There are many ways to begin a letter. There are first-namers and last-namers. I’m a first-namer. There are cursive-writers and those who type. I’m a typer. There are right-to-the-pointers and meander-ers. I’m a meander-er. As long as I’m here on your weblog, I’d like to meander for a bit. You don’t care, do you? Good. Did I tell you it’s nice to be here on your weblog? It’s nothing like the way they made me feel at the Evil Defense Firm where I used to do bankruptcy work. Back there it was, like, totally evil. Here it’s much better. Athough I would like a nice piece of cheese. Also, where are all the doggies, sailboats, and pretty girls? I see none of those here. In fact, now that I think about it, your weblog is starting to remind me of Family Circus. Frankly, I’m starting to get bored.
Before I overstay my welcome, I think it’s time for me to get to the point. This is an e-mail about my weblog. There was a time long ago when I loved my weblog. In the morning, it brought me joy. At night, it brought me joy. At all times, it brought me joy. It gave me a chance to rant and rage and settle old scores and think more than any lawyer should about doggies, sailboats, and pretty girls. Especially pretty girls.
But you know what? Those days are gone. I just don’t know what happened, but the magic has left. Poof, and it was gone. Just like that, never to return. All I’m left with is this voice, which follows me around everywhere I go. I know I’m like totally screwed for writing this, but I want out. Right now. I’ve become a danger to myself and to others. I need your help. Otherwise, it might be the end of my weblog. Or of me. I’m just sayin’.
Signed, Name Withheld Out of, Like, Embarrassment or Something
Dear Name Withheld:
It’s not very often that I get such a thoughtful and well-written e-mail—and from someone I’m sure I know, besides. To be frank, your e-mail came at a good time, just when I was starting to get a little bit tired of having to write these advice posts each week. What do I mean exactly? While I’m fully aware that you don’t care about my problems, and want me to hurry up and address yours, perhaps you’ll indulge me for just a moment. The trouble I’m having is that each Friday, in order to write these advice posts, I have to pretend that I’m someone else—someone completely different from the way I really am. That’s how I get the questions. Then I have to turn around and pretend I’m myself again, which isn’t hard, but in so doing, I also have to pretend I’m answering a completely imaginary question from a completely imaginary person. It makes me feel all schizophrenic. In addition, it’s led me to experience a good dose of blog burnout, the very thing you wrote about in your e-mail.
So, you see, your e-mail was quite serendipitous. But before I try to solve your problem, let me turn to the question of your identity. I know it’s not something that you want me to write about, but it was apparent to me by the second paragraph of your e-mail that you were Scheherazade Fowler of Stay of Execution, who had assumed, in order to throw me off her trail, the identity of Rufus of Running With Lawyers. How did I know? At first, I really did think you were Rufus. But the references to sailboats, cheese, and bankruptcy struck a false note, and I began to get suspicious. In addition, your e-mail didn’t have quite the oomph of a typical screed by Rufus. He’s really much more funny that you’ve given him credit for. Anyway, I thought about it for a minute, and suddenly those three false notes I mentioned struck an unexpected chord of their own, and it all came to me in a flash—hey, I thought, it’s Sherry!
By this point, you’re probably getting a little irritated. “Who but only a very few selected people,” you might be thinking, “would be able to understand what you’re attempting to do in this post?” And you’d be right. It is sort of a giant-sized inside joke. And inside jokes are never funny to those on the outside. But you see, as I mentioned already, I too succumb to boredom when I’m writing this weblog, just like Rufus does, and just like you do. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I mean, come on. We’re talking about teensy weensy little weblogs. It’s not as if we’re real webloggers like Glenn Reynolds or Robert J. Ambrogi or something.
Which leads me to my solution to your problem. As anyone who’s kept a weblog going for more than a year knows all too well, if you begin taking your weblog too seriously, it becomes a monster, demanding to be fed at every opportunity. You go out of town, and your weblog wants you to find an Internet café in order to “check in.” You have family obligations to attend to, and your weblog whispers in your ear that your “audience” is really much more important and should never, ever be neglected. You run into someone on the street who unexpectedly congratulates you on a good post, and your weblog winks at you and gets you to promise to begin exploring the possibility of a “book deal.” Although you know you’ve entered into some weird, symbiotic, David Cronenberg-like relationship with your weblog, there’s just no way to silence it. You’re afraid that if you cut off its head, it might be you who stops breathing.
So what’s my answer to your problem? . . . Actually, you just read it. Whether or not you found it entertaining to read, I found it entertaining to write, and that’s just enough to keep me going until at least next Friday. Same time, same place. Until then, I’m--
Your friend, Evan Schaeffer
1. Advice to Young Lawyers #13 (The Eccentricity of Senior Partners)
2. Advice to Law Firm Staff #1 (Filing Class Actions in Madison County)
3. The "Advice" Category--all previous advice posts