A Blogiversary

I recently renewed my domain name for this site, so that means my blogiversary is coming up. Honestly, I wasn’t sure the blog would make it to this blogiversary. For the past year or so, I’ve increasingly been thinking that I should stop blogging. Not many people read this blog anyway (though the few who do are pretty fabulous) and blogging just isn’t what it used to be.

I also sometimes wish I had chosen a different name for this blog. (Though what else I would have chosen, I don’t know.) Sometimes I feel like the current name doesn’t really describe what it is anymore—or what I want it to be. Yes, I know I could change the name, but that’s a pain. I’d have to come up with a new domain name, put in a redirect for the old domain so I don’t lose all of my traffic (not that there’s that much anyway!) and readers, and who knows what else. So I probably won’t change this blog’s name, but who knows.

Anyway, I think my proper blogiversary is in March (I wrote two posts for a new blog in January 2011 and saved them on this blog, but I didn’t properly start blogging with this domain name until early March 2011). If I do have any blogiversary celebrations, March will be the time. But don’t count on anything, because I’m feeling decidedly unenthusiastic about this.

Wanted: Blog Recommendations

Hear ye, hear ye, dear readers. I have a request for all of you. In short, I need recommendations of good blogs to read. My reading list has been a bit sparse recently. The bloggers I read now don’t blog every day, so there are some days when zero posts show up in my reader.

I used to read a lot more blogs, but slowly I pruned my list. It wasn’t because I had too many on the list; it was because I didn’t enjoy reading those blogs anymore. For example, I stopped reading Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn blog. I like Joanna and I think she’s a nice person. I read her blog for years. In fact, I started reading it when I was in college and only stopped reading it early this year or late last year (I can’t remember which). As I said, I don’t bear any ill will towards her. It’s just that as time went on, it changed from being less of a writing advice and writing craft blog to more of a “Look at me and my BRAND and my publishing and marketing strategies and yes, let’s talk about BRAND again.” Thanks, but no thanks.

Anyway, hers isn’t the only blog I’ve stopped reading. I dumped a lot of people from my reader. Therefore, my list is a bit thin. And that’s where you come in! Please, dear readers, give me some blog recommendations. I only read English and Russian, so I’d appreciate it if you limit it to those two languages. If you’re reading my blog, you probably know what my interests are, but just in case, here’s some things I like, in no particular order. (You don’t have to limit your recommendations to these, of course. It’s just a starting point.)

  • Russian history, language, and literature
  • History in general
  • Classical music, especially anything violin-related
  • Crafts, especially knitting and crocheting
  • Writing fiction
  • Reading books

Yep… that’s basically me in a nutshell. Bring on the recommendations! 🙂

Why I’m Thinking Of Quitting Twitter

Should we just say no?
Should we just say no?

After much thought, some of it prompted by the election, some of it not, I’m contemplating giving up Twitter.

I got Twitter in 2008 and loved it for years. I “met” lots of random awesome people, especially Russian speakers, and enjoyed tweeting in bad Russian and sharing articles related to Russia. Once I even managed to get then-president Dmitry Medvedev’s aide Arkady Dvorkovich to tweet to me, along with hawkish Russian nationalist politician Dmitry Rogozin. Rogozin and I actually had an entire conversation on Twitter and it was awesome.

Then a couple of things happened. Twitter went public, which meant it wasn’t just a cute website with the occasional ad and venture capital funding as a way of earning money. It was now beholden to shareholders, which means there’s an expectation to deliver positive growth quarter after quarter. The company had changed and the site just wasn’t as fun anymore.

Or maybe I changed. I’ve written before about how combative and nasty Russia-watching has become. I didn’t just mean in the blogosphere. A lot of the nastiness I experienced was on Twitter.

Still, I stuck with Twitter. Maybie it was out of misguided loyalty, but a writing group I was a part of congregated on there. I enjoyed interacting with fellow writers and giving (and receiving!) encouragement. Writing is a very solitary process and it’s always nice to connect with like-minded people. Then the election happened and—well, let’s just say a lot of those people weren’t who I thought they were. I’m in touch with some of them still, but over email.

Basically, there’s nothing left for me on Twitter anymore. If I want to meet writers, there are better websites out there, plus I have some Twitter friends who have become email friends. If I want to speak Russian, there’s iTalki. I recently reactivated my account and hope to actually learn how to use it this time around. And if I want to network with other book lovers, Goodreads has always been way better for this than Twitter.

