Thursday, February 26, 2015

Behind "Just Books, No Bull" or, My Rusty #TruthTrain

My #TruthTrain is a little rusty from lack of use.

For those of you who don't follow the book blogging world, there's been a brouhaha recently around the issue of plagiarism. A well-known book blogger admitted to plagiarism, which she attributed to feeling overwhelmed by over-commitment.

Andi over at Estella's Revenge wrote a wonderful post in response--Getting Real: We're Not WonderWomen--about the pressure bloggers can feel and the need to let go of things and give yourself a break. The post touched me deeply and the subsequent calls on Twitter to "blog honest" triggered something within me about my own blogging. 

I felt the need to write about what's come up for me in recent days about my own blogging experience, so here goes--

For regular readers of this blog, it is no doubt obvious that I'm a casual blogger. I don't take on very many commitments, my blog isn't monetized, and I've never stuck to a schedule. But I still want to do a good job on my posts and, to be honest, sometimes getting out one post a week can be a challenge. The stress I feel about my blog, when it happens, usually takes the form of guilt. I think: I haven't posted in two weeks! I've only posted pictures lately!, Everything is blah!, etc!

Many bloggers talk about how amazing the book blogging community is and I agree. That said, I suck at being part of a community and that creates some guilt, too. My ability to hang out with others in a consistent way has also been a challenge in real life. I'm aware of this tendency and try to keep myself in a healthy place.

The Ugly Behind "Just Books, No Bull" 
The tag line of my blog is "Just books, no bull." Given that my blog is named WildmooBooks, it's a relevant tagline. When it first came to me I thought it was funny, maybe even a bit witty.


However, another truth behind "just books" is that I didn't want to become "one of those" bloggers--bloggers who start blogging on a topic (say, books) and then devolve (my judgment) into writing about kids, bad bosses, or grocery shopping--whatever seems to be handy when a post is due. In the past, each time I read a post by a book blogger who said she was going to "open up" her blog and write about things other than books, I rolled my eyes and closed my browser.  Thankfully, I've evolved over the years and have since read posts by book bloggers on a wide variety of topics, however initially mundane seeming, that are funny and/or thought provoking.

Hiding Behind Books
An even deeper truth behind "just books" is this: I've hidden behind books for a good part of my life.

I spent 10 years in college/grad school, worked in two libraries, taught college literature courses for five years, and worked for Borders for 12 years, much of that time in marketing, where I became even more comfortable writing about books and authors.

But the other night while pondering Andi's post, I was reminded of an experience I had back in graduate school. It was this: a couple of my colleagues seemed to be morphing into the kind of professor I have little tolerance for. The type who stands (or struts) in front of a class and spouts information. If a student risks asking a question, she'll get the same facts and concepts repeated, maybe in a different order, maybe with a bitchier tone. This is the type of teacher who may love books, but can't--for whatever reason--be fully present with other human beings, so she hides behind books and information. This type of professor scurries away to her office or car after class rather than risk any post-class questions or chatting. "See me during my office hours," she says over her shoulders as she walks away.

I was different! I'd never be like that.

But I realized the other night that is exactly how I've felt as a book blogger: I write my bookish post and walk away.

Am I being too hard on myself? Sure. And maybe I'm not explaining my epiphany very well, but that's not really the point. The point is that reading Andi's post cracked me open a bit and made me understand that I was hiding behind books right here on my book blog!

Hiding behind my favorite book.
I'm anxious about writing about things other than books, things that matter to me and that I may want to write about like: being a lesbian, having a wife, struggling with my weight, learning how to eat better, getting the hang of my new job, staying sober, being a woman veteran (because, you know, women aren't real veterans), deciding to start dying my hair again, and more of that mundane life stuff.

If there's one thing I've learned from being a Friend of Bill's it's that we're only as sick as our secrets. Not that anything I've mentioned above is a secret...but I have been hesitant to write about my life not out of a sense of privacy, but out of a fear of judgement. And that, as Shakespeare would say, sucketh. I'm ready to let it go.


Personality Online vs. IRL
Another thing, kinda weird. I'm almost always comfortable talking with people In Real Life. I enjoy meeting new people. My online personality, however, is the opposite. Online I feel shy and awkward when engaging people or talking about my life. Does anyone else feel this way?

That's probably another reason why I don't share much personal stuff on my blog. I've naturally fallen into a separation of blog and life, but I'm ready to cross boundaries a bit and (oh, my) open up. I doubt I'll ever be a completely extroverted blogger, but who knows?

What's next?
I do want to keep blogging about books and authors. I'll keep writing photo essays of the libraries I visit and may even get more consistent about that. I'll do recaps of interesting author events.

Will I start writing regular posts about non-bookish things? Not sure what or when or how, but I'm open to it. My first blog was about running and cross-country skiing, but I never got much steam behind it and so it was rather short-lived.

At least for now I've broken the ice in my own mind thanks to great posts by Andi and other book bloggers like Becca at I'm Lost in Books and Allison at The Book Wheel.

Now that I've gotten this off my chest I feel I can move forward and start writing more consistently on my blog again and be a more engaged member of the book blogger community.

Thanks as always, fellow book bloggers and readers, for the motivation you provide and the food for thought that you share!
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