“Why Don’t You Just Write About It On Your Blog?” Says The Husband

(OH MY GOD I AM SO SORRY FOR HOW LONG THIS POST IS)

I’m not going to lie. My head has been in a weird space lately with blogging. I’ve had this blog for over 5 1/2 years and I’ve blogged with regularity — going through the normal slumps like anyone else or just little life things (aka wedding planning back in 2012) getting in the way here and there. I take time away when I need it (big proponent of blogging breaks!) and honestly even when I don’t I schedule mini vacations for myself. I reevaluate yearly (or more) so that I’m always keeping this blog fun for me. I still always have a steadily flowing fountain of ideas even after all this time. I still *love* this blog.

But something has felt off about the whole experience lately.

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Why I Am The Way I Am

 

Well, I really don’t have the answer for the overarching reason of why I am the way I am in general. That’s another topic for another day. More so, I had an encounter this weekend that reminded me why I blog, why I do it the way I do  (read: probably way too open and emotional and sappy for most people). It was definitely one of those life-affirming things for me.

So Will had off on Friday for the 4th of July and we kept throwing around ideas for things to do. We finally decided just to stay around our area. We took a four mile walk (2 miles to this cute neighborhood we love with lots of shops and food stuff and 2 miles back). One of my missions, besides getting coffee, was to find this Little Free Library (which I think is the COOLEST concept ever) that I knew was in the area so I loaded up a backpack with a couple books and we went. It was an adorable street off the main road and when we walked up there were two ladies outside in front of it actually picking out paint colors for it — one being the owner and the other her neighbor. I’m a chatty/friendly person (clearly you know this) and so we got to talking to them for a little bit. Learned that the owner of the LFL used to work with Laurie Halse Anderson who I love so that was pretty cool but then she talked about WHY she decided to put up a Little Free Library. And here comes the life/blog-affirming part.

Little Free Library

She shared that she had gotten the Little Free Library when she was caring for her husband who was diagnosed with ALS. They felt closed off as it got harder to go places for him and so she got one in hopes that neighbors and the community would come use it. It became such an uplifting thing for him (and for her) to have neighbors and others come visit and exchange books and interact with them in such a hard time. I haven’t really talked about it on the blog as much as I’ve talked about losing my mom to brain cancer but Will’s dad passed away from ALS about 5 years ago. So this story really, really moved me and I was so thankful that she shared it.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always believed that reading and books are a special sort of magic. They are there when you are lonely, when you need to feel connected to other humans, when you need to escape, when you need something to uplift you or energize you or don’t want to feel alone in whatever you are dealing with. They have the power to transform and save and do all sorts of things. Words and stories are so powerful.

It reaffirmed for me about how much reading and blogging about what I read is about connection for me — connecting with other readers, hearing their stories and just connecting with humanity in the pages of the books I read. I think that’s why I’m so willing to share the personal things. Why I hope you will trust me with your stories when I share whether that be in the form of blog posts of your own, in my comments or in my inbox. That’s why I might talk more about my experiences related to a book or how a story moved me personally. It’s just important to me. It’s just how I’m wired. Maybe it was losing my mom when I realized how much CONNECTING with other people who went through something hard/similar and hearing their stories made me not feel so alone. How certain books were there for me at the right time.

It reaffirmed why I run my blog the way I do.

 

And this is not to say that it’s the right way (I’ve said it a zillion times before…no right way/no better way). It’s just the way that makes me feel content and makes it fulfilling and worthwhile FOR ME. It’s why I’m okay that I’m not naturally the blogger who can do a wonderful critical analysis and point out all the technical things that just don’t come so easily for me. It’s why I’m okay with featuring books in different ways even though it might not be flashy and get a whole lot of attention. It’s why I’m okay writing more personal posts in favor of  promo posts. All those things that I don’t do are great and needed and important… but the things that I do are the things that align with ME and what I care about/what interests me and the blog gives me an outlet to do that. I’m so thankful for that. When I DO the things that make me fulfilled it’s what keeps this blog going (and everybody’s sense of fulfillment comes from something else!).

Sometimes I’ll get down on myself that maybe I should do this and that and what not. Maybe my blog should have more of this. Maybe it should look more like this. Maybe I should do less of this. But at the end of the day, I’m really happy with what I do. I’m happy with what I put out here and what I focus my time on when I do this. I’m so thankful for all the ways I’ve connected with people who became shoulders to cry on (metaphorical but whew you don’t have to endure the snot on your shoulder), who gave me advice or inspired me, who I may have helped with my words, who reached out to me and shared their stories, who may have felt inspired by my openness, etc. etc.

Today just really reaffirmed why I blog, why I do it the the way I do and why I am the way I am — no matter how the trends shift or what becomes cool. At the heart of this blog will always be the things that are important and fulfilling to me and I sincerely hope, for my fellow bloggers, that it’s that way for you — no matter how that looks! It also reminded me just how vast this book community is outside of my little corner of the bookternet and how wonderful it is.

Thank you for being vulnerable with me these 5 years. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blog, in the comments of my posts/emails or by the books that you write. It’s what has kept me around for the past 5 years — not the ARCs, not the “cool perks”, not the ad money, not the spotlight or anything else.

Spreading Kindness

I’m a pretty genuinely positive person when it comes to this bookish community (because all the bloggers, authors, readers and publishers are MY PEOPLE and these 5 years have been incredibly) but lately, as I talked about here on my Tumblr, it’s felt different. I heard it from others close to me and I heard it very loudly as people reached out to me after I shared my thoughts. I don’t ever talk about the things I see or the various dramas/concerning things that I’ve seen take place publicly. I don’t want to add to the negativity. But it was bumming me out. REAL BAD.

Before I posted what I did, I had talked extensively with my girl Anna about it and we kept trying to build each other up and encourage each other because we LOVED what this community has been — this great interaction of bloggers, readers, authors and publishing. I had thrown around the idea of a challenge to do BEHIND the scenes to extend to others in the community to do along with us to spread some positivity but we never quite nailed it down and, honestly, the negativity was kind of demotivating us. But then, after I posted my feelings and talked to other people, I had this fire again to try. I had been trying on my own (and with Anna) to combat this but after sharing my feelings and hearing that SO many others were feeling the same way? It gave me a spark.

Then enter my pal Estelle. We started having a conversation about all this and what we could do to change it. We started talking about the times that the KINDNESS in this community has uplifted us and how genuine kindness can be so powerful — in blogging and in life. Just taking the time to encourage or let someone know you were thinking of them or that they had done a good job with something.

Estelle had this great idea, during Alexa’s annual blogging event Love-athon which I’ll talk about more below, that it would be fun to have everyone SHARE the random acts of kindness we’ve experienced in this community — but with NO names. Likely we’ve already thanked these people and we don’t want to make this a popularity contest but just a time to tell stories about the random acts of kindness people have shown us.

I’m going to be sharing more of mine during that week and adding my post to the linkup that Estelle is going to put up but I figured I’d give you an idea of what we are looking for with one story.

A year or two ago I got an email from a teacher, who isn’t a blogger or anyone that I knew, who wanted to share with me something that my blog inspired them to do with their classroom. If you read my blog, you know I started putting a “review on a post-it” on the bottom of my reviews — something I started doing in 2011 as a way to give an “at a glance” look and because I’ve always had this habit of doing it when I lend books to friends. This teacher loved the idea of it and started having her class do it after every book they read and they LOVED doing it. She sent me a picture and there along this big wall was SO MANY post-its. It moved me so much. More than anything else in my time of being part of this community. It made me feel really connected in a way I hadn’t and know that my reach wasn’t just to the community of bloggers that I love. It meant a lot that she reached out to me to TELL me. She could have not but the fact she DID made all the difference.

 

Check out Estelle’s great post HERE!

Another thing I decided to do, to combat some of what I was feeling just on a blogging level, was to create a little Random Acts of Kindness checklist to guide me each month. I don’t make myself do each one of them because I want this to be genuine but I try to do at least a couple in the hopes that this will just become a thing that just naturally flows out of me. And when I’m feeling negativity? I’m trying to whip this list out and DO IT to combat what I’m feeling. I’d love to share it with you guys. Feel free to use it, print it out, share it, add to it. WHATEVER. (I’d love to hear if you have any other fun suggestions for me to put on my list!!).

 

bloggingRAK

On a community-wide scale, I’d love to let you know about this annual event that Alexa at Alexa Loves Books throws together which is just a super positive week for bloggers, authors and readers alike. It’s called Love-a-thon and it’s a great way to spread kindness and meet other readers! She has challenges and all sorts of fun activities involved on a community wide scale to uplift this wonderful community! So check out her post about the details of when it starts and how to sign up and what it is all about!

