Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Discussion Post: A Blog Reflection

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 12:02 AM with 35 comments


Discussion Post: A Blog Reflection


I've been giving this blog a lot of thought lately--what I do and do not want it to be, and I think I'm finally ready to share my thoughts. I know I'm not the only person who has been reflecting on the topic lately. Kara from Great Imagination posted a discussion on Regaining Her Passion for blogging. Jen from YA Romantics wrote about Blogging From the Heart. I've seen countless other posts and comments that all seem to share the same sentiment that I'm feeling right now: I want my blog to be a fun hobby. I don't want ever want for reading--the thing I love to do more than anything else in this world--to ever feel like it is a job. So what am I going to do about it? That's the question.

Reading, Stress, and Guilt

So here's the thing: I'm not going to feel guilty or stressed out about reading anymore. Those days are over. Yes, I will try to get to my ARCs in a timely manner, but if I feel like rereading a book or reading the ARC that doesn't come out for six months: I'm going to do it. Last week I talked about My DNF Habits, and this certainly falls in line with that. If I'm not enjoying the book I'm reading, then I'm going to move on to the next one. Period.

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In addition, like I discussed last week, I need to stop requesting so many damn books. With very few exceptions, I have really only been interested in contemporary fiction lately. I like a good horror story every once in a while that may have some paranormal aspect, and I still enjoy the occasional fairy tale retelling that has fantastical elements, but in 2014 I'm going to be way more selective about what I'm requesting.

Along the same lines, I'm also going to make a concentrated effort to read older books. Just because a book is brand new (or not out yet) and has a sparkly cover, doesn't make it better than the book that has been sitting on my shelf for the past 2 years or the library book I have checked out. I know that I've made a commitment to read an ARC if I request it, and I really am trying to read them when I should--and I want to read the books I request--but I'm not going to only read ARCs. There are so many books I didn't get to when they first came out that I'm going to concentrate on as well. 

I've loved to read since I was little. When I was in elementary school, my punishment for not cleaning my room was that I couldn't go to the library. In jr. high and high school, I dropped off the face of the planet every summer because I just wanted to be alone and read. It's a part of who I am and I just refuse, absolutely refuse, to let it become a chore.

Memes:

I didn't really know a whole lot about blogging when I first started this one last April. I had been reviewing books on Goodreads, and had already started getting some ARCs  through NG, so decided to go ahead and make myself a blog. Memes were kind of a saving grace for me at the time. Not only did they give me something to post pretty much everyday (not that I was only posting memes), they also gave me a way to connect with other bloggers.

Furthermore, memes gave me a way of keeping up with this blog last semester when I was so busy I could barely even think straight. For those of you who don't know: last semester was MY last semester as a grad student. I was student teaching seniors in high school (who were writing some pretty major essays), preparing lesson plans, working a part time office job, working part time at my local library (where I've worked for the past eight years), taking 2 graduate school classes, and trying to occasionally see my awesome husband. It was insanity. Looking back, I honestly don't even know how I got through it. During those 4 months, I could barely put together a couple of posts a week, and they were almost all meme posts. If I hadn't been posting Waiting on Wednesday posts and Stacking the Shelves posts, I probably wouldn't have posted at all. Memes allowed me to stay in touch with some of my blogging friends and allowed me to stay an (somewhat) active blogger.

Now that I've graduated, however, and am back to a fairly quiet and normal life (I'm trying to get work as a substitute teacher and am still working part time at the office and at the library), I've found myself not really that interested in keeping up with memes. I will definitely continue posting WoW posts because I love scouring for new books and looking to see what my friends chose, and I will also continue to post a "What I Got" type post on Saturdays, but I'm going to be tweaking the format of my weekend post to be more about my life and the things I enjoyed over the week (blog posts I enjoyed, other articles I found, etc). I'm still working on the format, but I should have it worked out by the weekend. Frankly, I'm tired of trying to keep up with all the comments from the randoms who drop by and say: nice haul, now come to my blog and see what I got.


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I know that seems kind of bitchy, but I'm over fake interactions. I really do try to make it a point to return comments, but it's hard to muster up the energy when it's obvious that the person who left a comment doesn't give a shit about you or your blog. Now if somebody new drops by, and leaves a genuine comment about a book I got, or especially if they leave a comment on a discussion/review post, than I'm always up for making a new friend. I really only want to interact with bloggers who care about the people they are talking to. I'm not at all interested in the bloggers whose sole purpose is to get me to their blog. There are some awesome bloggers and blogs out there, and they are the ones who I want to interact with. I'm ok with the fact that my blog is probably going to remain one of the smaller ones. In no way am I blogging for "numbers". Frankly, I don't know how the bigger blogs keep up with all their comments. It's another way that blogging can feel more like chore than a hobby.

