hard work than other humans. At the old law firm, we used to call the most extreme examples of the type "iron butts."

Perhaps Andrew had a need for a Meade.

Anyway the world is full of people for whom seven hours of actual work is very taxing. Mostly they are First World people with a First World problem. They live mostly in affluent societies. In the struggling parts of the world, not working more than seven hours will likely result in death.

Ann Althouse said...

I spend the time I feel moved to spend. I can't distinguish between reading, thinking, and writing. I just don't look at it terms of hours per day. It's integrated with my life, and I take breaks to be in the fleshly world whenever I feel the call.

Gusty Winds said...

I used to read "The Daily Dish" everyday. I stopped when Sullivan became obsessed with the maternity of Trig Palin.

Something changed, and his writing no longer felt honest. It seemed like he wanted to show his lefty friends he didn't live in a log cabin. I don't have to agree with it to read it, but he took a strange turn.

I'd bet he lost a lot of audience, and the time spent, writing on a smaller wall seemed futile and frustrating.

SteveR said...

I've had plenty of jobs that when you include driving, took me out of the real world a lot more than 7 hours a day. Not a good excuse Andrew.

traditionalguy said...

Sullivan is a talented blogger on politics, but he never included a passion for art, music, fashion, culture, literature, history,etymology, brilliant writing skills and the University of Wisconsin that LaAlthouse's Salon visitors enjoy.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Sullivan has two degrees from Harvard and an Oxford undergrad degree. And seven hours a day of working with words wears him out?

Sebastian said...

Writing with his obsessions would kill me, my mind anyway, in less than an hour.

Leeatmg said...

I'm not going to defend him (entirely) because I think complaining about a job that pays well because it requires you to work a whopping SEVEN hours a day is a bit, well, sad. Many people do much more for much less money and manage just fine.

That said, I work a full time job from home, and I can sympathize with the lack of human contact. Some people thrive on being alone, but there is no question that the lack of other human contact can get to some people. I have a wife and kids, but you don't realize how much you need (and miss) casual professional or personal relationships outside of immediate family until you do not have them.

I'm Full of Soup said...

A one trick pony who became a colossal bore. An he still is.

Michael K said...

I used to read Sullivan's blog every day and even exchanged e-mails with him but, after Bush weighed in on gay marriage, Sullivan went nuts. He got so bad that I asked one time if he was having any concerns about AIDS dementia. I got a nasty e-mail in reply and haven't read anything he wrote since.

Wince said...

How can we miss Andrew if he won't go away.

"Fleshy world."

"Iron Butts."

LOL

Simon said...

Leeatmg said...
"Some people thrive on being alone, but there is no question that the lack of other human contact can get to some people."

Well—some people. The wonderful thing about the internet, for introverts, is that we can be social to the precise moment when we're done being social, and then shut it off. I do need a certain amount of social engagement, but only a certain amount; were I to found a religious order, it would essentially be a slightly liberal modification of the Carthusian model.

Original Mike said...

" I can't distinguish between reading, thinking, and writing. I just don't look at it terms of hours per day. It's integrated with my life, "

Reminds me of the furlough a few years ago when we were instructed not to "work" for X number of days. Yeah, right. That's not the way it works.

bwebster said...

Geez. I did a software startup at age 37 in which I averaged 70+ hours/week for 3 1/2 years. Cry me a river.

Lem said...

If it wasn't fun anymore it's probably because the cause that animated him was won.

And instead of ending, it has evolved into something he is reluctant to defend.

Jonah Goldberg said, in reference to Indiana RFRA, "its like they are going around and shooting the wounded".

Constantly angry... maybe he's right, it would kill him.

Fen said...

Andrew Sullivan? Who's he?

He's that douche that had his head up Sarah Palin's uterus for several years... Total nutcase who burned out his credibility chasing some mentally disabled kid around for his Two Minute Hate drill.

chickelit said...

Jonah Goldberg said, in reference to Indiana RFRA, 'its like they are going around and shooting the wounded'.

I call it smite with spite.

The Gaystapo gets off on it because it has a Biblical ring.

chickelit said...

Total nutcase who burned out his credibility chasing some mentally disabled kid around for his Two Minute Hate drill.

He'll never live that down either. Kinda like Teddy Kennedy and Chappaquiddick.

richard mcenroe said...

Didn't he have a staff?

Fen said...

"give him a break - he has aids, and it's entirely possible that his drug regimen makes that much work more difficult"

Another Gay Nazi has AIDS? Good. I hope he passed it around to all his other Gay Nazi butt-buddies.