 

So, in the spirit of random acts of kindness online and beyond, tell me something really nice someone has done for you lately or something that inspired YOU to “pay it forward.” And, if you are a blogger, keep this story in mind and link up the week of February 16, in the spirit of Love-a-thon, and link up with Rather Be Reading and I!

Top Ten Blogging Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Blogging Confessions

I originally did this post a couple years ago after we talked about our top ten bookish confessions but I’m going to add to this though some may be the same!

1. Sometimes I feel like I spend too much time blogging and feel quite unbalanced.

I’ve talked about the blurred lines I feel recently but I really struggle with this. It’s hard because I love doing all this but other times I feel like it’s TOO MUCH.

2. I’m never ahead with my blogging schedule.

Ever. The most I’m ever ahead is a week and that’s when I really have my shit together. I’m always like a day or two ahead if that. 4 years and I haven’t managed to find the art of getting ahead? OH WELL. I seem to work well like this.

3. I currently have 89 drafts with half finished posts.

And this doesn’t include my list of post ideas. Some of them are just a couple sentences for an idea I had for a post and I get it down in a draft so I know where I was going with it and some are ALMOST finished posts but it’s RIDICULOUS. I have too many ideas apparently.

4. I’ve fallen behind on commenting on blogs and replying back to my comments and I can’t tell you how much guilt I feel.

I used to be really on top of that and then I wasn’t and it’s hard for me because the community is what has kept me doing this for 4 years. A lot of it had to do with this but also I let my guilt about it kind of get in the way to the point where I just don’t do ANYTHING about it because I feel so bad. I read EVERY SINGLE COMMENT and I’m trying to get better.

5. I often feel overwhelmed with trying to keep up on social media with my blog.

Honestly, there’s days where I just don’t feel like socializing or don’t have anything to say. I know I can choose NOT to and it’s okay but then I feel this nagging in my head like THOU SHALT BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA LEST THOU SHALL BE FORGOTTEN IN AN INSTANT. I don’t know why my brain talks like that but it does. Seriously though, I love talking to people but sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by it all. I can’t keep up on all the conversations.

6. Sometimes I’m tired of being part of somebody’s marketing plan.

I so appreciate all the things I get to be a part of and all the books that I get for review because I LOVE GETTING SHOUTY ABOUT BOOKS I LOVE but sometimes I’m just so over being part of somebody’s marketing plan. I have to refocus a lot and remember I’m reading the book because I want to. And if I’m reading it because I feel like I HAVE to then I put it down. This is why I decided I wasn’t going to call myself a book reviewer anymore — I needed that distinction FOR MYSELF so I could keep doing and loving this. I’m a girl who likes to read a lot and I like to talk/blog about what I read whether I liked it or not. I’ve come a long way with being okay with NOT writing a review of books I don’t want to and give myself permission to feature it in some other way. I’m not going to lie…sometimes it’s gotten to the point where I almost want to get myself taken off every list and never read ARCs ever again. But then I get back the feelings of I LOVE BEING PART OF THIS STUFF and I’m good for a while until I get waves of feeling burnt out. It’s always a refocusing game for me.

7. I deny about 80% (I don’t know where that math came from) of the blog tours pitched to me.

I’m really, really picky about what I accept. It needs to either be for a book our author that I love or am excited about. Sometimes I’ll do it if I think it will REALLY appeal to my readership (namely a giveaway of something popular) but my own feelings are MEH about it. Also, I need the content for the blog tour to be actual CONTENT. I don’t want some filler post. I want something interesting and valuable and something I’d want to read.

8. My blog emails are out of control.

I’m the worst at responding to emails so if you email me and it takes me forever..it’s not you…it’s me! Email is always the last thing on my to-do list for some reason ESPECIALLY when I’m busy.

9. Sometimes I worry about being judged for “liking too many books” on my blog

No, I don’t LOVE every book and not all are my favorites but I have way more books that I’ve at least LIKED compared to the ones I didn’t like, felt MEH about or hated on this blog. I’m not UBER critical and I am REALLY good at knowing what books I will like. Like really good. And I put down books pretty quickly if I don’t think it’s going to work out. I just like to read books and talk about them and I hate that this feeling creeps up because I’m happy enjoying books and I choose not to be an uber critical reader. I’m okay with that because I know I’m being honest in how I feel about books and that’s what matters to me. (You can check out this post for expanded thoughts on this)

10. I’m still forever and always the slowest at getting out giveaway prizes:

When life gets busy, this is the thing I forget about. Plus getting to the post office before it closes? SO HARD. And Saturdays I’m always out the door before I remember OH HEY I NEEDED TO GO TO THE POST OFFICE. They always get there and maybe it’s a no-no for how long it takes me but such is life.

