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.

In Which I Hang Up My Hat As A Book Reviewer

No, no. I’m not going anywhere. I simply want to formally relinquish my title as a book reviewer. (And this doesn’t mean reviews are gone totally….I’ll explain).

I think along the way somewhere book blogger became synonymous with book reviewer and I definitely found myself willingly putting on that hat. Certainly a good majority of book bloggers identify as book reviewers. But I don’t necessarily think book blog has to mean you need to be a book reviewer. A book blog can be SO many things and honestly they could be completely devoid of book reviews.

So why am I formally taking off the book reviewer hat off?

1. For me, personally, being a “book reviewer” has sucked out some of the joy in reading. If you read this blog you know it’s not like my reviews are super serious and they are more conversational but, still, wearing the book reviewer hat has made me feel like I constantly need to be on the lookout for things that I can be critical about in books rather than simply just reading and then talking about what I thought about a book — good AND bad. I don’t know why but there just became so much more pressure for me while I read and I don’t like that. I’m fine with the natural critical process that happens when I read but I don’t want to be taking this “reviewer” thing so seriously and feel like it’s a job to read. I didn’t create my book blog to be a book reviewer but to just talk about books and such and fangirl and flail and cry over books and commiserate over books that piss us off or make us feeling to many feeeelings. After almost 4 years, I’m realizing I enjoy the review process less (and funny enough with the emphasis the community puts on reviews they are my least viewed & commented and I’ve seen people say they barely read any) and just want to talk about books however I see fit.

2. I feel like being a “book reviewer”, within the community, has come to mean you need to have a certain amount of reviews or people start complaining or questioning your legitimacy. I’ve seen sooo many comments on Twitter and blogs about how many reviews you should have and yada yada. I’ve never cared what people think and I have as many reviews as I want per week (typically 2 works for ME and the way I read/live my life) but I formally want to say I’m not a book reviewer anymore so I can basically say, “NA NA I am not a book reviewer so I don’t care how many book reviews I have/what format they take on and I don’t care about any “reviewer” standards you may try to pin on me.” I want to talk about books in MANY MANY ways that are not just reviews. And I see THAT coverage of the book JUST as legit as a book review. I do many things like Beyond the Pages, Book Inspired Dates, top ten lists, etc that spotlights books and talk about them.

So what can you call me? A book blogger, a book talker, a crazy person who just talks about books and relates a lot of things back to them.

What you will see:

Honestly there isn’t going to be THAT much change here. It’s more of a mindset/distinction.

1. Book reviews still — I mentioned before I want to be more book TALK and less book review because I don’t necessarily enjoy the reviewing process but I looooove talking about books. Book reviews will most certainly BE a fixture on this blog and I may even change up how I do them. But I am not a book reviewer. Does this make sense or is it only making sense in my head?

2. Book TALK: I have already found a zillion ways to incorporate books into posts that aren’t reviews and sometimes you may see those more often.

Basically: I no longer want to have to feel bound to being a book reviewer. This blog is my love letter to books, bookish things, life and the things that books make me think and feel. There will be all the same things that there always have been — book reviews included — I just don’t want to be held to any sort of standards. I do think my reviews, as conversational as they are, will become more of a book talk if I can figure out I way I want to do it or maybe I’ll just mix things up “review” wise. Maybe this distinction doesn’t make sense or seems silly because I’ll still have reviews but it’s just something I’ve been thinking about.

I’m not a natural reviewer  like some of the bloggers in this community (seriously I feel self conscious sometimes) so I’d like to not keep wearing that hat. Book reviews will still be written but sometimes I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty critical stuff with EVERY book. I’ll be honest if it wasn’t perfect but sometimes the reading experience was more positive and I genuinely want to just focus on THAT excellent reading experience I had and not sully it with picking apart things. There will still be critical reviews but I don’t want to be bound to any set of standards or be told I’m not being honest or that I’m catering to the publishers if I decide to do it another way. After almost 4 years, those things just aren’t a factor. The only factor is me putting out the best things I can and being honest about it..and I see that shedding this label will be that for me personally!

I think the most beautiful thing about this bookish community is how different our blogs all are — some are natural at critiquing (I’m jealous of this ability), everyone reviews differently and from a different perspective and we all have different focuses and areas of expertise. I love being a part of this community!

 

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!

tumblr_mw34o46Z4M1sywarso1_500

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.

tumblr_inline_mke14xm8me1qz4rgp

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.

tumblr_inline_mukm38U2GY1qbopyv

tumblr_inline_mukm2zrPUd1qbopyv

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.

Feeling A Lack Of Balance & Other Blogging Thoughts

Friends, it’s been yet another great year for me in terms of reading and blogging. I’ve honestly had so much fun and incorporated a lot of new things into the blog that I love. I feel like my blog is always evolving since I started it in 2010 and I love it…especially because it helps me not to get bored (I have a habit of abandoning hobbies). But I’ve been honest with you that I have been struggling with discouragement community-wise and personally this year. I think I’ve finally figured out the last piece of my WEIRDNESS towards blogging this year — a feeling that maybe you don’t necessarily see reflected in the blog because I really love doing all this but it’s something within me. I really think I figured it out.

