The Vacation Conundrum
When I was in Los Angeles last weekend on business, my friend Matt made a throwaway comment about how I could probably not post for a couple of days on Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place and people wouldn’t mind.
His comment struck me for a couple of reasons. The first reason I found his comment intriguing was because before my friend floated the idea of me taking a few days off, the idea of not posting for a couple of days outside of a weekend literally never occurred to me.
And it’s not as if I haven’t thought about taking some time off because I just launched the site. No, as of yesterday, Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place is four months old. Though I love the columns I write outside of Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place (and rely upon the money from them to survive), for the past four months, this site has essentially been my life. It's been more or less a full-time job.
So my first response to Matt’s comment was that I had literally never even thought about taking any time off. My second response was that I very much thought that patrons and readers and pledgers would, if not abandon me, then at least consider the exit. And that terrifies and concerns me.
At this state, the site still feels so young and delicate and fragile that I feel like if I were to abandon it for even a couple of days, it would start to atrophy and people would start to lose interest. When you’ve worked in pop culture media for as long as I have, it’s easy to lose confidence in yourself and engage in apocalyptic thinking.
I have faith in myself and in my voice and in my relationship with readers, but the despairing part of my brain answered Matt’s statement with, “No, that’s not the case at all. If I miss so much as a day of posting, everyone will delete their pledges and I’ll have to start over again from scratch, only this time everyone will be angry at me for betraying them by not posting as often as I did before.”
I know that’s, if not crazy, then extreme and melodramatic, but for the past decade I have been conditioned to see falling page-views as synonymous with unemployment and rejection and lost income and shuttered sites and killed columns. And the Patreon, while wonderful, is also still very young and fragile. The pledges have plateaued, which is a natural if anxiety-provoking development. This month, for example, I’ve been killing myself cranking out content and the net gain for the month is 103 dollars. I’m super fucking grateful for that increase, and that pledges didn’t decrease, but the margin of error at this point is still too thin for me to think I can put up an “On Vacation” sign and peace out for a while without everything going Pete Tong in my absence.
I have figured out ways to make this site both the best it can possibly be and manageable. I figured out, for example, that there was no point in me killing myself cranking out five the Weird Accordion to Als a week given the extraordinary workload and very limited readership the project entails. Scaling the column back from five days a week to three was a good decision, as was giving myself Friday off on the Big Whoop blog as well.
I’ve gone a little over four months without any kind of break at all, and when I think about taking time off from posting here, the biggest advantage I can think of is that it’d allow me to work ahead on the site. Cause here’s the thing: I fucking love writing this site. I love every part of it aside from the terror involving money.
I love this site to the point where I can’t think of many things more pleasurable than working on it. That said, I would love to go on a vacation at some point, and maybe run some re-runs but I feel like the site is way too young and delicate for me to do that any time soon. Because I’m doing this for myself, and I’m doing this for y’all, and I don’t want you to think I’m not giving anything less than one hundred percent of myself, all the time. Still, the mind is a fragile thing, and I wouldn’t be doing either of us a service if I get burnt out due to the sheer volume on work I do here every week.
So I am totally leaving the door open to giving myself a three or four day break as early as 2019.
If that’s okay with y’all, of course.
Support Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place and the impossible dream of its writer someday going on what is known as a “vacation” at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace