Kidney Infections and Destructive Creativity

I had planned to post a review of a British sci-fi film with airships and pirates and whatnot and I still am going to, it will just be a day or two late. I haven’t been well in about two weeks and it turns out that a kidney infection was to blame. I am on antibiotics and on the mend but I am a bit too under the weather to produce the quality of writing you deserve.

Lately, I have felt like I have been treading water with the site, kind of stuck in a rut. Some technical issues this weekend led me to look over my older posts and reevaluate what I want to accomplish.

Movies Silently started life as Galloping Tintypes ten years ago and the whole idea was to create the kind of site that I wanted to read. I was still missing the wonderful Silents Majority and hoped to post the kind of interesting, enthusiastic reviews that they were known for. It was not a blog, just a hand-coded site.

I enjoyed the site but felt it was kind of static and airless and after technical issues with my old host, I decided to make the jump to WordPress. I transferred all my reviews over in a frenzy three-day posting session. It didn’t really matter that I posted something like forty reviews in the time frame, I didn’t have any subscribers.

I didn’t exactly plan to become a daily blogger but I so enjoyed interacting with other silent fans online and, I have to admit, it was the fastest way to build my audience. In the early days, I would even post twice a day.

And this is where we get to the point of all this: those posts were pretty “bloggy” which makes sense because, you know, blog. What I mean, is that they were perhaps a single GIF with a silly caption, things like that. Around the same time, I discovered that I loved debunkings and really, really long and intense deep dives.

Over the next few years, I maintained a balance of posts meant to be enjoyed once and forgotten and deeper material. And it was therapeutic for me because I dealt with some bouts of depression around that time.

But in 2017, a lot of things changed. Thanks to kind backers, I was able to crowdfund the release of a forgotten silent film. And this year, I launched my long-promised podcast.

When I posted my enormous review of The Dreyfus Affair in June, I felt absolutely drained of everything. Normally, I get a bit of an endorphin rush when I post a monster deep dive, so this was very strange for me.

Since I’ve been sick and had to perform a little site maintenance, I had time to think over my earlier enthusiasm and my current burnout. I want to be clear, I don’t have any plans to stop writing, I just need to adjust myself. So, here’s what I am going to be doing:

First, I am a bit of a compulsive workaholic and overacheiver. This means that I have to sometimes step back and evaluate my workload. While I feel that regular postings are essential for my site’s success and I want to keep them going, I am going to give myself permission to skip days if I feel I need to.

Second, I have been reposting some older material but I found a lot of old posts that I think newer readers may have missed and I want to repurpose them. This will not only relieve my workload, it will help people who haven’t been reading long to discover my older content.

Third, I thrive creatively in an atmosphere of chaos and destruction. In 2015, I had a disastrous issue with my host and had to evacuate my site to new digs. While I was at it, I completely revamped the site, redesigned everything and generally improved my web presence. 2015 saw my site traffic double and I enjoyed myself so much. I want to recapture some of that 2015 energy, so I am working on a revamped design for the site. I don’t know when I will unveil it but I am enjoying the process.

Fourth, I need to accept my own success. I have trouble with that sometimes and impostor syndrome is always hiding around the corner. But I produced a silent film release. I am working on another. My podcast is going well. I contributed to a professional silent film reconstruction. I am doing things I never dreamed I would be doing when I launched this site back in 2009.

But with success, I need to accept that I am not as footloose as I was when I went to the daily format. I need to decide which site aspects are the most important to me and focus my time on those. Reviews are obviously the backbone of this site and I want to maintain the weekly schedule (health permitting) for them. I am also looking over my earlier material and seeing what I want to revive there. What I want to avoid is posting for the sake of keeping up a streak and not because I think it’s the best content I can create.

Sorry to ramble on like this and a film review would probably have been easier but I wanted to keep you in the loop. As we get closer to the design relaunch, I will give you a heads up because there might be some outages and sometimes older posts get re-emailed. But that’s for another. Right now, I am just resting up. Watch this space.


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  1. Laini Giles

    I am constantly amazed at the sheer SCOPE of your output! Stepping back is not a bad thing. I can’t believe you’ve kept up this pace as long as you have. You know more about silent film than anyone I know, and whatever you produce, I’ll read it, whenever you plan on posting it, in whatever format. Feel better. Kidney infections are not a minor thing, and you need time to heal. ❤

  2. Shari Polikoff

    Anything you send us – new, old, repurposed, whatever, is worth reading! I’m relatively new to blogs in general and have only subscribed to yours for two years, so I have a lot of catching up to do with your reviews. Just take care of your health, and I guarantee your readers will be patient and understanding.

  3. Gene Zonarich

    I’ve always been amazed at your seemingly never-ending energy — just the astonishing amount of work — and of a high quality — that you’ve been able to produce since i’ve been reading for the past 6 or 7 years, and more so with some of the big projects you’ve taken on in addition to the daily blog slog that crushes mere mortals (OK, now I’m getting carried away a tad) . . .

    I’m sure that whatever changes are afoot, in style or content, it will be at least equal to the high standards you’ve already set. Now with that kidney infection, aren’t you glad you only write about the silent era and not live in it?

