4 Years of Blogging: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Posted October 20, 2016 by Debby in General

Pop the champagne and toss up the confetti – today, Snuggly Oranges is 4 years old!!! Holy crap guys. I am simultaneously impressed and shocked, and at the same time, I’m shrugging this off because it’s not really a big deal. I don’t have trouble sticking with hobbies, and I was blogging long before I ended up here. So it makes sense that I’d still be here. I’ve never really celebrated a “blogiversary” before, but with four years… this blog is a college graduate! It seems like the right time to do some reflecting.

In four years I…

  • Posted 756 times.
  • Read 411 books.
  • Reviewed 379 books.
  • Was sent or granted access to 168 review books.
  • Read (not DNFed) and reviewed 163 of those review books.
  • Wrote 103 Top Ten Tuesday posts.
  • Wrote 47 discussion posts.
  • Was put on 2 publishers’ physical mailing lists.
  • Got taken off those 2 publishers’ physical mailing lists.
  • Was named in 4 book acknowledgements (*tackle hugs Dahlia Adler and Paula Stokes*).
  • Was asked to beta read an author friend’s next book.
  • Was asked to host the cover reveal of an all-time favorite author’s next book.
  • Was asked to join a favorite author’s street team.
  • Attended Book Expo America 2014 as press.
  • Met amazing favorite authors, such as Sarah J. Maas, Kody Keplinger, Leigh Bardugo, and Samantha Shannon.
  • Ended up in a Dutch news organization’s online article because of that Neil Gaiman incident.
  • Got to know fellow bloggers who turned into life long friends (you know who you are).
  • Founded a book club that is still going strong after 3 whole years.
  • Lost more “friends” than I care to recount.

It’s been a crazy ride. Looking back, that’s all both underwhelming and overwhelming. I am thoroughly whelmed.

12 lessons learned over 4 years of blogging…

1. The book world is an amazing, educated, insightful, compassionate, and courteous place to be.
Reading is not a solitary hobby, and the way that this community bonds over books and other fandoms is absolutely amazing. I wasn’t lying when I said I made some of the best friends in my life through this blog (and social media). These people just understand me. They get insecurity, anxiety, and the pure needs of the introvert. And because they know that in books characters have layers upon layers of feelings, hardships, and traumas, they’re also some of the most accepting people I’ve ever encountered.

2. Authors are amazing, wonderful human beings.
And I mean human, because they are so normal – so much like you and me. I’m generalizing (because there’s always a few exceptions), but in my experience, they are approachable. They are great fun to chat with – about their books but also about other things. They are readers, book nerds, and flaily people just as absorbed in the book world as you and me. They have full lives, not limited to their writing. They are insecure. That one compliment about what their book did to you can absolutely make their day and come just when they needed it the most. I’ve seen it happen. And it’s beautiful. I have author friends who pop up in my mailbox from time to time and I’m always super flattered and excited that they thought of me – but I can only imagine it’s the same for them.

3. Reading keeps me sane.
It really is the most amazing hobby for me and I own it 100%. People out there in real life may be confused or think I’m weird, but I no longer care. Reading is an essential part of my commute and my favorite way to begin and end a day. I get to escape this world and experience glorious, exciting adventures or the cutest, fluffiest romances – how awesome is that? And yeah, it means that I don’t fucking mind commuting for almost 3 hours per day, this is my ritual, now shut up, I don’t want to drive.

4. I can never read every book in the world, nor do I want to.
I’ve come across enough crap or middle-of-the-road snoozefests to know that not every book is for me. This epiphany feels like a big deal to me, though, and I think it’s helped so much with cutting down on ARCs and buying less books. Like, I’m perfectly okay letting my friends weed out the trash for me. I have people I trust who will point me in the right direction to find new all-time favorites. And all those 3 star books? I will forget about what happened in them within a couple weeks, so why not skip ahead to that stage now, saving a couple bucks and some precious hours of time in the process?

5. I feel like I was born a blogger.
Writing in such a conversational tone has always come easy to me. I guess I spent enough time talking to myself that when I finally started just typing out my rambles, they came out pretty good. Not all my posts are mega successful, and some are definitely half-assed, but when I sit down to blog, it’s not hard to find myself on the other end of an 800 word ramble in no time flat. They’re usually pretty coherent too. Imagine that. But I am not a writer, and I will never write a book. (So stop asking me that.)

6. I’m better off without ARCs.
This is just for me personally. But I am finally done with ARCs. ARCs outstanding = 0. It’s a massive accomplishment, because I needed to ween myself off them (since it always seems to roll on and on indefinitely). But I realized about a year ago or so that ARCs are oftentimes not worth it to me. They get more of my lower ratings than backlist books that I can pick out based on the recommendations and ratings of my friends. What’s the added value of reading it early? The book will still be there after the release date. For me, it seemed like the only thing that was still so “cool” about ARCs was bragging rights or that boosted sense of self-importance. Getting to say, “Oh yeah, I already read that and it was awesome, HA.” And I’m proud to say that I’m over it.

7. You don’t have to review every book you read.
For a long time I felt like if I hadn’t reviewed a book, it didn’t count as me reading it. Writing reviews was such a part of me that those unreviewed reads didn’t feel legitimate. But over the past year I started reading some new adult or classic books without reviewing them (as I naturally had less to say about them) and it felt pretty nice. I still need to get better at this, but it’s a start.

8. Stats can only upset you.
Stop looking at them. Your mental health will improve. You do not need to prove yourself to anyone.

