Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA: Blogger Development

Design by Emily @ Emily's Reading Room

Today's Armchair BEA prompt echoes a topic that has been on my mind and making rounds in the blogosphere recently - personal blogging habits and development. I still consider myself a newbie to the blogging world.  As I stated in my introductory post, I began blogging for purely personal reasons.  I was just looking for a space to share my thoughts on what I was reading, especially since my built in book club (AKA: other grad students) had recently dissolved.  Although most of the blogs I followed were accepting ARCs and boasting followers in the triple digits, I didn't strive for that kind of notoriety.  However, as my follower count slowly creeped into the double digits and I read review after review for books by some of my favorite authors that I wouldn't be able to get my hands on for MONTHS, I began to get a little envious and to consider my own ability to make it in the blogging big leagues.  That's about as far as I got though, considering.  I attempted a move to Wordpress thinking a more professional and customizable site was what I needed and was immediately overwhelmed by all the techie options that are not present in my very simplified and functional Blogger domain.  I moved back.  I re-evaluated my blogging habits from a practical standpoint (i.e. time and drive) and realized that trying to keep up with seasoned bloggers was taking an activity I loved and making it stressful.  Since then, I have been taking my blog both more and less seriously. I strive for quality reviews.  I participate in memes and challenges and discussions like Armchair BEA when and if I can when the topic strikes me, and if I don't meet the deadline?  No big deal.  My blog is for fun, and since I quite obsessing over my pageviews and how often I posted, I've been more relaxed and oddly more productive.  With this frame of mind, I have realized that although I wouldn't turn down an ARC from a favorite author, I don't want to seek out a commitment and a deadline I'm not equipped to meet.  Similarly, a cornerstone of my life philosophy, which may seem out of sync with my love for blogging, is no social networking sites.  I have been off Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest for over a year now, and I can say with absolute certainty that I have been happier (and once again more productive) without the drama these sites usually invite.  I know I am missing out on chances to promote my blog and network with other bloggers, but  I'm not willing to compromise my time and energy for those sites.  I've seen blogs I love go under due to creative burnout.  I'd rather use my time to recharge my creative batteries and write a kick-ass blog post, plan an engaging lesson for my students, lose myself in a great book, watch re-runs of Gilmore Girls, play with my niece, kiss my dog, and spend time with my husband. Can you blame me?

Back at the beginning of this year, I did take the time to carve out a few loose book and blogging resolutions.  Since this conversation is occurring mid-year, it seemed like an opportune time to re-visit my resolutions and check on my progress.

Original resolution: Scripted Verses - a weekly feature on my blog sporting original poetry and fiction

Current status: I kept up with Scripted Verses for a few weeks, but my blogger identity crisis detailed above derailed it a bit.  I still have several drafts in progress for this feature, so it will be back!

Original resolution: Write more
Current status: Check!  I plan on sticking even closer to this resolution this summer by blocking out weekly writing time to work on this blog, write an article on teaching banned books for the Teaching English in the Two-Year College journal, and whatever else crosses my mind.

Original resolution: Listen to audiobooks 

Current status: I have listened to a few audiobooks via free apps through my library.  It is a valuable way to spend my commute to and from work, but I find the selection to be a fairly limited.  After exhausting the few books I had access to and wanted to read, I've let this resolution fall by the wayside.  I'm not giving up on audiobooks yet though!

Original resolution: Read Anna Karenina and Les Miserables 

Current status: Check minus - I finished Anna Karenina (thanks to the previous resolution), but I've yet to start Les Miserables yet.  I've still got a half a year left (and it may take me that long to finish it...).

Original resolution: DNF 

Current status: Check!  Just as I've let go of a lot of my personal negative blogging expectations and energy, I've gotten better at quitting books that weren't working for me for whatever reason.  Recent DNF's include A Prayer for Owen Meany and You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversations Throughout Their Lives.

Original resolution: Utilize the public library 

Current status: Check!  In fact, by taking advantage of inter-library loan, I have access to new releases my library doesn't have, and I haven't spent a dime on books in months!

Original resolution: Read what I own/limit book buying 

Current status: Check (with the help of the previous resolution)!  I will be enacting an exemption at the end of June for Sarah Dessen's newest book The Moon and More.  I already own all her other novels (all signed), so I can't break tradition!

Original resolution: Reading Outside the Box Challenge by Musings of a Book Lover 

Current status: Check!  Although I haven't been sticking to the schedule I original laid out for myself (I'm slightly OCD if you can't tell), I have been reading and reviewing books for this challenge fairly regularly, and I'm looking forward to continuing to participate.

Here are the books I've read and reviewed for the challenge so far:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Annie's Ghost: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenburg
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman (illustrator) 
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives by Deborah Tannen

Not so bad!  And I have a half a year to address any areas of weakness.  The blogging community is one filled with great conversations, great fun, and most of all, GREAT BOOKS, and if my blogging development over the past two years has brought me closer to any of those three, then I count it a great success.

Happy reading (and blogging) from my armchair to yours!


  1. Great post Kristin - a lot of this resonated with me when I was reading it, as I have a similar approach to book blogging and haven't really moved beyond it as a way of just writing about books that I've read. I like your resolutions - I use my local library (and the free inter-library loan system) to get hold of most of the books I read, and I am gradually trying to DNF more books that I'm not enjoying (and try not to feel too guilty about it - although that doesn't always work yet!).

    1. Thanks, Kit! I think all bloggers have some kind of blogger envy but to talk about it makes you seem petty, so most of us avoid the topic or talk about it in vague, nondescript terms. It's especially difficult for me when I see blogs that are the same "age" as mine or younger with 3-4 times as many followers as I have. Despite professing nonchalance above, I've already experienced pangs of blogger envy this morning as I've pursued some of the other blogs participating in Armchair BEA. I just have to remind myself that what works for others isn't always feasible for me. And be thankful I get to enjoy their great posts and ideas!

  2. I really like that you've set goals for yourself and are actively pursuing them. So often we set the goals and then forget to pursue them. Keep up the good work & you'll get it in no time! Tattooed Books

    1. Goal setting is in my DNA, but it's hard to achieve them without support. Thanks!

  3. Great post. I saw your comment on audio books. Did you know that sync is offering free audio books all summer long? I've picked up some great selections from them.
    I liked the goal setting.
    AH@Badass Book Reviews

    1. Thanks for the tip! I'll be sure to check it out.

  4. That's actually a great idea to not get involved in social media. I don't do a whole lot of promotion or networking, but I know I still spend too much time on those sites -- something worth thinking about!

    1. I'm on the fence about it a little, actually. On a personal level, I love the freedom not being on most social media sites affords me. However, I do wish I could connect with more people in real time as far as my blog is concerned. I've been toying around with getting on Twitter to connect with more bloggers. It seems a better tool than Facebook, which to me is more personal, and I would have to keep on lock-down so wayward students wouldn't find me! For now though I'm going to stay social media free (with the exception of this blog of course)!

    2. If you do only choose one, Twitter is probably the way to go. I don't use it too much for blog purposes, but I can see why people do. My personal life really needs me to spend less time on these sites!

    3. I'm afraid it would suck up too much of my personal time and interfere with my work, but I've considered imposing usage restrictions on myself like only certain times and days I could get on. I'm not teaching this summer, so I plan to spend some time on projects like these!