The Top Five of 2013 and Looking Ahead to 2014

Apparently, the thing to do for bloggers is to list their top posts from the outgoing year, so like a lemming, I’m doing the same. Many list their top ten, but since I haven’t posted all that often (except for last April when I was posting every single day), I decided to limit my list to my top five.

What To Do With an English Major Besides Teach: I became an English major in college somewhat by default. I had wanted to be a nurse since I was a child. I was always fascinated by medical things and read lots of Cherry Ames Student Nurse books, and there didn’t seem to be many other viable and acceptable career options. You had to be something when you grew up and nursing seemed like the thing for me. My choice at that point had nothing to do with aptitude.

Honoring People While Opposing War: On this Veterans’ Day, as I sift through postings from friends on Facebook and see all the discounts being offered to veterans that express gratitude to those who have served or are serving in the armed forces, I confess to feeling very conflicted. I am a conscientious objector to war, committed to nonviolent peacemaking and resolution of conflict. Veterans’ Day (and Memorial Day as well) celebrates those who have fought in wars I wish hadn’t been fought, wars that perhaps could have been avoided had more people been committed to nonviolence and finding other solutions to the serious conflicts that were at the root of those wars.

Can I Pull My Plug? Boarding School Memories, Part 1: My longest stint in the same boarding school was at Beit School in Choma, Zambia, where I attended for three years from 1958-1960 (ages 9-12). Boarding school anywhere, and in my case 1950s British-run schools, was an experience in having your daily life highly controlled and structured. Housemothers, also called matrons, weren’t known to be particularly gentle and nurturing; they were usually disciplinarians who demanded obedience to the rules.

The Pelicans: One of the fond memories we have from when we lived in Harrisburg was our custom of regularly sharing dinners with the Deyhle family. During those times together while our kids were off playing elsewhere in the house, we four adults would sit around the dining room table and talk – and look forward to a time in what felt like the way distant future when we would go somewhere together to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversaries (we were both married in 1971).

Movies and Midnight Feasts: Boarding School Memories, Part 2: Between baths and dinner, we polished our shoes after which they had to be inspected by the matrons to make sure they were shiny enough. After dinner we had free time, usually in a large hall. Sometimes we used that time to finish homework, and once a week on Thursdays we had movie night (lots of Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello shorts), but mostly it was fairly unstructured although certainly never rowdy.

I can’t help speculating on why these five rose to the top, especially the first one. I suspect lots of young English majors out there wonder what their major is good for, and the title I gave my blog post is fairly close to the search words one might type into Google. So it’s not that my post was so interesting, but rather that I gave it the right title!

My Veteran’s Day post struck a nerve, I think, especially among like-minded people who want to honor the people who serve in the armed forces but are uncomfortable with preparation for and participation in war. Besides, my blogger friend Devin Manzullo-Thomas linked to it in from his blog. Always helps when other people promote your blog!

The two posts about my childhood, specifically my memories and experiences of boarding school, generated interest for two reasons, I think: 1) they were autobiographical, and 2) they likely turned up when other former students googled “Beit School, Choma.” I know at least two people found my blog that way because they told me.

Finally, the post about “The Pelicans” (the group of couples Dale and I are part of who celebrated our 25th anniversaries together 17 years ago and still get together regularly as friends) probably ranked high because several friends shared it and because I “reposted” it on Facebook months later in anticipation of another Pelican get-together.

Nothing I’ve written has gone viral, however. Not that I’m asking for that kind of attention, but it would be nice to have more traffic. Most people who make their writings public want people to read what they write, and I’m no different. While I do write for myself, as a means of self-expression and recording parts of my life and thought that are important to me, I like sharing what I write with others and I appreciate feedback.

One of the most important ways to generate traffic on one’s blog is to post regularly, and that’s where I have a challenge. I enjoy writing, and it’s been great to have this outlet for my own writing (as opposed to all those pieces I write for other publications). I’d love to repeat what I did last April when I wrote every day, but with everything else going on in my life, I’m pretty sure I can’t manage that. As I’ve been thinking about 2014, I’d like to commit myself to posting at least once a week, or perhaps twice a month, but even that feels somewhat daunting and potentially unattainable. So I’m not making any promises, but please bookmark my blog or sign up to follow me. I’ll be back!

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2 thoughts on “The Top Five of 2013 and Looking Ahead to 2014

  1. What you write about depends upon your motivation for writing. You mention nothing going viral–so it it’s reader traffic you want, you have to pick “trending” topics–my least favorite news term from the past year.
    On the other hand, it you write because writing is a way of thinking, forming ideas, etc.–then whatever catches your fancy is what you write about. And readers may come, or not–but your thoughts will always be bubbling. That’s my approach to blogging–I blog because I write. Kind of an updated –I think, therefore I am.

    • I agree, Donna. I don’t think that going viral is my goal, although a little more traffic would be welcome. And I like your “I blog because I write” idea–I started doing this because I wanted to write more of what I wanted to write rather than what I have to write, and I thought having a public forum would push me a little more than simply writing in private (which I also do sometimes).

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