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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.