Jan 26, 2018

I struggle to find my place in the changing dynamics of the book blogging community

Before I start this post, I want to say that this is my personal musings, and I am not speaking for anyone. Nor am I trying to make a statement. If you have any opinions, feel free to comment or @ me on twitter.

The book blogging community is always changing. People come and go, our focus shifts, our discussions differ and our methods evolve. Sometimes we consciously change along time, and sometimes we are just blindly taken along the ride. Sometimes we don't even know that things have changed, but at times, like now for me, we become aware of it, and wonder what the hell we are doing with our blogs.

I started Chasing Faerytales in December 2014. I had a blog before that for a short time, so I can safely say that I've been around in the blogging community for around 5 years now. I have seen a lot of things changing along the years, and it suddenly makes me feel so old. We talk about different things now, and the overall atmosphere of our discussions have changed a great deal.

Now this is not a post where I lament about how I miss the olden days where we talked about random things, and conversations on twitter were just about the books we read, and the characters we adore. I'd be the last person to say that. The discussions we embark in right now, whether it is regarding diversity, problematic aspects in books, issues in publishing etc. are extremely important, and I am glad that we are talking about them.

But here's the thing, somewhere along the line, as the dyamics of the book blogging community changed, I feel like I've lost the unique identity I had as a blogger. Not that I was some hot shot popular name who was iconic for something, I was anything but. But I knew what I was doing and who I was. I reviewed books I read and loved, was known for quality discussion posts, had a wonderful group of friends and more than anything, I knew I had a voice that was being heard.

But now, I am not so sure. I keep reading and reviewing ARCs like I am doing a job. Apart from the historical romances I read as my guilty pleasure here and there, I have stopped reading backlist books altogether. It's been ages since I visited a bookstore and actually bought a book from my TBR. Don't get me wrong, I love the ARCs I read, I only recommend them wholeheartedly if I did enjoy them, but there's no more spontaneity and frankly no fun in reviewing for me anymore.

My discussion posts have become more and more scarce. I just hope that I haven't lost that mojo altogether. Half of my friends have disappeared from twitter, and while I love the ones who I still have contact with, I can't help but miss the friendships I made as an amateur blogger, learning things and making mistakes together, and having long conversations in each others' comment sections. And for the voice? Sometimes I feel like I am screaming into a void, and honestly that's what scares me the most.

Am I still relevant? Do I even add anything valuable to the community and its discussions? I keep asking that to myself every day. I recently shared the sentiment on twitter as well, and lot of you agreed, saying that you relate to it. And some of you beautiful souls tried to assure me that I am indeed relevant. To the former, I feel you. To the latter group, I love you.

I feel like we have come to a point where there's a constant pressure to say the right things. There's zero tolerance to mistakes, and unless and otherwise you have a 100% knowledge, insight and experience of the subject matter, you better not say anything at all. There are days when I - a POC blogger who has been involved in this discussion for so long now - am scared to tweet or voice out an opinion. I used to have confidence in what I say in this community. I knew that my opinions were valued, and in case I make mistakes, I'll be corrected and not condescended. Now? I can't help but think multiple times before I talk about anything.

Is it my fault that I just unintentionally and gradually silenced myself? Maybe I just caused my own voice to fade into oblivion. I can't even discover at what point I started facing this existential crisis in the blogging community.

I even wondered whether it's because of my age. I entered this community as a very confused, lonely, desolate 15 year old, dealing with depression and desperate for an escape. Now I am almost 20, and in a much better place than I was 5 years ago. I am no longer the target audience for YA, and my views have certainly matured from those of my teen years. But scarily enough, I can't help but wonder whether I am finally growing out of the community.

One of my closest blogger friends, who quit blogging around 2 years ago, surprised me when she told the reason why she quit. She started the blog when she felt like she had no friends. But now she has found the right people in real life, and the blog and community has served its purpose and she no longer needs their sanctuary. That's more or less the same case with me now, but I stick around because I also love my blog, and I love my friends and readers.

I've always been prepared for a day in the future where I might quit being a book blogger. But still the thought scares me. I also wonder whether I have actually lost the passion and just holding onto an illusion out of sheer desperation. But how in the world can I leave all of you guys, who have been some of my greatest friends in life? I have seen my friends grow, graduate, get married, have babies - it's like a second family, and honestly that thought alone pulls me right back in.

So the verdict, I am definitely not going anywhere. However, I still don't where I stand. And if I figure that out, I'll definitely let you guys know.

If you stayed to read the whole thing, thank you. I've been plagued by these thoughts for so long now, and really wanted to let it all out. And if you do feel the same way, do let me know without hesitation. We need figure some things out.

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