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.