To clarify this: I love comments. I do. Please don't get me wrong. AND I love visiting other blogs. I'm just over the super fake comments left on memes which is why I'm probably not going to participate in them as often (again, with the exception of WoW and some type of weekend post...which I may or may not link to a meme. I haven't decided).

To clarify this further: I understand that this is the purpose of memes. The whole point is to get people to come to your blogs. I'm not looking for some glorious comment when I post a meme. I am, however, looking for more than: nice pick (haul, list), now here's mine. It took time to put this shit together. If you really want people to come to your blog at least pick out one significant aspect of their post (oh, I love YA mysteries. Oh, I've heard good things about x book. Oh, you put x book on your list, I didn't think about that). Just be genuine.

Holy moly, that went on for way longer than I meant it to. Sorry for the rant. Again.

Posts:

I'm going to make a loose schedule, but I'm not going to feel bad if I don't follow it. Again, I'm just not putting any pressure on myself in regards to this blog anymore. If I get a post done: great. If I don't: oh, well. Over the past month or so, I've been trying to post one or two reviews a week, plus a discussion post (along with the couple of memes), and I like what I've got going on quite a bit. I'm especially enjoying both writing discussion posts and reading the responses I get from them.

Going forward:

So what you can expect from me going forward: a more honest look at me--what I'm reading, what's on my mind, etc. Occasional unexplained absences because I just couldn't muster up the energy creating a post can sometimes take--I'm just not going to be putting pressure on myself to post something every day, and, frankly, not putting pressure on myself to read this certain book, or to get this post written has made me want to read and write more. A mix of reviews from ARCs to older books to movie reviews (so, yeah, not a whole lot is changing there). More discussion posts because, frankly, they are what are most fun for me to write, and they are what I find most interesting to read on other blogs.

Whew. That was kind of a lot. I'm feeling better about my little corner of the web already.

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Like always, I'd love to hear from you. Have you found yourself feeling pressured to post every day? Do you feel guilty when you don't get to an ARC on time? I'd love to hear your thoughts on these and any other related topics.


35 comments:

  1. Great post, Natalie. I've come to the same realizations towards the end of last year. I don't have a schedule to do, no obligations to keep and I'm blogging when I want and with whatever content I want to post. Memes are great but I find that it really is not my thing. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy visiting other blog's TOP TENs, WoWs and book haul posts. I use those posts as a tool to find books and take their suggestions to heart.

    I'm done feeling guilty or making my love of reading into something similar to that of a job.

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    1. I'm definitely starting to find memes more and more that memes might not be my thing either. I do love WoW posts because I love "discovering" new books. I never want for reading to feel like a job. Since I've stopped putting pressure on myself, I feel better about reading and posting. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Really brilliant post I started my blog last summer and burnt myself out so quickly. Sometimes it felt so much like a job that I started to resent it - especially going around commenting back on all those generalised comments on memes, as you said.

    I stopped posting after a few months, but I do still read my Bloglovin feed every single day and visit all the blogs I used to - that's the bit I love, reading how other people are so passionate about my passion and sharing in that.
    I've been thinking about starting to post on my blog again and frankly this post has given me the confidence to do it :)

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    1. Hannah! I've been wondering where you've been. It makes me so happy that this post might have helped you decide to get back into blogging. Seriously, wow. It can be so easy to burn yourself out--especially visiting all the random other blogs on meme days. I LOVE visiting other blogs when the content is original. I love reading discussion posts and reviews. I look at my BL feed every day, too. I'm so happy that you are thinking about starting back up. Yay!

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  3. I think you bring up lots of good points about blogging. I feel like in the end you have to do what works for you. You're not doing this to become rich and famous, you're doing it because you enjoy it so if something is bothering you there's not point in continuing to do it, you know? I do think it's nice for readers to know when you post/how often you post/what types of posts you do so I like that you tried to sum that up for everyone.

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    1. Thanks, Maggie. I'm definitely not looking for this blog to ever be anything more than what it is now. I post because I love it, but putting too much unneeded pressure on myself was making me enjoy it less. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Really great post, Natalie. I've had the time to blog more lately but I found myself getting too anxious about what I was posting and if people were enjoying it. I also tend to make a lot of sweeping statements 'I shall be posting all these things about stuff...' and then feel all pressured to do it. I'm trying to come up with more of a schedule and a plan! Haha, big steps for me! I also need to stop requesting so many arcs.

