From November 1st through yesterday, December 9th, I put Treasure Tables in rerun mode so that I could take part in National Novel Writing Month, and to give myself time to consider whether or not I wanted to continue running this site.
It wasn’t any easy decision (in fact, making it really sucked) but I’ve decided that I don’t want to continue running Treasure Tables.
Update Dec. 12: Thank you to everyone who has commented so far — it’s pretty amazing to see all of this support. I’m still mulling things over, but I wanted to let you know that it looks almost certain that the forums will being staying in business. As for the blog, I don’t want to rush into anything — I’ll keep you posted!
The clincher was when I realized that in the past 39 days of reruns, while I’ve missed interacting with the TT community, reading your comments on blog posts and spending time on the forums, I never once missed writing my daily post.
To put it another way, I missed having a blog with a great community of readers and participants, but I didn’t miss writing or running that blog. That seems like a pretty clear sign that it’s time for a long break, if not a permanent one.
So why did I title this post “Treasure Tables is Unlikely to Continue”? Because I’m open to the idea that there’s a balance to be struck that I haven’t thought of or considered — one that will let me recover the fun I had writing posts here — and make me want to continue.
I’m not asking to be talked out of my decision, or showered with recognition or pity and inspired to keep going, but this is and always has been a community; if you’ll miss TT and think you might have a solution for me, I’m happy to hear it. I make no promises.
Over the past month, TT members have emailed with a number of good ideas, and I’ve thought of a few on my own. Here’s the list so far, in no particular order:
- Cut back my posting schedule from seven days a week to five (weekends off) or even three (M-W-F, perhaps).
- Make TT a group blog, and invite guest bloggers to become regular contributors.
- Charge a subscription fee to offset the time I put into the site.
- Sell TT to someone else, and let them run it.
- Merge TT with another RPG site, sharing the workload.
- Close everything but the forums and wiki, and ask volunteers to run those parts of the site.
- Create a network of GMing blogs with TT at the hub, posting infrequently but highlighting great content on the network.
I see the merit in all of those ideas — and thank you to everyone who wrote to me with suggestions. The simple fact that there are several people willing to join in as regular contributors, or otherwise give freely of their time to keep TT alive, is incredibly gratifying. Ultimately, though, nothing I’ve thought of or heard so far overcomes three basic problems: burnout, progress so far and my impending lack of mental real estate for running TT.
Burnout’s pretty straightforward. Posting daily for over two years did me in; it’s not nearly as fun as it used to be, even though I think my posts have gotten better overall. (And again, that lack of fun has nothing to do with you — it has to do solely with writing a new post every day feeling more like an obligation and less like a fun.)
Progress so far is a matter of perspective, but when I switched to Java-based stats (apparently much more accurate than the logfile-based stats I was using before) in September, I found that instead of 2,000+ daily visitors, TT receives more like 800-1,000 visitors. For two years of daily blog posts, that’s not nearly enough. I’m not great at marketing (nor do I particularly enjoy it), so the prospective of going back to serious readership-building doesn’t sound terribly attractive.
The third one — mental real estate — requires some explanation. During NaNoWriMo, I spent about 30 hours on my novel — roughly an hour a night. Finding an hour a night wasn’t a problem, but fitting anything but my novel into my head would have been; there’s no way I could have written TT posts at the same time.
Flip that around, and I know I couldn’t maintain anything close to a daily posting schedule, or to the 6-8 hours a week it takes to write and run TT, while revising my novel in the coming months. Writing that first draft was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. If I have to choose between novel-writing and blogging, it’s going to be novel-writing.
There are other factors too, which I’ll be happy to get into if anyone is interested, but this is already a long post. At the end of the day, this is the most important stuff.
I wouldn’t feel right saying goodbye to a community of GMs who have given me so much over the past two years without giving that same community — you — a chance to weigh in. If you’ve got an idea for sustaining TT, even one that’s been mentioned above, I’d love to hear it.
This will be the only post here this week, to give everyone who is interested in weighing in, or in commenting on TT’s almost certain closure, a chance to do just that.
Two last things (really, I promise!). First, I hate it when sites close down and simply disappear. TT’s RSS feed crossed the 1,000-subscriber mark for the first time during rerun month — there’s a ton of useful material here, even with no new stuff, and it won’t be disappearing from the web anytime soon. I might publish it down the road, in which case it could go away, but for the next few months at least you have nothing to worry about on that front.
Second and much more importantly, thank you for supporting Treasure Tables. This site is what it is because of you, the community of GMs that make it awesome.
Thank you for listening.