"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

8.29.2006

time flies and you just know, time to think about letting go

Today marks a year since I started blogging. To be honest, I didn't think it would last this long. And I've thought seriously about stopping tonight. But first, some thoughts:

The idea of starting a blog about my dissertation started one day in 2005 when a colleague mentioned that she'd become obsessed with some of the academic blogs that are out there as rants on research, students, and the tenure track. I didn't really want to blog at that point, but six months later I was riding a bus over the Rwandan mountains for the fourth time in a month, and it occurred to me that a blog would be a really good way to keep my family and friends updated on the long research trip to Congo that would begin in the winter. I felt bad about sending them email updates every week of that first trip and thought this would be a way that people could choose to (not) find out what I was up to on that crazy adventure.

So that's what happened. When I got back, sometime the name "Texas in Africa" came to mind and nobody'd thought of that one, so it was easy to get the blog name and the email account.

And I started posting. Mostly on stuff that didn't matter, and mostly just to get in the habit so that when the time came, I wouldn't forget about it. And a few of my friends started reading. And then I went back to the Congo, and then a lot of people started reading my blog, and I don't know who was reading it. Then Ethics Daily gave it a plug, then I got on the Mainstream Baptists favorites list, and all of a sudden I'm getting hits from all over the place. And it's cool, but it's also a little unnerving, because I'm not sure that I do a good job of saying what needs to be said.

Here's what I like about blogging: it's a voice. It gives me a place write, and to share things that I'm thinking about, or that are really funny. It's a way to keep a journal that's more engaged with current events and culture than the paper journal I keep. It's also been a great way to reconnect with friends who live far away and who I never get to see. And some who are a lot closer to home.

Hre's what I don't like about blogging: it creates, as the Intrepid Lobbyist put it last month while we were walking around DC late one night, a false sense of intimacy. Perfect strangers read my blog and start feeling like they know me well. My friends read the blog and figure they know what's going on in my corner of the world, and so we don't talk for months. "I feel like we had a conversation," said the DA a couple of weeks ago.

But we didn't. That's what's so disconcerting. I do write about some things that happen to me here, but 99% of what I do and who I am and what I think never makes it to my blog. I don't have time to write it all down, and even if I did, I wouldn't. Some things are too personal, too private for strangers. Some things I don't think are fair to other people to write about, like serious conversations and dates and students. Some things I want to talk about in real conversations, with people who can be present and give advice and for whom I can do the same.

So I've thought about quitting the blog. I value the reality of relationships and human contacts much more than I value having a space to reflect and/or self-promote. And truth be told, I'll be Ta-ing and teaching a class this fall on top of writing my dissertation, and I really don't have time to blog.

But then I think about how cool it's been to reconnect with Emily and Jess and others through the blogosphere, and how much I would miss knowing what's up with them if they quit. And I think about the people who are trying to create a community of young, moderate Baptist bloggers, and I feel a responsibility to keep trying to say something. And I think about the Congolese, and I appear to be the only American Christian blogging about what's going on there, and I feel called to keep their stories on our minds.

So I think I'll keep it going, at least for awhile. Thank-you for reading, and thank-you for coming back even though most of what I write is far from profound. Thanks for being my friends, thanks for telling your friends about Texas in Africa, and thanks for being willing to read the reflections of a total stranger. Thanks for your comments and emails and quotes. Don't let this be a one-way form of communication. Start a blog so I can link to it. Email and tell me what's going on in your life, and I'll write back. And keep checking back here, 'cause I won't be writing about SOIUTK's latest nonsense or that ridiculous thing my student said, but it'll be amusing and thought-provoking nonetheless. I promise.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jess said...

i understand your thoughts about blogging - i agree with them. but i do love knowing what's going on in your life, and your blog is such a great way to do that. when do you start school?

hugs!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 9:38:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Thanks, Jess. I love your blog, too, and am jealous that you can post so many pictures. Mine won't let me do that for some reason.

UT opens today; I start teaching tomorrow. When do you start?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 8:59:00 AM

 
Blogger Jess said...

Happy First Week of School! We don't start until the day after labor day, but I have been in orientation all day every day this week. Did we have that much orientation at UT? It's been so long that I can't remember. Anyway, have a good labor day weekend! xoxo

Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:04:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

No, we had a day and a half, and that was only if you were teaching. Wow. That's crazy. I guess you get to know your new colleagues well, though! Have fun! Oh, and you MUST call Ayesha!

Friday, September 01, 2006 10:00:00 AM

 

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