When can we expect the Gay Nazi to die? Soon?

Joe Schmoe said...

When you're used to having ghost bloggers do your work, 7 hours a day can be a real slog.

Joe Schmoe said...

What's really killing him is his curtailed influence and vanished relevance. Nobody but his closest sycophants gives a fig what he has to say anymore.

Coconuss Network said...

I agree: Family First http://www.amazon.com/Family-First-Step---Step-Phenomenal/dp/074327377X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427794718&sr=8-1&keywords=Family+First

tim maguire said...

I haven't read Sullivan since he turned on the Iraq war and started ruthlessly attacking everyone who he agreed with literally just days before (apparently we're all supposed to live according to his emotional whims).

I've often wondered how much time the professor spends on her blog, total. A handful of posts a day, at least one substantial, reading and sometimes responding to a couple hundred posts. Year after year. You have to respect that.

But 7 hours a day blogging as a job? Perhaps Sullivan has a bit of French in him. I hear 35-hour weeks are tough over there.

FleetUSA said...

Professor, We appreciate your time spent. This is a very interesting and even challenging (mentally) site. Thanks.

tim in vermont said...

I create words on a blank page, often only with the vaguest conceptual framework, and that has to work in the end in the real world, for a living. Semi-retired now, and I can tell you my expression has always been "It's not shucking corn!"

Nobody but his closest sycophants gives a fig what he has to say anymore. - Speaking of Rhythm&Balls, where is he on this thread?

Brando said...

I'm guessing the real reason was boredom, or possibly the 7 hours were stressful enough that they ruined the rest of the day.

Blogging seems like it would be fun, particularly if it's free-form, but maybe it affected him differently. He seems prone to excitement.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Joining the chorus to comment that my brother works for a big tech firm in Seattle and regularly works 60-70 hours a week. But he says, he's just moving things around on a computer in an climate controlled building with a bathroom down the hall and all the coffee he can drink. It ain't roofing houses in the rain.

David said...

Ann Althouse said...
I spend the time I feel moved to spend. I can't distinguish between reading, thinking, and writing. I just don't look at it terms of hours per day. It's integrated with my life, and I take breaks to be in the fleshly world whenever I feel the call.


That is a very good way to live if you can. It still takes persistent effort though. I would say that I am periodically able to give persistent effort, which is either a paradox or a delusional contradiction.

chickelit said...

Fen said...

When can we expect the Gay Nazi to die? Soon?

Clearly Sullivan and his ilk had--and still do have a political death wish--for Palin, I think you overstep the bounds of decency here.

Big Mike said...

Good thing he didn't get a job as a computer programmer or an engineer.

bbkingfish said...

The explanation is quite simple, really.

It's that when Sullivan talks about "work," and when Althouse talks about "work," they are talking about two different things.

Writ Small said...

I can think of several reasons why blogging for Sully was hard and it isn't for Althouse:

1) Sullivan's blog was his primary source of income. Not so for Althouse.

2) Sullivan had a several people working for him and dependent on the success of his blog. Althouse could fold up her blog anytime.

3) Althouse has cultivated a commenter community who can make her less inspired posts interesting. Sully banned commenters and had to create separate posts when found a response "worthy" of being seen by others. That's a lot more work to read, filter and selectively respond.

4) Sully had many points of view he constantly defended. He decided, for example, that every Obama move was genius, 3D chess strategy. That was a lot of spent mental energy forcing Obama's bungling into that narrative.

Althouse goes out of her way to not make an argument beyond the facts. Or she makes no argument at all. Her genius is in selecting just the angle that will stimulate her community. Her posts often imply a point of view, and many reader comments are based on those implications, but she leaves herself plenty of lawyerly deniability.


In the end, Sullivan's explanation of why he quit reads like one of his many Obama defenses. It's cleverly contrived and plausible, but also a fairly transparent rationalization to anyone paying attention.

JAORE said...

Didn't care for Sullivan, in fact I agree he went nutso a few years back. But if your work requires "creativity" (definition quite fluid) HAVING to do so for years at a time, on schedule could be pretty taxing.

When young and digging ditches, I could never understand how an office worker could come home tired. Until....

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I have worked almost every style of job, from menial labor to skilled labor to the mental. I currently spend more than 8 hours a day worssmithing, including multiple emails and legal documents.

Trust me, and most of you know this, a poorly worded email is more dangerous than a hand grenade.

I'm nor burnt out. I have always thought for a living, and pushing buttons on a keyboard is a lot less strenuous thannseveral other things I have done in conjunction with my thinking.