Although I love it, I get discouraged with this blog at times. I'm preparing to commence a new semester of study, and find myself regretting the time I'll need to pour into assignments that I won't be able to devote to blogging. Then I reflect how many hundreds of hours I've poured into this blog for comparatively little return by several measures based on engagement. Mine is a simple book discussion blog that doesn't earn money, and I'm not tech- savvy enough to optimise search engines and promote it online. Nor will I ever be. And I know nobody really reads it anyway. (I'm talking about this general sense of nobody, and definitely not loyal followers!)
My inner critic has been known to chip in with accusations such as, 'waste of time,' and 'self-indulgent.'
Recently with all this churning through my mind, I put a question out on Instagram asking my followers, who are mostly all bookworms, whether or not they read and follow blogs. An overwhelming majority responded no, because there is so much demand for their limited focus in our complex twenty-twenties. Although they like the idea, they simply can't justify the time and attention it would take to interrupt the flow of their day by clicking on the link. A small minority of respondents said they do love reading blogs and always set aside a slab of time for it, but alas, they aren't people who follow this one.
So there was the sober truth. I totally understand the feedback, and even buy into it to some extent. I follow fewer blogs myself than I did in the early 2000s, knowing full well that even one extra regular one may nudge me over into the realm of skimming and hurrying-up, which is not in the spirit of a good blog devotee. Several people believe that blogs have had their day, and are now very 'nineties.' All this feedback convinced me that I needed to pull the plug on this one once and for all. It's been on life support a few times in the past, when I struggled to see the point of all the hard work. So I decided it was well and truly time to cut the cord this time, and I was convinced I meant it.
But no! Dammit, this blog will live on, even though I've faced up to all these facts. The 'Goodbye' post I planned will not be happening.
It turns out the habit of thinking with my notepad is too deeply ingrained now. I really enjoy rambling on about books. Every so often I get a bit of encouraging feedback, or find a link to one of my posts while I'm scrolling through the internet. Those unexpected surprises are like a shot of adrenaline in the arm. Sometimes people really do stumble across my thoughts here, and this sort of serendipitous discovery will most likely happen for many years to come.
I honestly think that quitting would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater at this stage. Instead, I've faced up to the fact that my drive to continue is different from the reasons that drove me to keep a blog in the past, which were all tied up with self-promotion and community. As an outreach or popular site, this blog might be a bit of a flop. (Okay, it surely is. Might as well be honest, even if honesty is brutal.) But as a chance to have some fun, figure out what I think about specific books, leave a record for my own sake, or come up with some unusual common ground shared by disparate books, it's been a smashing success. Perhaps hugely enjoying something is reason enough to keep on going anyway.
Besides, I honestly believe it helps my mental health too. For decades, I've been subject to some ruthless anxiety complexes which really mess up my psyche if I let them run rife. My anxiety episodes work like this. A horrible intrusive suggestion or thought will pop into my mind and I'll ruminate on it for weeks, scaring myself silly, unless I remind myself that a mere thought does not necessarily mirror reality in any way whatsoever. And distracting myself by thinking and writing about beautiful literature and stories is often a good weapon in my arsenal against these anxious thoughts.
So although I'm surprised myself, this blog is off the chopping block. I'll have to ease off working on it in term times though. I'm not one of those people who can spread my attention super thin. My course content is meant to fill approximately 30 hours per week, and it probably will. But I have enough book related content up my sleeve to share for this second half of the year. I intend to focus mostly on more re-reads of some of the wholesome, lovely classics of my youth for the remainder of 2021.
I guess we could consider this a bit of a cockroach blog. Even when I think I've whacked all enthusiasm out of it with my rolled up newspaper of proof and stats, it keeps coming back to life.
But nope, I don't fancy the imagery of cockroaches for this beloved blog. I think I'll call it a phoenix blog instead, because it keeps rising from the ashes of discouragement and defeat. I'm sure there'll be many more fun posts in the future. And if you've stuck with me, I sincerely thank you for your fondness for it, and hope you'll continue.