(This post was originally supposed to go up on Friday as part of Armchair BEA. I didn’t get it finished on time, and have been away from my computer since then, so here it is!)
Since I – ever so sadly – cannot attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in New York City this week, I’ve decided to join in on Armchair BEA again! Those of us who are participating in Armchair BEA are essentially putting together our own book blogger convention from the comfort of our own homes (or workplaces or wherever else we’ll be). You can read more about Armchair BEA here.
today Friday is was the Book Blogger Convention, the topic for Armchair BEA is also putting the focus on the “blog” portion of “book blog”. There’s a wide range of prompts for today’s posts, so I’m going to sort of mix and match to create my own topic.
Let’s start with the inspiration for this post’s title, and how I figured out what I was going to write about.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before or not, but I was a figure skater when I was younger. I spent a lot of time in an arena – we’re talking a few hours a night, 4-5 days a week – for almost my entire childhood and teenage years. Plus a few nights of dance class a week. Plus lunchtime and early-morning ice time when it was leading up to a competition or a test day.
One of my favourite articles of clothing when I was a kid was a t-shirt I had that said, “Figure skating is life.” in big, bold letters, and “The rest is details.” in tiny lettering below it. I wore that shirt so many times that I think eventually it just wouldn’t wash to clean anymore and I had to get rid of it. <sad face> It said so much about who I was at that time, and was cheeky and fun. What more could a girl ask for?
This shirt was one of the first things that came to mind when I was trying to think of an interesting title for a post where I discuss my blogging/”real life” balance. And it occurred to me that the same thing could kind of be said about me now:
Blogging is life. The rest is details.
Wait, wait, wait. I heard your jaw drop just there, and I think you misunderstood me. I don’t really think that blogging is life. (Obviously.) I don’t even mean that it’s the most important thing in my life. (Definitely not.) Instead, what I really mean by this is a whole lot more complicated than any one statement could express.
For me, blogging is the thing that ties so much of life together. If I want to be all geeky about it – and I do – I would use a Venn Diagram to show you what I’m talking about. And using this diagram, I would show that if the word “life” stands in as a placeholder for “me” (as in, my identity and what makes me … me), then I could organize almost everything about me by categorizing them into different facets of blogging:
Why I blog about what I blog about: In a very basic sense, I can sum this up by saying that I blog about things that interest me. Generally speaking, here at Reading Through Life, that means that I blog about books.
“But wait!”, you say. “Books can’t be the only part of your life!”
No, they’re not, and I never said that they were. But what I will say, is that my choice of reading material is wide and vast and very indicative of what’s going on in the rest of my life. I read books about education (I’m a teacher), I read books about running and women’s sports (I’m a woman who is now a runner, and who was always into sports), I read books about Islam (I’m a Muslim convert), I read books about feminism, gender, and sexuality (I personally identify as a variety of things, including “feminist”, “female” and “queer”) … and the list goes on and on. You can even get more specific, and still get the same result. For example: I read realistic YA fiction, and I teach at an alternative school with a focus on at-risk youth, who tend to gravitate towards these types of reading material, so it’s a good genre to be on top of.
I also blog a little – though admittedly less than I’d like to – about literacy. The most obvious result of this is Reading Roots, a weekly interview series in which I ask other bloggers about their early reading lives and how they came to be their present literate selves. Once in a while, I also blog about other literacy-related things, particularly when this personal interest of mine has come up in some other part of my life. And that ties into my next point, in which I discuss the intersections between my blog and my “real life”.
How I balance life and blogging: A large part of my “secret” to life/blog balance is that I try to incorporate as much of what is going on in my life into my blog as possible. I’m not one of those people who keeps very clear and not-to-be-crossed boundaries between who I am as a person and who I am as an online identity. (I don’t have a problem with people who do … just saying that I’m not one of them.) So one way that I balance life and blogging is to blog about my life! It includes things like this post, or even as far as posting about things I see while traveling or out and about, bookish gifts I receive from people, or life changes like my upcoming move to the UAE.
It also means that I try to incorporate blogging into my life in a variety of ways. One way I do this is to blog more frequently, but for shorter periods of time at a session. I usually blog a little bit every day – maybe writing a post, reading some blogs, checking and responding to comments, or planning upcoming posts. I blog a bit at work, a bit at home, and a bit on the go on my phone (usually comment-related). I try to work blogging events (like read-a-thons) into my life, too – for example, I try to spend some time reading at home and out in public during read-a-thons, even if it just means listening to an audiobook on the bus. (I’d really love to get out reading in a public park or something for at least one read-a-thon this summer, though.) And I try to work blogging and life into my schedule in fair ways – I don’t let blogging take over my life or stress me out too much, and I try not to get so busy with “life” that I don’t take a few minutes to myself to write a post or say hello to other bloggers on Twitter or something.
Making things social: I absolutely adore meeting new people who share interests with me, and meeting book bloggers is no exception. And so, I’ve really taken to joining on in events where bloggers get together to do things. For example, I’ve participated in most of the 24 Hour Read-A-Thons that have taken place since I started blogging, and I’ve also started participating in other events such as Bloggiesta, Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and random other read-a-thons and events that pop up (including Armchair BEA!). It’s lots of fun, and allows me to get something more out of blogging. It takes the act of blogging from an individual thing (reading and writing) with an audience, to something interactive that I can share with so many other people.
I’ve also gotten to meet some people offline. In particular, I got to meet Amy last summer (and briefly met Niranjana at the same time, who’s being interviewed here on Tuesday), which was fun. I’ve met up with Amy a few times since then, even more so lately since she moved to Toronto! And I’m hoping that I’ll meet even more bloggers in the year to come, both online and offline. There’s just so much greatness to be had by expanding your social life through your blog, and making it into a distinct part of your life.
Keeping things fresh: Honestly, this is where I struggle a little bit. I tend to write a lot of reviews, and post my weekly Reading Roots interviews, and not much else for weeks at a time. I try to add in other content when I get a chance, though, or when I have something interesting to say or write about. And I try to join in on events or theme weeks/months as often as I can, as a way to vary what I blog about from time to time.
There are also some ways in which I think that I do manage to keep things fairly fresh. The most important of these is in the variety of books that I read – covering a lot of different topics, genres, and age levels. I tend to read along a few specific themes, with some other books mixed in, and the themes change and adapt depending on what’s going on in my life at the time or what I feel like. For example, there are times when I read quite a few books along one theme in the span of a few weeks (for example, right now I’m on a running-book bender), and then I’ll move onto something else. I like to think that this flux and flow keeps me from getting too much in one reading or blogging rut, and that it allows for enough variety here at Reading Through Life.
How do you balance blogging and life? Do you have any tips that I might find useful? Agree or disagree on anything I said?