Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day 5 of BBAW: My Book Blogging Story


On this final day of Blogger Appreciation Week, hosted by the amazing ladies of  The Estrella Society, I thought I would close with my book blogging story. The topic of the day is to talk about Blogger Burnout, which I do a little bit here. Honestly, I didn't think I would even be able to come up with a post for today, but then I started writing and this is what came of it. I went where my thoughts took me, which isn't exactly the direction I was probably meant to go. Hopefully no one will mind.

In the fall of 2003, I began keeping a reading journal of the books I read. I kept a table with the basic stats, such as title, author, page number, and rating. And then I had a separate section for jotting down my thoughts on all the books I read. While on one level it served as a guide to help trigger my memory of each book, on a deeper level it gave me the opportunity to reflect on the books as I finished them. I often referred to it as my closure process. The years journaling my reading thoughts quickly morphed into necessity. I did not feel ready to move onto the next book without first having written down something about the book I had just finished. 

For years I had been a part of online book groups, mostly through Yahoo. They varied from the formal to the informal, sometimes divided by genres or book types. At some point I began sharing my bookish thoughts on a few of those sites. I am not sure when my husband first mentioned I might want to try blogging. I didn't start right away. It took a while for me to finally feel ready to give it a try. I jumped in with both feet. 

I remember the feeling of getting my first comment. But it wasn't until the first reading challenge I participated in that I really began to see just how big the book blogging community was. I had thought I was one of a few, and here I was one of many. It was its own sort of bookish heaven. I made friends quickly after that and blogging became a very important part of my life. I joined challenges, took part in community activities, tried my hand at hosting a challenge, even served as a judge for book awards. I attended the Los Angeles Festival of Books and had the chance to meet other bloggers--all were so kind and welcoming, even as I was somewhat shy. It was amazing. I would spend my days at work, come home and be up until the wee hours of the morning commenting on blogs, writing blog posts, and reading books, with my husband supporting me all along the way and my cats and dog as my mascots. I watched my stats, got excited with every comment and felt sad when they didn't come fast enough.

Somewhere in there, the blogging energy that had carried me for those first several years began to wane. It was harder to keep up. The strain of balancing everything was wearing on me, not to mention my priorities were beginning to change. Some book bloggers have no problem getting pregnant and carrying on as if nothing has changed. A part of me envied them, seemingly being able to balance it all. A move into a new house and a baby slowed my blogging down considerably, and I had trouble gaining my footing again for a long time after. I posted sporadically, wasn't reading as much, and was being pulled by a darkness I was trying to pretend didn't exist. Some of my heroes came in the form of book bloggers who reached out to me, helping me through the fog that I would later come to accept was Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.


I have found my happy rhythm again. It is a different rhythm than the one I danced to early in my blogging career. It's slower, much more relaxed, and a bit quieter. I post less often. I still read review books and participate in book tours. Sometimes I over do it out of sheer excitement over those books I MUST read. I take breaks, sometimes without warning, and I no longer feel guilty about it like I once did. I do not keep track or look at my stats--you can't imagine how freeing this has been. While I still love to receive comments, I no longer let them define me as a book blogger. There are things I want to improve on, and ideas I would like to implement, but there never seems to be enough time between my real life career and my family, both of which are my first two priorities. I try not to sweat it though. I am content where I am right now with my blog and with my place in the blogging community.

Over the years I have had my ups and downs with book blogging. There are times I wonder if it's worth continuing. Would I miss it? Would anyone out there miss me? And there are times I feel like I have nothing to say and struggle to write anything, much less reviews. I think many of us have thought of quitting at one point or another. Several bloggers who I count among my friends have stopped blogging altogether. Others have expanded their book blogs and write about their other interests and about their lives. It's bittersweet, this loss of great bloggers and the beautiful growth of others. 

This coming July my blog will be turning ten. I never imagined I would still be at it. What keeps me coming back, in part, is all of you. The book blogging community, the support I have found here, and the friends I have made. I love talking and writing about books and reading about books--and just plain hanging out with other people who share my passion for books. I haven't always felt like I fit in throughout my life, but I feel like I fit in here. With all of you. Thank you for making this small part of the interwebs feel like a home away from home.



