I have 311 feeds in bloglines. Currently there are 876 unread posts. That's down on over 1100 when I returned from 2 weeks away. About 30 of the feeds are food blogs which I can take or leave. Five are infertility information feeds which I read very seldom now. Three are information feeds regarding work stuff which I also look at only on an irregular basis. Probably 30-40 are blogs which are no longer updated (like that of Grrl of blessed memory). The rest are your stories. And then there are about five or so blogs that don't publish feeds which I also try and look in on on a regular basis. I also check for news on a couple of message boards, and occasionally read a UK parenting forum. That's a lot of stories.
Other than the few information feeds and food blogs, all those feeds represent stories I care about. In some instances I've read those stories right from the beginning - either because I read through the archives when I first found the blog (Julie, Tertia, Cecily, Millie etc.) or because I've been reading since the blog started - particularly when we started around the same time (DD, Ovagirl, Nico, Amy, Clover, Alexa, Flicka to name but a few). I can no longer remember the exact order I found your stories. I used to have a great resource for this because the typepad lists went in order of when I added each blog. Then I got clever and deleted those lists to replace them with the bloglines feeds and lost an important archeological artefact.
When I started I often found stories by clicking through from comments on mine or other's posts, only to find a story I empathised with and wanted to continue to follow. More recently I've found stories through cyclesista or lost and found. Often now, although I may empathise with the story, I don't feel the need to continue to follow it. Maybe I don't like the writing much, maybe I just can't get back into the story of someone just starting clomid or injectibles. Often I'm outraged by a doctor who is recommending an IUI with five follicles ready to go and just can't face writing a comment that I know will probably upset the person concerned. But also, I am committed to the stories I already follow, and it takes a lot of time to follow them.
This is particularly true for me because I feel horribly guilty if I read without commenting. I know how much comments always have meant to me, and if I read without visiting I know the person concerned has no way of knowing that I care about her story. But reading at least a few blogs without commenting is clearly the only way for me to at least know how things are going across all these blogs. Which is better? For me to know what's happening but not to offer real support to the author? Or for me to stop following some stories and do a better job of commenting and being a visible part of that author's support network?
In either case, I'm not sure I can continue to follow all these stories. I'm going back to work. I need to try and find the time to go back to the gym, and I need to spend more time with Pob and not with the computer. But I'm finding the pruning very hard. There are some blogs I will never stop reading. No matter if you haven't posted in months or years (Bugs I'm thinking of you), I'll keep you in the feed just in case. No matter if all the posts are about sleeping challenges or your child's new wardrobe, or your latest walking holiday I'll keep reading just so I still know how you are (no names mentioned to protect the innocent). But there are others where I've followed them through the tough part of the story, they are out the other side, they don't post much, and when they do it's not stuff that I feel a strong need to comment on. They seem fine and I'm not sure they need me so much any more. Then I remember how much I still love getting comments, even on seemingly happy and contented posts, and I feel bad, but I then i think about the others still in the trenches, or with whom I have a stronger emotional connection, and I feel ok about letting go of a few of the stories.
Ok, let me be really honest. I've deleted a grand total of five blogs from my feed over the last week. One was a work-related news feed. Two were food blogs. One was a blog which used to be about infertility but hasn't been for a while, written by someone who never comments here and with whom I've only had a weak emotional connection. The other was a blog previously about infertility, where the author has just recently reached the other side, and who again I've never had a very strong connection with. Every other blog I thought about deleting, I've paused over the delete button, hesitated and moved on.
I don't know how this will play out. I'm connected to all your stories, even those blogs I drop in on just occasionally and rarely comment. I don't want to lose that connection, and I want to continue to support those I care about. There will no doubt be a middle ground. I've yet to find it. In the meantime I'll muddle through, commenting a little less than I used to, being grateful for everyone who stays connected with my story, and hoping I can offer just a little of that support in return.