Sunday, April 19, 2015

Identity Crisis: Musings on Changing Reading Habits and Blogging Dilemmas

I never thought I would reach a phase where my blog became so much work. It being a Sunday today, I did my usual weekend-morning round of blog-hopping. Only a few out of a very many favourite blogs had new posts up. All around me I see blogs fading away or slipping into quiet stagnation, for whatever reason, and the strange thing is, a part of me wonders if I would be anything but relieved if I quit trying to make this work.

Blogging is just a hobby, not deserving of so much drama, I am aware of that. But anyone who knew me back in 2010 can attest to the role Tabula Rasa has played in getting me from there to here. And that is not a thing to scoff at, or give up very easily. And yet, the goal for the year was to post five posts every month, and it must say something about me that on most days, I can't summon the energy to do even that.

That being said, one cannot afford to let lack of time lead one to substandard writing. We're better than that, the blog and I. We (yea, I just did that, don't look at me weirdly) have been in kind of an upheaval since I moved away from home, and it is time to face the identity crisis and maybe, shoo it away..

The thing is, lately, I have vehemently avoided looking a certain truth in the eye. I am not a reader any more. At least not in the fixed one-dimensionally passionate way I used to be. The Jess-and-Rory kind of reader who would dismiss reading seven books a week with a, "That's not much..." And that passion played such a big role in driving the blog forward, back in the day. I am not the girl who reads a hundred books in a year any more. On some harrowing days, I would gladly go back to that time and amber-fossilize myself there, because, if not anything else, that was one hell of a year book-wise. But I like who I am now, where I am, and it is silly to resist the blog transforming to go with the new-me. I mean, really, a goal of five posts a month is highly unrealistic for someone who manages to read only four books in three months (oh, how the mighty have fallen.)

I give you, some new truths about my changed reading habits. I still wonder what form these will take up in my blog, but I do hope to come to terms with them. I welcome suggestions for the former...

- I don't insist on completing books any more, but I wrote about that already. There was a time when I would say I owe it to a writer to read his work in its entirety before forming an opinion, now I just feel in this worldful of myriad choices, it is the writer who owes me an impeccably written book. Life is too short to read a boring book.

- I love rereading now. There is so much to glean from a book when you read it for the second, and the third time. For the fresh version of this blog, I already know things I could write about books I reread that frantically-churning-out-posts-Priya did not do justice to.

- I have forty unread books on my shelf, and yet I find myself picking up more and more recommendations from friends and other bloggers. There is a beautiful comfort in buying or borrowing a book someone likes, some assurance of its worth helps me devote it my time.

- I have become less rigid, more eclectic in my tastes now. The firm opinions are dissolving, especially on genre. A weird hitherto-unrealized part of me has come to love cheesy romances, I wonder why. I read more non-fiction these days, mostly on linguistics and teaching, but even politics and pop psychology (she shyly admits.) God, I read poetry too.

- I am a slow reader this year. There was a time when I would read three books in three days, and be okay with that. Today, I see it as a waste of a treasure-chest of experiences. Do you know what I mean? I now get this feeling that I only graze the surface of a book when I read it at that hasty pace. That I miss out on the so much else that it has to offer.

- I am no longer a linear reader, either. I read a page and reread my favourite lines before moving on to the next. I highlight passages and think about them, read ahead and then revisit them to see how reading the next few pages changes my views on the ones before.

All these sound fine, you tell me. But what about this - reviews don't make sense to me any more. I don't like writing them. Just what I call these "random musings." That is the crux of my identity crisis - the so-called indelible dilemma. What do you call a book blogger who doesn't read? Moreover, what must a book blogger do when she can't bring herself to write book reviews any more? Well?

Stop being a book blogger. I was the one who assigned myself the label, anyway. 

Which is not to say I won't write about reading. Only that it won't be quite so strictly defined. Through it all, I honestly would like to believe I have grown up as a reader. It is true that have officially lost the right to say, "I read a lot." But I do enjoy reading still, there can be no doubt about that. So, I will commit to writing one post every month, which will likely not be a proper book review. Just one post. But I will make it a damn good one. Good enough for now?

12 comments:

barefootmeds said...

Of course that's good enough, Priya! I look forward to that one post. Life is busy. I hope you are well!

Divers and Sundry said...

Your blog, your decision. I subscribe in my RSS reader, so I'll get notified when the post shows up and will look forward to the next one whether or not it's a reflection on what you've read..:)



Viktoria Berg said...

I came to comment on the post about People who don´t read fiction, which was a very good and amusing post, but this is ok too. As D&S says: "your blog, your decision". We who come here regularly probably like your writing as much as we are curious about your reading, anyway. So I think you can pretty much write about anything that catches your fancy and we will enjoy. Besides, you have my whole-hearted sympathy, I am in a reading slump as well (re-reading, yes! going to university, pretty soon...). I feel that fading from book-blogging is dying a little; I admit there is some grief.

Priya said...