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    1. ARCs are crack. I was looking at my list of upcoming arcs and I seriously have more in April than there are days...and I don't read a book a day. Why do I do that?! I'm trying to create a loose schedule for myself, too, and write things ahead of time, but, again, this blog is my fun hobby. I'm not going to treat it as anything more than that. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I completely agree with you, you should have fun and basically do what you want to do when you want to do it. We usually do Top Ten (if it's a topic we like, I don't like the ones that are negative) and then Stacking the Shelves, but we stopped doing WoW posts every week, now we just do one at the end of the month highlighting the books coming out the next month. And I love discussion posts like this! And yes, the comments that aren't really comments are annoying, you should be able to take a minute or two and at least make a specific comment that shows you actually read the post. I sometimes stress because there are so many books that I read that I don't review, but I've decided to not worry about it and review the books where I feel like I have something to say. And I've been doing pretty well reading ARCs but that's probably because I don't get approved for that many (although I'm starting to get approved for more). I usually do try to only request books I would buy anyway, but I do wonder what to do if I'm reading an ARC and I don't like it and really don't want to finish it. Just not review it? Power through and write a negative review? Write a DNF review? (I really don't want to do that, but if I'm reading a book I don't want to read, that's when it's not fun and I wonder why I'm doing this. Interesting post! ~Pam

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    1. Thanks, Pam. Even with review books, I just put them aside if I'm not enjoying them. I very rarely write DNF reviews, but I'll sometimes post something on EW or NG explaining why I didn't finish a book--but I don't do that that often either. I'll still post TTT lists every once in a while, but WoW posts are my favorite and lately I just have more to post than I did before so I don't want memes to take up two posting days (I always take Sundays off). I hate non comments--obviously--it is one of my least favorite aspects of blogging. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Nicole and I ran into this awhile back. We actually decided to stop WoWs because we just felt like the comments were not super genuine. The worst though is sometimes when we get a review on a book and it says, I am so glad you enjoyed the book, great review. Meanwhile the whole time I am saying why I did not really enjoy it.

    I do love discussion posts and especially movie posts so keep those up :)

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

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    1. I seriously do not understand commenting on a post you didn't read. What's the point? I actually did a whole discussion post on commenting last fall where I did a whole rant about that. It drives me crazy. I love discussion and movie posts, too. I'll definitely be posting both. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Ah, yes. I've been trying to get back to enjoying blogging again too. I'm trying to only request ARCs I absolutely want. (Not totally successful yet but I'm getting there.) I only have three ARCs left so yay! I very much doubt I'll be doing anymore read-alongs either. I just want to read what I feel like reading. (I'm so close to getting there too! SO EXCITED!) I have like 5 books on my dresser that I want to read but can't until I read other books first.

    I've stopped doing memes too. I have the occasional WoW but that's because I like telling people about the books I'm excited about. I do like to look at the Stacking the Shelves posts. All the pretty books. There so much fun.

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    1. I've been trying so hard to only request what I absolutely know I will read, too, but it is so freaking hard. I just see those pretty covers and I WANT. I've been trying not to put any pressure on myself in terms of what I have to read, though, and it really has helped in terms of enjoying blogging more again.

      I do love STS posts, but I'm changing the way I do the post. I still want to showcase what I received, but I don't want it to be just that. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. For ARCs, I try not to DNF, but if it's for my own pleasure I do it all the time! But I do feel like if push comes to shove, I wouldn't really feel bad for DNFing an ARC. I also need to slow down the requesting, it's kind of sucking out the joy of reading when you have a strict schedule of what books you need to read! I'm definitely trying to read older books too! My friends and I started a book club so it's been a good place/excuse for me to read older books and not just the new/ARCs.

    I think a lot of bloggers are on the same boat with you in regards to the meme. I still enjoy them, but I definitely don't have as much time and yes! The generic comments frustrate me so much!

    Great discussion post Natalie!

