While I have been blogging about books now for over two-and-a-half years I still often wonder to myself whether I’m cut out to be a book blogger. I still doubt whether I have what it takes to write reviews of the books I read, whether my opinion matters, whether doing what I’m doing makes a difference to anyone.
And I still wonder whether I have what it takes to do this thing.
Because blogging isn’t just about sharing thoughts about the books I read. It isn’t just about finding and falling in love with new books and the authors who write those books. It isn’t just about making friends with similar interests and being a part of a community.
Blogging is more than that. Much more. In both positive and negative ways.
Blogging requires some level of social skills. It requires a strong work ethic. It requires the ability to juggle all those life things with those bookish ones. It requires the ability to market oneself if one hopes for any level of “success.”
And it requires a lot of time, patience, professionalism and potentially money.
Over two years later writing reviews isn’t getting any easier. It’s getting more difficult, actually. Being social hasn’t become second nature. It’s still something I struggle with on a daily basis. Self-doubt hasn’t been banished. It’s increased tenfold. And my skills at juggling have deteriorated at about the same rate the number of things I’ve been tasked with juggling has increased.
As more and more readers take the plunge and step into the book blogosphere, there’s even less chance to be “original” or come up with fresh content. There is an even greater chance of stepping on someone’s toes, crossing the line between being a professional and taking things to an emotional level, finding drama even if you don’t want to.
There’s more opportunity for jealousy, less opportunity to receive the books you’d like to receive a bit early, less of a chance to find a small niche for yourself in an environment that has grown so large, so quickly.
There’s less chance of meeting new people whose interests are like your own. Who are passionate about books in the way you are. Who enjoy the stories and characters you do.
I’ve read many a post offering advice about growing my blog. Advice about making connections with other bloggers. Advice about approaching publishers and authors for review books. And much of it is great advice. But where I fall short, each and every time, is when it comes to implementation.
I don’t like marketing myself. I hate it. I hate being in the spotlight. I am uncomfortable with praise. I am uncomfortable joining in discussions with those I feel are in many ways “above” me – intelligence, popularity, life experience, confidence.
When sharing my thoughts on a computer page became more than just that, it terrified me. When people reached out to me for reviews, interviews, tours, I went from happily surprised to panicked.
While I don’t have this overwhelming need to be liked or accepted, I don’t want to be seen as rude, unappreciative or snobbish. And I still haven’t quite figured out a way to do it.
As someone who gets completely tongue-tied around authors, I have yet to reach out on my own to one for a request. As someone who isn’t particularly fond of rejection, I don’t reach out for review books.
So I always question whether this is the right outlet for me to express my version of creativity. And whether this competitive environment is one suited to my non-competitive nature.
And when recently asked by someone whose opinion I value whether I’m getting enough out of this to make it worth the time I spend, it took me a long while to answer. Because I am starting to wonder more and more whether I am cut out for all of this.
Here’s what I love…
Discovering new books.
Discovering new authors.
Talking with friends about books.
Promoting books I love.
Seeing an author I adore’s book become hugely successful.
What I used to love…
Coming up with new ideas for the blog.
Seeing my site’s traffic increase.
Being approached for a review.
Finding the courage to put in a request.
What I don’t love…
Doubt. Mostly of the self-doubt variety.
Drama. Generally involving the community.
Rejection. Does anyone really love to be rejected? (See self-doubt, above.)
Competitiveness. Others, on occasion my own. (And see drama, above.)
Jealousy. Others. My own.
The community. It’s a love/hate relationship. But aren’t most relationships?
Doubt. Yes, I had to say it twice because it’s my biggest obstacle. Which leads me back to….
So, am I cut out to be a book blogger?
I’m still not sure. I’m not a person with huge amounts of confidence. I’m not a person who enjoys failure. I’m not a person who is particularly comfortable with putting myself out there. And I’m not someone whose words come easily.
But I am dedicated and hard-working and I am a book lover. That last part is pretty much why I continue to do this thing day in and day out.
I love those stories,
even especially when they make me cry. I love those characters, even if they’re not my “real” friends. I love those authors who write those books, even if I don’t always love their books. Because it takes courage and imagination to do what they do.
And most of all I love being able to read a book, go online and announce just how much a book resonated with me and have at least one person know exactly what I’m talking about. No explanation needed. No other words required. No arguments. No eye rolls.
And while being a book blogger may not be required to do just that, without having my blog I couldn’t imagine having an online presence or the confidence needed to make such an announcement. Without having at least this one label attached to me, I couldn’t imagine being a part of this community.
So for now, even with the question looming larger and more frequently, I will continue to do this. I will continue to push past the doubt. I will continue to act the professional. I will continue to share my thoughts. I will continue to call myself a book blogger.