When I wrote my first post to Beth Fish Reads,
I took it as a given that I'd quit this venture before the week was up.
Here I am, 5 years later, with about 2000 posts under my belt and over 1
million page views. Who could have guessed?
My original idea for the blog was to write about my nightly habit of listening to audiobooks while cooking or baking. I also thought I'd throw in a photograph or two. I never had any notion of writing a personal blog (and I still don't), but I remained flexible and slowly found my rhythm as a blogger.
Unlike so many people in the book blogging world, I have no desire to publish a novel; I don't ever, ever want to own a bookstore; and I hate to write. Furthermore, I didn't start blogging to enter the industry--I'm already in it. In fact, 2014 will mark my 30th year as a full-time freelance editor, and I couldn't be happier with my career choice.
Wait a minute! What was that? I hate to write? Yes. And I'm also the world's slowest writer. If you can believe it, it often takes me 3 hours to write a blog post. Really. I'm pathetic. This leads me to the main point of this blogoversary post: Where I am and where am I headed?
Staying the Same First, I am not joining the rest of the class of 2008 and jumping offline. I plan to keep Beth Fish Reads up and running as far as I can see into the future. I miss the old days of zillions of comments, lots of community events, and a full feed reader. I particularly miss the people who have disappeared off the face of the earth, some of whom I met in person and considered true friends.
Oddly enough, though, as the number of comments on this blog decreases, all my other stats (page views and subscribers) continue to steadily increase. So although I find that blogging is less interactive than it once was, my audience is still there and growing. Thanks to all of you for sticking with me!
I'm also pleased with the general schedule of Beth Fish Reads: two to three reviews, a photo, a teaser, Imprint Friday, and especially Weekend Cooking (and I encourage all of you to participate in that -- no need to cook, just share a quote, a photo of your favorite ice cream parlor, or even a movie review). I don't see that changing much either.
Nature of My Reviews As I mentioned, I'm a horribly slow writer. As a result, writing reviews can be painful, and sometimes I actually resent the burden of putting up a new post six days a week. Here's the deal. I've kept notes on my reading off and on since I was in first grade. I like jotting down my thoughts and thinking about the books I've read. Quite often I have a lot to say, but not always.
So I have a problem: The worst part of blogging for me is the pressure to say something worthwhile about every book I've read; I "need" to do this because one of my blogging goals is to keep a record of everything I've read. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I'm caving under the stress. I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't really want to write up a thoughtful, intelligent review of a book, and here's why:
- Sometimes I'm reading for pure entertainment. I'm not expecting brilliant writing and profound thoughts. I just want to be lost in another world for a little while. What more can I say about such a book than "I liked it; it was fun"?
- Sometimes I read a book that I'm dying to discuss with others, but the things I want to say involve spoilers. Then I'm stuck with something like this: "I can't say much without spoiling the book, but I'm still thinking about the decisions one character made." Kind of unsatisfying for me, though it might make you read the book.
- Oh and then there are the series. I might have a lot to say about the first couple of books, but the 15th entry into Fables or the Hamish Macbeth books, I have nothing much more to say than "Not the strongest in the series" or "I love the changes in the main character's life."
- Then come the books that are too personal to discuss. These are books that I loved to death, that resonated with me as few other books have. I hate writing in depth about those novels because a review puts distance between me and the experience. I'd rather post something like "just read it" than to force myself to be analytical.
- Finally, I write freelance reviews for websites and print media and blurb for Bloggers Recommend. Once I've written up a review for another venue, I'm usually done with that book in terms of trying to write about or discuss it further. That means there are a number of books I've read that don't appear on Beth Fish Reads. That kind of makes me sad.
In addition, if I'm on an editing deadline or I don't feel well or I'd rather be out walking or gardening or cooking, I'm going to try to give myself permission to skip a day of posting (except Weekend Cooking) if that makes sense for the way my day is going. I'm not sure this will really happen, but, hey, you never know.
Where to Find Me I really want to regain some of my lost offline life. I rarely make lace anymore and my gardens are a mess. Why? Because every spare minute is going into this blog and social media. I've already cut back on Twitter and have felt the relief. I am also going to try some experimenting to find the best way to read the blogs in my feed reader. Sometimes it's easier to read and not pop through to comment. Sometimes I have the time to make more personal connections. Sometimes I like to reach out on Twitter. No matter how sporadically you hear from me, rest assured that I am still here and still reading what you have to say.
One new thing I've discovered this year is the Instagram community. There I participate in photo challenges and have made several new online friends. I post one to four photos a day, and I'm loving how much fun it is to find things to photograph and to play with editing apps. I'd love it if you followed me (@BethFishReads) or let me know your instagram handle so I can follow you. Most of the photos in this post first appeared on Instagram (click the images to enlarge).
Thanks again to all of you who have made my 5 years as Beth Fish Reads so satisfying and fulfilling. Here's to 5 more!