 

I feel so unbalanced.

I’ve always been a reader (ok except for this one dark time) but I’ve never read this much nor have I been so IMMERSED in the world of books like I have in the past 3.5 years. I love it. I do. But I feel so, so unbalanced in life. You know I don’t post every day, that I don’t care if I don’t post for a week and that I totally write about other things besides books. I don’t let myself get stressed out about all this and I am a fan of little blog vacations when I need them. Among many other things I admitted, you know I don’t read every day and I read way less than most of my fellow bloggers.

I still do plenty of OTHER things in my life — I’m not always reading or blogging but I do feel like I’ve let some hobbies go to the wayside and I’ve not opened myself up to a ton of new things because I spend a good chunk of free time on reading and blogging and going to bookish things. I just feel like my life is so unbalanced and it’s too heavy on the book side. The pie chart of my life would be dominated by all this. I hate feeling like that but I’ve finally put my finger on it.

Book blogging is so much more than merely reading and blogging. It requires a lot of time to write the posts and read the books but there’s also responding to comments (I’ve been SUCKING lately, sorry), visiting other blogs, maintaining personal relationships, conversing on Twitter, formatting, troubleshooting when things go wrong, the hell that is the email inbox of a blogger, blog maintenance, etc. etc. A huge time commitment it is but I’ve always enjoyed it so I do it.

It’s obvious to see how I could feel unbalanced with all the reading/blogging but I also think I really struggle with balancing my time with being a part of the community — keeping up with comments, visiting blogs, encouraging people, and Twitter. I try to limit my Twitter usage, because it’s SO easy to always be on because someone is always on, but I always feel like when I’m not on Twitter I get sort of forgotten about or that I missing out on all these fun conversations. I’ve really struggled with being on there too much to “keep up” with everything though lately I’ve really decreased my social media time after my experiment. I’m a slave to my phone so I can stay up to date on Twitter even when I’m not on the computer. It’s bad, friends.

I don’t really know what to do about this unbalanced feeling. So I made a list because I’m a listmaker through and through.

I could post less but do I want to? I feel like I have lots of ideas and I truly want to be posting everything I do.
I could read less but I don’t feel the pull to do that AND then I would struggle to have reviews? I only post (typically) 2 reviews a week. Would I be okay with only having one review per week.
I could incorporate other things into the blog. I’ve done this a decent amount and like it but what bookish posts would I give up to post instead? Would my readers dislike this?
I could make my reviews shorter so it takes less time and I won’t spend hours trying to get ALL my feelings out– I’ve cut them down significantly but I’m the type that just writes how I feel and sometimes it’s long and sometimes it’s short.
I could figure out ways to make blogging take less time — I’m thinking processes mostly. Do I need to create a new design every time for Top Ten Tuesday (but I really DO love doing it and growing in my skills)? Do I need to do some of the formatting things? Must brainstorm how I can be more efficient!
I could take the holidays off and regroup? I don’t know if I want to do that.
I could just sit here and feel unbalanced. Not really an option!

I don’t know. This post is really very pointless and I should have just kept it private but I feel the need to share with you guys and be honest and maybe you will have some insight from your own experiences — both with blogging and with other areas in your life when you’ve felt unbalanced.

But here’s the thing. I have to make decisions. My blog hosting is up at the beginning of January and I need to decide if I want to renew. Obviously I can still blog without renewing my hosting but for me it’s a matter of where is this blog going? And there’s another piece of information I left out — I’ve been sitting on a domain for another blog I wanted to start. There would still be books involved but not as the focus at all. I want to start it but that’s so much BLOGGING between both blogs.

At the end of the day, I love read and blogging and it’s not even that I don’t LIKE the amount of which I’m spending on either of these things. It’s just that it’s making me feel unbalanced and that the time I spend is on one SORT of thing. And that’s not me. I don’t really know how to fix it either because I love what I’m doing with the blog but I feel stuck a little in life — a rut so to speak and maybe it’s because I have one HUGE interest that takes up a good chunk of my free time. Maybe I need to open myself up to some new experiences and do a little less of the book thing. I don’t know.

Things I do know:
– I love reading and I love this blog and you guys. I love everything I’m doing here.
– I’m going to reevaluate all the types of blogs posts and features I did/have done.
– I’m going to think of new ideas (like Multi-tasking 101) that show another things I like to do outside of book stuff. Basically everything that I pin on my Pinterest and never do. Also, adventures. And my favorite kinds of posts — personal.
– I’m going to remember there is a reason I gave myself a tagline recently — so I could not pigeonhole myself.

Sorry for word vomiting all over you…

 

Does anyone else struggle with feeling unbalanced when it comes to book blogging or any other sort of hobby/thing in your life? I want all your experiences just not in terms of blogging! How do you deal with it? If you read my blog you know I totally incorporate many other interests into the blog aside from books, do you tend to like this or no?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...