My Musings

Jaded by Blogging

jadedbyblogging

I decided to take a break from both blogging and social media over this past weekend and yesterday, I doubt any of you even noticed but I wasn’t around with my usual humour and sarcasm. It took over a year of blogging but I had my first case of minor blogger burnout, guilt and feeling jaded and despondent. I found myself questioning why I was even bothering to blog.

I’m not entirely sure that it was all down to blogging as I wasn’t in the best place myself, the two poems that I posted on the Wednesday and Thursday (Empty Throne and Darkness Decides) attest to this and my unhappiness. Yes, for those unaware I’m not always a happy person and the dark poetry that I post isn’t simply ‘words’ but a cathartic measure to bleed emotion through the written word, it’s better out than festering within and a creative outlet, a lot of the time they aren’t just ‘words’ and have feelings and emotion written into them.

Yes, I’m fully aware that they are simple rhyming poems but no-one ever said that words needed to be elaborate to convey meaning and ‘when darkness decides, and the only way out, is to let go of life’ holds just as much meaning as a long paragraph in eloquent prose with big words when writing about feelings.

Anyhow, I digress, I do have a tendency to babble! 🙂

While I wasn’t in the best headspace, I was also feeling jaded with blogging, there’s been a lot of hating on bloggers recently and it’s not on, we are all readers who read for the love of it, there’s enough people out there who think that reading is stupid, silly and boring as it is without readers ganging up on other readers.

The same goes for author harassment, most will know that I wrote a post on blogger bashing and then another on author harassment due to events in the blogging community. In a recent comment to the harassment post a blogger actually said that they were surprised that it happens as we are helping the authors and giving up are free time in doing so. And they are completely and utterly right! We do this for free in our spare time and put effort into creating posts for these authors and then on occasion we get repaid with abuse. It’s sad, we are all adults and have our own opinions, our own opinions are valid, whether you agree or not, if you can’t accept honest feedback then maybe reconsider being an author as I’m fairly certain that there isn’t a single book that has ever been released that hasn’t received negative comments about it at some stage. Likewise if we don’t want to read and review your book, please accept this, there are only 24 hours in a day and blogging like reading is a hobby, there is only so much we can do and only so many we can help while still finding time for life and reading what we want.

I used to reply to every author email that I got, even after I closed my blog to review requests as I thought it was the polite thing to do, then I started to question, my policy clearly states that I am closed to review requests, it’s even in bold to make it stand out yet it was being ignored, and I finally decided why should I waste my time replying and saying ‘no thanks’ when authors obviously haven’t read my policy or they have read it and not respected it, as it clearly states that I am closed to requests.

I’m open to having authors on my blog for interviews, guest posts and book extracts, I like to think that I help them that way but when they ignore that part of the policy and just ask for a review, sorry but no, I won’t reply anymore. I fully understand that you have a book that you want to publicise but when a blogger isn’t open to reviews but states that they will help you in other ways then please accept the other ways and contact that blogger about them, not just for a review, we can’t read every book but we can offer you the chance to be on our blogs for other types of posts.

You may well want reviews but sadly we don’t always get what we want, I could write a list of things that I want but alas haven’t got, such is the way of life.

And please don’t harass us, sometimes the offer of a free book isn’t worth the chance of hassle over a negative review, we are here to help but it is our spare and free time, we don’t get paid and while this sounds harsh, it really isn’t meant to but you aren’t doing us any favours by asking us to review your book, yes, we might get a great book that we love and find an awesome author who’s books we will now consider a must-read, but while it is a mutually beneficial relationship a lot of the time it is also us doing you a favour by having you on our blogs and not the other way around, we are giving you free promotion and exposure. Now, if George RR Martin or JK Rowling asked to appear on our blog then yes, they would be doing us a massive favour but for the more obscure indie authors out there, you help us and we help you, no hassle for any blogger from now on please.

I guess that this is the sort of seedy underbelly of the blogging community, taking place away from the eyes of most of us and it’s sad, so very sad. Quite a few bloggers have issues and illness and use blogging as escapism, for fun and to be part of something that they enjoy. I’m not sure that’s necessarily true for me, yes I can be unhappy at times but generally my demons and me have a mutual relationship where we get by and live in harmony with each other, and while the poetry I write is cathartic (yeah, I mentioned that earlier, told you I repeat myself), blogging is just something that I usually enjoy and isn’t escapism (reading is though, journeying to fantasy worlds and leaving behind the shit that is reality) but whatever we get out of blogging and whatever the reason that we do it, we should be able to do it in peace, and not worry about being trolled, bashed or harassed.

I think both the blogger bashing and harassing made me question blogging as it tarnished the community, it’s bullying and it shouldn’t be acceptable in the world we live in today, hiding behind a computer screen and trolling, it’s wrong dudes and dudettes!