Bonus: I have lots of little blogging insecurities I won’t tell you about. But I have them. Even though I’m pretty chill about all this blogging stuff…I still have them and I can’t help seem to help it.

 

So tell me…if you are a blogger…what are some of your confessions?

Blurred Lines

Sometimes I feel like there are very blurred lines between my life and blogging. Meaning, it’s really hard to separate all things blogging as they seem to bleed into every hour of my life very easily. I have to consciously UNPLUG from blogging because I don’t think the book blogger hat comes off unless I physically make it. There seems to not be a designated “blogging time” for me and then I’m done. There’s always something I could be working on with the blog. Comments I could be replying to. Emails to respond to. Blogs I could be reading. Conversations I could be having. Posts I could be writing to get ahead. Always something I could be doing. In addition to the books I could be reading. And I’ve REALLY noticed it lately as I’ve stepped back and taken inventory of my life.

I don’t know if it’s just a me thing? My own inability to make some boundaries? But I feel like I’m always “on the clock”, which isn’t awful because I love doing it, but as I’ve talked about I feel really unbalanced sometimes. I’m good about unplugging on the weekend and going to do other things not related to blogging (and I won’t say NO to other things because of blogging stuff) but I find most of my free time IS spent doing this. It’s the automatic thing when I come home and have free time. Fire up the laptop and work on something. Or when I am “unplugged” I’m never NOT checking Twitter or Instagram or reading a comment if an email comes through. Dear god I check it the moment I wake up and before I go to bed. It’s become an addiction.

There’s no separation between “life” and “thing I like to do” and I cannot honestly tell if that’s a good or a bad thing because 1) I love doing this and it does bring me a sense of fulfillment in aspects of my life and 2) I am a person who, when passionate about something, puts my whole self into it. Maybe it’s just part of having a thing that you love so much? I don’t know.

What got me thinking about all this? I was contemplating doing “Summer Hours” on the blog. In the past 4 years I’ve noticed that traffic and comments and general activity tends to go down in the summer. I, also with the rest of the world, seem to get busier in the summer. Why not post a bit less for myself and others? Why not actively spend less time on the blog as a PLAN? It seems to happen ANYWAYS because I look outside and can’t bear to be inside but why not be proactive about it?

I’m not the sort of person who feels compelled to post all the time. I have my general plan I shoot for and works for me (5x a week) but if I don’t feel like it or don’t have time…I don’t do it. I mean, I barely posted for the months leading up to my wedding. When I don’t feel like doing things blog related I DON’T and I honestly feel no stress in that decision. So it’s not a matter of feeling like I have to.

It’s just like blogging has become this extra appendage so to speak and it’s so embedded in my daily routine it’s second nature. It makes me realize, when I think about doing something like Summer Hours,  just how MUCH time I spend on all this without even realizing it. It scares me if I were to even try to calculate it out. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do the whole Summer Hours thing or not but I’m still thinking on it because there’s a lot to consider!

I don’t think I have a point to all my rambling except for the fact I just really was curious how it is for you guys. Do you feel this way? How do you separate it? Is it hard for you to turn blogger mode off (aside from the obvious when you go do other things?) And if you aren’t a blogger, do you have anything in your life that you feel similarly about?

Self, DO NOT SUCCUMB TO IT!

I’ve never really been a blogger who has been stressed about reading. (Seriously, before blogging, it would have baffled me that a reading or a hobby based on reading could be so stressful). I have the normal waves of “AHHH SO MANY BOOKS TO READ!” or “AHHHH SO MANY NEW RELEASES HOW CAN I KEEP UP?!?” (I never knew about new releases really before blogging) or “OMG I AM DROWNING IN BOOKS.” But they are small waves that travel through my body and momentarily freak me out and then are gone quickly.

I don’t keep a schedule for reading ARCs or any books, I read quite a variety of things old and new and I just generally keep it low stress for myself — because that’s just how I personally have wanted to go about this for the past (almost) four years.

