Apologies if this turns into a bit of a rambling post, but I’ve got lots of different thoughts I’m trying to process and I’m not sure I’m likely to present them coherently, but here goes anyway.
When I started this blog it was primarily a place to keep my reviews together. As my confidence grew I added other posts and features, it became more personal and hopefully it became a reflection of me and my bookish interests. However recently I’ve started to feel that something is amiss. My stats (for what they’re worth) show more visits than ever, but it’s not about the stats, it’s about the feel of the blog and more importantly about how I feel about it. How do I feel about it? If I’m honest I suppose I’m a bit ambivalent. There are features I love and others that have become more labour than love, and that’s not how it should be.
Part of the problem goes back to when I was ill and how I started to move the blog away from reviews (for various previously recorded reasons) and towards other bookish features. For the most part I was happy with the posts and the features I had. But more recently that’s changed. As all of the features are of my own creation, anything I’m not happy with is down to me, so I suspect I’ve changed as well.
For the past year, I’ve been trying to get a better work/life balance. I worked throughout my cancer treatment for the most part, and because I work from home, I could be flexible. What I found was that my part-time hours instead of being worked over 2-3 days were being spread over 4-5 days with lazy morning start as I could cope with that better. The problem was once I was through treatment, that pattern largely persisted and I was struggling to find the time to blog and to cope with the things that needed doing at home. While I’m more Quentin Crisp than Mrs Hinch when it comes to cleaning, even I was reaching the stage where I couldn’t ignore the dust and cobwebs. So I looked at how I was working and started to put in a more structured week at work to leave me with more time free. Though, it came as no surprise to me, that a large percentage of the newly released free time seems to have been spent on the blog, enlarging existing features such as my “Published This Week” feature and introducing new ones such as my “Indie Publishers” listings.
The realisation that I really needed to think again about balancing things was brought home to me in the past month. Before I went away I struggled to get all my regular posts done in advance and even took extra time off to try and get them done. But then while I was away I was surprised (if not shocked) by the stats for the two ‘Published This Week’ posts. The stats showed that approximately the usual number of people clicked on the post, but because I’d added a link to the actual title list I was able to see how many people actually clicked through. With the first post, where I’d explained how I go about choosing titles, only 14% clicked through, and the following week where I placed the link nearer the top, 30% followed through. I’d been blithely carrying on with this feature thinking that it served a useful purpose, based on the number of visits, now I’m not so sure. Maybe people weren’t that interested if they couldn’t be bothered clicking through to see what was being published – the whole purpose of the post. If my blog was attracting thousands of visits, maybe 14% would still be lots of people and therefore worth the effort, but it doesn’t and now I’m asking myself whether it merits losing my weekends to get the post together. So, with apologies to those lovely people who do use the list, I’m sorry, but this is one of the features which will be seeing changes.
The way I feel about the blog is also partly linked to something I read earlier this year, regarding book blogs. Before I go any further with this point I want to stress quite clearly I am not taking a pop at the author, I made my comments at the time and the author amended the post. I also fully appreciate that the point being made was aimed at the growing culture of posting images to promote books instead of a review. It was just a poorly chosen, repeated phrase that was used namely “how can you call yourself a book blogger if you don’t review any books?” I know it wasn’t aimed at blogs like mine, but it stung and I’ll admit I got quite upset. Maybe because it hit a nerve as since I stopped reviewing I’ve felt I’m not a ‘real’ book blogger. I think all the new features and extra work has been my way of trying to compensate, and possibly over compensate for something I don’t actually need to compensate for in the first place – if that makes sense. Maybe it was a wake up call for me, a reminder that blogging isn’t a competition and my blog is my blog, for posting what I want and not what I think other people want.
So if you’ve waded through all that waffle, thank you. I guess what it’s all leading up to is a decision to go back to basics. To pull back from features that drain my time, and enthusiasm, so that I have time for the things I have ideas about but no time for, bookish or otherwise. I’d also like more time to actually read, just on the off chance I might fancy attempting the odd review. I want the blog to get back to being an extension of me, I think it has lost its way and its personality to some degree. I also want to use more of my free time at home for family as they need more quality time too. So going forward if I’m a bit quieter than usual, or missing from social media I’m just balancing!