I don’t regret the two posts that I wrote on these subjects, far from it, as they helped, were and are important subjects that need to be addressed in the blogging community and the outpouring of support was overwhelming. But…..I’m not sure how I came across in them as I know that I can be blunt, sarcastic and opinionated to the extreme, I meant every word that I wrote and would follow through on it to if it sadly came to that, but part of me feels that I tarnished myself with how I worded the posts. I’m like the bad boy loner of blogging which I’m fine with but I’ve tried to establish a halfway decent little blog with The Tattooed Book Geek, and I’d like to think that my blog is known for meaningful poetry, good if somewhat informal reviews and helping indie authors and felt that may have been ruined by my bluntness on various subjects, and I guess that over the last few weeks I have been questioning that if my blog now has a bad reputation, then is there any reason to blog? I don’t want the first thing people associate with The Tattooed Book Geek to be that the blogger is an asshole.

Another thing I’ve found recently that has gotten me down is helping out authors, I’m happy to have you on my blog (as I previously wrote, see I repeat and babble on) but a couple of weeks ago I posted for an author and then they didn’t even bother to share the post in any groups (but were commenting on other posts I might add) or share on social media, but when I emailed them the link to the post I never got a response which to me is rude, I know people are busy but a simple thank you would have been nice especially as it takes time to draft up and format an actual post. Which brings me to another point, I don’t generally do blog tours now after one really bad experience a few months ago, I had agreed to post for a tour at 9am in the morning and only received the things that I needed for the post at 6pm the other day, I got an apology from the publicist but it was still taking liberties that I should jump to attention and draft a post the night before it was due to be posted, please give me the stuff so that I have time to draft up posts when I want within reason, leeway either side is always acceptable, the night before is not.

This also applies to having authors on the blog, not the authors themselves but the lack of content they send, I’m not lazy, none of us are, when reviewing we get the book cover, blurb and purchase links, it’s what we do but when you have agreed to appear on my blog, even if you don’t send the book info, please don’t just send me the barebones post content, for example the guest post you wrote and nothing else. I shouldn’t have to be chasing up and finding an author picture, bio and social media links, you should be sending them with the post content, I’m fairly sure that you would complain if I just posted what you sent and didn’t bother to get all the other information. But I shouldn’t have to get that myself, book info, fine, info about you, not fine, send it, promote yourself. Give me the things that I need to do it, otherwise the next time it happens I might well just post what you send, send you the link and then when you reply asking why there is no additional info about you and your work…….well…..I’m not the one that didn’t send it now am I!

Simply put, let me help you by you helping me, and please send me all the things that I need to help you, ya dig dawg. Also, my blog is The Tattooed Book Geek, I am Drew, let’s get my name right, and not refer to me by my blog name, a small modicum of respect isn’t much to ask, please!

I’ve also found myself tired of writing reviews, I’m not the quickest review writer that there is, far from it, I’m probably one of the slowest but like everything else with blogging it just takes time up that could be spent doing something else. I’d like to think that I’ve improved my writing from my first few months, but I will never be a formal and eloquent writer with perfect prose that puts out doctorate level reviews, I’m just me, hi I’m Drew! An informal guy with an informal style, poor grammar and at times dodgy spelling but a genuine book lover, and I’ve found myself questioning if my reviews and writing are good enough to have on a blog and questioning yourself each and every post is very tiring, it drains you.

Another thing that perhaps attributed to me being jaded was down to ARC’s (advanced reader copies – for those unaware) I had finished Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, a truly outstanding must-read book and I was left asking myself, now what do I want to read next? This had been going on before Red Sister though, luckily it was such a great book and it made me want to read but I’d messed my shoulder up and while I got through work each day, I didn’t feel like blogging or doing anything constructive, luckily I’d got posts planned, scheduled and drafted else I wouldn’t have posted anything and being completely honest, writing a blog post would have been the last thing on my mind.

I didn’t actually read anything for near a week after finishing Red Sister, perhaps it was a book hangover which is a term that I have seen used on various blogs before when finishing an amazing book, I don’t know, but it made me think to myself should I be reading one of the various books that I have got even if I don’t feel really like it, reading should be fun and the fact that I wasn’t reading made me feel guilty as I have all these wonderful (hopefully) books to read and yet didn’t want to pick one up, should I feel that way when I do this for fun and it isn’t a job?

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some ARC’s, hello mailing lists! Yeah, some fruit loops actually added me to their mailing lists, shocker right! But I am a mood reader and often will read what I want regardless of the release date, while I am sure some of you will disagree with that, we are all individuals and I am a firm believer in reading what I want, when I want, and I just didn’t know what I wanted to read next and was asking myself should I be reading just because I have a book blog?

