It’s done. I did it.
I hit (and exceeded) my reading goal of 12,000 pages for 2018.
This morning I finished off The Way of Kings. The sheer page count was intimidating, but I shouldn’t have worried. The pages, especially the last third of the book, seemed to fly by. Back at the end of September I predicted I’d have a review for The Way of Kings done by early November. Indeed, here we are in early November and I will be starting on the review shortly. But first, I’d like to talk about my approach to blogging this second time around in the context of my reading goal.
In a recent post titled “Dear Book Bloggers, I’m worried about you”, Redhead almost brought me to tears with her concern about book bloggers…particularly about how much of our lives, and time, blogging consumes. I know that all too well after crashing and burning in 2013. This passage that she wrote I particularly took to heart, due to the reading goal I set this year:
“And you, the book blogger who decided ten reading challenges look fun, and you thought reading 100 books this year was a worthy goal (and don’t forget the bingo card!), and then college started up again, you got diagnosed with a chronic illness, you moved cross country, you had to give your cat away, and now you are wondering how are you ever going to meet your goal of reading 100 books this year?”
I set an incredibly ambitious goal compared to what I had done in the past. Why did I do that? Was I looking to test the theory that history repeats itself? No, the key lies in what Redead wrote further on:
“Book blogging is not and was never meant to be something you are required to do every day or three times a week or on any arbitrarily defined schedule.
Book blogging is not and should not be about keeping up with other bloggers. There isn’t some prize for reading the most books, or downloading the most eARCs from Netgalley or getting the most ARCs in the mail.”
This is why I failed my book blog, and my audience, the first time. I have mentioned the multitude of other book blogs that were cranking out content like crazy during 2013. I felt that I couldn’t keep up, that I needed to provide an equal amount of content to be heard, that my voice was lost among the multitudes. It’s why I started reviewing TV shows, because I felt that I needed to provide something during the long gaps between reviews.
Redhead has shown an incredible amount of wisdom and sage advice in her post. (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hike to a monastery high in the mountains of Tibet and find her seated cross-legged, wearing the robe of a monk and mastering throat singing while reading!) If I had simply kept plugging along at my own pace, not worrying about page hits and visitors, not obsessing about supplying enough content, I’d be in a very good spot right now. That’s because nearly all of those other bloggers that were cranking out content burned out, moved on to other projects, or just went silent. Had I taken my time and paced myself, I would have kept going without burning out. Book blogging is not a race, but if it was an apt comparison, there’s something to be said for that old adage about the tortoise and the hare. So in that context, how do you “win?” Redhead offer some insight in that regard:
“Being the bloggeriest blogger who ever blogged is not winning. Winning is showing up. Winning is being your authentic self. Winning is talking about books you care about, books that make you think, or cry, or laugh, or grow. Winning is coming to the bloggish community as you, not as who you think we want to meet. Winning is recognizing burn-out for what it is, taking a break when you need to, and keeping it fun.
Blog when you feel like it. Blog on a schedule that works for you. If you have a schedule that was working, and it isn’t working anymore, change it. Blogs are not made of stone and neither are you. Your blog works for you, not the other way around.”
Therein lies the true secret of reaching my goal this year: I have learned to manage my time appropriately. I fill in the dead spaces between book reviews with status updates, reading goals, interviews and book orders. And if I need a short break, I take one. So even if I hadn’t made my goal, I wouldn’t be upset. If I can’t post twice a week, or if I break for two weeks between posts, so be it. I calmly accept that if someone follows my blog, and enjoys reading what I have to say, it is their choice as to whether or not they can accept that I can’t give them content everyday. To my readers who are content with those terms, I say thank you very much, it means a lot to me.
For now, it is time to celebrate success, and to wonder what I can accomplish by the end of the year, while imagining what next year may look like.
It’s time for me to acknowledge that I have won as a blogger – I showed up, I was authentic, I talked about how I felt about the books I read, and I blogged when I felt like it, without being worried about what other people wanted, and I still achieved my goal. That it is no small thing.
And it’s also time to give Redhead a big hug and thank her for caring, and for accepting me for who I am…and if there’s one thing that’s certain it is this: I’m certainly not the “bloggeriest blogger”!