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    1. Thanks, Cyn. A book club can definitely be a great way to read older books. I've just been trying to read library books or books from my shelves in conjunction with my arcs. I'm been finding myself more and more frustrated with memes. I love it when people I've connected with come by and I love visiting my favorite blogs, but I'm just tired of the randoms who obviously couldn't care less about my space. I'm over it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I hear you about the fake comments....*sigh* I've been guilty of leaving a few myself sometimes and I always feel annoyed after each one. It's hard though, when you're returning the comment (particularly on STS) and...it's a blog you'd NEVER comment on otherwise. I just don't have anything in common with the book stack! There's only so many "never heard of any of them, but happy reading!" comments you can leave. >_< I do love interacting through Stacking The Shelves. It's probably my favourite meme. ;)
    I understand feeling guilty about blogging...and not posting enough or returning comments or wahtnot. I get those ALL the time. (But I;m quite in love with blogging, so it's not a struggle for me to keep at it. xD) I DO feel bad about requesting too much! I read them fast enough, but I don't want to drown my readers in 5 reviews a week or something crazy. I feel I'm pushing it with 2 reviews a week. *shrugs*
    Anyway, this was an awesome and honest post! Love it! I really love your blog and I hope you keep going for a loooong time. :)

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    1. Aww, thanks, Cait. I love your blog as well. It is obvious that you have a real passion for blogging--your blog definitely reflects it. The stock comments are so annoying, and I'm totally with you at being at a loss when you visit some blogs and the books they are showcasing are ones you've never heard of and would never read. You do just have to be like: I hope you love your new books, or whatever. What else is there to say? Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Awww, I'm so happy for you! It took me almost a year to figure out what worked for me, and I think the most important part of it all, like you mentioned, is to go into blogging without any pressure. I know tons of us feel like we need to do x,y, and z to feel legitimate or successful, when that's so far from the truth. Blogging IS a hobby. I don't think any of us earn our livelihoods from our blogs, so putting all the pressure on ourselves is nothing but a time suck. And it makes the one thing we love so much a miserable task. I'm excited to see what you've got in store as I've always been a huge fan of yours!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! I'm a huge fan of yours as well. *hugs* I love how honest you have been over the past year about your struggles with blogging. It is ridiculous the amount of pressure you can feel to "keep up". I've been thinking about this blog a lot--over this last semester when I really didn't have time for it, but didn't want to give it up, and now that I do have more time for it--and letting go of that pressure has really helped make reading and blogging fun for me again. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. I think all of us book bloggers get this, at least to some degree. I recently stopped doing blog tours because that was putting a ton of pressure on me and making me feel overwhelmed/guilty. Now, I feel so much freer! I read what I want when I want to read it and it's lovely. Here's to blogging on our own terms!

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    1. I signed up for one tour and just literally couldn't get to the book in time--thankfully it was a loose tour where I didn't have a set date. Regardless, that was my last attempt. I was an English major in school. HAVING to read books on a schedule makes me break out in hives.
      Here, here! Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. I think that it's completely okay to feel like this. You're human and you burn out. I can't tell you how many times I just wanted to be like "Screw blogging! i'm taking a nap!" But I had to get over it because I realized deep in my heart, I loved this. And maybe you just need a hiatus.

    I was writing a song review for Marina and the Diamonds' I Am not a Robot and I got this comment from someone that was like "I love this band! Great review!" And I'm like "A) Marina and the Diamonds is a PERSON. and B) You didn't give a crap about my review because I used SHE SHE SHE SHE HER HER a thousand times so there's no way you would've made that mistake had you read the actual post. Jerk."

    I'm kind of new to your blog, but I love your design and you seem geniune. I'll definitely be popping around here more often!

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    1. I love it, too. Honestly, I wrote this because I realized that not allowing myself to feel guilty or pressured has made me enjoy reading and blogging again. I feel refreshed and happy about where I am and where my blog is.
      I honestly do not understand commenting on posts you didn't read. It's, like: what's the point? I do not get it.
      Thanks for stopping by! It's nice to meet you. :)

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  13. Love this! Memes are starting to wear on me too. I like that it's a nice way for new people to find my blog, but I always cringe when I see the silly quick comments. I only do TTT now and only when the topic interests me. I just started doing a schedule this year too. I made sure that my posts were nice and spread out so that it would be easy for me to do posts ahead of time and not feel stressed at the last minute. Reading and Blogging is something fun that I love to do in my free time. I'd hate for that to become a chore :/

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    1. I'm seeing how traffic is without memes. They are kind of a double edge sword. I like having a way for people to find me...but I hate having to field the people who "find" everybody and care for no one. I'm trying to schedule, too, but posts can take so much time to create, and even though I have a bit more time than before, I still don't have time to sit in front of the computer for hours at a time creating posts and keeping up on my blog roll. What I'm doing now seems to be working, but once I'm back to work full time--which could be as soon as next week--all bets are off. Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Oh man. You nailed it with the meaningless comments you get on memes. I hate them and they actually irritate me. Like, why even fucking bother? And...they are wasting their time because I never respond when I can tell they didn't even make an effort. Those are not the kind of bloggers I want reading my blog anyway. I would rather have someone comment once a month and have it mean something than leave me crap like that. It's also why I stopped linking up to TTT and STS on those days. I still do the memes but I don't always bother to link up. Bekka still does sometimes and that's fine because it does improve pageviews, but hell, I just don't CARE. Perfect GIF for that.

    I'm glad you are blogging and reading for you. I still have a tough time with ARC guilt. Like, I have a huge pile and I feel horrible about letting them sit there while I read other things. So I am trying to keep up with them as much as they can. Someday I will find a way to manage it all. I wish you luck, and thank you for linking up to me once again.

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    1. I think most of us feel that way. I don't understand how the bloggers who post these meaningless comments would ever think that people don't see right through that shit. When I worked full time at the office I had time to visit tons of blogs on meme days, but I never posted some throw away comment. I always tried to say something real about their post. Even when I was brand spanking new to blogging. It's just common sense. Lol. Thanks. The GIF is kind of harsh, but I'm just over it.

      I'm certainly trying. I have SO many, too. I'm seriously trying to be better about requesting, but I just fall for all those pretty covers. I just don't want to disregard all the other books I have on hand, too, whether books on my shelves (that I just HAD to have) or one of the 50 books I have checked out from the library. I'm trying to keep up on my ARCs, though. I truly do want to read most of them, so I shouldn't treat it like a chore. It's not. It's a privilege that I am lucky to have. Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. This post speaks to my soul. I made a similar decision regarding ARCs and review copies recently. I was getting into reading slumps every couple of months because I was forcing myself to read books that I just wasn't interested in reading at that point, or books that were (in my opinion) awful, just because I received them for review. I decided this had to change. And to be completely honest, it's had a positive effect on me already! In January I read 8 books, most of them being review books that I felt like I HAD to read - or else! So far in February, I am already on my eighth book, and I am loving reading right now. I will attempt to get to all of the review copies that I have requested in the past, but I'm not going to force myself because that's no fun for anyone.

    And fake interactions during memes are the worst, even though you know they're bound to happen. I would much rather receive a handful of meaningful comments and meet new people than 30+ "Nice post! Follow back." comments. I started blogging so that I could talk about books with likeminded people, and that's what I want this whole experience to be about.

    I'm going to keep my schedule though, because I love it now that I have a bunch of posts queued up. I know, I'm weird.

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    1. Slumps are the worst! I always get them when I try to force myself to read books, too. I'm just not forcing myself any more either. Since I made the decision, I've found myself going through books more quickly, too. Yay for both us! :)

      I would rather just a small amount of meaningful comments, too. It's time consuming to go to everybody's blog on meme days! I just don't even want to bother with the ones who are just trying to get traffic.

      I've been trying to keep a schedule, too. It's just hard because I don't have a lot of time in front of a computer these days, so I'm almost always writing my posts only one day ahead of time.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. I've felt several of these things too! I think we all feel some sort of pressure to keep up with one another, and we're all secretly getting exhausted by it! Anyhow, lately I've been telling myself it's OK to read and blog at my own pace, and thankfully I think I'm finally believing myself.

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    1. Completely agree. Why do we all put so much pressure on ourselves? I've been reading/blogging at my own pace, too, which is ironically more now that I'm not allowing pressure or guilt to have a place anymore. Thanks for stopping by!

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  17. Personally I think the comments that say "nice haul.. stop by my blog" only post those because if you only posts pictures of the book haul, well there is nothing to really say about that. That's why I never participated in Staking the Shelves. THEN I made that post my own. I started talking about myself and what's going on in the world of book blogging and it made it more fun. I barely even talk about the books I got that week and it gives people more things to talk about in the comments.

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    1. I agree. For months I've been using my weekend post to give updates about my life. Especially last semester when I was so crazy busy, it was my outlet for letting my blogging buddies to know what was going on. Like I talked about in this post, I've been working on changing the format of my weekend post so that it is even more personal--I posted my new weekend post for the first time on Saturday morning.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. I went through this same thing last year, and I made some resolutions at the beginning of the year that echo a lot of your sentiments. I also took on a co-blogger, which has decreased my stress level exponentially. I really don't know why I was trying to kill myself with my blog, something that's supposed to be a hobby, something fun I do because I want to. It's nice to see that I'm not the only one who feels that way, as awful as that sounds, but you know what I mean. I'm glad you're taking the initiative to make this your fun space again. I'm loving all the discussion posts you're doing, too. I may not comment on them right away, but I read all of them. :)

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!