7-Imp’s Identity Crisis

h1 July 14th, 2008 by Eisha and Jules

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 —

  1. My family and friends.
  2. Work that pays.
  3. Blogging.

It seems these days I only have time for:

  1. My family and friends.
  2. 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:

48 comments to “7-Imp’s Identity Crisis”

  1. Boy–I certainly fellowfeel. Even writing my journal sometimes feels like a burden. How do daily columnists, sermon writers, and comic strip artists manage? I ask myself.

    But. . .but. . .as a dedicated reader of 7 Imps (and an always hopeful author who would love a mention) I will miss the massive number of and depth of the reviews.


  2. Here’s one thought guys – you put way more into your reviews and their presentation than most of us. That makes your blog beautiful but when I think of how much time that takes….well, I go all out when I put two illustrations up at Chasing Ray!

    I think you do a lot here and that might be part of it. I rarely write as much as you do about a book – either at my site or in my column. So that might be something to think about….maybe cut yourselves some slack by not being so indepth. (You could still do some mega reviews once or twice a month maybe but on “ordinary days” maybe not so much.)

    Also, with your Seven Kicks thing on Sunday you are only giving yourselves one day a week off which is pretty unusual compared to everyone else. Most of the blogosphere sleeps on the weekends – if you want to keep that, maybe move it to Mondays so Sat & Sun are no blogging days.

    And I love you both madly and would miss you so if you were gone……… 🙂

  3. Oh, wow, I was SO afraid that you were going to say you were going to close down 7-Imp altogether. (Please, never do that!)

    But I totally understand and sympathize with all you’ve said. I’ve always wondered, because of all the beautifully presented, in-depth, thorough reviewing here, how you possibly managed — with jobs, family, etc., to maintain such a high standard, how you managed to read so many books and write with such passion about all of them!! I appreciate your candor about feeling obligated to review books you might not have wanted to write about in the first place. As readers, we want you to be happy bloggers, not pressured, stressed out ones. There is a danger of taking oneself too seriously, especially with so many blogs “competing” for readership. However you decide to scale back, whatever your new priorities may be, this is indeed YOUR blog. I, for one, can’t wait to see what you’ll have in store for us next!

  4. Pheeeewwww… I thought it was just me. I feel like I am so burdened I don’t even want to open the book for fear I won’t have time to review it. I have no idea how I ever reviewed one book a day last summer. I must have been VERY bored.

  5. Ladies,

    I surely understand why you have to scale back. I felt I had to do the same thing at my blog. Like Eisha, it can take me a day or two to write an extended review of a poetry or picture book. I was neglecting housework…and my own poetry writing. Still, I enjoy being part of the kidlitosphere.

    I love 7-Imp and its authors. I’m glad you’ll still be around for your reader fans like me.

  6. Hey you two!

    I totally know the feeling of scrambling and scrambling and never feeling caught up. Life is so full of wonderful projects and opportunities and it would be so great to do it all. But our kids are only young once and there are so many happy memories to be made in such a short time, I think it is very wise to look at our plate occasionally and make sure we’re spending our precious time in a way we’ll feel happy about when we’re older and our children are grown and gone.

    Congratulations on taking the time to notice what was going on, to think about your options and to take steps to correct the situation!!

    7imp is so wonderfully, artistically, creatively, humourously, amazingly intelligently put together that I often wear myself out entirely just trying to imagine all the energy you put into it. Then there are the billions of comments that you attract and somehow manage to read and respond to (in an equally awesome way).

    And, as Neil Gorman says, your-blog-is-not-a-*^-toaster, so I’m very glad that you are renovating it — and not tossing it.

    Have a fabulous summer!

  7. Jules and Eisha,
    I’m so glad you’re scaling back on your blog content, not only for your sake, but for mine: I’ve felt in the past while that I’ve not had a chance just to sit down and enjoy blog posts, but had to read through them quickly so that I could get to all of them. So, please feel rest assured that there is a benefit to some of your readers, too.

  8. Amazingly, I’ve been thinking along these lines this summer also. I nearly cried yesterday when I stared down at the review copies that lay unread, unreviewed. I, too, felt guilty. You all are soooo amazing. Your blog is amazing. Your posts are amazing. Perhaps, if you write fewer posts, I can keep up with reading them. 🙂 I’m glad you’ll still be with us.

  9. I think every blogger knows exactly what you are talking about. Limited time, only so much to do.

    So please keep doing 7 Imp; and I look forward to the renovations and changes. Discovering the right balance is key…and it is something I am still working on!

  10. What is this “tired” of which you speak? Naw, I’m kidding. Can’t blame you either. You guys churn out MASSIVE amounts of stuff. Always makes me feel like I’m not doing enough in my own posts. It’s somewhat of a relief to hear that you’re only human. Still, to have done it for this long at the rate that you were doing it still implies superpowers somewhere.

    In any case, I’m just relieved that you’ll still be around.

  11. I too was worried I was going to be reading about the end of 7 imp! I’m glad we’ll still get to read joint reviews (so much fun) but you will get back in touch with guilt-free reading.

