Jules: Yep, we’re having an identity crisis here at 7-Imp. Actually, we had one. Ultimately, it’s turned out to be a really good thing.
So, here’s my deal: Blogging has always been something I’ve done for fun; that means it has to fall behind my family and my work. My workload has recently doubled, and I’ve had to re-prioritize. I simply don’t have time to post a review of almost every book I read, which is pretty much what I have been doing for almost two years now.
To summarize: When I didn’t work so many hours, things looked like this —
- My family and friends.
- Work that pays.
It seems these days I only have time for:
- My family and friends.
- Work that pays.
HOWEVER, I’m not going to lie. When my workload increased and I didn’t have time to blog (I think I posted only once last week), I was surprised to be relieved about it. Though I am extremely grateful for review copies, we’ve kinda been drowning in them (no fault but our own). And here’s what I’ve been thinking lately when I walk into the bookstore or library, in particular the adult fiction section (yes, once upon a time, I read books for adults):
“Oh, wow! That looks so good. But…well, bummer. I don’t have time to read that.”
HUBBA WHA? WUBBA HUH? Here’s what’s going on: I feel obligated to the review copies that I either requested or agreed to accept. And I know, I know—before someone points this out—that I don’t NEED to feel that way, but I’m sorry. Welcome to my brain. I do. An author busts his or her ass to write a book and asks us to consider it for review and we say sure or a publisher sends it to us for free? I start to feel really guilty if I don’t read it. And let me repeat: I know I put that upon myself, but it’s a fact that I do, so I need to do some adjusting here.
And I’ve also felt obligated to write about these books after I read them (even if I find fault with the writing), and I just really, REALLY want to read something and not have to report on it. To be thrilled about reading a book and then putting it down, instead of spending one or two hours to write about it….well, that tells me something. I feel like I’m doing to myself what we do to children when we give them programs like Accelerated Reader: Don’t just read and enjoy it. You must take a quiz now. I know I’M DOING THAT TO MYSELF. It’s no one else’s fault. But I’m kinda tired of myself and my reviews right now.
I need a break. I need to scale back big-time and re-discover why we started blogging to begin with.
Fortunately, Eisha’s on the same page. Right, E?
eisha: Um, been there for about a year and a half, J. Actually, I’ve been on the verge of dropping out of the blog entirely because I felt ridiculous having my name up there next to yours, when I just don’t have it in me to churn out the reviews you do. Part of it has been the time factor: while we’ve been blogging, I’ve either had a full-time job or been temping full-time while looking for a job. I’m a slow and easily-distracted writer, so for me to write a full-fledged detailed uber-linked review takes hours: pretty much an entire evening, maybe two. I just couldn’t produce at the same volume you did, and it made me feel guilty, and like I should just let this blog be yours and be done with it.
And I believe I might have mentioned to you once or thirty-eight-thousand times that I thought you maybe made too much of the obligations you felt to review every book you received, but I still felt some of that guilt too. I’ve also been getting kind of resentful: of the fact that I kept reading books that I’d never have chosen to read on my own, that I felt guilty when I picked up a book I had no intention of blogging about, that the blog took up all my free time — the way it became another job, basically.
But I couldn’t seem to give up the co-reviews. Those were what I wanted to do from the beginning, what I envisioned when you talked me into the blog in the first place, and I would have missed them terribly. I just love talking about books with you, no matter the forum. And since we’ve started co-reviewing and tri-reviewing with other people – that’s also still fun. I guess I still crave the back-and-forth dialogue about books, I just don’t enjoy writing solo reviews.
So, I’ve been in a slow, guilt-ridden version of what you’re talking about for a while now, feeling like I should quit but not quite being able to do it, but still not feeling like I was meeting up to expectations or obligations. I’m actually so relieved that you want to scale back. Obviously I’ve already scaled back a lot as far as my contributions go, but now it feels more official, and like we’re on the same page. Or at least in the same chapter.
I still love to read, and I still love to talk about books. But yeah, I want to focus more on the co-reviews and tri-reviews. An occasional interview is cool, too. And I do love doing Poetry Fridays – for some reason this has never felt like a burden or stressed me out. The Kicks are good, too.
Bottom line: let’s make this blog fun for US again.
Jules: You can’t see, but we’re joining hands and singing “Kumbayah.”
Really, yes, you’re right, Eisha. Scaling back will be good. And, man, if you had requested to back out of 7-Imp, I would’ve cried. Big ‘ol tears.
And, for anyone who actually may be reading this long thing, we realize how whiny we might sound. We understand review copies are a good thing and are open to receiving some, and we are grateful to the publishing community—and community of authors—for sending them. I also feel like I need to stress one more time that I’m aware I put that obligation to read all them (well, most of them — I don’t feel guilty about the ones I never asked for) upon myself and that authors and publishers don’t expect us to read every single one. But if someone sends me something for free, I feel like I need to do something in return. It’s only fair. And, since it’s drastically altered our reading habits in ways we’re not always thrilled about, this is why we’re going to cut back.
So, does this mean we’re going to stop blogging? No. I, for one, really dig the illustrator interviews and feauturing artists — picture book or otherwise. I’m going to let that be my focus for a bit. It’s something that brings me joy and is not as time-consuming, since my new seven-questions-over-breakfast illustrator interview is a format. My workload has increased, but it’s not as difficult to post an illustrator interview, due to the way I set the questionnaire up.
And, like Eisha said, we’re going to keep co-reviewing — we’ll have a tri-review this week, in fact, that was really fun to write. And if one of us feels like sounding a barbaric yawp on our cyber-rooftop about a book (and has time to!), we will.
But will I be posting almost daily and writing a slew ‘o’ reviews? Nope. Not for now at least.
Eisha, have we covered it all? Do we sound insufferably whiny? Think people are rolling their eyes at us now?
eisha: Oh yeah. But hey, how better to herald the New Age of Imp than with a healthy dose of self-indulgent rambling that no one else cares about? Whatever, it’s our blog again, dude.
Jules: There’s always this anyway to remind ourselves not to take ourselves too seriously: