apologizing in advance (rethinking the blog)

Friday, March 22, 2013

I have always had the utmost respect for the true book blogger—for all of you exceedingly generous souls who make so much time for books and the book community. I imagine that your houses are built out of bindings and glue. That your lamps stay on well into the dark. That you might wish to fly a kite or dig a hydrangea into the ground, but kindly turn pages instead.

When I started this blog six years ago, I imagined it to be a place where I would muse out loud about the world, its words, its images. I'd write about my friends and my communities. I'd provide updates on my journeys. I'd share news about books I'd somehow stumbled upon. I'd have fun.

I didn't imagine that a blog could become so pressing. That it could become more overwhelming than any job.

But indeed it has. For longer than I can remember now I've been crushed beneath the weight of requests, queries, books sent my way for blog review or blurbs. Yesterday in the space of a single half hour, five requests came in. In the morning there were two. A typical day in blog land.

The thing is: I want to make everybody happy. I want to make each day a gift. I want to read these books and write about them, but I have run out of time. Even sleeping three hours at night I'm behind. Even setting my own work to the side most days, which I have been doing forever now in an attempt to get square with the requests.

It occurs to me that I can't catch up. That as beautiful as so many of these books undoubtedly are, as deserving, I'll never be able to cover them all. Even if I never again stepped foot outside. Or did my day job. Or taught my students. Or washed my hair. Or paid my taxes.


And so, going forward, I'll have to say no to many things I wish I didn't have to say no to. And I will hope all of you understand. And I hope, too, that you will know how grateful I've been for the care you've given my own work. Certainly I'll still be covering books here—books I've bought, books I've requested, books by true dear friends. But I'll have to rearrange the piles in order to finally get clear.

In the meantime, I will always be grateful to people like Keertana, the creator of Ivy Book Bindings. She, like so many book bloggers, does this work far better than I can. Recently, for example, she found her way to Small Damages and kindly asked me to share something of its history as well as my own recommendations for recent historical/literary reads. She has woven all that together beautifully here. Her blog is well worth linking to.

11 comments:

Sarah Buttenwieser said...

No is a complete sentence. You are allowed it just like everyone else. -- a fellow pleaser, trying to learn to say that one little syllable better

Elizabeth said...

It is hard to say no - but so important. Well done, Beth.

kelly said...

This post was so beautiful to read -- not just for the necessary freedom it affords you but for the words you chose.

Wendy said...

No need to explain, Beth. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about...

Amy said...

I think this happens to every blogger at some point. And I think the wanting to make everyone happy bit is the cause of it! But you can only do what you can do and you have to take care of yourself and do what's best for you.

thank you for everything you've done and also for sharing yourself on your blog. We love you!

Serena said...

I agree with Sarah B. No is a complete sentence...I've had to learn to say no....and while it hurts me sometimes, I just have to.

patti.mallett_pp said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!!! I know this wasn't an easy decision and I commend you. NO is a word I have grown quite fond of. Because at the other side of NO is YES to something else, (like breathing and sleep and lunch with the girls, reading and writing, and simply being).

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Oh, yes. I've never even tried to commit to doing reviews on my blog. If I happen to feel like talking about a book there, I will, but only impulsively, without commitments or schedules. Book reviewing is its own job.

The fact that there's more we would like to do in life than we ever have time for is both a blessing and a curse. :-)

Jeanie Ashburn said...

Back in the olden times when "desktop publishing" was the new term, I said to somebody, and it may have been you, Beth, that the problem with desktop publishing is that everybody will publish. Not exactly what you're talking about, but everybody has a story and they want it heard. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but not something you or even the whole publishing world can take on. Good for you.

Lilian Nattel said...

Saying no is all right. In fact it's necessary. I hope that you get more space for yourself with it.

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