Reflections of a blogger

Today I’m celebrating my 30th blog post. It’s about seven months since I started blogging, and it both feels like yesterday and as if I’ve had this blog forever. One thing is for sure though; I never thought I would ever become a blogger. There is something about being that public, and about being publicly private, that I found both off-putting and scary. You know, while being worried that no one was going to read my blog, I was also pretty worried that someone was actually going to read my blog.

And also, I have to admit that at a certain point so many people seemed to be starting blogs that my automatic – and irrational – reaction was that if everyone else is doing it I certainly don’t want to. It’s kind of like when the movie Titanic first came out. Everyone was watching it and talking about it and gushing over all the Oscars it had gotten and I felt absolutely no urge to see it. It’s silly I know, but what do you do? I did finally see it a couple of years ago in Adelaide when they came out with a 3D version, and I did enjoy it, which I never doubted that I would, but that wasn’t the point was it. Funny this semi-conscious need to be unique, which many argue is the essence of this era of individualization in which we live. Although ironically, perhaps the joke’s on us, because it’s also been argued that individualization is just a trend that we strive towards en masse, while we like to think we’re being different.

But surprisingly, since I was so reluctant, I have really enjoyed being a blogger. Although at the same time, I’m quick to tell people that I’m not a typical blogger, that I mostly see this blog as a weekly column. Although what is a typical blogger really? I guess I need to realize that I am a blogger just like any other blogger.

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a place where I could to talk about my opting out research and make it more accessible to a wider audience, and I also wanted more control over the publicity my research was getting, i.e. what was being said about my research and when. After receiving my PhD I got quite a bit of media attention, all of which was positive. And although nothing of what was written about my research was wrong – I was allowed to check articles for accuracy before they were published – I still felt that journalists generally seemed to choose a similar perspective of opting out to write about, which wasn’t wrong in any way, but which kind of gave a one-sided version of what opting out and my research is about. The story was mostly about how combining work and family easily becomes too much for women for whatever reason, which in turn compels them to opt out and live on their own terms. And that may be true but there is so much more to opting out than that. So I wanted to use this blog to write about and raise discussions on all the different aspects of opting out.

And then I thought, well even if no one reads my blog, it will also be a way for me to accumulate texts on my research, which I could perhaps one day rework into a book. Because although I already have plans to rework my thesis into an academic book, I’m convinced there is also material in there for a so-called trade book, a less academic book that is. And since writing takes time, I need to think about what I choose to dedicate my time to. My supervisor gave me sound advice when I graduated, saying that even though a trade book is possible, writing one is time away from academic papers or articles, which I need to write if I want an academic career. Now, whether or not I want an academic career on the terms that one is expected to have an academic career is another question, and something that I will save for another blog post, but either way I want to keep my options open, so writing and publishing academic papers is what I’m aiming at. But writing two pages every week for my blog is very doable and doesn’t take a lot of time away from my so-called day job, so this seemed like a good plan. Who cares if anyone reads your blog, right?

Well perhaps, but somewhat unexpectedly, I got readers and followers! And not only that, my readers and followers are from all corners of the globe, which is very exciting. So I guess collecting texts is fine, but it would certainly not feel this fun nor meaningful to produce these texts if it weren’t for all of you!

So my original plan was to post every other week. And being something of a risk-averse control freak, I sat down and made a list of topics I could write about before deciding on whether or not I would try blogging. I came up with about 20 topics, which I thought should keep me going for about a year. And this I was going to do whether or not anyone read my blog.

But blogging turned out to be way too energizing to stick to my original plan. Not only did I realize right after publishing my first post, that waiting two weeks to publish the next one would just be impossible. Right then, two weeks felt like a very long time, and I got so inspired by all the comments I got that my mind was bubbling with ideas for new posts. So I quickly discarded my planned timetable, as well as my list of topics, as they seemed boring compared to the ideas I get from comments and discussions.

I sometimes worry that I’m going to run out of things to say. But as my husband says, if that should ever happen, I just need to read more because reading gives me new perspectives and ideas. And it’s true; you have to read in order to be able to write. Also, if worse comes to worst, I’ll just have to set up more lunch dates with my inspirational friends and colleagues, who always give me a lot to think about.

So thank you for being my readers for these first 30 blog posts! I appreciate every question and comment I get, whether online or in person. This is what makes me want to sit down and write the next post pretty much right after I’ve posted the previous one. I truly look forward to continuing blogging, and to writing the next 30 posts, and more!

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