But these past couple days? I had a meltdown. A big melty meltdown of toddler sized proportions. My thoughts are conflicting and confusing and…annoying? Because I hate stressing about things.

Can I just talk it out with you guys, please?

1. I feel so overwhelmed. There are so many books I’m never going to get to in my entire life. Likely even on my shelves I’ll never get to some of them. I don’t read by release dates but I try to be conscious of what I’ve got but, months like this where EVERYTHING good seems to be coming out, I am slowly feeling anxious over all the books I WANT to get to in this month (and the next) but know that at the pace I read and the time I have available to read that I’ll never get to all the ones I want to + the ones I want to buy when they come out. I get envious of other’s ability to read more than I can.

I feel like keeping up is a fruitless endeavor. I completely stress over which book to read next because I realize that I need to be smart about which books I read because of my finite reading ability and every dud of a book is time I could have had for a better book for me. I get all frantic about my choices and the ones left on the shelves. I feel like I’m missing out (is there book FOMO..there has to be? MAJOR BOOK FEAR OF MISSING OUT). I’m staring at all my books for review & the ones I’ve bought and I feel overwhelmed. Too many choices. Too much pressure. Not enough time.  When I feel like this I just want to hole up and read ALL THE HOURS OF THE DAY I HAVE FREE — because I’m genuinely excited about all these books but because of the book FOMO or stress or whatever we want to label it.

2. But then I have these other thoughts where I just don’t WANT to read all day every day, despite the rabbit-esque multiplying my TBR does on the daily, as much as sometimes I feel the pressure to do that because of blogging. I’ve talked about how last year I was feeling really unbalanced in life because of book blogging but I really do like to maintain some sort of balance in my life in all areas. Blogging has always been a struggle because it is so easy to let it take up a lot of time without even realizing it. I’ve been intentional about setting low reading goals even though I know I COULD read more + setting boundaries with blogging.

Sometimes I feel like, as much as reading is one of my favorite things in LIFE, I just don’t want to read THAT much and becoming a devouring machine that constantly and only ever is reading. I also want to savor what I’m reading. To not just move on to the next thing and let that be that — like how I was before I started blogging. I don’t want to treat reading like a race.  And on top of that..I really don’t want reading to be this stressful thing. (I know I control that though blogging DOES add to that).

And really..what’s the end game in me reading that much or trying to frantically read that much? It’d be a combination of the desire to read ALL THE BOOKS because as a bookworm I want to know all the stories & worlds & characters  & also it’s the pressure… but to what end? For what purpose? This is what I have to keep asking myself. I can’t do it all. I need perspective.

Sigh I feel much better getting that out. I’m taking deep breathes and just trying to go back to my zen attitude about reading and blogging. I’m okay with my little bookworm freakouts that happen from time to time because such is the bookworm life but I’m not okay with the rattling meltdown I had (for no reason) in the past couple days wherein I just stressed myself out big time about something I love and that keeps me sane normally.

Does anyone else sometimes feel the weight of all the books they will never get to?? Bloggers, do you feel stressed about reading sometimes?? How do you manage? I’m not used to succumbing to the pressure that’s always there! Please can we talk this out because Will just doesn’t get it at all!

Onward…

I’ve been sitting here with my notebook open to one page for the past week or so. It’s blank for the most part except for a title that says, “The Perpetual Page-Turner Moving Forward in 2014.” I can’t seem to get anything down. It’s been an interesting year for me. Blog-wise it’s been pretty great minus this weird slump. I’ve read a lot of great books. A lot of my problem has been with feeling unbalanced and then my personal life stuff which HAS affected blogging as I’ve told you.

I would have never in a million years thought I’d still be without a job. I’m fabulous, competent and very enthusiastic. What gives? It’s been a frustrating, demoralizing process and it’s taken a lot for me to keep up my spirits. I’d say being laid off has taught me a lot of lessons but that’s a topic for another day. It’s just been plain ol’ hard.

So, really, I have a lot to figure out for 2014 for this blog and personally. What do I want out of life? What do I want for this blog moving forward? I’m the type of person who really does get energized by the new year. I know I can change and plan at any point through the year but there’s just something I like about wiping the slate clean with a new year.

