I don't live under a rock; therefore, I am aware of all the chaos that happened last week in the blogging community. And while I certainly do have strong opinions on what happened and the reaction, this post isn't directly about that. Instead, I wanted to jump in on two conversations that took place on other blogs. The first post I want to direct you to is a post written by Adam on Friday. It is a fabulous piece about the importance of maintaining a sense of professionalism while online. He also talks about bloggers' responsibility to our audience. My attempts to summarize it will fail, so it is best if you just go and read his post yourself.
The second post I want to mention is by a new-to-me blog-Book Reviews and English News. Apparently there was other drama surrounding another post by this blogger on Saturday, but I wasn't aware of it until I read this post. This second post, while a little more aggressively written, also brings up some interesting points about the cliquey nature of book blogging. And while I don't agree with all of the points made in that post, I do think that a few of them are spot on and are important to discuss.
Which brings me here, to this post and my current train of thought about why I'm here in the first place and being associated with the book blogging community. As I am sure most of my regular readers know, I never started blogging with the intentions of being a book blogger. Back in the summer of 2009, I didn't even know that there was a book blogging community. I only starting writing here as a way to track my progress through my project, and it wasn't until nearly 3 or 4 months into my project that someone other than a family member commented on a post. I knew nothing about ARCs, giveaways, or even Goodreads until I started to branch out to those who stumbled onto my blog and to those blogs I managed to find by searching.
I have always considered myself an outsider to the greater book blogging community because my intents and purposes have always been different than the majority of other book blogs. I don't really write reviews. I don't accept many books for review (I consider getting requests to be the biggest honor, and I only accept books that I am truly intrigued by. I will always do that). I don't believe I will ever be a "big" blogger with thousands of followers, or a blogger that the masses will turn to for sage advice about the ins and outs of blogging. I am still learning as I go, and I consider getting an image to post correctly a triumph.
I write about my feelings on books-the process I go through as I read something challenging. I try and make personal connections with everything I read. I talk about my struggles with certain authors, the reasons why I love or hate certain titles. I discuss the worlds I am discovering as I read through my project list. And most of all, I discuss me. My life, my reactions, my growth as I take on books that millions of people have read before me.
I see blogging, and my space here, as an extension of myself. And I would be lying if I said that this space didn't mean a lot to me. It does. And the few times I have been criticized have really stung. Again, I see this place, A Literary Odyssey, as personal place. I have always been, and will always be, completely honest here.
But I cannot pretend that others don't see me. I host group reads and readalongs, which has now transitioned into reading events and programs. My Shakespeare Reading Month in January gave me the opportunity to really connect with so many bloggers, and share my passion for the classics. I am hopeful that my Victorian Event will do the same.
So while I had always intended this as a place for me, it has also turned into a very public place. I think we all acknowledge that by putting our thoughts on the internet, we will eventually be found and discovered, whether we like it or not. And I can acknowledge that being "found" has helped me keep this going for close to three years. I am no longer an anonymous twenty-something sitting behind a computer and discussing the books I am reading. I am very much a part of a bigger place, whether I want to be or not.
And with that comes a great deal of responsibility. I am public-I am out there and open to being critiqued and criticized. That was never my intention, but I cannot fight against it. I must accept it, and I have.
However, throughout everything, and all that drama last week, I have again realized how important it is for me to maintain my identity. I do things on my own and in my own way. I don't think I need to adhere to any "rules" that are accepted by the greater community. I will continue to post in my own way, and as many times as I want to per book, as well as read what I want, when I want. I refuse to fall into the chaos that makes up a chunk of the blogging world. I refuse to be used as a pawn of publishing houses, or clamor for books that I can purchase on my own in a few months. I have nothing against anyone who receives mass amounts of ARCs or who works closely with publishers-it just isn't for me and my purpose here.
But I will acknowledge that I do have some amount of responsibility-being out here in the public, doing what I do. I have accepted the responsibilities of being an advocate for literacy, promoting books that I think are worthy of mention, and highlighting the books and writers I am most passionate about. More than anything, I acknowledge that I do have an impact on some individuals as they begin reading classics. I have never said I am an expert, but I will always offer guidance and my own thoughts when asked for. I also know that I have some duty to always representing myself and my opinions in a somewhat professional manner. I will never get too personal, too emotional, or too snarky. Because whether I like it or not, there are others who read my blog. They see things in their own light and will form their own opinions.
That is what I have reaffirmed for myself this past week. That I am an individual and I need to maintain that identity for myself. It is easy to fall into the crowd. It would be easy for me to change who I am to gain more readers or reach a larger audience, but how could I do that and still look at myself every day? I can't. So I will maintain my integrity and sense of self with my head held high.
I hope that those of you who are struggling to figure out a sense of purpose, given the circumstances of the last week, will mull that same sentiment over in your heads and act on it.