I doubt I’ll delete my Twitter account anytime soon. It can be a great resource for connecting with some indie authors I like. (Though now that I think about it, I have those people’s email addresses too!) I just… don’t really see the point of Twitter anymore. I don’t dislike it strongly like I do Facebook or Snapchat (I have proudly never used the latter); I just feel neutral about Twitter. I don’t genuinely like it the way I do Pinterest.

In general, I do think cutting back—way back—on social media use is a good thing. I saw we bring back blogging. Blogging may have been the “original social media” in that it had comments, which let people interact with each other, but it has largely fallen by the wayside since the advent of social media. That’s too bad because blogging allows for more substantial analysis and discussions than social media does.

What are your thoughts, readers? Have you soured on social media and cut back? Or never used it at all? Let me know in the comments!

What A Week!

As you’ve probably heard, we Americans had a presidential election almost two weeks ago. Between trying to stay away and see who won—I only made it to one in the morning or so, which was before they called the election—and reading the news more in the past ten days than I have in the prior year, well, readers, I was exhausted. Much too exhausted to blog, unfortunately. I actually deleted the Twitter app early last week so I could have some peace and quiet to do some reading.

Before I deleted the app, I did a mass unfollowing of people I followed on Twitter. In the aftermath of the election, a lot of people I thought were nice suddenly revealed themselves to be… not so nice. I didn’t unfollow them because of disagreements in our views. I just have no desire to unfollow people who enthusiastically post and retweet a photo endorsing a disgusting act of violence against the future First Lady. As a result, my Twitter feed suddenly has a whole lot more Russian in it. And more Russian is never a bad thing. 🙂

Anyway, I digress. Blogging should return to normal, pre-election levels shortly. I also hope to resume Wednesday Music—I’ve actually completely forgotten about it for the past weeks!

Thank You!

I want to thank the person (people?) who shared my post about language learning that I wrote last week. From what I can tell, it’s been shared on Facebook (on Sunday, I think), which resulted in quite a few visits to said post and this blog in general. Seriously, I really appreciate it when my readers share things on this blog. Unfortunately, I can’t tell every single time someone shares something—it doesn’t usually produce the huge spike in traffic I recently had. But no matter how many (or how few) people visit the blog as a result of something shared on social media, I do appreciate it.

Thank you! / Спасибо! / Дякую! / Хвала! (I think that covers all the Slavic languages I’ve studied at some point in time!)

How Many Summers, How Many Winters!

Hello, comrades! The title of this post is the literal translation of the Russian equivalent of the expression in English “Long time no see.” The expression is Сколько лет, сколько зим [skolko let, skolko zim] and I’ve always liked it. Luckily it’s a bit of an exaggeration in this case, as the season hasn’t changed since the last time I blogged. (It has been almost three weeks, which is sort of embarrassing!)

Anyway, three weeks ago I took a short vacation, then I checked out a bunch of books from the library and have been reading a lot. What else is new, right?! I even started to neglect my own writing because I was reading so much, which is a problem I’ve had before. I started to not miss my blog so much and I even considered not blogging again. (Though I would have come back to say goodbye if I’d made the decision to quit.)

I think part of the problem is blogging hasn’t been fun for me recently because I haven’t been writing what I want to write. I know I’ve changed my blogging focus a lot since I first started this blog four five years ago. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, though, because people change. Their interests evolve. Heck, many blogs aren’t even in existence after five years. I guess it’s a good thing I’m still writing after all this time.

Ultimately, I was sad at the prospect of quitting blogging, so I think I’m going to keep it up. I’m going to worry less about what I post, though. I know I have an audience (and I love my readers!) to consider, but this is a personal blog and I want to have fun writing it. 🙂 For example, I stopped posting my writing reports because I was worried they were too boring. I liked writing them, though, and I liked publicly committing to and talking about my fiction writing, so I think I’m going to bring those back. I also like writing about Russian literature, culture, and history, so I want to do more posts of that nature, too.

Anyway, I’m back. Or as we’d say in Russian, я вернулась [ya vernulas]. And I promise if I do decide to quit blogging, I will make a final post informing you of the decision. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s kind of sad when people abandon their blogs and don’t say why.

In Memory Of A Language Blogger

You guys, I found out something really sad this weekend. A language blogger, Ron, who used to write the excellent Language Surfer blog, passed away earlier this year, in March. He’d stopped writing on his blog back in January because he was busy with a graduate program. I’d always hoped he’d come back to his blog eventually.

Ron and I corresponded by email about language learning and we followed each other on Twitter as well. I never met him in person, but he was always encouraging to all language learners. He spoke Arabic, German, Spanish, and probably even more languages I’m forgetting. I’m sure his blog was just one (small) part of his life, but I know a lot of us in the language learning community will miss his posts and enthusiasm.

Вечная память.