I started blogging because I loved writing reviews and wanted a platform to post them on that was better than Goodreads. What if that – unlike the general state of Goodreads – has changed?
The Current State of Things
Something that has always been important to me as a reviewer is to never leave a review waiting. If I choose not to review something, or if I choose to delete my review, it’s one thing; however, you’ll never find a “RTC” from last year on anything I post. That’s because I always have thoughts! Often too many to fit into a single review. They’re not necessarily good ones (the only thing that matches a teenager’s energy is their lack of perspective: please don’t look at what I wrote in 2017), but I always have something to share and usually don’t choose to keep it to myself.
That may have changed. I finished Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas a few days ago, and I still have a lot to say about it as always – it is… an experience – but I’m not doing anything about that. And I can’t say that I don’t feel like writing at all, because clearly I am writing right now, and there is another post waiting in the drafts I wrote this week. (Will I ever post it? I don’t know. Everything feels so trivial right now.)
I just don’t feel like writing a review at all, and this is new. What does this mean for my blog, which is a book blog composed mostly of reviews? At the moment, a pause I didn’t plan for; in the long term, I’m not sure. But, mostly, why is this happening?
The Advertisting Machine
The space in which we talk about books overlaps with the space publishers use to market books, so much that (usually unpaid) bloggers are often part of a book’s marketing plan. I understand this is inevitable to a degree, and that talking about a book helps it reach its audience independently from the blogger’s intention. I know that; I’ve bought books because of other bloggers so many times, sometimes even because of negative reviews.
It stands that advertisting has never been the point of what I do nor is it how I wish to spend my free time. I’m not participating in blog tours and probably requesting ARCs again, but even with that out of the way – I’m annoyed with how the language of advertising is everywhere. Maybe a tradpub book isn’t well-known not because we aren’t “promoting” it enough but because the publisher isn’t doing its job and that isn’t my problem really (even though depending on the situation I may wish things were different & act accordingly), and maybe reviews aren’t a tool for the consumer to decide whether to buy a product but they’re a way for me to connect with other people over books. My blog isn’t the “review” section of an online marketplace and just because we’re people on the internet it doesn’t mean we’re all trying to be influencers.
Whenever the discourse about whether reviews should be more professional is around again (discourse will be always around again) I get more annoyed with the world. Professional? They’re lucky they don’t have to talk to me because I don’t even speak this language, half the words I know I learned on a page. Me being bad at what I do with my own time isn’t any publisher’s or author’s problem, and if you want professionals writing reviews: they should be paid. I’m not saying I should be because I’m plainly not qualified for this. Professional this, promotional tool that… I want to feel like an actual person having a hobby.
So yes, I’m annoyed by how things are in the online book world and surprised by how much better I feel whenever I take several days completely away from [book] twitter especially; I’m less online and I feel better.
I still love books, and still have way too many opinions – I may not be here to promote Catherine House, but I’d love to talk about how it and Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko ended up being eerily similar despite having completely different influences and aims! If someone buys those books because they saw me talk about them, good for them. It’s still not why I’m doing this.
The General State of the World
You get a cat picture, because I say so. Isn’t she the cutest?
Yes, that’s still the cat friend I talked about in my August Wrap-Up, and the main upside to my city’s serious free-roaming cat problem. This is one of the very few good pictures of her I have from this month; most of them are blurred because she’s too busy trying to rub her face against my legs, phone, and sometimes purse out of Friendship. I love her. (Also this is better than the long-haired black cat who just started to lick my hand once she decided I wasn’t Dangerous. I get that we take hand-washing very seriously and I appreciate the thought but believe me this is not helping)
If you want to see another not blurred & recent picture of her, go here! I’m not going to talk about the state of the world, for that you can read/watch the news at your own pace. Still, it is a significant factor in why I have been around less.
What Does This Mean for the Blog?
I don’t know. I clearly have the energy to write things and also ideas for content, but the main problem I’m dealing with is that this doesn’t feel like a hobby anymore while pretty much everything feels pointless. The last time this kind of thing happened to one of my hobbies, I left without even really meaning to and haven’t been back since ~2016. I don’t want to disappear and not talk to any of you ever again! Trying to find a balance between “too online, doesn’t feel like a hobby” and “not here at all” has been harder than I thought it would be.
I’d also love not to end this post with I have no idea what I’m doing ever, even though that’s arguably always been true about this blog and it’s definitely true now. I don’t know what I’m going to do; I guess that the answer to will this blog continue to be active will probably be given by whether I’ll ever end up posting the Catherine House & Vita Nostra post or the one about homophobic trends in book reviews that has been sitting in the drafts. We’ll see?
Thoughts? Cats? Better news? I hope to come back with bookish content instead of existential dread someday!