© 2016, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

56 comments:

  1. Wendy, wonderful post! I can totally relate to the part about being freed by not checking stats. At first I didn't know how to check them, but when I learned I was obsessed. Then I was really sad because I felt that the love wasn't coming fast enough! It has been so nice to reconnect this week with bloggers I met at the beginning of my blogging journey!

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    1. Kristina - Thank you. That's exactly it! Stats are evil. Well, maybe not evil, but in our cases, they are better off being unimportant. I have enjoyed reconnecting with bloggers too, and meeting new ones. Thanks for your visit!

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  2. congrats on your 10 years! I'm glad you stick around

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    1. Words and Peace - Thank you! I am glad I'm still around too. :-) Thank you for visiting.

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  3. Sniff, this is BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for sharing. It can be a rollercoaster but I can't seem to get off of it and if it becomes a slower merry-go-round, I intend to keep it merry. :D

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    1. Care - Ah, thanks! A rollercoaster is a good term for it. I'm still enjoying it and that's what matters, right? Thank you for visiting!

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  4. I'm so glad I've met you through your blog. I was like you at the beginning - full of energy for all things blogging. I used to check my stats like a maniac and now I rarely look at them. Your precious Mouse is the best reason to pull back on blogging.

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    1. Kathy - I am glad I met you too, Kathy! We have been on this journey together for many years. Mouse is amazing. If I had a reason to pull back from blogging, I'm glad it's her. :-) Thanks for all your support!

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  5. I love this! And I value your friendship very much. You are someone that I thought of in those days when I wasn't blogging. In any case, there's a lot of wisdom here. Taking breaks and not feeling guilty, forgetting about the stats, trying to not compare, and generally just having fun are all perfect bits of advice. I'm so glad that you are still around and you share your little slice of life with us. Certainly the book talk is good, but I love hearing about your girlie even better. She always reminds me in many ways of my own. Hugs to you, Miss Wendy!

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    1. Kay - Thank you so much, Kay. That's very nice of you to say. I am so glad you found your way back to blogging. I had not idea I had managed to get so much into my post. I guess I did cover the topic for today after all.

      I want to share more about Mouse. Finding the time to sit down and do it is my challenge, and then knowing what to say.

      I feel like you and I have been on similar paths. I really value our friendship and your support. Thank you, Kay.

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  6. Everything runs in cycles, and blogging is no different, and I'm really glad that you continue to find your rhythm! I lose my rhythm every few months, but the urge returns to enter back into the stream, communicating with others who love books. :)

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    1. Jenclair - I was just telling my staff that at work--everything runs in cycles. :-) I imagine I will lose my rhythm again, and hopefully find it yet again. I'll be here until I am no longer drawn to it. Thank you for visiting and sticking with me all these years!

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  7. This is a lovely post, Wendy! Thanks for sharing your story. It was my husband that first suggested I start a book blog, and at the time I had no idea what he was talking about. What's a blog? Like you, I've had ups and downs over the years, but now seem to have found the right rhythm. I'm glad you've stuck with it, because I love your blog! :-)

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    1. Diana - Thanks! We have smart husbands. :-) I am glad we found each other too. I enjoy your blog and getting to know you. Thank you for visiting!

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  8. I'm so glad that you took part in today's prompt - this is a wonderful post and a great way end BBAW. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    The book blogging community is kind of a home away from home - you're quite right.

    Reading With Jade

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    1. Jade - I am too. And thank you. It turned out better than I thought it would. I love being a part of this community and am glad to know you. Thank you for visiting!

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  9. That's a wonderful post, Wendy! There are many, many times I wish I'm able to comment on all the blogs I subscribe to. I don't really check on the stats but it always makes me very happy to have someone commented on my posts. As for reading, I always try to read and request books that I think I'll enjoy and of course, I always love recommendations from fellow bookbloggers. :-)

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    1. Melody - Thanks, my dear friend! We've been through it all together, haven't we? I wish I could comment on all the blogs I read too. We do the best we can. And I'm with you. I only agree to read books I think I will enjoy. Life is too short to do otherwise, especially since reading isn't our careers. Although wouldnt' that be nice? Thanks for visiting!

