A short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the view of the author. (The American Heritage Dictionary)
Of course, I know that blogging is in fashion. But I also know that there must be a reason why I have never managed to blog on a continuous basis (even though I did start my online writing with a blog in mind, as you can read in the first essay “Descriptive Comment“). And the reason is not that I have to force myself to write. On the contrary, I have to write in order to live (in a professional, emotional, and spiritual sense). And the genre which best describes what I write is that of the essay. What fascinates me about this genre is the freedom – thematically, stylistically, methodologically.
The flip side of the coin – the one of freedom – is the issue of language. Writing comes from within. So, one would think that one’s native tongue must be the language to naturally choose. But there seems to be something wrong with this theory, at least according to my experience. And that is best described by some form of multiple personality (dis)order, I guess. What I mean is that my brain seems to differentiate between different professional roles I take. And in some of these roles, my brain thinks in English, in others it thinks in German.
I would still say that some very emotional things can best be expressed in German for me (I also experience that when doing interviews sometimes when people switch back to German, even though they wanted to speak English in the interview). Still, I would also say that English for me is not “just” some analytical tool. And as I just read through some of my old writings again, I have to say I even like my English voice. It is very different from the German one, I feel. It is a lot more to the point but still humorous and down to earth. However, there is another very pragmatic reason why I will most likely continue in English: I want to be read because only then can the essays be of help to people. And since many of the people I work with in the academy are non-German natives, this is the least I can do to not exclude them from my written contributions.
Being read is always an issue for writers, I would say. Somehow, except for diaries maybe, writers want to be read. This especially applies to someone like me whose calling it seems to give people and issues a voice. You need to be read if that is your mission. Except for my academic writing however, which I kept at a minimum because I know that nobody reads it, my personal writing was never published anywhere. This is something I want to change. So, I am changing this right now by sharing my texts with the sincere hope that people read and maybe even enjoy them. If they actually learn from them to a degree that my thoughts become the basis of more learning and reflection, this would be even more rewarding.