I took the week off. No, not from work at the studio where a busy week of printing photos from FloydFest, writing two stories for The Floyd Press plus getting some last minute entries ready for a new show at The Jacksonville Center filled the limited number of hours available.

Instead, I took the week off from Blue Ridge Muse and didn’t write, blog, post or respond to a thing. I’m already on self-imposed hiatus from Capitol Hill Blue and won’t return there until sometime after Labor Day, if at all.

It was time, I thought, to take a respite from the daily pressures of blogging, of writing for a news web site, from trying to express myself in cyperspace.

What I found amazing was the amount of time that little respite freed up, how much later I could sleep in the morning, how much earlier I could go to bed in the evening and how more of the day became available for other pursuits.

I’m still undecided whether this phenomenon called blogging is real or simply the CB radio of the new century. Technorati says there are 50 million blogs out there and hundreds of thousands or more added to the cyber jungle every day.

Are there that many frustrated writers out there? Is there a need for that many people to tell the world what they think on subjects ranging from beer bottle collecting to politics? Do so many find salvation by sitting hour after hour in front of a keyboard and monitor and spilling their guts out into cyberspace?

Most of the 50 million are mom and pop bloggers, writing their thoughts, essays or diatribes to an audience of friends and family but blogging is also a commercial enterprise for many, finding – as all opportunists do – a way to turn a fad into quick money. Some, like The Daily Kos, use blogs to further a political agenda and pad the client list of a partner. Daily Kos ranks 4th among the 50-plus million blogs tracked by Technorati with 12,632 blogs linking to it.

Blue Ridge Muse, on the other hand, ranks 95,979 on the list of 50 million (still pretty good I guess) with 193 links from 33 blogs. On the other hand, our news site, Capitol Hill Blue, ranks 505 with some 5,000 links from 1,489 other sites.

Blue, however, is not a blog but a national news site that gets a lot of attention (good and bad) from the blogging community. Let’s stick to Floyd County-oriented blogs. Fragmented Fred First, dean of the local blogging world, ranks 13,448 with links from 776 links from 170 blogs. David St.Lawrence, who is turning into a blog factory, doesn’t have a ranking with Technorati for Ripples, but a search does show 887 links to his blog.

Colleen Redman, easily the most prolific of the county bloggers, outranks Fred or I with a ranking of 7,517 and 854 links from 277 blogs.

In a society where winning is everything and competition rules, this should spur Fred or I to buckle down and work harder to draw more readers. Fred is welcome to try. I have no interest in playing a numbers game.

I’ve been writing for a living for most of my life. I’ve written news stories in longhand, on clanky Underwood typewriters, recalcitrant portables, IBM Selectrics, clunky word processors and lightweight laptops. Most of what I’ve written appeared on processed wood pulp (also known as paper) and almost always under deadline. I love the immediacy of journalism, the rush of getting a story to print while the adrenaline flows and the words come in rapid-fire action.

Blogging, for those who do it well, is a more leisurely pursuit, calling for thought and retrospection. Such a pace does not serve a journalistic mind. Fred, David and Colleen are careful, thoughtful writers who spend a lot of time considering and composing and that care shows in their work. I write on impulse, driven by speed and a desire to finish the task at hand and more on. Impulse writing more often attracts attention and readers. It also attracts trouble and can, unfortunately, create mistakes in judgment and fact.

My week away from the keyboard allowed me time to rediscover something called a life.

I think it is time to start living that life again and that means more time away from the keyboard. When I have something to say I will say it. When I have a picture to post I will post it.

It may be daily, it may not (most likely not). It may be weekly, it may not. I might be monthly and it might not.

It depends on that unpredictable reality called life.