This article continues my reflections on blogging about bilingual kids for the past 10 years, both the upside and downside of this experience. As I mentioned in Part 1, it’s hard to believe a whole decade has passed since I began this blog, and hard, as well, to believe that I even made it this far. But, like the bilingual journey itself, I just kept plodding forward, day by day, and it all went on growing over the years.
6. Developing More Discipline as a Writer
I admit to having a love-hate relationship with writing. Since the time I was a child, writing has been a regular part of my life in a range of ways, whether connected to school or simply on my own in the form of a daily journal and creative projects like stories and plays. While I’ve always enjoyed putting my ideas down on paper, and crafting how they’re expressed, I long struggled with finishing the more substantial projects I had begun. I still have boxes and boxes of unfinished manuscripts that started with promise then somehow lost momentum. There were times when I wondered in frustration if I would ever finish anything!
However, the process of blogging so frequently over the past 10 years finally enabled me to develop stronger discipline in my work and the fortitude to see through larger projects to completion. Along with my two bigger books about raising bilingual kids—Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability and Bilingual Success Stories Around the World, which are both around 300 pages—I was also able to finish the novel I first started years earlier. Truth be told, if you really want to know what I’m capable of as a writer, How I Lost My Ear is the book that I feel was finally able to fulfill my potential for writing. It’s a shame that I wasn’t more disciplined earlier in my life (that’s a long story in itself), but at least, and at last, I became a more productive writer in my 50s.
7. Sharing My Work with the World
At the same time, I’ll be honest to say that writing a book is really only half the challenge. If you’d like others to read what you’ve written, the whole process of publishing and promoting your book is madly demanding. Even though I have an audience, from blogging, that’s potentially interested in the books I offer on the subject of bilingual kids, raising awareness of these books out in the world is an endless undertaking. It’s a lot harder than I imagined! And even then, when you do attract readers, poor reviews can be very discouraging, particularly when you feel that the review is unfair or overly harsh. For instance, I’m really happy with the book I WANT TO BE BILINGUAL!, and a lot of people love this humorous “picture book for adults” told from the baby’s point of view. But when the book came out, a couple of people criticized it because it wasn’t another book like Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability. In other words, they weren’t judging this new book on its own distinctive merits and, unfortunately, their poor reviews became obstacles to the book’s early momentum at Amazon.
Still, I’m very glad and grateful to say that readers’ reactions to my books have been mostly very positive and my experience sharing my writing with the world has been deeply gratifying. When I receive messages from people, telling me how my work has benefited their family—even saved their bilingual journey—I know in a heartfelt way that all the efforts and frustrations over the past decade have been well worth it. (Quick appeal: If you’ve found value in any of my books, but haven’t yet shared your impressions in a short review at Amazon or Goodreads, I’d be so grateful for your support. These reviews truly matter to me both personally and professionally.)
8. Struggling with the Technical Side
The Bilingual Monkeys blog you see today is actually the second iteration of the site. The original design lasted from 2012 to 2020, but the technology it was built upon experienced so much change during these eight years that it was badly in need of an overhaul. Though I created the first version of the site myself, by 2020 it had grown so big that I just didn’t have the motivation, or the expertise, that was needed to redesign it. And even with a designer doing much of the technical work, it would still require a lot of effort from me to organize everything and guide the project. In fact, because it all felt so daunting, I even considered just letting the original site stand until it finally just stopped working when it got too old for today’s Internet. But, in the end, I trudged ahead with the project, hired a designer, and we spent a number of months creating the new site. (It took a lot longer than it should have, actually, because I procrastinated so much with the work I had to do on my end!)
I share all this to say that, though I once enjoyed the technical side of web design (and even took some online courses to become fairly skilled), the pace of change on the Internet has gotten continuously tiring for me. My skills just can’t keep up and, as a result, I’m no longer as interested in the technical stuff as I once was. I can still perform much of the work myself, but what I do on the back end is now very limited. So when I need to make bigger changes to the site—which are inevitable, because the technology continues to swiftly evolve—I have to bring in someone to help me. In short, to maintain a blog, it’s not only the visible content that requires time and effort, the hidden, technical side is challenging, too, and kind of costly when it comes to design fees and website hosting.
9. Growing Weary of Social Media
Along with my efforts at the Bilingual Monkeys blog and the Bilingual Zoo forum (which I started in 2014), I’ve also tried to stay reasonably active on social media. Although I’ve enjoyed connecting with many people through these platforms, my energy for social media has definitely declined over the years. I mean, even one platform can be distracting and draining, but I’ve attempted to maintain a presence at YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and, more recently, Instagram and LinkedIn. It’s all too much and makes me want to run screaming into the woods behind our house. Last year, in fact, I tried hiring someone part-time to help me with a few of these accounts, and for a while this enabled me to become more active again…but I still had to oversee all the posts and contribute to creating the content. Having an assistant certainly made me more motivated (I was paying her, after all), but finally, I just couldn’t sustain the energy for it.
So now I’m doing this solo again, and I spend only a limited amount of time at any of these platforms. However, since I’m not blogging as much as I used to, and I haven’t pushed my presence at YouTube very far, I’m thinking that next year I’ll revive my efforts there by creating more video content. (Advice to self and others: Choose only 1 or 2 platforms to sustain a more active engagement on social media. Trying to keep up with too many sites is a recipe for stress and burnout.)
One more thought on the subject of social media: It now seems to me that these platforms—and Instagram in particular—have undercut people’s interest in blogs and blogging more generally. When I began blogging in 2012, it felt like there was more eagerness to read blogs and start blogs compared to the online environment today. It makes me wonder what the relevance of blogs will be like in another 10 years?