I tend to find these types of posts self-indulgent and preachy, but I also tend to enjoy them, so here goes.
Sometimes I feel a little inadequate when I realize that many of the bloggers I interact with have English degrees, are teachers, are published authors, or work in publishing. Who am I to blog about books, with my English 101 and bureaucratic job? But on further reflection, I’ve accomplished quite a bit this year, and might have something worthwhile to share. Maybe you are a new blogger, like I was three years ago, and don’t know where to start. Maybe you’ve been at this for a while and will nod your head (or disagree!) or maybe I’m just talking to hear the sound of my own voice. I’m okay with that.
Life Lessons for Book Bloggers
It is possible to find an online community that isn’t all drama. Over the years I have been part of (or lurked in) a few online communities and most are full of cliques and old grudges and drama. Entertaining for a while (sometimes for years in the case of a particular parenting forum) but eventually it becomes tiresome. Book blogging is not immune to drama, but I’ve found a wonderful group of bloggers who are truly here for the books. It’s great to have people to talk to, to drag to an author event or comment on your posts. It did take some fine tuning, but my advice is to seek out a local community, comment lots, and respond to comments. And use that unfollow button when necessary.
If you don’t like a certain type of blog event, keep looking. I used to give a strong side-eye to blogging events and memes and what not. Some of them see silly and just a convoluted way to get page views. But like most things, if you look hard enough, you’ll find something to suit! I went hard on readalongs this year. Readalongs appeal to me because they encourage discussion and getting to know other bloggers, and the updates are fun to write – gets you out of the rut of writing straight reviews. Here are the readalongs I participated in this year:
Go to events. If there are any author events in your area, do get out and experience them! The biggest change I made this year was going to readings and events. It’s another way of finding community and bringing it all to life. I went to everything from the basic Audrey’s basement event with coffee and cookies to a fancy wine & cheese to a panel discussion. Here are the events I went to this year:
- Michael Ondaatje at the MacEwan Book of the Year
- Esi Edugyan at the Kreisel Lecture (Reading in Winter’s recap)
- Corinna Chong, Rebecca Campbell, and Jenna Butler at the NeWest Press Spring Spectacular
- The Dilettantes launch with author Michael Hingston
- Pilgrimage launch with author Diana Davidson
- Love Letters of the Angels of Death launch with author Jennifer Quist
- Come Barbarians launch with author Todd Babiak
- Fran Kimmel (The Shore Girl) and Meredith Quartermain (Rupert’s Land)
- Lawrence Hill, Jessica Kluthe and Jenna Butler at LitFest
- Margaret Atwood (and Alanis) as Festival of Ideas
- 40 Below Launch with authors Jason Lee Norman, Danielle Paradis and many others
You do have time. Though I often lament not started to blog before I had kids, I realize that no one has time. It’s all about perception. Before kids, I used to think I was super busy and didn’t have time to do anything “extra” which is ridiculous! I had tons! I’m sure future me will think I’m being ridiculous now, seeing as my kids aren’t even in organized sports (Ben starts skating lessons soon and I kind of hope he doesn’t like it – hockey parenting is scary.) Anyway, what I learned is you have to give something up to make time for what’s important. This year I gave up TV more or less permanently and social media for a month, and it had a profound impact on my perception of how much time I have. It’s not just about hours in a day, it’s also about the emotional burden. I tend to get super attached to TV shows, and I swear that not watching has giving me more capacity to care about reading and blogging. And my Twitter break gave me a perfect excuse to unfollow any account that wasn’t making me think, or laugh, or something – no more following people just because they live in the same city as me. That cut down on a lot of mental and emotional clutter too. Plus unfollowing 500+ people in a day is kind of exhilarating.
Get organized. I just received my Bare it For Books calendar in the mail, and I can’t think of a better use than an editorial calendar for Reading in Bed. Just thinking about it is making me feel more organized. There was a point in September where there were so many events and reviews and readalongs that I was getting a little anxious. Plus, I can’t exactly put this calendar up at work or in my kitchen; the pictures are beautiful but they are a little scandalous! So I shall keep in on my bookshelf and track all my upcoming reviews and events. (Thanks Brindle & Glass for the calendar!)
Number One Thing I Realized This Year
This isn’t so much a life lesson as an epiphany (here’s where I get real self-indulgent.) This year I realized that I am a writer. I told you guys about having a new Twitter bio written for me at a LitFest event. There was a first draft I ended up discarding, because it mentioned that my ultimate goal was to write a novel, and I just don’t think that’s true. It wasn’t the bio writer’s fault – he asked if I had any big goals, and that’s what I said, but I only said it because I felt like that’s what I’m supposed to say. Like doing this isn’t good enough and I must be trying to do something more. I’ve been asked a few times, “are you a writer?” and I usually say “no, but I have a book blog,” but actually, I *write* a book blog. And I love it! So no more feeling inadequate.
I would love to hear your life lessons, blogging or otherwise, self-indulgent or not!