Where have I been?

I have this habit of blogging in spurts. When workload is heavy my blogging is reduced or even becomes non-existent but when my marking has been done and I my mind is not filled with schedules and time based tasks, a get a flood of ideas to blog about. Initially this blog used to be a one a week blog but, despite keeping this up for several years, I eventually lapsed and then it become both haphazard or even erratic. But things are about to change again and I have decided to come back to blogging with vigour and energy!

I was once told, in an official meeting, that my blog was a waste of time and energy. When they were referring to my blog, I am pretty sure that they meant the task of blogging rather than the actual content of my blog about, although it could have been either or indeed both. When I am playing games online, my viewers have been known to comment that my playing style is quite ‘unique’ and I accept that my blogs and blogging would probably reflect that as well. Let’s face it, the title doesn’t really make the whole blog sound academic or even serious. I was at a meeting yesterday when the topic of my blogs came up in discussion. I was awaiting that dreaded question which follows once people know that I blog. I guess at one point I made a conscious decision about the title and URL of my blog but, I do look back and think – “did I really think this through?”. You can probably guess the question by now. As I was sat there around a table of seasoned academics collectively bring titles which included professors and doctors, I had to utter the title of my blog…Wilson Waffling. It is usually greeted with two responses – ‘What?’ and/or ‘Why?’. At that point, I can usually hear the cogs in people’s minds as they try to attempt to think of a suitable follow on question without changing the subject too rapidly. The usual follow on question is – “What do you blog about?”. Oh no, yet again a tagline which I have obviously didn’t think about that much – “Teaching, Tech and Twaddle”. It is at this point that I feel that my prestige as an academic just gets up and goes. You can probably guess by now, why they told me to stop blogging…

I have to admit to both you, my audience, and myself that this was probably not the reason I stopped blogging. It wasn’t just the title or the tagline of the blog, but more how it was perceived within the academic circles and corridors I frequented. Frequently there would be comments echoing ‘waffling wilson’ or, in a subtle variation, ‘wilson waffling’ which I took to heart. The title, tagline and even referring to the blog posts as ‘waffles’ appeared to reduce the content to … well… random thoughts of a weird waffler! I stopped waffling and the site almost seized up and stopped. But then I had a revelation.

When I say revelation it sounds as if I was walking down the street and there was one of the golden rays from heaven moment. However, this revelation seemed to accumulate speed and prowess throughout the months. I have been, a very career driven person. I always want to be good at things and be accepted as an authority within my discipline. I don’t want awards (I actually dislike these) or prizes, I want that feeling that I am doing well, that I am respected by both students and colleagues, and that I am doing something worthwhile. When I came into academia it was definitely made apparent to me that I was very much at the bottom of a huge pile of academics. I remember applying for a e-pedagogy teaching fellow early on in my career and being told that I should reapply in a few more years when I had gained some experience (This is one of the consequences of changing careers within your later years – although you have plenty of experience it is either not seen as transferable or it is simply not recognised). But I have come to the point in my career and life that I don’t really care any more. When I say I don’t care I am, of course, referring to what other people think or say. But it goes further than this. I have lost my drive to be the best or even second best. I am not writing this waffle to prove anything to anyone. I am writing this because this is what I do. To coin my favourite phrase at the moment – “Why jog when you can blog?”.

So, why do I blog then? Well, writing this blog has reinstated the reasons I do this. I am sat here, drinking coffee and having a really interesting chat with you. I am relaxed. I am reflecting. I am progressing. I am blogging. I often used to think that my waffles had to be helpful, informative or even beneficial in order to attract an audience and encourage people to read them. But I missed the point. All of my waffles are helpful, informative and extremely beneficial – that part was not misplaced. They are written to be all those things but not initially for the audience, but for me. Even as I acknowledge this to myself, I am typing faster and the words are flowing more freely. It is as if a dam has been removed and the words of me, as a blogger, have yet again be released. It doesn’t matter what I call these words and thoughts as they flow out and it doesn’t matter what the title of this blog says or even the tagline. What matters is what I, myself, am gaining from this process. My waffling is not measured by views and/or comments or even, and many academics hate this word, impact on people or a community. Its nice to think that people are reading my thoughts and reflection and maybe even influencing people, but that is not essential. This waffle has served its purpose even before you start to read it. For it has been beneficial for me to write it.

So I am back on the waffling wagon, writing my random thoughts and reflections down in the blog. I am not going to guarantee either frequency or content, but I am going to say, here and now, that I am back and not planning on stopping again. Yes, the whole process, content or even title might not be academic or suitable for an academic to write. But maybe, just maybe, I am not your usual academic. I’ve spent the majority of my life being different from the Insects will Rule comment on my school apron to, well til now and I hope that I continue to be slightly ‘unusual’ for years to come.

So if you want to join me then that’s great, we can all be unusual together and, to echo how I finish my game streaming on Twitch, I would like to share with you my mantra which I feel everyone should take onboard and which I, after writing this waffle, suddenly realised that I should practice what I preach…

Remember to be who you are and say what you feel because the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. Have fun, and I’ll catch you all later and, until then, consider yourself waffled…