  12. I agree with Fuse that you guys have superpowers, and I’m with everyone else in the support. I’ll keep reading 7-Imp no matter what or how often you post.

  13. Wouldn’t it be cool if teachers read this and stopped requiring students to do AR? Or if they realized that when they force students to read they are NOT instilling a love of reading but, as you say, makiing it a job?

    You can’t inspire us if you are too tired for yourselves. So, take care of yourselves and we will be here.

  14. J&E, like Liz said, I think that we all know where you’re coming from. Since ALA I’ve been feeling much guilt/pressure about the review books (and yes, I know I brought it on upon myself, but still…).

    Mheir was away this weekend, and I pretty much worked on the blog all weekend. It was enjoyable, except … for the little voice saying “remember when you would just read books on a weekend like this? Doesn’t that Eyes of a King book sound good? But, oh, you should read PaperTowns, since you have it, and so many people love it.”Yeah, I know where you’re coming from, and I wish you all the best in finding the right balance. And I’m glad that you’ll still be here, blogging when you can enjoy it, without letting it take over your lives.

    And by the way, thanks for being so open about your thoughts on all of this (not that I’m surprised) – I think it’s helpful for us all to get some perspective.

  15. I had to read to the end just to be sure that we would still have 7-Imp in some form. I join the chorus in saying we’re glad we’ll still have 7-Imp.

    As is so often the case, you voice what so many of us are feeling … and doing it with flare!

  16. I really hear where you’re coming from, Jules and Eisha. I’ve been struggling with this a bit myself. I also feel an obligation to review the books I receive (though I never review a book I really don’t like), and my reviews take a while to write. I don’t seem to know how to write short reviews. And I’ve had books piling up and piling up all around me, while life gets in the way, so I, too, have felt guilty.

    And I, too, like the rest of you, miss reading books just for pleasure. For fun.

    But what I was thinking when I read your post was–if you just review the books that you can, when you can, without stressing, and let go of the guilt over the books you can’t and won’t review, then you’re still helping books be noticed and putting out good stuff about kids’ books on the net, and, hopefully, reducing your stress/guilt level….

    Thansk for the good and honest conversation.

  17. Jac and Bono and I think that you should get Latawnya the Naughty Horse to start blogging for you. Apparently she’s learned how to say no to lots things besides drugs, and might have some fresh insights.
    Just a thought.

  18. Yup.
    *nod nod nod*
    If it’s not giving back as much as you’re giving it, it’s time to change.

  19. Hi Jules and Eisha,

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. Like others have posted, I’ve been experiencing similar feelings. I’ve actually been reading some books from the library lately, in spite of my ever growing pile of review copies, because I can read them just to enjoy them, and not feel stressed about reviewing them.

    Hang in there, and just post when and what you can. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t review everything. We your blog fans will be here waiting for you when you have time.

  20. It’s good to look and see if what you’re doing fits in your life at the present time. I’m on blogs #7,8, and 9 for this reason. It takes time to write long posts and I have other commitments, so I write SHORT posts instead.

    Please don’t feel guilty. Take care of yourself and your family – and the rest will happen as it does. Less is more sometimes.

  21. Ya’ll are all so sweet I can’t stand it. Thanks for the support. It’s so good to know we’re not alone.

  22. Ditto what everyone else says. You two rock! You have many fans–I know I will stand by you and still be a loyal reader. Take care of yourselves!

  23. Thanks to all of you for your nice comments. Thanks very, very much.

    Robby, unfortunately Latawnya can’t help me either. Here’s her new book. God, I’m so going to get sued for that defacing.

    I didn’t mean to be a jerk by not saying right off the bat that we won’t cease blogging. Sorry if that threw anyone at first.

    So, yeah, we’re still around. We’ll still post. We’re just experiencing a paradigm shift. Ultimately, I think it’ll be a good thing.

  24. Hey Imps:

    As you know, I’m going through this very same paradigm shift. And, you know what? It’s going to be just grand. Bring on the library copies, I say 🙂

  25. I love your blog! I’m SO glad you will keep it going!!! Enjoy the summer and treat yourselves to some trashy adult beach reading…

  26. Jules, can I just point out that “paradigm” is supposed to be your least favorite word? And here you made a pretty little poster for it. With Michael Stipe and everything.

  27. i know, i know. i was hoping no one would remember that.

    it’s somehow less irritating to me used here than it was when used ad nauseum in grad school in the context of whether or not Information Science should be discussed using a cognitive or a physical paradigm, to which i still, even having graduated, proclaim: O HOLY CRAP, WHO CARES?

    i didn’t make that poster, by the way. i linked the poster to the place from which i flat-out stole it.

  28. I’m glad you aren’t exiting the blogosphere. I have discovered so many amazing illustrators via your reviews, and for that alone I am delightedly thankful.

  29. Gee, let’s see. I’m weighing in late because time is something I haven’t had in quite a while. You’ll have noticed that I haven’t been to a seven kicks for weeks now, largely because I’ve been trying to reclaim my weekends. As everyone else has mentioned, finding balance can be hard, and what you want to do may change over time. That’s okay and to be expected.