Divers and Sundry, Megz - Thanks for the comments. Knowing that there will be people who will stop by here still is some good motivation to write! :)

Viktoria - I am a little heartened to see you call the 'people who don't read fiction' post amusing. There was much discussion on whether the humour got through and I decided it didn't quite. I would be curious to know what you made of it... maybe some other day!
It is very humbling to have people whose writing you read and love (and in your case, just as much the illustrating - which inspires me on a regular basis to give it a go myself) say the same about you. I admit, the encouragement is still one of the reasons I don't want the blog to fade away. Thank you so much for your comment!

Delia D said...

Your post resonates with me, as I have been going through a similar transformation in the last few months.
The beauty of having a blog is that you are the boss and so you can decide when and what to write.
Personally I love blogs that mix book reviews with other articles and even photos - it gives me a behind-the-curtain peek which I love because ultimately I enjoy getting to know the person behind the words.
You're not a book blogger who doesn't read, you're a book blogger who is expanding her horizons. ;)
See you next month!

Sunny Kern said...

As someone who went from reading 100+ books a year to barely finishing one a month, I so understand what you mean. I now have so little time to read that I never take time to do reviews, but don't want to quit blogging, but haven't posted anything in months because I'm not sure what I "should" be posting and don't want to take the time away from the reading.
It's neat that you've thought about it and found a solution that will hopefully work for you, and you've inspired me to start thinking more about how I could make a similar transition and what might work for me.
Good luck!

Lindsay said...

Ah so much in your post resonated with me Priya...I have had a lot of mixed feelings about blogging for months now and how my reading has changed etc etc. I'm really glad you posted this and shared your thoughts with us. I will be really glad to read a post a month, or whatever you manage to post, I will still visit your blog when I can. I post so much less now than I did at one stage. I think I thought I had to have a new post practically every day at one point, there's no way I could do that now, I don't even always have one a week, and even when I do, they are not always reviews. I don't always find as much pleasure in writing reviews now either. And I seem to read fewer books and like you I enjoy rereading parts too. Anyway take care and we will see you on your blog as and when, and that's good enough.

Priya said...

I like that idea, Delia, that I am expanding my horizons. Though I am not entirely comfortable writing about other things than books on this blog, I can certainly branch out a bit..

Sunny, your comment means a lot! I can't think of people I know in real life who will get where I am coming from, so it is good to hear from fellow bloggers who do. I wouldn't go so far as to say I have found the solution but I like Delia's idea of giving a behind-the-curtain peek at my world apart from books. I have definitely decided not to quit. Especially after reading all the comments here. You shouldn't either. :)

Lindsay, I gave up on putting up one post every day a very long time ago! Yours is one of the blogs I follow that does put up posts consistently, so I guess it's all relative, isn't it? I suppose all book bloggers go through this phase sooner or later, where writing reviews becomes a little like a chore maybe, with little pleasure in it. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one. Thanks for the comment!

Deepika Ramesh said...

Priya, I discovered your blog only recently, and I am crestfallen to learn that you won't frequent much henceforth. I haven't explored your blog a lot. So, I am sure there are plenty of stories that I can read. But, I really wish you would consider writing more often. :)

Priya said...

Hi Deepika, thanks for your comment. This year has been busy and tough but things are slowing down for good now. Which makes this post seem a little dramatic in retrospect, but where does one rant if not on the blog. The fact is, I might be picking up my blogging-pace again. I loved stumbling on to your blog too, as you know, and I do hope to keep hearing from you. :)

Jason C. said...

Do this mean we won't be seeing a review for "The Lions of Al-Rassan" anytime soon? I kid, I kid.

I completely understand where you're coming from here. I've lost count as to how many times I have struggled to write reviews or taken an extended leave of absence from my blog. In fact, I'm on hiatus right now. I've just been focused on other things in my life and writing/literature has taken a back-seat. It's been well over a month since I have read anything or attempted to crank out a review. However, for me, this is normal. As book bloggers, we are bound to go through dry spells. All the points you make regarding your changing reading habits reflect my own as well. I am in the same boat when it comes to the paradoxical conundrum of being unable to write reviews as a book blogger. It's very frustrating, indeed. For me, starting up my blog was a personal project. I am not out to prove anything or gain validation from strangers on the internet. Of course, receiving feedback and comments from others is always a great feeling but I found out the hard way that it is important to go at my own pace and do my own thing; not feeling obligated to keep up or compete with other bloggers. Like you said, blogging should be fun and is more of a hobby for most of us. Once I start taking it too seriously is usually when I get burnt out.

I have been a fan of yours for a couple years now and even though I may not comment on every single post, I do make it a habit of reading everything you write on your blog. Sorry if that sounds creepy and I don't want to come across as a stalker but in my eyes, the consist output and quality of your writing has cemented your blog as one of the very best out there. You should be really proud. Obviously, I would be sad to find out one day that you decided to give up blogging completely but that's just me being selfish. Live your life, do whatever you gotta do. Still, even if you plan on committing yourself to only one post a month, that's fine with me. It's worth the wait. :)

Priya said...

Jason, The Lions of Al-Rassan is a big book! I am almost done reading it, actually I am in a very good place, but I don't see myself posting a review till June. Your comment means a lot. "It is important to go at my own pace and do my own thing; not feeling obligated to keep up or compete with other bloggers" - I'll remember this. Thanks... :)

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