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  10. I love this post! Life has a way shaking up your blogging mojo, right? I mean, obviously, real life takes precedence over blog life, and it's so good to be reminded of that!

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    1. Katie - Thank you. Life has a way of making sure we don't forget what is important, that's for sure. Thanks for visiting!

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  11. I love your story! Thank you for sharing all of it. The best thing about blogging is the people. I used to get that same feeling about comments--why aren't there more, and why aren't they responding faster? Today I'm lucky to get 30 visits in a day, but the best thing is that when I do post, people I have "known" for years still stop by and say hello, and that's the very best feeling of all.

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    1. Priscilla - Thank you! I agree full-heartedly. :-) I could easily go back to keeping a private reading journal, but I blog because I like interacting with other readers. Thank you for visiting! I am so glad I met you!

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  12. Loving the honesty of this post. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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    1. Tracy - Ah, thanks! I hope you enjoy your weekend!

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  13. What a wonderful post. I think all of us have changed how we blog over the years, in one way or another, for so many reasons. I never judge anyone who quits blogging, of course, but I dooooo miss many of the bloggers who've stopped blogging over the years. I think about them sometimes and hope they are doing well.

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    1. Jenny - Thank you. Yes, I think our blogs evolve along with us. Nothing ever stays completely the same does it. I miss the bloggers who have left blogging too. For them it was likely the right decision to make, one I may come to someday too. For now though, I'm quite happy continuing on. Thank you for visiting!

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  14. I'm so glad you were able to get through your postpartum depression and anxiety. I've been there! I didn't start blogging until my youngest was around 5 or 6, and I've always wondered if I had a blog when I had babies if it would have helped, like therapy. But knowing myself, I would have had to take a break like you did. My last long blogging break I was going to school to get my bachelors degree, and I knew there were bloggers working full-time, working on their masters, and still going full steam on their blogs. But I just couldn't, and that's okay, right? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Shelley - It was a very tough time, but I'm glad I made it through too. I'm sorry you had to go through it too. I don't think I would have been able to blog while going to school either. I'm amazed at how much some people can juggle sometimes, but everyone is different. We do what we can, and as you said, that's okay. :-) Thank you for visiting, Shelley!

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  15. So glad you found a way to continue to blog and make it something fun and relaxing! I got started much the same way you did, and now for me, it is the grandkids that get most of my attention. But it still works and that is what is important.

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    1. Nise' - I know how you love your grandkids. :-) I love reading about them. I am glad I have found a way to continue blogging too. Thank you for stopping by!

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  16. As always, so eloquently put Wendy. I am so glad to have met you and connected with you throughout the years...nearly from the beginning. Our starts are much the same and with the birth of our daughters, we have had many parallels. You know, I still struggle with PPD and anxiety. I still remember the day that read your post on the toybox blog (I can't remember the name of the blog now). It spoke to my heart and brought light and acceptance to my own feelings with my three week old babe.

    Anyway, I'm glad we're both still here. I'm glad you've found your footing. You have a beautiful thing here--you are a beautiful woman! Big hugs to you sweet friend.

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    1. Trish - Thank you. That's so sweet of you to say. You've made me cry. :-) I am very glad to have met you too. I still struggle with the effects of the PPD and anxiety as well. Especially the anxiety. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever be completely gone.

      Thanks, Trish, for your support and kindness. I am glad so glad to call you my friend.

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  17. I can't believe it has been 10 years for you, I'm glad to have found you this week. I totally agree on it being bittersweet when those that have become blogging friends move on.

    Also the support we get from the blogging community during personal trials of life or amazing, i'm grateful. I look forward to getting to know you more, glad you participated Wendy.

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    1. Marce - I can't believe it's been 10 years either. It doesn't feel like that long. And I am glad I met you too. Thank you for visiting. I look forward to getting to know you more through your blog.

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  18. I am SO glad to have discovered your blog. I love the pictures, and the look of your website. And, I am sending loads of love to your cats. :)

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was inspiring. :)

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    1. Deepika - Thank you! I am glad to have your blog as well. :-) My cats are grateful for the extra love. (One of my cats is on my lap now, in fact.) :-)

      Thank you for visiting!

