Reading in Bed Year in Review #3: Life Lessons
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!
I’m using my Bare it For Books to organize my blog as well!! And in terms of getting out there and meeting more bloggers, have you done the Armchair BEA? I did it last year and it changed everything about blogging for me. I cyber-met tons of other bloggers and really refined what i was doing once i realized that there actually was an audience for it. Good luck.
I followed the armchair BEA a bit this year and found it so fast paced! I don’t know if I could keep up. I’ll think about it though 🙂
Giving up TV creates SO MUCH extra time. I’ve just recently started watching a couple different TV shows, after YEARS of only turning on the TV for Syracuse basketball games. But I refuse to start watching TV all the time again. I’m just over it. I like the couple shows I’m watching and that’s it.
(Plus, I always feel weird after watching too much TV…physically weird.)
Like, how weird??
I’m verrrry slowly watching the last season of Breaking Bad. I’m two episodes in. NO SPOILERS 🙂 And of course my kids watch everything, so it’s not like I’m deprived of TV… far from it… I just get to watch Team Umi Zoomi instead of anything I wanna watch!
Um…if I watch too much TV at one time (which can be movie-length kind of time), my head feels funny? Not dizzy, really, but…weird. I’m not sure how to explain it. Fuzzy? Just…off.
I love what you said at the end. I think a lot of people assume that the end-goal of any good writer should be a book, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Being a writer isn’t always about what you’re write — it can be about the fact that you are writing, that you enjoy doing it, and that it stokes something inside. And it can be really liberating when you start to feel that way. It’s okay to be a writer without a book!
I definitely agree about the time thing, too. TV is my downfall, and it sucks when you start to tally up how much time you spend doing nothing at all. I remember reading something once along the lines of “everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. If someone seems to be doing more than you, then they are sacrificing more than you.” I probably butchered that, but you get the idea!
Also, that calendar is brilliant!
As Liv Tyler said in Empire Records before her freak out, every day has 24 usable hours 🙂
I think you said it better than I did – liberating!
This is cliche but I don’t know if anyone — degrees, publishing credits, whatever — feels anything but unworthy when applying for that mythical writer-license. A little trepidation is a sign of understanding what it means, I think. But if I was issuing the licenses, I’d sure give you one.
I try to justify my TV-watching by knitting or something through it — although I don’t think that’s going to work with Breaking Bad. Maybe once we’re through the toddler-not-sleeping years we’ll be awake enough to read more, but lord knows sometimes collapse in inevitable. I’ll have to get back to you with life lessons — fresh out at the moment. 🙂
Ugh you too? My 2 yr old has recently taken to staying up till 10-11pm. I think he likes the alone time with mom and dad, something he’s never really had with the older brother kicking around!
We have the opposite problem. H goes to bed around 8, but is up anywhere from 4 to 5:30. And sometimes a few times in between. Ughhhhhhhhh.
Yay for Bare it for Books! Is it wrong that I bought the calendar because Yann Martel was in it? Can’t wait to crack that open in the new year! (By the way, I considered getting that for you for your gift … glad I didn’t!)
I love that you found your drama-free community! I think the great thing about the Edmonton book bloggers is that we’re all so different. And we’re more about the books than raising drama in our (albeit small) group.
Yay for events! I’m so happy to have attended some this year! I hope that I can still go to some in the new year … so far I’m realizing that things ARE doable with a baby. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can work in reading in the new year with him, but with having my blog pretty much scheduled for the year, it’ll be nice to reevaluate what I want to do with blogging.
Are you my secret santa?? Score!!
I hope you make it out to things this year. Babies are generally pretty portable 🙂
Phew! Such a relief that I’m not the only one (a) feeling under-educated; (b) watching endless hours of Team Umizoomi with the kids; and (c) deciding I should unfollow everyone on Twitter who has nothing interesting to offer. I’m always jealous of all the book events you attend, but really maybe I need to get off my duff and start going to some.
Team Umi Zoomi! Ready for action!
Are there a lot of events where you live? I’m lucky to live in a major city, and I feel like Edmonton has a pretty healthy literary community for our size.
I live in the Greater Toronto Area, so I’m pretty sure something is going on. Oh, like Canada Reads stuff or something. I’ve been inspired by your post to connect more locally, both in Toronto and the town I live in, so it’s one of my goals for 2014. How did you meet other bloggers in your area?
What! Yes you must! There is a well established book blogger community in TO. I think they do an annual get together of some sort. Of course I can’t remember the name or anything..!
I met the Edmonton bloggers on Twitter! Kristilyn of Reading in Winter was a organizer, we did our first get together in summer 2012 and have been going pretty strong since!
I am also curious about how you found other book bloggers in your area. I would love to do the same. I might have to broaden my area to include the whole province, though. I love your life lessons. I’m new to blogging so I am just starting to notice all the differences in blogs and bloggers, as well as all the challenges. I knew nothing about any of this when I started a couple of months ago. It’s pretty overwhelming at first. This post has been helpful for me!
Twitter! If your city or province has a hashtag you might put a call our for other book lovers/bloggers in your area…
I didn’t have a clue about challenges, readalongs, any of it for YEARS. I am very slow on the uptake. It’s really just been 2013 that I’ve clued in. So you are way ahead of me 🙂
Thanks! And it’s good to know that I’m supposed to be pretty clueless right now. 🙂