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Obligatory End of Year Post 2019

Measurements of time are arbitrary, of course. You can tell me that we measure time according to the movements of the celestial bodies, but we all know that’s merely a reference point. And it’s certainly not why we’re being innundated with “What did you do this decade?” social media posts right now–that’s very arbitrary, really. Even if it really did date to the birth of Christ (probably not), the base-ten number system is arbitrary, and… ahem, yes, I was going to do the obligatory year-end self-reflection kind of post, yes. Let’s do that.

Woman writing on a calendar
Using the arbitrary calendar to plan stuff…
Photo by Kristin Hardwick via StockSnap

This decade has been rough on me. I graduated with my undergrad in December 2009 and then spent most of the decade in graduate school, graduating in December 2016 and then spending the next six months unemployed and wondering if I’d ever get a job in my field (spoiler: I did, but not tenure-track). The rest of the decade has been spent trying to recover from grad school. Grad school is one helluva drug. It messes up your head, man.

And this blog, started late this year, has been part of that recovery. So let’s take a look at its work this year.

The blog is part of a long-term plan to try to restore a sense of control over my career path. I was very comforted when I read (this week) in Shawn Graham’s excellent book Failing Gloriously that he attributes his own current academic career in part to a decision to blog and live his career trajectory more publicly. It wasn’t the first place I got the sense that I needed to be more public with my thoughts and efforts, but at a season that is often given over to reflection and planning, it was a good reminder.

When I announced the blog, I was told that two posts per week is ambitious. It is, but I’m keeping them short, and I write fast, and I’m generally using them as a place for reflection on ongoing projects and ideas rather than as a separate project. The goal, actually, is to eventually push for three blog posts per week, but the third topic—posts for fans of my fiction—hasn’t really come to fruition yet and doesn’t really fit with my current life yet. I doubt that feature will start happening for a couple years yet. So for now it’s Mondays for me as a whole person and Thursdays for me as an academic. And it’s working.

When I say it’s working, I don’t mean that I’m getting a whole lot of traffic for it, but I’m getting steady traffic and, as I’m not doing much promotion, I think it’s a success. It’s a schedule that, even though I had an unexpected extra class this last semester, I was able to maintain. It’s a level of engagement that didn’t overwhelm me. And in these “interesting times” that we’re living in, here in the end of 2019, honestly sustainable for one’s energy levels is all one can ask for.

According to WordPress’s stats, not including this post, I’ve written 36 posts with an average of 793 words each, for a total of 28,564 words. So I’ve written a short novella here, and just one NaNoWriMo day’s worth of text per week. That’s quite an achievement, actually, and I’m pleased with it. As I tell my students, short is good—700-800 words is not at all overwhelming on an internet read. Sure, longreads get a lot of attention in the WordPress universe, but I am writing what I prefer to read online: short but deep dives into small things.

WordPress also says that I have had a total of 334 views for the year. That’s a little more than 9 per post. Some of those might be me checking to make sure things work, and I’m pretty sure I can name at least 5 of the people reading each post, but I’m actually pretty pleased with it. I have some regular readers. Some posts seem to have genuinely meant something to my readers (I can’t speak for my readers, but I can read comments both here and on social media and make inferences).

Chart of WordPress view statistics for 2019
WordPress’s report of monthly views and visitors
Detail from screenshot by the author, via WordPress

I know I’m not really anyone special to be listened to. I’m privileged in a lot of ways, marvelously naive and inexperienced for my age, and I know there’s a lot of people out there who are probably more important to listen to. But some people are listening to me, and maybe if I keep speaking here—and listening to what I hear back in the process—then my words will be useful to someone, and that will be worth it.

This blog is the manifestation of a dedication to recover the parts of my writerly identity I lost in graduate school. It’s also part of my determination to serve my readers, however few or many I can garner. And since its launch in August, I believe it has achieved its goals, and will continue to serve its purposes so long as I continue to work on it regularly.

So, in 2020, you’ll continue to hear from me on Mondays and Thursdays. If I keep this up, we’ll get at least 50,000 words by the end of the year. My resolution for 2020 is to renew my dedication to writing, both fiction and nonfiction, and this blog will be a major player in that plan. I’ll bring you all along for that journey. I’ll keep bringing you the contemplative, reflective, and sometimes playful work you’ve come to expect here. I hope we’ll make some new friends here, but for the old friends: I’m glad you’re here.

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