Part 1:Reflections on Book Blogging: Is it worth it?
As BEA approaches, I cannot help but wonder if blogging is worth it. BEA represents the culmination of all your hard labor to successfully maintain a book blog. While euphoria sounds like a wonderful ideal, the real feeling of book blogging is often a sharp feeling of slight disenchantment. After BEA is over, I always ponder whether the effort of keeping this blog is all worth it. Naturally, I ask myself the big question that begins with "Why?" Why am I doing this? Is this blog moribund?
During the course of a year, bloggers are obligated to look at their statistics; including arbitrary numbers accessing how many hits your blog has had and the total number of people following it. Every time we sign up for something to hopefully promote our blogs, we are warned once again of our inadequate statistics. Then, we are required to go back to the drawing board and wonder: "What kinds of posts are appealing to people? Is my layout aesthetically-pleasing? How many contests should I run? Wait... I'm a college student, and eventually, it will be impossible to keep this blog going when I'm possibly reading five books a week for five separate classes." With this flood of questions running wild in my mind, I find myself still blogging regularly and facing the vulnerability of writing nearly everyday. For writers, our ideas are drowned in the darkness of our rooms and the fear of writing stems from having to put those ideas in the blinding flood lights of public awareness. Instinctively, we want to shield our innermost thoughts; it seems perfectly natural. Bloggers have an even greater challenge though because we must also carefully present those things in a way that persuades people to take a vested interest in our writing. We can't just rely on wishful thinking that just because we particularly like our writing; people outside of ourselves might not ever want to read anything we write.
This post is meant for veteran bloggers and also for aspiring ones. Blogging is not easy, and I think many people have the same misconceptions about it as many have about publishing books. No, not every writer will become "JK Rowling," and not every blogger will have their blogs have the same kind of mass appeal as the blogs around them that have all the flashy colors,daily reviews, and one-thousand followers. In reality, blogging is not a romantic venture. I certainly don't wake up every morning with the feeling that I can achieve all my lofty goals that I set before myself. No, blogging is hard work. Its normally an unpaid activity that you will do, while possibly working another job and being a full-time college student. For those outside of college, you might have a full-time job and blogging might be the one activity that you squeeze into your day. Why then do bloggers undergo something that sounds so torturous? For many of us, we cannot write about things we are passionate about for every writing assignment. Even when I don't have any comments or any blatant sign that people even venture to this hidden nook on the blog-sphere, I still strove to blog for the last five years because its the one place in the world where I can have control. There are not many places in the world where anyone can have so much autonomy. This is the reason why the internet is saturated with blogs. Some people are unfulfilled by their jobs, so blogging has become the one area of their life where they work for enjoyment, rather than just for income.
I've seen many bloggers stop blogging because it can be very unrewarding. For weeks on end, blogging can absolutely feel worthless, but that is part of every job and activity that engage ourselves in. Within our world, we are surrounded with ads implicitly telling us that we are "unhappy sops" who need a certain product to essentially grant us solace. On television, we are shown contrived programs where stalwart people achieved their dreams by working hard. In these programs, we are given no true evidence of the "long dark tunnel of hopelessness" that makes up most of this journey. Many of these programs skip over this and merely present us with the compensation, and the image of the actual hardship seems fleeting and nonexistent. Challenges are presented tritely as lasting perhaps two hours or being overcome by sudden divine intervention in the form of divinely-influenced business interests.Everywhere, our churches, schools, and television programs have transformed the image of "happiness" into gratification. Happiness should be the humble acceptance of one's limitations and being able to work nonetheless through it without expecting some kind of special recognition.
When anyone blogs, its easy to only want mass numbers of people reading your blog. It is part of our narcissistic culture to base the success of our blog off numbers rather than substance. I know that this is a fundamental part of any business, but I just hate seeing highly creative blogger feel pressured into not individualizing their blogs just to reach a certain number of people. This has never been a part of my love for blogging. I enjoy blogging or writing as a whole when not concentrated on merely the number of hits we are getting. Yes, the cynics know that I subconsciously worry that my blog is never read by anyone, and that I'm just criticizing it because I'm afraid to admit that I'm just as obsessed with these tallies as any other blogger. I wouldn't be human, if I admitted that the fear that no one is reading this blog has never crossed my mind. At the same time, I know that my enjoyment of writing blogs is not purely based on statistics; otherwise, I'd have quit blogging a long time ago.
If anyone plans on doing a book blog, I really believe that the most successful ones are written by very passionate people. Their blogs are not contrived merely to garner a certain number of readers. It is a reflection of their passions that they hope to share with others. While this post might have a slight cynical tone about the nature of book blogging, I have loved blogging for nearly five years, not for the Followers or blog statistics, but for the ability to have my own writing space of sorts to share my love for reading and other unconventional things with others. I know this post was not about BEA. It still relates to Book Expo America because that was one of the doors that was surprisingly opened to me when first beginning to blog. Throughout my experience, this blog has given me new-found confidence in myself; it has allowed me to autonomously maintain a site of my own. Yes, its damn hard sometimes to find motivation to continue writing here. There have been far too many uncountable moments of just wanting to abandon blogging altogether.
In the end, I just cannot leave this space; it has become my one space to be completely myself.
For the next few parts of this new Thursday blog series, "Mapping out BEA," I'll be writing some posts for aspiring or beginner bloggers about how to start your own blog.
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