Number 500

closed-signOnce or twice, after arriving at a favorite neighborhood restaurant, I’ve discovered it closed for good. On the door is a pithy thank you note to loyal patrons. First I think, “Oh no!” and then, “Are they calling me out? Wasn’t I loyal?”

They don’t have me in mind. Restaurants close all the time in Chicago. It’s rough getting started, rough maintaining quality, rough remaining relevant, and rough for owners who must sometimes resent the crazy, constant labor of their working lives. Even popular places can’t always make a go of it when the rent rises or someplace new opens nearby. More loyal patronage, I’ve decided, wouldn’t help. It’s the situation. Better to remember the wonderful meals you had there with friends and move on.

Today’s post is my last on Signals to Attend at least until the end of the year, and maybe forever. For some time, I’ve been thinking about closing. And though I haven’t decided entirely, I feel finished.

A blog isn’t like a restaurant. Few people make a profit, so money doesn’t matter. Nor do I rely on visitors as restaurants must. Okay… it sometimes bothers me when an essay or story I’ve slaved over gathers few readers, but then I tell myself I don’t do it for numbers. People are busy, and it’s nothing against me.

Which brings me to bloggers’ similarities with restaurant owners, at least the ones who never hit the big time. We don’t expect fame, maybe, but we hope to provide a place where pleasure might be found. We don’t imagine we’re the only choice or the most revered or the glitziest, buzziest choice, but we hope to satisfy those who happen in, loyal or not. And much of what we do is behind the scenes… necessarily so. The cycles of resupply and preparation that carry us from one offering to the next aren’t visible. We think, plan, and rethink until we’re ready, and, if  we aim for our best work, we don’t begrudge the labor.

As announced in the title, this post is number 500. I couldn’t begin to count the hours I’ve spent composing and revising for this blog. Dear Reader, it may not seem much, but for six years, my life has revolved around being here. Whatever else I was doing—reading, preparing for class, grading papers, coaching, writing grade reports, traveling, dealing with personal and family crises and celebrations, seeing to the rest of my creative life on my other blogs and in my other life as a visual artist—I appeared here at the requisite times. I wanted to post something new, and I’ve missed few deadlines I set for myself. Sometimes this blog felt like a part time job in a life too busy to accommodate one.

More so lately, not just because of the challenge of finding something new to say or because I’m still seeking different voices and styles but also because questions about my purpose nag me. Distinguishing between desire and obligation can be difficult, especially as visitors shrink and the thrill of twice being “Freshly Pressed” or cresting some follower milestone fade. I’m proud of my consistency—even if it’s crap, there’s a lot of it!—but when I mention my blog to friends and colleagues these days, they ask, “Are you still doing that?”

A restaurant owner might say doing anything for a long time—even when you try your damnedest to maintain quality—makes you reliable, which is not at all the same as exciting.

I’m not leaving the blogosphere entirely. I have a poetry blog I post to when I feel like it, a haiku-a-day site I’m devoted to, and the weekly cocktail blog I share with my brother. This site will stay open, if only as an archive.

So consider this my note on the door:

Thank you to all my loyal and not-so-loyal followers, my periodic and random visitors, my disgruntled objectors, my sympathetic ears, and my tsk-tskers. Your intelligent reading, your “Likes,” and especially your thoughtful comments inspired me and challenged me and helped me grow. You have been the center of my attention, and, though you may no longer find new material here, you haven’t left my thoughts.




Filed under Apologies, Blogging, Doubt, Essays, Gratitude, Identity, Laments, life, Meditations, Resolutions, Thoughts, Time, Work, Worry, Writing

18 responses to “Number 500

  1. Thomas

    I’ll miss this blog. I consider you a technician of the English language. Thanks for introducing me to some great ideas and websites. Thanks for the exercises that I tried; they improved my own writing. Finally, thanks for some great reading material!

    • dmarshall58

      I often worry I’m too technical or that technical is all I am. It’s always tough to strike a balance between controlled clarity and wild creativity. I wish you the best success in all your exercises, and thanks for your thoughtful comments… D

  2. Margaret Lynn Shearin

    (Oh David…..say it ain’t so!) oh but I do understand, I do. Thank you for the countless thoughtful, intelligent ruminations on so many topics. I will surely miss this blog, and hope for another new start once you’ve had a true sabbatical.( Oh yeah, and get thee a kitten.)

    All Kinds of gratitude for your wonderful writing!

    • dmarshall58

      Thanks! Right now, it feels quite strange not to be posting—ideas still occur to me all the time—but I’m proud of some of the work I’ve done here… D

  3. Well, I’m not going to push like on this one, but I do understand. Except… except… Sigh. I shall miss you, your essays, too, but like any good writer, you come through your essays. I’ll try and hook up to one of your other sites. I’m not ready for you to disappear, my cyber friend.


    • dmarshall58

      Thank you so much, though I should thank you. I don’t always take up the exercises you present or visit all the places you suggest, but they often inspire me to do new things and be ambitious and playful… D

      • David, that is why I started the blog. Even though I am unaware of, will never know, how many people use my blog as a tool, it’s for the people who write in the long term, who need a moment of ‘Hey!’ that I write for. I love hearing that is happening.

  4. Joe Smolko

    Have enjoyed reading your blog–always amazed at your productivity. Hope you have even more time for other activities or new adventures.

    • dmarshall58

      I’m not quite sure at this point what those activities will be (I’m hoping to keep my Netflix addiction in check), but I’ll try to make good use of the time. Thanks so much for visiting this blog, and I hope you’re well… D

  5. Congratulations on your long run. I too will miss your thoughtful, and sometimes provocative, writing. I’ll check out the other sites as well.

  6. Alison Towles

    I’ll miss your essays, I could read them and hear your very distinctive voice. Of course, I’ll “see you around” at the other sites.

  7. dhefko


    I join the chorus of voices grateful for your writing, your conversation, your signals worth attending. Somehow it seemed fitting to humbly try my hand at a tribute haiku to honor this 500th post:

    Signals to Attend

    Disquieting sky—
    The forest listening back—
    Blanket over fire—

    Looking forward to more of your writing, whatever the form, however it arrives!

    • dmarshall58

      Thanks, Dan and thanks for the haiku. Right now, it’s odd not to have another deadline to meet, but I’ll adjust (and maybe find another way to use the writing energy I have left):

      dust drifting in sun-
      saturated air—always


  8. Sad to see you stop 😐

    I only discovered your blog about an year ago, and even then my email was too flooded to read anything attentively and critically. Only very recently I started reading you, and now you’re going….

    You are a patient sculptor of prose. As i just wrote in another post of your, i’d wait to read some of your longer pieces. Meanwhile I have your 6 years’ worth of writing to peruse 🙂

    Keep writing.
    Quality work is an end and achievement in itself.

  9. Peter Newton

    I’ve been off-line during the busy holiday time
    but wanted to say thank you for Signals.
    I find your posts inspired and inspiring.
    I’d check in every now and then for a familiar voice of clarity.
    Always appreciated your teacher’s heart.
    So thank you again.
    All best to you and your family in the new year.
    See you around.

  10. I am late in responding – I’m one of those periodic and random followers. I agree with the replies that say you are “a technician of the English language” and “a patient sculptor of prose.” It is obvious that you put a great deal of effort into each post and this effort can be exhausting (for you the writer) but pleasurable (for us the readers).

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