3 Year Bloggiversary! Things I’ve Learnt as a Blogger

3 year bloggiversary

Hello all! Well, according to the powers that be over at WordPress, this just so happens to be my third bloggiversary! (well the anniversary of when I got the domain name- we’ll get to what a lousy blogger I was when I started out in a mo 😉 ). To mark the occasion, I took inspiration from Laura @LFBook‘s fantastic “Things I’ve Learnt as a Blogger” series (really recommend checking it out) and decided to share what I’ve discovered about blogging in the last three years!

thoughts orangutan

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Before I even started, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t hold back. Aside from being a pretty frank person, I will admit that a lot of this came from being told what I could and couldn’t say IRL. Because I’m a contrarian I decided to stick two fingers up to the busybodies who wanted to tell me what to do 😉 And you know what, even though I’ve touched on some controversial topics over the years, some of which have made me nail-bitingly nervous, I’m glad that I did it. Granted, sometimes I have had to deal with people less than pleased about what I have to say- and you know what? That’s okay. I can deal with it, I’m a big monkey 😉 (also, I have bananas and I’m not afraid to use them 😉 )

On the flipside, I don’t regret the things I didn’t say. Yes, that’s right, I can actually bite my tongue sometimes 😉 As I mentioned in my Drafts, Drafts and More Drafts post, there are posts I’ve decided to shelve for various reasons. It can be good to weigh things up- for instance “will this gripey whiny post about some schmuck annoying me make me feel better?” If the answer’s no, I might just leave it.

Another thing I’ve learnt is to expect the unexpected. Not a lot of people know this, but the first three months of blogging this site was like a virtual graveyard. I’m pretty sure we all go through that at some point tbh. And it’s not like I was expecting anything to grow out of it- frankly the whole project started as a way for me to *shout into the void*. But man, I have to admit that when I started interact more, it became *so much more awesome*. Massive thank you to Zezee for being the first ever person to tag me in something and consequently share one of my posts (yes, I remember that sort of thing 😉 )  I was staggered after that when people started reading, commenting and actually enjoying the content. Which leads me onto…

Blogging is only as fun as you make it! Like I said, I was a lousy blogger when I started and while I had fun writing the posts, it got SO MUCH BETTER once I started to relax and try out new things. I really love making people laugh and if I can make just one person crack a smile, then that’s a good day 😀 I realised how much better blogging is when other people can get something out of it.

Speaking of my early days as a blogger, people are not lying when they say consistency is key. I mean, of course I started out doing that wrong as well 😉 And I may sound really thick for stating the obvious, but I took a while to figure out that when you post more, more people are likely to read *mindblown* 😉

Now I have to say to take that last one with a pinch of salt- because obviously IT IS OKAY TO TAKE BREAKS. (And yes, I’m writing that in capitals, cos I still sorta need to learn that one!) The thing is, blogging can be stressful, we all have lives beyond our blogs and heaven knows we can’t be online as much as we’d like to. In fact, I know that I’m going to have to take a break soon. And that’s *okay*. I still have to keep reminding myself not to apologise at the start of every blog for some misplaced guilt, cos contrary to what my British-brain thinks, constantly saying “sorry!” can be a bit of a pain.

Also, ARCs are not the be all and end all. I can’t be the only person that didn’t have the faintest idea what an ARC was when I started. But when I found out, it would have been easy to get swept up in the allure of *advanced review copies*. That said, I’m really glad I didn’t immediately jump on the ARC train. And, when I found out, I didn’t immediately jump on the ARC train. I let myself think about it for a whole year, before deciding that, yeah, I could fit about one a month into my schedule. Everyone does ARCs differently, which is cool, but I’m very selective cos of that. Even with this small number of requests (combined with how often I get rejected lol) I *still* manage to fall behind in the reviewing side of things, so I’m glad I have this strict rule in place. Especially cos it means that I do a happy dance every time I get an ARC 😉 Which brings me to…

Celebrate every milestone. Sure, I may not shout about everything all the time on here, but I guarantee that I’m SCREAMING WITH JOY INSIDE. Watching this teeny corner of the internet grow has been amazing and I so appreciate each and every one of you that’s makes the blogosphere the most wonderful place to be! And I wanted to say a personal thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for me in the Annual Book Blogger Awards. I’ve been too busy to get involved but it made me feel very honoured. And with that, all that’s left to say is…

party on dudes.gif

What have you learnt from blogging? Let me know in the comments!

Drafts, Drafts and More Drafts

It’s been a slow week for me online…So I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I haven’t done on my blog and I thought it might be fun to do a chill post, where I discuss some of the ideas I’ve had over the years and posts I’ve written that I’ve never shared. Some of these I may be persuaded to share one day (probably not though because polishing them up into half readable pieces would be more work than starting from scratch). Anyhoo, here are some of the ideas that have been left on my computer going stale for eons and eons:

(oh and *disclaimer*, as always, not for the easily offended)

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverMy Thoughts on Harry Potter– this was inspired by some comments on my Monstrous Confessions piece, where I talked about having some criticisms (I also have plenty of praise, before peeps get their panties in a twist 😉 ). The reason I haven’t shared this yet is simply because I was waiting for a time when I could/wanted to reread the whole series-it’d be quite good to give a sense of before and after- only trouble is I’m a mood reader and the desire to reread HP hasn’t quite struck me of late. Oh well. One day…

strike outStrike Out Tag– now I usually have a never say never attitude when it comes to tags HOWEVER as grateful as I was to be tagged for this one, I honestly felt these questions were a tad personal. And frankly it also got a little dark. To give you a snippet of what I mean, it had questions like “have you ever gone fishing” next to “have you watched someone die”- yikes! Still, it’s been taunting me in my drafts for ages, gonna have to delete it.

