It's not quite the end of 2019, but I am going to wrap up my 2019 Blogging challenge here and now with a quick retrospective.
I started off January 2019 with the goal of writing a blog post every two weeks in listicle form, essentially resuming whatever I'd read, listened to or watched in the weeks prior. Like most people I spend arguably too much time reading the news as well as mindlessly clicking through YouTube in a state of existential futility, so this felt like a good way to synthesize what I was reading and watching in a way that felt generative rather than completely passive. And, to be honest, this past year is probably the first time I've given it a real go at listening to podcasts, a medium I'd mostly shunned previous because I have some mild audio processing issues that make it challenging to listen to podcasts while doing any other task (actually also the reason I have never enjoyed listening much to audiobooks, or even the radio).
By April I started to get bored with the listicle format. I took a break in May (apart from a quick blog post about some bandes dessinées/graphic novels I found at the Festival BD de Montréal) and then again in July because I was travelling. By the end of July I seriously considered stopping the challenge. In August, I decided to keep mixing it up — leaving behind the format for the "biweekly assortments" for good and experimenting with different kinds of listicles until I hit upon the #drinkteareadbooks and #boireduthéliredeslivres tags.
What didn't work
To be honest, the only real drawback is that most of these blog posts ended up having such generic titles that they kind of wreaked havoc on my blog archives and on my tags. My books/livres tag in particular has just become an unusable mess.
It's also funny when you check out the 2019-blogging-challenge tag it's basically just photos of my desk. (Though it's kinda neat to see how my desk changed from January to now.) I can't imagine it's super exciting for folks visiting my blog to look through all that.
What did work
That being said, arguably these assortments were more for me than anyone else. Forcing myself to sit down and think for more than 5 seconds about some of the random shit that crossed my path allowed me to actually feel like I was doing something transformative rather than passively letting the world happen to me. It was a nice side effect to what was the real goal of this challenge: force myself to blog more.
I ended 2018 having published 18 blog posts, an increase from my 2017 total of 13. And while 18 blog posts is honestly respectable (an average of 1 and a half blog posts per month), I was feeling dissatisfied with my blog, a symptom of my festering dissatisfaction with my writing practice in general. Blogging isn't really a thing anymore, most people post on Medium or have podcasts. But I still really like blogging, and I felt like I could do better at it.
What was also really frustrating for me was that my blog was in English. At the end of 2018, it was starting to look like my work-work practice was leaning more and more towards translatio, localization and copywriting in both languages. It was so frustrating that I was feeling such stage fright writing in French under my own name for the world wide web when having a bilingual blog is such an easy way of demonstrating a minimum of ease in both language.
So what the biweekly assortments really forced me to do was get used to spending the effort and time it takes translating everything into the other language. I would experiment writing the draft in either English or French first, to see if I went faster translating in either direction. What I've found is that almost always ends up taking twice as long when I have to translate the blog post.
Writing the blog posts in French also made me remember how awkward and frankly embarrassing my earliest English blog posts (and before that LiveJournal posts, and before that deviantART posts) were. Writing blog posts is not quite the same as academic writing or marketing writing or business writing. It does take a little while to figure out how you sound like. In French, I kept stumbling on things I'd never really had to think about before, even really basic stuff like: "Do I vousvoie or tutoie the readers?" (I keep overthinking it. To be honest, I still haven't figured this one out.) There was also the question of my swearing: I swear constantly in English and I just don't have the same fluidity with it in French when I'm writing? Working on it.
Blogging in French on a regular basis also forced me to start to confront my own nonbinaryness in French in writing. I'd been asking people to use "iel" and as many neutral formulations as possible in person for a few years. Yet learning how or even attempting to gender myself properly in French on my own blog felt like... a leap? That (and several other factors) led me to writing the following two blog posts in French, which ended up being two of my more successful 2019 blog posts so far:
- Liste de ressources pour un français non-binaire (4 April 2019)
- Quand on est nonbinaire au Québec (10 January 2019)
It has also, more recently, led me to making the following tweets:
All that being said, I feel very comfortable stopping my blogging challenge here. I think I will keep the #drinkteareadbooks and #boireduthéliredeslivres hashtags/tags/blogs going, but I won't force myself to write them on a monthly basis and instead fall back on the format whenever I feel particularly moved.
Have a great evening, and let me know what you think. Especially, if there are particular kinds of blog post that excite you more than others, I'd love to hear from you.
Before I go, the tally of the 29 blog posts written to satisfy the 2019 blogging challenge: