Saturday, December 4, 2010 by Brooks D. Simpson
After a long tenure as a member of the original team of bloggers that brought you Civil Warriors, I’ve decided that it’s time to take a break from blogging and step down from this blog. I am currently engaged in finishing several manuscripts (as anyone can tell you, often the last steps in getting a manuscript off are the hardest, most tedious, and when it’s over, you welcome it with great relief). I’m going over last minute revisions in my manuscript about the Civil War in the Eastern theater (a rather concise manuscript by my standards); revising America’s Civil War for an updated edition; working on the third volume of my contribution to the Library of America’s multivolume look at the war (the first volume, which Stephen W. Sears, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, and I coedited, will appear early next year); helping a senior colleague finish a manuscript on Union generalship; and finishing various assorted book chapters, editing assignments, and the like. Then I have some other assignments awaiting completion: it will continue to be a very busy time for me.
The last decade for me has been a time where I’ve invested much energy in administrative matters at the university, college, and department level, as well in several professional organizations (such as the Abraham Lincoln Association); I’ve also concentrated on being a good father to three rather lively young ladies as well as being a good spouse to Cheryl, who brings real Confederate blood into the family. The professional/career choices came at the expense of my publishing, as I simply did not want to maintain the pace of publication I had enjoyed in the 1990s. I wanted to think more before I wrote more, and there is more to life than writing. At the same time, I wanted to do things worth doing: in one case I got entangled in a project that became a big mistake because of the behavior of the publisher and the fact that I was misled as to what my task entailed (although the finished book proved a success, the back story remains interesting, in part because most of my ghostwriting and revision remained intact while I was not given appropriate credit). That experience left a sour taste in my mouth and took time and energy away from my own work. Other projects and opportunities proved more rewarding, such as my trip to Turkey in 2009 on behalf of the State Department, as well as an active presence with a newspaper sports blog back in New York. I wanted to rethink what I was doing, and then of course sometimes life gets in the way. For those of you waiting for volume two of the Grant biography, don’t worry, it’s coming, but I wanted to make it worth the wait. I promise I will finish Grant in much less time than Edmund Morris took to write his Theodore Roosevelt trilogy, and I remain wedded to two volumes. I’ve also embarked on several other projects, a few of long standing, but the fact is that while I’m maintaining my personal obligations (with one daughter in college, another soon to follow, and a third still mastering Halo) while concluding other obligations (mainly administrative ones at ASU) and moving back into writing once more. Blogging for me is a way to comment on various issues as they come across my desk (or screen), and I want it to be part of what I do in the way I want it to fit what I do.
My decision to depart from Civil Warriors does not mean that I’m leaving the world of blogging: far from it. Although I am still pondering an offer to become a blogger for a hockey site (where I would cover the Phoenix Coyotes), I will resume blogging next year, this time on my own, on a site tentatively called Crossroads. There’s a great deal more to blogging that simply submitting blog texts, and I’ll have to learn what to do and how I want to do it. I expect the learning curve to be an interesting one.
I want to take this chance to thank Mark Grimsley for inviting me to join him at Civil Warriors. Mark’s been a professional collaborator for many years, and I expect that to continue (we still have to nail down revisions to our Gettysburg battlefield guide). I also want to thank the other members of the team, especially Ethan Rafuse: he and I have exchanged manuscripts over the years, and, having just digested his comments on my work, I’m about to return the favor. I count both Mark and Ethan as good friends and confidants. Civil Warriors has been a warm and inviting home over the years, and I wish it all the best as Mark and Ethan continue to carry it forward. As for my fellow bloggers, a tip of the hat to Kevin Levin and Eric Wittenberg … and gentlemen, we will soon discuss other projects.