9. The internet will sadly always be fraught with drama.
Online friendships can easily implode over small things or misunderstood intentions. Twitter is an echo chamber that can quickly turn deafening. We’re in a social justice culture of (righteous) outrage, which means that mistakes will be made, people still need to learn certain things, but they may also be viciously shamed and piled on. Nowadays, it seems like there’s a new issue of drama everyday, which people will react to in their echo chamber, and the angry thoughts grow angrier and louder over time. I’ve realized that I honestly can’t be around that too much. But I’ve put decent blinders on which means that most of the time I have no idea what’s happened. And that works for me and my mental health.

10. Blogging is a timesuck.
I’ve written about this before, but even after I cut it down, it’s still a lot. I’m glad I can’t measure the hours I’ve put into this blog. But because I always want to do things well and I like structure and consistency, I spend a good part of my life on blogging. I set impossible standards for myself that then loom in the back of my mind all throughout the week. I still find myself tempted to pass up social activities because, oh man, I still need to write that blog post. Ugh.

11. I am not the “excitable” type of blogger, and that’s okay.
For so long, I felt like to blog well (which at that time I measured in attention given/followers acquired/presence in the book world) you had to be one of the SHOUTY CAPS people. But I’ve gotten to a point where I recognize that I am not inherently one of the SHOUTY CAPS people, and I’m okay with that. I have my own blogging voice, which leans more heavily on sarcasm and skepticism, and maybe a flail here or there, and I need to stay true to that. Your blogging voice should never feel forced.

12. Blog in a way that makes you happy.
If you’re thinking of starting a blog, I would advise you to first think about what you want to achieve with that blog. Don’t do it for the ARCs or free stuff. Don’t do it to be “the biggest” or “the best”. Any competitive goal like that will make you feel like a failure if you don’t achieve it fast enough. Blog for the community – to get to know other people. Or, in my case, blog to create content that you’re proud of. That you feel like can stand on its own as a nice and clean portfolio showing off who you are.

Looking forward…

So. Here’s the thing. The big announcement, if I may.

The blog is now going on an extended hiatus.

You may have noticed that some notes and lessons up there were not very positive. This blogging adventure has not always been a happy one. However, over the past year and a half or so, it’s really stagnated – or even gone downhill. I am less connected to readers and publishers. The blog is getting less and less hits and engagement. I have to put in so much effort to sit down to write posts, and when I do, they’re so uninspired, but they’re all I have energy for. I don’t want to blog if it’s going to be like this.

At the same time, my real life has gotten busier and busier. Work is going really well, but that means that I’m getting more responsibilities and am even more tired when I get home. I don’t have time for so many things nowadays. I started Blogilates in the summer, but that quickly failed. I bought a Playstation 4 last year and have hardly played it. I don’t spend nearly enough time visiting family. I basically exclusively cook meals that take less than 15 minutes to prepare. I need to have more of a measure of freedom to do what I want to do – right at that moment – rather than my life being dictated by the blog posts I still “need” to write.

Coming Soon: Snuggly Oranges 2.0

Do not fret, because I said hiatus. I did not say I was quitting. However it will be a longer hiatus than usual so that I can:

  1. Take a real break (the first one ever, because I’ve never been gone for more than a month).
  2. Go on my holiday to Cuba with no stress.
  3. Completely reinvent the concept of Snuggly Oranges.
I’ve already been thinking about this for a while, and… I think we’re going to change. A lot. My intention (for now) is to no longer be just a book blog. I will write about other things (TV! games! lifestyle! travel! and books (of course)!). I will abandon my current post formats, so that I can write more free form about whatever I want when the inspiration hits me. The blog design will get an upgrade. You know, I’m pretty excited about it.

I will be on a hiatus at least until 2017. But if I need longer, I will take longer. Because in all things, this transition is the first move of me choosing myself above everything else and giving myself the freedom to do whatever the hell I want.

(And if you want to keep up with what I’m reading in the meantime, catch me on Goodreads.)

Tags: , ,


Leave a Reply to Jennifer M Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 responses to “4 Years of Blogging: Looking Back and Looking Forward

  1. Debby: Happy blogiversary! I’m one of those who quietly reads your every post and rarely comments. Shame on me for not reminding you that your hard work was touching me. Enjoy your hiatus and I look forward to seeing the new directions the blog takes. I’m sad to know there won’t be a “Cuba post” to look fwd to on your return but wish you a safe, fun journey.

  2. Congrats on 4 years!!!! That’s such an awesome accomplishment! I love your list of what you’ve done in that time too. I’m getting better at putting down meh books and I’m shying away from arcs as well, especially since I have such a backlog of books at home! I can’t resist some of the shiny e-arcs but having a bus commute helped with reading those. Hah I am mostly definitely a shouty caps blogger but that’s what’s great about blogging- we can all write in our own way! And I love your blog πŸ™‚ Hope you had a wonderful trip to Cuba and I can’t wait to see what’s next at Snuggly Oranges <3

  3. Wow, it’s been four years already? I remember when Snuggly Oranges was so shiny and new, and now look at it. It’s absolutely wonderful, and I am so proud of you, and I honestly wish I hadn’t disappeared from the book community for so long because I missed out on so much great stuff from blogs like this and bloggers like you.

    Congrats on the success of both your job and your blog, and I really hope you enjoy the much-needed break. I look forward to seeing what Snuggly Oranges has in store for the future!