The semester is over – now what?

When I began blogging last May, I promised myself that I would not be one of those study abroaders who started a blog only to disappear halfway through the semester.

Whoops!

I vanished at the end of October, after a fantastic trip to Dublin that was followed immediately by Raisin Weekend and a Frightened Rabbit concert in Glasgow, a grant proposal that essentially became the equivalent of teaching myself a class, a new writing job, two weeks traveling through Europe, and a slightly hectic move back home to the States that included a four hour layover that turned into an eight hour layover at Heathrow.

Amidst all of those events, I never stopped writing. From essays for Literally, Darling to that tight, stressful grant proposal and papers for my classes, job applications and journal entries, my writing life has felt more productive than ever, and as 2014 approaches, I’m working to set quarterly submission goals to expand my portfolio even more. All of that started here. This blog put me in contact with other blogs, where I found vibrant stories along with a lot of practical how-to information. Because I was spending more time reading online, I began following media buzz in new ways, catching stories and the accompanying waves on commentary. It’s all been very exciting.

But still, these areas of personal growth and success can’t excuse the fact that I broke a pretty important promise to myself – that I would have the resolve to stick to my commitment to this blog. I’ve spent the last month or so paralyzed by this question, wondering whether I should thank everybody who has been reading and sheepishly bow out, if I should change the name of this blog to something more general and continue sporadically blogging, or if I should concentrate all of my energy on pitching and submitting to new publications rather than keeping lots of projects cluttering up my to do list. I’ve finally decided to do a little of each. Because this blog has been helpful in networking (it’s easy for someone to get a feel for my personality by browsing around), and because I value the relationships that I developed through this project (even if I abandoned them temporarily), I’m leaning toward keeping it, but under a new design and name.

This blog has the feel of an untended garden – I still technically have it, but the tumbleweeds of neglect have rolled in and need to be cleared away before anything new can be planted. Now that I’m home, the theme of travel feels stagnant. The filler posts that I used to think things through in between travel-related adventures feel awkward and misplaced. And my original posting schedule of once every three or four days feels far too frequent given the number of Literally, Darling pieces that are currently hanging around on my laptop in various states of completeness. The new version of this blog would have to have a theme that’s quite neutral and a posting schedule that borders on “occasionally” without veering into the wasteland of “never.”

So, as I ask in the title, now what? I have about a week left of winter break, and after that a new semester is sure to take over my life with books that need reading, papers that need writing, and applications that need submitting. Regardless of when my redesign happens, I’m confident that it will happen, so if you’re still reading, bear with me while I muddle through an overwhelming number of goals and commitments. The blog’s not dead, and I’m still thinking and writing as much as ever, so hopefully those ideas will make their way over here again sometime soon. Until then, I can’t say it enough – thank you to everyone who has read and commented and messaged me over the last eight months. Thanks for teaching me how to tell stories that people other than my mom actually want to read and thanks for letting me know that you’re there. Without you, I would never have made it to this next step in my writing life.

Happy New Year and best wishes for all! See you again in 2014.