Less than a thousand words

In the middle of a brisk autumnal ride to Brighton last weekend, just after we lost sight of the two parakeets who had amorously followed my riding buddy’s yellow helmet all the way from Croydon to Reigate, she remarked that she’d looked at my blog the other day, and the top entry still opens with “Summer’s at its height”.

Yes, it’s been a while. Has this blog gone the way that most blogs eventually will, and slowly dried up? When I started it, I deliberately didn’t give it a name like my previous blog (That Messenger Chick), which would have limited it to a particular period or section of my life.  I planned for it to become a permanent all-purpose receptacle for my thoughts and words, whatever they might be, wherever I might go (or stop), whoever I might become.

But after a while I felt that I’d started to grow beyond the blog …actually, no, that’s not quite right – it was more that the blog had grown into something so large and eloquent and unwieldy that I couldn’t keep up with it. My posts now regularly exceed 2,000 words, and they usually take the best part of a day to write. I don’t have that sort of time these days, not with all the other writing projects I’m beginning to take on, plus a couple of days of couriering a week, and my preparation for this winter’s ride.

I often joke that, despite the accolades it’s received, mine really isn’t a very good travel blog. It has too much text, and too few photos. There’s no rhyme or reason to how often posts appear. Over the course of my travels and their aftermath, what I wrote became more and more longwinded, more and more thoughtful, less and less bloggy. Sometimes I joked that my blog was running away with me, trying to turn itself into a book. Now I’m actually writing a book (been keeping that one quiet), and  it seems, quite sensibly, to have swallowed the lion’s share of my verbal energy.

But I miss blogging. Before I started to take it too seriously, I used to dash off a post in the sleepy half-hour between getting off my bike and sitting down to dinner. I didn’t worry too much about what to say, or agonize over complex extended essays like the ones currently sitting unfinished in my drafts folder (some of them dating back years – perhaps I will empty them out sometime).

So I’ve decided to treat my lack of time as a liberation. No more long long blog posts (you’ll have to wait a long long time for the long long book). In fact, until the end of this year (and quite possibly after that too), I’m not going to let myself write any posts that exceed 500 words. Which means, since I still have loads to say in this one, that you’ll probably get another one quite soon. And also that this one has to end right here.

Leave a Comment


  1. Jan
    Posted October 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Good to read from you! I like about this blog that it is always something meaningful I get from it, so I really don’t mind the silent periods (but am of course more than happy to get something more often) and also: looking forward to thatbookofyours! Congratulations!

  2. Val
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear that you are writing a book and that there will be more frequent blog postings. I hope that also leaves time for the occasional adventure. I really enjoy your writing. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  3. lava
    Posted October 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Great news!

  4. Ruth
    Posted October 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Emily,
    Missed reading your blog, great that your back regularly :).
    I came across your blog through Genesis (we sell and work on Genesis bikes)…..look forward muchly to the book…..(or two, compilation of your essays?)
    Travel well peeps.

  5. jdp
    Posted November 6, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Quote: “mine really isn’t a very good travel blog. It has too much text, and too few photos.” Oh but I disagree. Pictures are good from time to time but it’s words that fire the imagination, so more posts (even if they are only 500 words) is a good thing.

  6. Alastair Humphreys
    Posted November 13, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    “fewer than”…?
    – a pedant!

    • Posted November 14, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Point taken. But I’m leaving it as it is.

      Actually, I think the reason I used ‘less’ was to echo the original ‘a picture is more than a thousand words’. ‘Picture’ here is clearly uncountable, so the opposite construction would be ‘less’, rather than ‘fewer’. And it wasn’t just a lower word count I was aiming for – I’m also trying to write blog posts with less content generally (‘content’ is uncountable), so that they don’t take up so much of my time and energy. So, to unpack my title fully, I’m saying ‘I want to write both fewer than, and less than 1000 words – shorter blog posts, without so much waffle in them.’

  7. Notak
    Posted November 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    “eloquent and unwieldy”? Surely this is an oxymoron! At least for the reader – whereas you were, I presume, thinking of the unwieldiness of marshalling the thoughts you want to express into the words you want to express them. So many possibilities and so many ways to deal with them!

    Beyond that, it would be good to read (when you have time – so maybe in a few years) something from you completely unrelated to cycling.