For four months, from February to May 2011, I kept a blog about my experiences as a visiting professor in Zagreb, Croatia. That blog was ladyprofessorinthebalkans.blogspot.com, and you are welcome (indeed encouraged) to look at it. Writing the blog was a wonderful way for me to keep my people back home informed about what I was up to, how things looked and felt, whom I was meeting and what I was discovering. People at home could be “with me” on this journey through the blog. Writing and posting photos was also a great way for me to process my experiences.
Writing that blog was also my first experience of truly public writing–I am, of course, used to the sort of academic writing we deliver at conferences and in classrooms and publish as part of our jobs as professors. But this was different; it was about me. It was also about other people. I had to think about which photos I could post and of whom. What kinds of permissions I need to secure if I wrote about other people. I had to watch what I said, because others were reading me–including the Zagreb students and colleagues I had just met. And when my department chair asked if he could post the link to my blog on our English departmental website all of a sudden my personal blog became part of the the professional “brand” of our department. It was exciting, but I also felt a bit ambivalent about what the blog was actually about.
When the trip ended there didn’t seem to be a good reason to continue ladyprofessorinthebalkans. Indeed, I had intellectual reasons for abandoning it, for I have co-taught a graduate course on “Writing the Self Online” and learned that a blog has to have a purpose, a focus, a theme. Otherwise I would have no readers. And, of course, that blog had a ready-made readership: my friends, colleagues and family, as well as others I met while I was in Croatia and other members of the academic community who found the blog through the English department website. There were also all my Facebook friends who might have clicked on the link when I announced a new post as my status update.
So, what is going to keep you reading? Let’s find out.