I don’t do resolutions anymore – life has taught me, they are invariably broken very quickly. But having said that, I do think that the closing of one year and the approaching new one, is an appropriate time to take stock and review. When I did my Review of the Year post it was fun to look back but it also made me think about my blog.
When I started in November 2015, it was ostensibly to bring all my disparate reviews together in one place. I never intended to be a ‘blogger’ and I was surprised, not to mention delighted when I was seen and ‘accepted’ as one by the blogging community. That relationship is one, that has gone from strength to strength. I now count many of those people as friends and have had the pleasure of meeting a number of them in real life. That relationship is one, that extended to include authors and other readers, was one that sustained me over the previous 18 months, and indeed sustained the blog.
So here’s the rub, my blog. My annual review pulled out the best bits and I was happy to celebrate those, but it also pointed out to me the other side. Essentially, aside from Five on Friday, (which I love as a feature and have been proud to see grow) my blog largely comprises of lists of books I’ve bought that I don’t stand an earthly chance of reading. Due to my enforced lack of reading, and poor concentration, my reviewing has been sporadic. In addition, what my ‘review’ also showed me, was that my reviews are the least popular posts on the blog. People have been more engaged by what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I have to say on whatever Twitter storm has hit my radar. That is not to say that no-one looks at the reviews, but I think we are all aware that with so many other bloggers, those books are likely to have been highlighted in other places. While our individual reviews might be unique, the book may well have been featured elsewhere and doesn’t always have the same ‘pull’ as something more original.
This got me thinking again about why I blog and what I want to do going forward. I will admit that briefly (and I do mean briefly) the thought crossed my mind that if I was thinking this way, was it a sign of something more radically wrong. I’m happy to say that I think the answer is no. Being diagnosed with cancer makes you sit back (literally – the treatment means you don’t have the energy for anything else!) and think about life. I think this natural re-assessment of life in general and what I want to do with it was just finally being extended to include the blog.
The thing is, I love my little blog. It might not be the biggest, the blingiest, the go-to, the most mentioned etc. etc. But that doesn’t matter, because I didn’t start it for that reason, and blogging isn’t a competition. We all run our blogs in different ways, we concentrate on different things, we take part in different things and we shout out about different things. That is all as it should be, because they are our own little (or big creations) designed to do whatever we set them up to do. While I set mine up for reviews, it has moved on from that and I need to think about the way forward. Before my illness I did have some ideas of things I’d like to introduce and they fell by the wayside. I think now is the time to look again at some of those ideas and how they might work.
Consequently the answer to the question to blog or not to blog is a resounding yes. It’s just I’ll be shaking things up a bit. I’ll still have my book hauls, and there will (as long as I can persuade authors to take part) be Five on Friday and when I actually read a book, hopefully a review. But I want to broaden the scope. I love travel and I love history (I’m the proud possessor of two history degrees, it would be nice to put some of those research skills to good use). I was also a cataloguer and librarian so I want to start introducing some features that draw on those interests and skills while still shouting out about books. One of my original ideas was to do features on properties and places with literary links – title yet to be decided but I’m sorely tempted by ‘Piles of Literature’ or ‘Literary Piles’. I’d love to write about some of my travels and favourite places to be accompanied by an appropriate reading list. I think generally I’d like the blog to be a bit more individual, and personal, but still in a bookish way. That would seem to play to the strengths of the features that appeared to be popular, while giving me more scope to expand and explore areas I’m interested in.
I’ve got some other one off features in the pipe-line too, so watch this space and wish me luck. I just hope you’re all still here at the end of the year to let me know whether it actually worked.