    I’m glad you’re taking time for yourselves and your families before this blogging thing. You’ll be happier in the end. And think how happy your readers will be when we get the pieces you’ve really wanted to do and have enjoyed writing!

    Glad you’ll still be here, in whatever form it takes. I’ll certainly keep visiting.

  30. Good vibes to both of you and to each of you and to all seven impossible things you each do on a daily basis. I’m glad that 7-Imp is staying put.

  31. Wow, I’m so grateful that I got the 7 Imps treatment a couple of weeks ago before this all went down.

  32. Whenever and whatever you two blog will be awesome because it will be for the pure joy of it! And this community fully supports your amazing dedication to kidslit : )

  33. Sounds like y’all are sorting it out quite well!

  34. Okay, so I’m late on this, too — I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this same conversation with a.fortis about how she thinks she should maybe quit the blog because she doesn’t produce as much as I do, blah, blah. The thing is, it’s not fun if it’s not both of you, and it’s not your blog if it’s not both of you, and if you’re not happy, there’s SO no point.

    So, here’s to finding the happy medium and all. I have you on Google Reader, so whenever you speak up, I’ll hear ya.


  35. Chiming in way later here, but very glad that 7-Imp will continue. You two are quality through and through, doesn’t matter how much you post. And you have created something really special here at 7-Imp, a place for fans of children’s lit to linger. Your blog is like a roaring fire on a cold day, a good book (one with no need to review), and a cup of cocoa too: warm, sweet and charming. That will stay no matter how often you post.

  36. I feel you, guys. Sorry I wasn’t able to jump on this earlier, been on the Vermont College rez and off the grid. School has forced me to scale back a bit on the blogging (but it’s quadrupled my reading!) so it’s really been a question of time… but… I’ve had people out of the blue, published award winning writers and fellow students, all tell me how wonderful and important the kidlit blog community is. And I feel a little embarrassed by the attention because if I hadn’t found you guys I wouldn’t have been here to hear that, much less blogging. Please, scale back, find a new pace, but hold true. Have fun, yes, but find the heart of the joy that brought you to us.

  37. Since I just discovered 7IMP’s last week, I’m happy to know you aren’t disappearing before I’ve had a chance to join the fun. Alas, even at my age,74, there’s never enough time for everything I want to do, all the stories I want to write, all the books I want to read. Prioritizing has to be the first thing every day, and throwing away guilt (harder) so I can re=prioritize is the second. By then I’m exhausted! Seriously, more power to you. I’ll enjoy whatever you find time to post. And that reminds me, have you read…? Sally

  38. Have been chasing a deadline, been a while since I have been here and was so upset to see this, then realized that I hadn’t been here for a while because I was chasing my deadline.
    Hard to come to grips with my selfishness , but I will try.

    Thank you, thank you, for all you have done. I look forward to whatever comes next.

  39. I read your blog. And I’d miss you. But dudes, if it’s not fun, make it fun.

    And I know whereof you speak. If blogging is taking up too much time and psychic energy, it’s leaving other things to squeeze into the rest of time. And some of those other things are more important.

  40. I am with everyone else of course – I love your blog but I want you to do it the way it’s fun for you. I am also pulling back a bit and trying not to stress about shortening reviews or skipping writing about some of the ones I’m enjoying this summer. Gasp! That’s even hard to write here.

    I’ll be scaling back or reinventing in the fall too when I’m back in grad school. Friday poetry stays but everything else is up in the air.

    I will really miss you if you’re not blogging, however. What else could replace my bloggy friends?

  41. We’re not going anywhere, we promise!

    Thanks to each of you for the kind messages. There are too many to respond to individually, but big ‘ol thanks from us imps.

  42. Yeah, thanks everyone. Really. This is exactly why I can’t quit – you’re all so great, and I just love hanging out with you.

  43. Hey, I couldn’t ever figure out where you found the time and energy to keep up the pace and quality of 7-imp. I suspect that less would be more, both for you and loyal readers — one or two post(s) a week on the one or two absolute best things you saw or read would be wonderful.

  44. […] Is it possible?! We’re TWO! Two years old! And hey, we just had a little tantrum not too long ago, so I guess we’re developing right on schedule. Walking around, feeding […]

  45. Just like only kinda ironic that I missed this because I haven’t been blogging?!??!!
    Listen, gals, you don’t need me chiming in with support — it looks to me like you’ve got a heap of folks behind you — but I just want to say that happy you is happy us. Truly, truly, you good gals….

  46. […] I just tell you that there are so many books I want to talk about, but my increased work-load, as we’ve already covered, is keeping me from that right now? But no worries. ‘Cause, while I get my act together, you […]

  47. […] It renews my faith in picture books sometimes. One thing I realized when Eisha and I had our recent blog identity crisis was that when you see tons of new picture books on a regular basis, a lot of them start to look the […]

  48. […] how I indicated in 7-Imp’s blog-identity-crisis post that I’ve had less time lately for reviewing books? Well, that’s still the case, but I […]

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