Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wednesday Chatter #19: Things I Struggle With As A Blogger

Wednesday Chatter is a weekly feature at Ruby's Books where we'll be talking about anything and everything related to books and reading. Click here if you want to see what we talked about in the previous weeks

WARNING: Some bad words might be used in the following post. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Today's post is a bit strange for me to write, not because it's too personal, but because I've never actually tried to put any of this into words. I've always assumed it was just me that has to deal with this, and just rolled with it, because that's what I've always done in situations in which I'm uncomfortable, just smiled through it all, hoping no one notices. I've decided however that it's in my best interest to admit these things, especially since I've been proven quite recently that in most of these cases, I've kind of... well, exaggerated is a too strong word, but let's just say it's in the vicinity of that. So, without further ado, here's stuff I struggle with as a blogger.

crowley list

  • Being the black sheep
This one I've talked about before, about how I hate writing negative reviews, ant it's still one of my biggest issues to date. In over 7 years of book blogging, this hasn't changed. And it's not just because of the fear of backlash from authors or their fans. It's also because I genuinely hate writing a review where I can't even give the book a 2.5/3 stars. I feel like that idiot that points out all the wrong stuff, without having actually tried to do the thing I'm criticizing. It gets especially difficult when the book in question has a huge fanbase, in which case I feel like I've either missed the point of the story completely, or I just didn't read the same book. 

I know that I've wrote a similar post where I said I planned on changing that, and try to write more negative reviews, or at least the ones with less stars, but it's truly hard, people. Even worse is trying to write a review for books I DNFed, because then I'm confused. What do I even say? "I stopped reading at page xxxx because I was bored"?? That sounds mature and accurate. This is especially hard when seeing all those convos on Twitter between other bloggers going on an on about not trusting reviewers that don't write negative reviews. Which, I kind of understand, but it still makes this difficult.

I am thinking about making mini-reviews for the negative ones. Maybe then I'll feel less guilty for not writing them and/or gain more trust since I have constructive criticism? I don't know.
  • Starting the conversation
You might not realize this about me, but I wasn't always this shy, quiet creature I am now. I was actually a pretty outgoing kid, able to struck up a conversation with just about anyone, and that includes strangers. Then teenage years happened and with that came bullying and with that not wanting to talk to strangers, basically avoiding situations in which I could stand out. Which makes me seem like I'm some kind of bitch, which is not always true.

crowley bitchface
I swear this is just my thinking face!

I'd like to think I'm more of an anxious puppy-faced human, but I may be biased.

crowley smile

Regardless of why I went from full-on extrovert to a strange case of social introvert, I get closed up when having to interact with strangers. Just to give you an example, it took me about 3 weeks after I started working before looking some of my coworkers in the eye and start up a conversation with them. Cut to a year after, and I'm the one pestering them all day long, making jokes and being "one of the group". It takes me a while to find my courage to interact with strangers, which gets me to blogging.

If you want to be noticed, not for all the ARCs, not for the review copies, not even for the mentions in the Advance Praise pages of a book, but just to be in that situation of "Oh hey, so you're this person" or "Oh, I just talked to x blogger", you have to talk to people. I think in my 7 years of blogging I've actively talked with less than 10 people. BECAUSE EVERYONE SEEMS COOLER THAN ME AND WHAT AM I DOING HERE? Twitter chats help a lot, because that's how I got to talk to most of the bloggers I'm having convos with, and, strangely enough, Instagram stories

Now don't think this is me trying to get sympathy pageviews or whatever, because it's not. I'm just trying to explain why, even after all this time, I'm still kind of one of the smallest bloggers out there. 

Also, I'm always kind of scared of bothering someone. So let's say I start up a conversation with someone. And then the second. And then the third. If I get to the fourth conversation that started because I was the first one to reach out, I'm thinking maybe this person doesn't want to talk to me. So I just don't insist.

Which brings me to my next point.
  • Actually getting in touch with authors, publishing houses, editors, agents and the like
Sites like Netgalley and Edelweiss, PR companies that send out emails whenever they have new upcoming blog tours are amazing. They save my blog more than they realize, because that's how I get most of my review copies. It takes a lot of courage to actually get in touch with people that are in the industry, and I find it even more difficult than actually getting in touch with other bloggers. 

Most authors that I'm friendlier with are authors that have written to me, which is still exciting, because they wanted to have some kind of connection with my blog, which feels amazing. Only then do I feel comfortable enough to talk to them, because then I feel like I already know them in some way, shape or form, and it's not as awkward for me.

This doesn't mean I suffer from ARC envy, because it's not. Hell, I'm super happy when I see book reviewers receiving packages from publishing houses, because: 1) I get to learn about upcoming books, and 2) I get excited for those books because people that I trust are excited for them. Also, ARC envy is just stupid, the book is going to come out anyway, so come on people, priorities! But I do get a tad bit sad because that just means, in my tiny little brain, that they're cooler than me. Which, again, is debatable. 

PS: I never started my blog with hopes of getting free books, I started it as a way to practice English and because no one liked the books I did and I wanted to talk about those books, and blogging was the only way I could think of to do so.
  • Not comparing my blog with others
And the above issue brings me to this one. I've been giving this advice to tons of people who want to start blogging, to do their thing and not compare themselves to others, and you know what they say, it's way easier said than done. And I'm not talking about page views, followers, signal boosts or how friendly they are with people in the publishing industry. I'm talking content here, guys. Namely, discussion posts.

Side-note: I remember one of the first blogs I saw about 8 years ago, it was on Wordpress, and I think it was called something similar to "Shut up I'm reading" or something catchy like that. That blog was all about reviewing books. No memes, no features, no tags, no nothing. Just reviews. Then, as the blogging community started growing, it seemed like it wasn't cool anymore to write as many reviews. I get it, because if I'm going to write a review a day, that means I'd have to read more than 300 books a year, which I could probably never pull off, so you have to pace yourself.

But back to discussion posts. Those are the worst for me to write, present post not included, because every subject seems to have been already talked about. And it's difficult to say "Oh yeah, so what, I'll just write about it because I feel strongly about this and I want my opinion to be known, even if it may be similar to what someone else said". And if it's not something that I've seen other bloggers talk about, the same tiny evil brain goes "well then it's not something fun or interesting or engaging", so I just let it go. Then there's the 1% of ideas that I have that make me sound like the meanest bitch on the planet, because it's about stuff I don't like, much like with my Parents & YA discussion post. 

I need to stop thinking about it so much, and just be me.

bloody crowley
Okay, so maybe I won't start shouting I'M BLOODY RUBY, but you know, the sentiment counts

ironman sigh

Okay. So here's the thing. It's almost therapeutic getting these things out. Doesn't mean I'm not scared of what you guys might think when you get to the end of the post and maybe think about commenting (*wink*nudge*nudge*), but it's nice to be honest about this. I have no clue if others are the same way as me, maybe they are, but it's nice to think that maybe somewhere on the planet of blogging there's at least one such confusing creature as me. These are basically the things I'm struggling with when it comes to me being a blogger.

Let's chat: What are you struggling with as a blogger? How do you deal with it? And if you don't have such issues, what is your secret and teach me your ways.
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