Monday, November 19, 2012

On Blogging during Break

The first day of Thanksgiving break, and I woke up with an idea for a blog post racing through my head. As usual, it didn't crystallize completely at that time; instead, as I was running around through the day, I found myself mentally drafting as bits developed. At several points I wanted to begin writing, but either I was doing something else or I resisted the temptation. But now early evening has arrived, and I can begin composing. However, I am not expounding on that initial idea. Instead, I am reflecting on the anecdote.

You may be reaching some conclusions about what this scenario says about my work habits, mainly that I don't know how to turn it off. Perhaps. My wife says I don't know how to simply be. Again, perhaps. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. She is right in that, unless I am watching a soccer game, I tend to keep busy, often with tasks. But, while my mind seldom shuts down, I do not put in ridiculously long hours that often.

The real point of the post has to do with my relationship with blogging. Even before I came to St. John's, I had toyed with the idea of starting a blog. But I was sort of like the shy boy who gazes longingly at the beautiful girl, fantasizing about their relationship but never gathering the courage to ask her out. Basically, I couldn't imagine an audience. Then when I came to St. John's, the Director of Communications encouraged me to start one as a way parents could begin to know me better. I don't know how well the blog achieved that goal, but two years later the audience has grown. Now I feel as if I wooed the girl and convinced her to marry me. As in any marriage, effort is required to keep it going, full of both pain and reward. The pain comes from difficulty of the writing itself--each facet of the process, the self-doubt, the public nature of it. It's very different than turning in a paper for a class or submitting a manuscript for possible publication. The blog is all you, all the time, responsible for every aspect of it.

I find it incredibly disappointing when a blog dies, abandoned by its creator, no longer lovingly nourished through regular cerebral feelings. You can see it coming. The posts become less frequent, the content less stimulating, as if the author has begun to bore him- or herself. Though the author owes me nothing--and, I hate to admit, I did not encourage through comments or Tweets--I still feel somehow betrayed. When reading a book or article, you know it will end, even wonder how it will, appreciate the fabulous wrap up. But a blog seems to carry an inherent pledge of infinite development.

Therein lies another motivation. I see that infinite development as indicative of the blogger's own growth. I will use first person, but I suspect this point is axiomatic. For this blog to flourish, I must provide stimulation not only for readers, but also myself. In fact, I doubt I could do the former without the latter. So the blog becomes another motivation, another impetus to keep discovering more and to figure out how it fits into this incredibly complex pursuit of education.

Thus, the rewards. Yes, a larger audience and burgeoning view count is nice. The reflection is wonderful. But perhaps more than anything, blogging puts me in the position of student, with the pressure of having to deliver something that passes muster. As a head of school, I don't have as much contact with students as I used to, and it's critical that I keep in mind their experience.

Yes, it's Thanksgiving break. No one expects a post. I don't have to publish one. I just want to.

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