There are plenty of blogs and bloggers out there who have ARC’s from months and even years ago that they haven’t read yet, it’s irrelevent if they are NetGalley books or paper books before anyone says otherwise, an ARC is an ARC no matter if it’s paper or ebook, and those out there with hundreds of old NetGalley books that seem to think it is an affront to blogging when a blogger has a single out of date paper ARC, nah, they are both the same, don’t hate on us for it! No, I am not slandering NetGalley before anyone thinks that, it’s a wonderful site, I personally don’t use it as after reading three straight books with terrible formatting last year I gave up on it, but I know that request button often screams at you to press it and request, just like a press release email also screams at you to accept. Of course we do read lots of books before the release date (when we receive them in time to do so) but indie authors often offer free books to review months and even years after release to get some publicity, and just because we miss a release date (I have been told before that it doesn’t even matter) the world isn’t going to end if we don’t read the book before release, it’s not a catastrophe of biblical proportions, and we shouldn’t feel guilty over it.

I think what I’m getting at is that, a book review is promotion for a book whenever you review the book, be it before the release date or a year afterwards, and if anyone ever receives unsolicited books through publishers or even indie authors that you have worked with before, you are under no obligation whatsoever to read the books, hell, you don’t even have to look at them, they have merely been sent as you are on the mailing list and the publicist thinks that you might like it for review consideration.

I feel that I just felt guilty for not reading for a few days, suffering guilt over not even picking up a book, I know it seems really stupid when I write it down, I don’t get paid to do this, so why should I feel guilt over something I do for free, and for fun? If you do it for free and the fun goes then what is left, when you lose the love of something it makes it nothing.

I’d also read a few posts about blogger guilt recently too, as I’ve just alluded to in the above section I felt guilty for not reading, but thinking on it, I had also started to feel some guilt over other bloggers sharing my posts, I’m not the best sharer I fully admit that, like I’m not the best commenter either, surely a ‘like’ of a post is enough when you have read it if you have nothing much to say? There’s only so many times you can write a comment like ‘great review’ before it loses meaning but a like shows that you have read and enjoyed the post, and if it’s a book that I have read or am interested in reading then I try my best to write a decent comment, likewise with discussion posts, for them I am always happy to offer my opinion. 🙂

But sharing, I mean on social media, mainly Twitter, thanking everyone who shares can get a bit overwhelming at times and you can lose track of who shared and who retweeted. I know lots of people go through and thank each sharer individually, which is a nice and polite thing to do but lots don’t either, and should we feel guilt over this? I often write just a ‘thank you to everyone who shared today’ tweet or group a bunch of people in a tweet and thank them, is that wrong, should I thank each and everyone individually? Does it not lose some of its shine, lustre and personal touch when you do it time and time and time again, thanks for sharing, thank for sharing, thanks for sharing. Believe me it is always appreciated by every blogger who has their posts shared, it is part of the wonderful book blogging community but do we really need to constantly thank each other? We know that it is appreciated, and it is often time-consuming scrolling through the notifications to find every share, should we all not just accept that it is appreciated, and not feel the need to constantly say thank you without coming across as rude? I’ll just put this out there, to everyone who has ever shared my posts, and for all the future shares, thank you, I have and always will appreciate it, it means a lot that you bother with me and my blog, you are all stars!

But if you constantly thank everyone for sharing, you then get other people who follow you that moan about it clogging up your feed, and subsequently stop following you due to it, it’s a no win. Same for commenting, I’m not the best, I admit, but at times it feels like that unless you are part of a bloggers clique, they don’t want to know you, and then, you read post after post about commenting, thoughtful, long comments, etc, sometimes we just don’t have much to say, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t liked the post, just we don’t know what to say about it, then that seems wrong, but, on occasion, you leave long comments and then get no reply, another no win situation. I always try and offer decent comments on discussion posts, most of us do, it’s what a discussion post is for, to discuss. Yet, it sometimes seems that if you disagree with the blogger who posted the discussion, then they won’t reply. I get not replying if someone wrote “I disagree, you are wrong” but if someone writes you a thoughtful comment with their point of view, then even if it’s different to yours, it’s polite to reply, can’t just comment on the people who agree with you, that isn’t what a discussion is about.I guess, it feels like that whatever you do with sharing and commenting, it often never feels like it is good enough, you can’t please everyone, I know that, but it really seems with blogging that at times you can’t please anyone.

We all do this because we love reading and for fun! If something that we do for fun turns into a chore and something that feels draining, then we stop, we take a step back and try to regain our enjoyment, chill out, do some other things, sometimes we all need a break. I spent the weekend and yesterday away from blogging and social media, no reading posts, no writing posts, no reading, just catching up with TV series (I still prefer The Flash to Arrow, TWD is better than it was but still fairly boring, and Black Sails is freaking awesome), a few films I’d recorded (sigh, watching Young Guns II really made me wish that Red Dead Redemption 2 was already here) and chilling on the PS4 while listening to music, a much needed break, I think I’m feeling a bit better about blogging again now, and this venting has also helped so thank you for reading. 

Has anyone else felt this way about any of the things mentioned in the post? How do you cope if blogging gets too much? have you ever felt jaded by blogging? Chat with me bookish people!

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