Writing the Farewell Symphony

The famous composer Haydn and his orchestra were once under employment of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy. They entertained the Prince and his guests one summer long ago.

Fast-forward a few centuries, and we find the orchestra of the blogosphere playing for the Prince of the Internet. The music chimes on and on while bloggers the world over entertain anyone wishing to listen to the performance.

The music is not always beautiful, though, just like some symphonies from history. Discordant sounds arise here and there. The music can sound ominous or it can sound sad. Jarring chords and notes rise up through the performance.

Haydn had that problem, too. His orchestra began to long for home. They were tired of the continual performances. He had a problem on his hands. You see, the Prince wasn’t ready to let the players go – just like readers sometimes aren’t ready to let bloggers go.

Most blogs don’t live past three months and even fewer last a full year. Blogging is a hard job, especially when you have to maintain the music for a long time. The pace needs to be constant and continual, and it also needs to follow a predictable pattern. Blogging when you run a business is even harder to maintain. There are times when you need to rest your instrument.

Imagine a never-ending performance. You’d grow bored. The music would begin to sound stale. The instruments would slowly go out of tune the more they were played. The beauty of the orchestra would begin to lose its shine. If the musicians stopped playing, would you get up and leave?

This is a fear of bloggers – numbers are everything. Readers are the lifeblood of blogs. No readers, no blog. But bloggers need to rest and recharge to be able to create new symphonies or tune their instruments for the next performance.

Haydn knew this. He tried to continue to satisfy the Prince, but he wanted to satisfy his musicians, too. And so he wrote the Farewell Symphony as a solution to the situation.

Bloggers typically don’t write Farewell Symphonies. They fear a sound that signals the death of a blog, but they forget that this sound is crucial to every performance:

The sound of silence.

Silence is integral to a perfect performance. It lets people absorb the moment of music and appreciate the effort and skills of the musicians. Silence lets the audience enjoy the experience and look forward with anticipation to the next performance.

Haydn knew this. His performance of the Farewell Symphony integrated silence to create a sensation. Each musician played near a lit candle that glowed softly. One by one, Haydn’s Farewell Symponhy wrote specific instruments out of the performance.

One by one, the players blew out their candles and left the stage, slowly bringing silence.

Our blog is rarely silent. We have played long and well – and now it is time for a moment of silence. Perhaps our silences should happen more often, but as bloggers, we share many of the fears others do: that silence might leave us with empty seats and no one to play for.

Most of all, though, our reluctance for silence had to do with fear. My fear. I didn’t want people to say, “Ah, we knew it. They can’t handle it. They’ve burned out.”

Not at all. We simply want a moment of freedom to focus on our business. It’s time to clean up lingering personal projects, concentrate on giving our clients 100% of our attention and adjust our infrastructure slightly to accommodate the wild growth we’ve experienced.

My fear was a foolish one. It was unfounded. We can handle everything we do, or we simply wouldn’t do it. We aren’t having a burnout or suffering depression. We won’t lose readers. We won’t suddenly fall from favor. We won’t be labeled or judged.

It would be foolish to force ourselves to devote attention away from our core business. As a reader commented, this blog is only part of our lives. It is by far not the only aspect of our business.

It would be foolish to feel guilty over posting free content we offer because we want to offer it. We have no obligations beyond the ones we have set for ourselves. Our main obligations (and our true joys) are giving our clients the care and attention that they deserve and being relaxed enough to be creative and write good posts that make a difference.

It is very foolish of us to be afraid of people’s criticisms of our decisions and actions. We choose our path because it is the right one to take, not because people expect us to walk this road or that. We take decisions because they are the best for our business and for us.

Also, our community and our readers believe in an orchestra that gives each performance its all. They understand that a beautiful symphony requires optimal tuning and well-rested musicians – and they are willing to wait and anticipate the next symphony we create.

Most of all, we have always chosen to lead the way for others and go where most people hesitate. We like to be different, challenging the rules and shaping the Internet to our needs, not the other way around.

Our recent post that discussed bloggers taking a break accomplished an important goal. While some readers perceived the post as our personal request for permission to take a break (it wasn’t; we generally don’t ask anyone for permission), others perceived the crucial point we were trying to make:

Bloggers need to free themselves of the obligation to maintain a never-ending performance. They need to shed the guilt of not posting and face the fear of losing readers. Other things matter more.

Our post went live, fantastic discussion ensued, and posts suddenly started popping up on the Internet. Bloggers began announcing a break. They gave themselves permission to pause.

That was the goal of our post – to provoke thought about how we pace our lives.

And so, we are going to break the cadence and create discord ourselves. We are going to blow out the final candle in a moment of extremely rare silence. There will be no posts for a period, but the show will go on, of course.

In the meantime, we’ll still be around. We’ll be commenting on your blogs, active on Twitter, responding to emails, working on projects, devoting time to our clients and developing a stronger infrastructure.

When we take up blogging here at Men with Pens once more, our finely tuned instruments will ready to play new symphonies once more – and we promise performances that will be better than ever.

Performance is scheduled to resume in full on Monday, June 16. Thank you for your understanding and your patience.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.