How I Spent My Summer Vacation

So… you might have noticed my absolute missingness over the last several months. Yes, missingness is now officially a word. Didn’t you get the memo from Scott? No? Here you go.

Anyway, if the blog has been a little sparse of late, that’s because I’ve been uh…er…sailing around the world to raise money for starving elephants. Wait. Okay, having a passionate jet-set affair with a tall, dark, Italian named Marco. No? Lying on the beach sipping drinks with little umbrella thingies in them? Fine. Fine. Fine. Maybe that’s just what my brain was doing all summer.

First things first, I’ve not completely abandoned this project. It’s been weighing heavily on my mind and in my heart through much of the time I was away. I did, however reach a point where this was starting to take over my life and I needed to step back and re-assess why I was doing this thing in the first place and what I wanted it to be.

A Few Little Lessons I’ve Learned About Book Blogging:

  • It’s easy when you are speaking with publishers and authors and have books arriving daily in your mailbox to feel (no matter what your review policy states) an obligation to get to everything they send.
  • It’s easy when you have subscribers and more than three people actually taking time out of their day to read what you put out there for the world to feel an obligation to give them the best experience you possibly can.
  • It’s easy to look around at other bloggers and reviewers and think you need to keep upping the ante. Or see things you love and need to be a part of.
  • It’s difficult to say no to books. It’s heartbreaking to say no to authors. It’s sometimes harder to judge what you are going to have the time, energy or inclination to read and review three to six months in advance.
  • It’s easy to sit down to write a simple review and find yourself still trying to get thoughts and formatting right five hours later.
  • It’s easy between reading, and writing, interviewing, correspondence and making everything look pretty, to spend 60+ hours a week on this thing that was once a simple blog. And remains an unpaid hobby.
  • It’s possible to forget to go to the post office for 12 days in a row or respond to an email for a month.
  • It’s impossible to keep up a social networking dialogue with all the amazing people you meet on this journey.
  • It’s difficult to write an honest review for a book you don’t like when you are part of a blog-tour or you know the author personally. Some days they all feel like someone you know personally.
  • It’s probable that no matter how much work you put in, it will never feel good enough.

And that just covers the being overwhelmed portion of why I stepped away. I do have a strict policy though that when something I’m doing for fun, stops feeling like fun, I need to stop and give some serious consideration to the word why.

Hold up, hold up. Life’s never that simple. Right? There were maybe a few other reasons I took this little sabbatical:

A) Negative Reviews.

I don’t enjoying writing them generally. I don’t care if they get more hits than all of the glowing reviews combined. I can generally find some positive things to say to balance them out, but that means at best I found the book ok. I don’t want to waste time bringing your attention to books I find ok. If I love a book, I want to tell you about it. In rare cases if a book annoys me so much that I can’t stop talking about the specific problems, I’ll probably say something, but that means I cared about the book enough to feel the need to comment. This is a rare occurrence in my world. More often of late I find books that I know on page three are going to be mediocre for me, and I suffer through the mind-numbing experience of reading them in order to produce a balanced review. I didn’t have to do that this summer, and it was really nice.

B) Other blogs.

In addition to trying and mostly failing at keeping up with my friends and family via facebook and twitter, I had two other blogs that were pretty active before this monster came along. I liked what I had to offer on them. I enjoyed that process which felt less pressurized than this one ultimately became. They were utterly abandoned when all my time was sucked into this. And we aren’t even talking about things that suffered in the real world yet folks.

C) My own fiction.

Probably the single biggest (and most important) reason you have not seen me around here is because it was taking all of my time and energy away from my own writing projects. It hasn’t been something I’ve talked about on here a lot. I was trying to keep the two worlds separate for reasons that are becoming a bit murkier now. The simple truth is this; as much as I love reading and talking about books, I’d much rather be writing them. And writing a book, almost necessarily, takes over your life in completely different ways. I was beginning to lose sight of my goals for myself and forget why I started this little side project: to grow as a writer. At the end of the day, I’m not a blogger, a reviewer, a publicist or a web-site manager. I am a writer. And that’s where my energies needed to be refocused.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

I’m so glad you asked. We go forward.  Absolutely. I wouldn’t have started  this project in the first place if I didn’t enjoy it.  I still do.

So, we are back, but expect to see some changes as this site finds its feet again and I am able to strike the right balance between blogging and my real life. For the next little while, it will probably be a weekends only project. So expect a post or two a week, but probably not a lot more.

You will probably see me being more picky about both genre and the number of books I accept for review. I just don’t have the time to read everything, and so you’ll probably see more YA, SF, Dystopian, Urban Fantasy and less pretty much everything else. There are no hard and fast rules here, and this simply reflects where I am in my life right now.  Don’t expect the obliteration of  Classics though because I refuse to give them up.

You will probably see more positive reviews than negative or mediocre ones as I just feel the need to go with my heart on this one.

You will probably see the rating system drastically altered or disappear completely. I noticed looking back at some of my past reviews I don’t always continue to agree with the ratings I’ve given. It’s something that really bothers me, so I’m looking for a better way.

As posts pick up again, you will probably see some entries about writing and other wordy things I find particularly inspirational, instructional or just want to talk about as I start to incorporate a few items from my other blogs over here. This is an experiment, so please feel free to let me know your thoughts on that subject. I can’t promise it will change my mind, but it’s always good to know.

Other than that… we’ll just have to see.

I’m glad to be back and look forward to getting all booky with you down the road.

So, ahem… Anyone else do anything fun for summer vacation?

3 Replies to “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”

  1. This is a great post and all true stuff… it is impossibly hard at times… and life happens and projects come up and suddenly the TBR is a mountain that is impossible to choose the next book to read…

    LOL been there 🙂

    I thin everyones blog needs to be what they want it to be. Put as much or as little into it and make it your own 🙂

    1. @Sheila Thanks. The first step is admitting it out loud. Right? But honestly I hope everyone feels they have the freedom to make this blogging journey their own.

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