So when I couldn’t get anything down on paper I decided to just write it out like I was talking to you all…and sure enough the words are just coming. So here we go…

Planning-wise & Rejuvenation:

 

1. I want to slow down my reviews for the rest of December. I typically review or feature a book in a review-y sort of way (Save the Date, Before I Blogged I Read, Reshelved) 2 times a week. I’m going to only do one book review per week for the rest of this month.

2. I am probably not going to post during the week of Christmas or at least a couple days surrounding it — with the exception of Top Ten Tuesday because I need to tell Santa what I want.  I believe a vacation is in order. We take vacations in life to rejuvenate and let our brains rest a bit so why not in blogging? I’m very pro blogging vacations! I will also vow to myself not to touch any blog related stuff during this time.

2a. But what about traffic? EH well I don’t care THAT much but I did think it would be fun for my little vacation if I tweeted and posted on Facebook links to my “greatest hits” of 2013 on the blog so that way if you missed things from earlier in the year you might be able to catch them now.

3. I’m going to slow down my social media usage for the rest of the month. Time to recharge, watch Christmas movies, spend extra time with family, etc.

Miscellaneous Thoughts About Blogging Next Year

1. I want to make my reviews shorter/less review-y. I feel like I’m not enjoying the reviewing process anymore but I loooove TALKING about books and that comes easily. Even though mine are very conversational, I still get hung up on them. I didn’t create this blog because I love REVIEWING..I created it because I loved TALKING about books. So I need to develop a way to be less book REVIEW and more book TALK when it comes to my “reviews”/thoughts on books. They will still be reviews and the same conversational tone but I may be tweaking what it looks like.

2. Decide if I just want this to be a mostly bookish blog. I think I do. But I need to consider if I could merge my two ideas or just let that be an extension of this blog. WE WILL SEE. Basically it’s all the same thoughts of THIS post.7. Get back to the awesome commenting I used to do. I don’t comment just for the sake of commenting but I really, genuinely love supporting other bloggers! This year has been abysmal for me in terms of commenting. I mentioned before in this post a little why but I really want to get out of that.

3. Consider posting less. I typically post 5x a week right now. It would give me time to act on other ideas outside of this blog. However, I always get hung up on having so many post ideas that I could REALLY post 7x a week if I wanted to. Need to find balance and figure out what is important. This is the biggest thing going forward because I have talk a lot about another project I have and this could help me to do both!

4. Reconsider some of my past and current features. Decide what I want to get rid of and revamp ones I let go of for a bit.

5. Take action on my list of new feature/ mini series ideas and see what I actually want to do.

6. Make “If We Were Having Coffee” a regular thing. I loved the feedback, I loved giving you a “state of my life” type thing and I just really liked it in general. I STILL have comments to reply to on that post and emails to respond to. I love you guys.

7. Get back to commenting/visiting blogs in the way that I used to. I truly love the community and supporting other bloggers and reading what they have to say. I’ve been really BAD at commenting this year and it used to be something that I did really well and enjoyed doing. I don’t comment just to comment but I miss visiting other blogs as much as I used to. I know that I have my reasons for why I haven’t but 2014 I’m really, really going to carve out some time to do this and make it a priority.

Whew! Now that I’ve gotten that all out I can really use these thoughts to refocus this month and begin my bookish resolutions post (these are mine from LAST year)!

The Rise of Co-Bloggers

I’ve been a part of the book blogging community for about 3.5 years now and so I’ve been able to observe the ways its evolved and changed along the years. There have been a lot of changes as with anything! Lately I’ve seen one thing seem to be more on the rise — something I had never really seen happening back in the day. This post isn’t an opinion on whether or not I LIKE or DISLIKE this change. Just an observation that it’s happening more and more and some musings on to maybe why?

So, I’ve noticed that there has been this surge in blogs, that started out solo, seeking out co-bloggers (I’m not talking about blogs that STARTED with a co-blogger but solo bloggers seeking a co-blogger after a while). I see a new tweet about it at least every couple days. I’ve seen lots of success in this and I’ve met some lovely people who have joined on as co-bloggers and it give a good opportunity for someone who perhaps doesn’t want to run a blog all by themselves. I’m not saying anything about adding a co-blogger as a good or a bad thing — just merely observing that it happens more frequently than it used to. Sure, when I started, there were tons of blogs who were collaborative or a partnership — they started out that way. But I really only saw on occasion a blogger wanting to take on a co-blogger to divvy up the load. Now it seems it’s all the time.

