Today is a first anniversary of my English blog. About a year ago I was (metaphorically) tossing and turning, experimenting with various designs and layouts, re-drafting my first post in English and second-guessing what to say to my old readers of the Russian blog. I had very vague ideas about my future audience, my writing was awkward and I felt unprepared and ill-equipped.
But then, one Sunday morning, I told myself “just do it”. So, I wrote about how I felt, how I wanted to change – and it all started from there. I moved from being a popular search-engine-optimized blogger with a well-established reference base to square one. Many people asked if I missed hundreds of comments, multiple cross-references, hitting the top ratings…
I did miss it in the very beginning, but I knew it won’t keep me satisfied much longer, because I was popular in the world I no longer fit in. Well before Crimea, Ukraine, MH17 and the gunfight of economic sanctions, the polarization and anger were all over Russian blogosphere. Insightful comments were swamped and diluted by pouring jealousy, phobias and mediocrity. Everyone smart who had anything candid to say would write for a limited “friends-only” distribution and would disable all comments by outsiders. The majority of popular public posts represented promotions and advertising, in which case it’s nothing personal and nothing to hide.
The iron curtain over the Russian intellectual elite is officially back. Smart people no longer share their private thoughts publicly. Not in Russian, at least. Those intellectuals are not hiding from Putin (at least not yet), they are simply shielding themselves from the mass crowds, their intolerance, hate and inner unhappiness. If you don’t want to invite troubles and disappointments – don’t show your happiness, don’t share your thoughts and hide your accomplishments. Sounds like Soviet Union 30 years ago, isn’t it?
Anyway, I wanted to stay authentic and write about things that made me feel passionate. I did not want to hide in small circles, where I already knew who could say what and why. I also did not want to moderate every text to preclude provocations. It took me a while to find my voice and appropriate format, and it’s still work in progress. There are professional doubts and personal setbacks and political dilemmas, lots of books and plenty of rhetorical questions on purpose and meaning. This blog has been my personal documentary and even with a relatively small readership I find myself much more fulfilled and rewarded than ever before, because it’s free of anyone’s expectations, I am not following any trend, promoting a book or proving anything to anyone. Until recently, I had two worlds. There was a professional English-speaking world, where I worked hard, learned, went to various classes, made plans, met former colleagues or former classmates, and focused on achievements and personal development. And there was a Russian-speaking world, where I followed my passion for writing. Thanks to this blog I am able to bridge the gap now.