  4. DeAnna

    I love reading your posts. I have been obsessed with silents for quite some time now and this is one of my go to places after a long and stressful day. whatever you can put out there is fine, take care of your health. all you do is appreciated.

  5. George.

    Very sorry to read of your kidney infection, and looking forward to seeing what you will do with your column in the future. I love silent movies. I’ve been collecting them for a while now and even more, for some apparent reason, this year than most other years. I do teach film at a film school and nearly all of my students have never seen a silent film. When I screen Sunrise and The General, they immediately become converted and finally see the gems that silent movies are. And also I show them that they can communicate using visuals and not depend on dialogue. This I have found successful. It’s unfortunate though that some of these silent films are not very well presented. I won’t name Company names but some who present beautiful stills to get interest in purchasing from them, when their product arrive, they are awful! However there are also those that don’t lie and their product can be trusted. Few and far between I have found though. I was wondering if you may review certain titles that are available for purchase to tell us all if they are of value or not. I’d love to buy the restored ones especially that Kino and Criterion are making which gives that sense of ‘this is what they must have looked like way back when feel’. But what of others that you may know of. Are they of value? One hears of the dangers of purchasing The Goose Woman from a company which sells it at top price but it’s really barely viewable! Can you help in this area when you feel better? And also, if you wish?
    Hope you don’t mind this email. I just love to watch great movies from whatever era and be inspired in my film writing as I have been all my life. And I care what I buy. Thank you for your column.

  6. Gijs Grob

    You go girl! First, I hope you get well soon. Second, I think blogging should be fun. I love your writing, and I might miss it were it less frequent, but then again each post would be more welcome!

  7. Abbey

    Oh dear, I am sorry to hear you are under the weather. Thank you for the update. Perhaps you’ll find some useful gems here at my favorite health/nutrition site as you look further into healing your kidneys:

    I loved your podcast and always appreciate your good humor and insightful reviews. I’m still thinking about those beautiful tints and the ubiquitous flammable celluloid accessories! Perhaps we’re not so different with the way we surround ourselves in plastics!

    Take all the time you need and scale back as much as feels healthful for you. As it is, I am not quite keeping up with everything you are posting, so I feel it would be fine if you do less. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to catch up then!

    Sending you warm wishes and blessings for a complete recovery of your good health!


  8. witness2fashion

    Best wishes for a Speedy recovery (Harold Lloyd fan here…) I, too, am amazed by your output and love the “quick” ones with a link to a longer, “old” review, which I have often missed because you have accomplished a superhuman number of them! Still playing catch-up, I’m grateful for frequent brief ones mixed in with the more detailed posts. It gives me a chance to try to read the ones you wrote before I found your site. You’re always interesting. So be kind to yourself — you’ve been wonderful to your readers.

  9. Karen

    You’ll be greatly missed as I’m sure everyone posting here agrees, and I join with them in wishing you a speedy recovery. Take all the time you need — nothing is more important than taking care of yourself. I look forward to many more blog posts when you return, as this website is a source of unending fascinating views of my great passion, the silent era. Wishing you all the best.

  10. Overseas Visitor

    Please do not worry about us, just do what is best for your health.

    You should have no doubts about the quality of your work. Your output would be a significant achievement even if it was your full time work. I have often wondered, how on earth you can manage all this. I follow only two blogs regularly (the other one is not about movies). I have not found any true competition for Movies Silently from the whole Internet. Yet I am not a subscriber because I don’t want to fill my inbox with something that can be found from the Web.

  11. Lisa Cross

    Sorry for the late response ~ totally hear ya on health issues, they can make life “challenging”. I do so hope the meds are working and you’re feeling spry and wonderful once again!
    Personally, I would love to see you take some days off during the week, on a regular basis… not that I don’t love your posts, but because burnout is a terrible thing; especially when it is connected with something one is passionate about.
    As you said, we here are all Silent film fans… for that reason I think we appreciate and care about each other. Do what you need to do FOR YOU… we will always be here 🙂 No worries.
    Fall is upon us…. cooler days, crisper nights, shorter days; all of which make for perfect silent film enjoying!
    Feel better, Sweets…. do shout if there’s anything you need (( hugs ))

  12. R.D. Stock

    You have my sympathies & best wishes for a thorough recovery.
    As a long time retiree, i didn’t grow up with blogs & am still nervous about getting involved with them. But yours has given me great delight for the last year or so. Musical tracks are particularly important to me, & I have valued your guidance here. A good example is your recommendation regarding “Tol’able David.” Robert Israel’s score made a long familiar film once again exciting for me–never thought it could happen!
    Like others I enjoy your re-sending earlier posts. I particularly liked your comments on “Merton of the Movies.” This book has long been one of my favorites, a “biting” satire yes, but also good-humored, with some poignant moments as Merton learns about himself. I’ve never wanted to see the Skelton movie. From its reviews, & those of the silent too, I gather the films miss the real strengths–& depths–of the book. But I’ll mention another novel, published about the same time, which pairs nicely with “Merton”: Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “The Girl from Hollywood.”

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