I don’t know the reasons and can’t speak on behalf of those who have done this/are contemplating it but here are my observations and thoughts (which I know could be totally not true for all people):

I know in some cases it’s because they want to have a partner in crime to do this with. They’ve felt like something has been lacking or they’ve seen a great duo/team that makes them want that. Or maybe a friend wanted to join!

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However, I have to wonder if it’s the pressure that’s out there now that wasn’t AS heavy when I was a newbie that is making people search for co-bloggers. There have always been pressures in book blogging but I feel like it’s gotten even crazier. There is so much we feel we need to do and keep up with. SO many new responsibilities. So much reading to do. The ARCs. This pressure (I don’t know where it came from) to post every day. The monetizing of blogs. etc. (Not saying these things are bad at all).

Many blogs, when I started and especially WAY before I started, were a lot of people’s personal reading journeys and so they posted when they wanted to and there weren’t all the things that there are now (which these NEW things aren’t bad at all).  It was more about the person than it was about this building of a brand so to speak. And that’s not to say that there isn’t a personal touch to blogs these days, because there totally is, but there is a lot more about building your blog as this brand/running it as such– a thing that just isn’t on the rise in ONLY this community. There’s a lot more of being methodical about review copies and churning out lots of reviews. More opportunities for book promotion and author interaction on blogs. Being consistent and getting traffic so that in turn you get opportunities and ARCs and ad space. Etc. Etc. Again, NOT BAD THINGS. I just see the rise of these things and the rise of people seeking co-bloggers and I wonder about the parallels and if all that pressure is to blame.

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I think all this is contributing to burn out and lots of pressure and people feel like they can’t keep up on their own. I see lots of bloggers saying they are stressed or burnt out (I’m guilty!). I’ve contemplated taking on co-bloggers or regularly guest contributors because of reasons like this but, as it is a personal decision, I chose to not go that route and just let myself not post when I can’t. To take breaks. To scale back. That was my choice and I know so many successful blogs that have taken on co-bloggers and it was like the piece of the puzzle was missing for them! For me, it just would never feel right because this is like my cozy little home on the internet where I might not take the trash out for while, forget my manners or feel compelled to burb the alphabet in my underpants. And I like it that way. Plus, I’d be a terrible blogmate after building this solo for all these years.

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My thoughts are more to do with WHY more and more people are seeking co-bloggers rather than if it’s a good or a bad thing because, to me, it’s a very personal decision and there isn’t a wrong or right way to do things.

So I’m curious what YOU all think! Especially those of you who HAVE taken on co-bloggers or are thinking about it. What were the reasons behind you doing so? Do you think it was pressure/blogger burnout/wanting to share the load? Or were you just wanting to have a fun partnership like other bloggers that are in the community? Because seriously I am always jealous of Estelle and Magan and the way from the start they’ve had this fun partnership of someone to always bounce ideas off of and have fun with.

A Moment Of Truth On The Blogging Front

I’m sitting here today and honestly the last thing I want to do is blog.

Yep. It’s not that I’m in a blogging slump and need help getting out. I actually have tons of post ideas and am really excited about them. I have reviews I’m itching to write for books. I’m not in a reading slump. Not at all. I’m in the mood to read a lot.

So what is it then?

It’s mostly a matter of seeing a whole lot of things (not one thing specifically) about how bloggers should blog, seeing snarky comments about things bloggers do, comments that make people feel BAD about what they are doing, etc. It’s not at all that I PERSONALLY feel like I need to listen to these things. Because I don’t. I won’t. I roll my eyes and move on because you all know I’ve been doing my own thing for a long time. I don’t really care what the blogosphere is trending towards — if I don’t like it/enjoy it/feel right about it then I’m not going to do it. It has to feel right for me because I spend my free time doing this — I’m not getting paid a salary here and who wants to spend their free time doing something that they don’t enjoy? I’ve only got limited amounts of time in this life.

It’s just this whole draining energy I’m feeling from all of that (and other dramas).  That’s not to say the blogsosphere is all negative/draining as a whole — quite the opposite because I have some of the most hilarious or inspiring conversations with you all. There are some amazingly positive people who there who make me happy to know them. It’s just more of this feeling of, “WHEN DID THIS ALL BECOME SO SERIOUS?” When did we decide there was a right or wrong way to talk about books that we read? When did we care so much about if someone writes a short review or a long review or reviews only books they like or reviews only new releases? If someone posts every day or if they don’t? If someone writes a review in a way that best expresses themselves whether it be a conversational review talking about what they liked (even if that is KISSING) or a completely literary analysis?