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  19. So many great thoughts! It totally is a journey, and I think letting go of any guilt associated with it is so important.

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    1. Shannon - Thank you. It really is a journey. It wasn't easy to let go of the guilt, and it sometimes still rears its ugly head. I stamp in down quickly though. :-) Thank you for stopping by!

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  20. I loved this post, Wendy--thank you so much for sharing it! I'm glad to have known you through so much of your blogging journey--you were one of the very first book bloggers I "met" online, and one of the early influences on my development as a blogger, so thank you for that. I'm glad we've met in person as well--we'll always have LATFoB!--and glad we're both still around, doing this thing.

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    1. Florinda - Ah, thanks! You were a big inspiration for me as well. I still think of those early days fondly. :-) Thank you for visiting!

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  21. Thank you for sharing this post! I think I only started following your blog last year (or was it the year before that?) so I didn't know much of this. Glad to "know" you better now! And I know I am now in that trying to balance things phase and I have been thinking about how to change things up so that I don't feel pressured to blog often. Reading your post helps!

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    1. Athira - I am enjoying reading about your process of finding balance and about your family. It can be tough. It took me a long time to finally let go of that pressure I put on myself. Post when you can. Your priority is your family. We all understand that. :-) I'm so glad to know you.

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  22. Just wanted to say congrats on your upcoming ten years. I don't have a blog but I enjoy reading yours, and a few others. Enjoy your family, your animals and your books. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Carla - Thank you! It doesn't feel like it could possibly be that long sometimes. I appreciate all of your comments, Carla, as well as your reading my blog! Thank you.

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  23. What a wonderful post, Wendy! I'll be honest, the responses that I received from my frustrated post a few days ago reminded me once again why I continue to blog. It seems like we've all been through so much together over the years, doesn't it, even though we've never met? And that just sounds crazy! I'm so glad I get to call you my friend :)

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    1. Stacy - Thank you. The blogging community has been so supportive. I really am glad to be part of this community. It does seem crazy that we haven't met. I hope we will be able to someday. I know Mouse would like to meet Gage too. :-)

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  24. My blog turned 10 and I forgot to do anything for it... Go, me! I am glad you are part of the blogging community, Wendy!

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    1. Kelly - I tend to remember mine after the fact myself. :-) I am glad we have both stuck with it!

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  25. What a lovely post! I'm so happy you've been able to balance your blog with real life priorities. I could definitely relate to some of the things you shared here, I think all of us who have been blogging for years will have some similarities in our experiences. I also don't really care about stats, although comments still make me happy. And once in a while, I'm reminded of why I do this - like when someone falls in love with a book that I recommended. Or an author thanks me for writing a good review of their book.

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    1. Chachic - Thank you! It does seem like many of us go through the same cycle with our blogs, at least in terms of coming to similar conclusions. I do love the feeling of someone loving a book I have recommended. Thank you for visiting!

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  26. Love your story! I think that the bloggers who have been able to keep going despite some burnout are the ones who were able to decide it was okay to do it on your own terms and stop worrying about stats and keeping a regular posting schedule. It has to work around our lives!

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    1. Lisa - Thanks! I have noticed that reading all the posts this past week about blogger burn out. We make it work for us; fitting it in around our lives, as you said. :-) Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

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  27. I LOVE this post, and I am reminded of how blogging has changed my life, too. I created my first blog in 2008, at the recommendation of my publishing consultant; I didn't do much with it for the first year. I hadn't yet discovered the community. Then it started happening...slowly at first. Memes and challenges brought those connections to life.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and I hope to see you around the blogosphere for a long time to come.

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    1. Laurel-Rain - Thank you! Those challenges and memes really jumpstart one into the blogging community don't they? They get a lot of flack from some circles, but I enjoy participating in them.

      Thank you so much for visiting!

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  28. Beautiful post! I love reading your book blogging story. I didn't get a chance to participate in BBAW this year but it's been so cool to see how everyone has shared stories and this is what is so special about our book blogging community. And, these pics are super cute! :)

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    1. Iliana - Thank you. It was such a fun week. Part of me is sad to see it go, but then I don't imagine I could keep up the blogging momentum if it did. Haha I am glad i got to take part in the days I was able to. Have a great week!

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