I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious today (not an unusual state of affairs for me – I have Anxiety with a capital A and the prozac prescription to prove it), and so instead of tackling my monstrous To Do list, I am of course procrastinating further by writing a rambling blog post.
Yesterday I found myself feeling guilty because I hadn’t had time to post on bookstagram for a few days, or, more importantly, to boost my friends with the complicated, algorithm-busting combo of saving, adding to stories, comments over five words only, typed while standing on your head and reciting Shakespeare backwards, or something. Anyway, the point is, I felt guilty. And then I started to feel guilty about the three reviews I need to write, all the beautiful proofs I need to read, and a whole bunch of other stuff related to my book blogging hobby. In no time at all, because such is the nature of my fantastic ability to spiral, I had convinced myself I was letting everyone down, that I didn’t have the dedication and commitment it takes to be a good, supportive bookish presence on social media, and that maybe it would be better for me to just step away.
I am not posting this as any sort of bid for sympathy or rallying cries of “Oh, no, Ellie, you’re great!” – I am writing it to clear my head, and, perhaps, to illustrate that we all have these wobbles. How can we deal with that nagging guilt as the TBR pile gets bigger and bigger, as does the list of reviews to write and blog posts to schedule and bookstacks to take pictures of?
In my case (and we’re all different, that’s one of the things I love most about the book blogging community) I think it is about remembering why I do this. I love books, I love interacting with other readers and authors and getting excited about great reads. Any tiny little contribution I can make towards that hugely positive feeling of sharing enthusiasm about books is worthwhile, and if I sometimes don’t post on Instagram or don’t quite manage to read a book before publication date, as long as I’m enjoying it and doing my best, it’s okay.
I’ll always honour blog tour commitments and proofs I’ve requested – blog tour organisers work SO hard, and deserve a level of professionalism that matches theirs, and getting ARCs is an absolute privilege. I am in awe of some of my fellow bloggers who manage to fit in so many blog tours – more than a couple a month makes me a bit jittery! If I ask for a proof, I make sure it’s one I would buy anyway (and I usually end up doing so to support the author) and will never take for granted the thrill of an early read.
I read about ten books a month, which for me is good going, but it definitely means that sometimes I’m going to fall behind. Not only have I started to get unsolicited proofs (which, by the way, is AMAZING) but authors sometimes reach out and ask if I’ll review their book – and if it sounds interesting, I try to do so, and I feel very lucky to be in this position. But there are also the many, many books I buy for myself and which sit on my shelves for months sighing patiently and waiting for me to have time to give them some love – a lot of these books, I am desperate to read, and sometimes, I feel a bit sad that I haven’t had the chance yet! I’m thinking at some point there will need to be an ARC pause just for a stretch of free-reading, with reviews entirely optional!
I need to remember that there is no obligation here. I actually love messing around taking book pics, I find it a fun, creative thing to do, but if I don’t have time, that’s okay. I want to be a good friend to my fellow bloggers and boost them as much as I can, but the ones that know me will understand if I don’t always manage it. And I think – certainly I hope – that by this stage most publicists and authors know I’m not just out for a free book (I spend approximately ten times more on books since discovering Book Twitter!) so if I don’t get to a book before publication day, I hope I’ll be forgiven!
I am not really sure what the point of this post is! I guess that I’m a person, not a book blogging machine, and that I have a whole host of spinning plates to balance at the moment – two small and very time-consuming kids, a new business, settling into life in a new area, not to mention the small matter of trying to write my own book, and I simply MUST remember to be kind to myself, and not to start feeling guilty about something which is supposed to be fun! The pressure is entirely of my own creation – I very much doubt that there are publicists lying awake at night wondering why “that Ellie hasn’t written her review of the ARC I sent her at least two bloody months ago” – and I need to stop trying to do everything, all the time!
Anyway, if you’ve ever felt bad for not keeping up, I hope maybe this post makes you feel you’re not alone! And hopefully it also explains why I steer clear of NetGalley – as incredible and tempting as it sounds, I don’t need MORE unread books judging me, thank you!
I won’t stop, because I LOVE shouting about books, and I am so happy when authors say thank you for a review or readers say they bought a book because of my review. Those little things mean so much. But mostly, I won’t stop because reading is part of who I am, and sharing it with you all is a pleasure. The guilt is some kind of residue of my need to push myself, my inner critic who, these days, is normally much quieter, and I know I can overcome it and just be happy to be chatting books with you all.
As for the massive To Do list, tomorrow is another day…