WHY SO SERIOUS, PEOPLE? I mean, for me, blogging is not a life or death matter. I’m not going to cry in my beer over it. Ok, I did cry when I was moving to WordPress because of stress and I do rant privately to close friends — but in general I’m not going to get my panties all in a bunch about what other people are doing.  And HEY — diversity is awesome. That’s the awesome thing about the blogosphere — if you want recommendations based on literary merit there are blogs out there that write analytical reviews. If you want something more conversation and based on emotional responses, there are those. There are hybrids of that. There is a blog out there for everyone. I promise! I read blogs who do it all differently and they all are equally as fab.  Not every blog has to cater to your personally preferences — I don’t read the ones that don’t do it for me.

I mean I take seriously promoting literacy in many ways, recommending books and the posts I’m putting out every day. I put pride into all I do and really care deeply about this blog and community but this is not my job. I don’t take myself as a blogger too seriously or feel like this blog is the end all be all of my life. I created my blogging manifesto early on and it has helped me to maintain focus with this blog and addresses a lot of these things. I love this blog but this is not my life. I’d imagine that’s the truth for a lot of you. This blog is a space where I am free to be me and talk about something I’m very passionate about. If publishers, readers and other bloggers enjoy what I’m doing…YAY! But I refuse to ever make this a space where I’m not doing what I want just because other people say it’s “wrong.”

I’m always doing it right because I define what is right for my blog (minus you know like plagiarism or things like that. Also “doing it right” doesn’t mean that people are going to like it). And you define what is right for your blog so when someone tells you that your GIF-filled review is WRONG because it isn’t SERIOUS enough you can brush your shoulder off because you know that being serious isn’t in your agenda but rather telling all your feels via GIFs and a conversational tone. Mission accomplished, friend. (And vice versa — someone says your reviews are stuffy? You know that you are providing your thoughts in the way that work best for you and that may be on a more scholarly level).

I know what I want for my blog and when I don’t know I try it out and see if works for me. I write my reviews and sometimes they end up short and sometimes they end up long. I write where my heart takes me. I don’t do blog tours a lot and have to feel passionate about what I’m promoting — even if it is an opportunity from a major publisher. But Im’ so glad that other bloggers do them because they work well with what they want to do with their blog. You won’t see me writing scholarly reviews that are super analytical. I wasn’t an English major and trying to force myself to write that way (I tried early on) didn’t work for me and felt like I was back in school. I find that I like to write conversationally as if I was sitting down with a friend and talk about what stood out to me most in my likes/dislikes. I don’t use many gifs but I find them hilarious in other reviews. I stink at finding THE RIGHT ONE. But I totally read blogs that are more analytical in nature and ones that use GIFS amazingly. I’m so thankful for them all. I probably won’t post every day. I might take off for a  week and not have posts pre-scheduled. I’ve just found in my almost three years of blogging the things that work for me and my blog and I have never felt happier — even if my blog isn’t doing the trendy thing or even if some people don’t like it. I don’t expect them all to.  I’d never want anyone to be made to feel bad about what works for them just because other people don’t like it. And I’m so, so sorry if I’ve ever made a comment that has made anyone else feel differently about their blog — their little corner of the internet.

So, get down with your bad self. Feel free to change up what you do and to tweak it through the years. Remember that you probably started your blog to talk about books and connect with other book readers…and you are doing it right, no matter how you go about it, if that’s what your blog is doing. Have fun, know what you want for your blog and remember there isn’t one way to do anything. And when someone makes you feel bad about what you are doing, remember that you’ve got readers who clearly enjoy what you do and that’s a win in my book. Just like with reading, we bring our own life experiences and interests and what not into our blogs and that’s what makes it so awesome.

As for me and my slump? I’m going to do what I do in other facets of my life when I’m feeling negative energy — refocus, cut out the proble, focus on the good.  I’m probably going to take a little time away from social media this week/cull the blogs who frequently post things that exude the things that are bringing on this slump for me. I’ve been too surrounded by it lately and it’s clouding my feelings toward blogging in general. I’m going to read and hopefully respond to comments and visit the blogs that make me smile. Hopefully I’ll feel like blogging soon with focusing on all the positive things about my blogging life. You guys and your lively discussions here on my blog always do the trick.

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