On blogging and growing — Welcome!

Image by Quang Nguyen vinh on Pixabay


Welcome to my (academic?) blog! Don’t know where to begin? Follow me!

I had begun this blog post with the idea of an introduction page (hi, nice to see you here!), only to realize that this had become a loose auto-ethnographic account. How and why did I come to blogging as a Ph.D. student, and how and why did it become something else in my post-doc journey? How did this lead me to tweet more regularly, engage with various audiences, demystify writing, and finally write about writing?

How did blogging, tweeting, and growing as an academic and an individual (finally?) became all interrelated?

Acknowledging how multiple, sometimes contradictory selves and positionalities co-exist, not only beyond the academic topics I’m exploring but also within them, has given me the courage to present more parts of myself and allowed for more (public, because online) vulnerability.

A Ph.D. between languages and scholarly traditions

My first blog post (in French) addressed multilingualism in academia — a topic I further delved into during the writing process and keep exploring. The first important moment was my decision to write my Ph.D. (and then my first book) in English, although my binational Ph.D. took place between France and Germany and French (my first language) and German (which I studied) may have been seen, back then, as more obvious choices.

As I decided to release my annotated corpora in open access before I had published anything in the narrow sense (papers), you can also find first reflections on open science early on. Inspired by academics blogging about French hiring procedures, I shared my experience about the Fulbright program before and during my stay in the U.S. These thoughts were followed by some reflections about my first encounters with German universities.

In other words, my blog posts retrace how I navigate between academic cultures and languages, and how open science became one of the ways to document the process and develop (annotation) standards that may be applicable among various communities of practice.

I also began with science communication with blog posts on gender from a linguistic perspective (here and here), thus slowly letting my political and feminist selves become more apparent — selves that build the core of my teaching and academic persona as part of an ongoing dialogue on the politics of care.

Just before defending my Ph.D., as I had already submitted my thesis, I wrote on this very special time in-between. And then, finally, on the day after. These were my first personal texts, the first time friends (beyond academia) told me they were moved by my writing — and the first time I realized that I wanted to write more of “this”, too.

In-between: (re)defining myself (or my selves) and going open access (for real)

Becoming a post-doc and getting my first academic position in Germany has been both incredibly liberating and scary, and I was still adjusting to this new role when… well, COVID.

My first teaching experiences online moved me to write about empathy and transparent communication in times of crisis, and especially in teaching contexts. In that first post-doc year, I was lucky enough to secure two grants related to teaching projects that have naturally found their way on my blog, too (here and here). Mostly, however, what has driven me is how to reach out to students while practicing mindfulness towards ourselves — teachers and lecturers.

It is through regular tweeting as well as the articulation of teaching and open science that vulnerability has become central, not only something that can be thematized on the side, but as an inherent part of who I want to be, publicly, as an academic, a lecturer, a person. While non-tenured.

Through readings and (mostly unpublished) auto-ethnographic reflections on both open science and academic writing, I was able to connect the dots: going open access has made me feel exposed, in similar ways as Twitter did.

On Twitter, I learned that sharing unprocessed thoughts, moments of doubts, big joys, rejections that hurt (a lot) is okay. That you can both set boundaries for yourself and struggle to do it (hi, little FOMO). That you can both be experienced and anxious before a talk.

It’s common sense? Well, maybe. But saying this publicly in the German academic context — a culture I became familiar with as an adult only — as I am feeling it, in the middle of it, felt like a big thing to me. Blogging, tweeting, and then blogging, again. Trying to make sense of all it, and feeling read for the first time. Articulating various modes of my public selves.

Now: vulnerability and messiness as my everyday life—and still

I may have needed to complete my Ph.D., and feel, despite any recurring feelings of inadequacy, that I partly belong, to be able to open up publicly about other forms of writing, including poetry (here and here).

As I argue in this blog series on academic writing as an embodied practice, “It is only once I have accepted and embraced the messy, emotional, scary part of my writing that I’ve been able to reconnect to why (my) writing matters” (here). This has made me more chatty on this blog, too!

Now I celebrate how insecure writing makes us in my teaching practice, and invite my students to trust the process. I am currently informally mentoring two Ph.D. students, which makes me tremendously happy, as it has enabled me to recognize that I am in a position to listen, hold space, and give advice even if I haven’t figured it all out and probably never will.

What you’ll find here

This blog has no clear editorial line. Multilingualism, open science, and academic writing build milestones, all intertwined through the lens of one core message: Emotions are okay, and belong to how we can (critically) think the world. Our worlds.

I enjoy my work as an academic very, very much. In fact, I love every aspect of it: writing, not writing, teaching, learning, reading, thinking.

And still, very often, you’ll find me happily not working (and feeling very good about it). Reading (in German, English, or French, depending on my mood) remains one of my favorite activities, although I have to admit that after long hours at the laptop I actually also like to go for long walks, often taking photos. Or I do something else with my hands: e.g. baking (I’m not particularly talented at that, so it often doesn’t look great but still tastes good) or collages, one of my rediscovered do-it-yourself hobbies in Corona times. I also exercise a lot (almost every day cardio, HIIT, yoga or pilates), dance regularly (even from home!), and like to watch series. Otherwise, I also like to write for fun. Notebooks, glitter stickers, and colored pencils are my thing!

And I blog a bit, too 🙂 So, welcome.

If you want to read a bit more about how I studied in France and Germany and did my Ph.D. in both countries while spending some time in the UK and the US (an incredible privilege I am very aware of), it’s here.

My publications (all in open access), mostly in pragmatics, contrastive discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics, can all be downloaded here.

If you’re going to a (linguistics) conference and would like to know if I’ll be there, too, check here! I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Cite this article as: Naomi Truan, "On blogging and growing — Welcome!," in Ici et là, 03/07/2021, https://icietla.hypotheses.org/2472.

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