monkey typewriterDrafts, Drafts and More Drafts– the original post by this name- I know, how meta is this post getting? Originally I used this opportunity to gripe about something blogging related. Unfortunately it got a little confused and I can’t really follow the train of thought, so I abandoned that idea in favour of this! Speaking of the blogging related…

smaug burningHow I Blog– such a pleasant title, such a crap would-be post. There was a part 1 and 2 as well and it was ready to go. BUT I was super cranky when I wrote it and it was basically a response to trolls (as I pointed out in my Me In Book Characters Tag I’m somewhat hot-headed), so when I took a breather and cooled down, I lost all desire to share (really it was a lousy post, you all had a lucky escape 😉 )

shudders.gifTriggered by Trigger Warnings– this will remain in draft form- partly cos I’ve more or less used that title for Gaiman’s book, mostly because the current document stands at 10000 words and counting. Somehow I don’t think this post is ever coming- it’s wayyy too long and complicated. One of the things that inspired me to write it was reading all the uninformed pieces online- yet while what I’ve written benefits from actual *citations* (*geeky shudders*) I do think that another inexpert view probably won’t be productive. I’m also frankly a little bored of the topic by now. Oh well, it was a good learning curve for me anyway.

Gulag Archipelago, 3 volumesA Post on the Gulag Archipelago– again, lack of qualification comes into it, but also HOW ON EARTH DO YOU SUMMARISE A BOOK LIKE THIS- ARGHHH?! (Genuinely asking cos I don’t have a clue) Also it was painful enough reading this let alone analysing (not cos it’s bad, it’s excellent, but it’s reallllly not a fun read). The thought of going through all my notes doesn’t exactly fill me with glee. That said I will try to put *something* together for it- even if it’s just an “I read it, you probably should” post.

communist manifestoSnarking on the Communist Manifesto– yes, you read that title correctly. This was something I actually just did for fun- yet reading it back got a chuckle, so I thought about sharing it- but no, this is so weirdly niche, even for me. (Plus it’s ridiculously long, cos it’s more or less line by line)

 

delete cybermenAre the Markets Really Free– WTF was I actually thinking with this one?!?!? What on earth!! Seriously I *am not* an economist. DELETE.

 

 

funny-facepalm-gifThe White Heteronormativity of Classics– bahahahahaha not touching that one with a bargepole. What made me write it was an exceptionally daft comment (someone criticising Austen for being white and heteronormative *face palm*) yet it could basically be summarised in two words: *context matters*. Dear dear dear, moving on…

Bettleheim and Child Psychology Theories– not a terrible idea for a post, but to be honest, I think people would be better served just reading his work. Not saying it’s all spot on- only it gives an idea of why children’s literature evolved in a certain direction in the 20th Century (he talks a lot about what children can cope with in terms of violence etc)

form50027So one thing I’ve learnt from doing this exercise is I’m somewhat temperamental… although let’s be honest, all the banana throwing was kind of a clue. I guess I should invite more trolls to come on here and write the daftest, most-insulting comments and they can be safe in the knowledge that I’ll probably write a response to it that I’ll never publish. Come at me bro! 😉

come at me bro.gif

Anyhoo- what do you think of these post ideas? Any of them catch your eye? And do you have any post ideas that’ll never see the light of day on your blog? Let me know in the comments!

Why I’m Happy to be Negative Sometimes

Hello all!! I’m feeling awfully chipper today cos I’m gonna be talking about negativity! Lately, I’ve been dropping a fair few negative posts, and that, together with your comments and an *amazing* post by Uptown Oracle, got me thinking… Why am I happy to be negative on my blog? Especially when so many people aren’t…

Well brace yourself, because I’m gonna deep dive into my monkey brain and tell you all why I put on my grouchy pants from time to time and why I’m willing to sling the odd banana peel at things I don’t like.

  1. I had to suffer through the book dammit! Consider this my very cheap form of therapy. If I suffered through 300+ pages of bilge and was made utterly miserable by a book, then you can be jolly well sure I’m gonna need to vent!!

better out than in shrew

  1. Also, let’s be honest, it’s fun!! Nothing is more cathartic than a good rant- so of course I’m having fun writing these posts and I hope you’re enjoying reading them. Plus, you all get to laugh at my pain. And who doesn’t secretly take pleasure from that? 😉
  1. Honesty is key! I started my blog to share honest opinions about books and that (in my humble opinion) is the best way to have a positive experience and the key to any sort of success. I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s not always easily- some people will say the opposite, but anecdotally I can say my follower count takes a hit when I say something mean about some movie or book I don’t like- and as tempted as I am to follow after the person yelling “come back!” like Rose at the end of Titanic, I know that it’s for the best that I parted ways with someone who can’t take hearing a differing opinion. So I take it as a win anyway 😉 And while we’re on the subject of trust…

come back rose.gif

  1. I’m gonna be blunt– I don’t trust purely positive reviewers- I just don’t. If I go on someone’s page and find nothing but a sea of stars, I’m gonna get suspicious. And if I read a negative review and then the person gives the book upwards of 4 stars, there’s no end to my suspicion! The only way you can trust that I’m giving all my bananas out fairly is if some books don’t get too many. Plus- I love my bananas and only give them away for a good reason- so if I’m giving a book 4-5 bananas it has to be well earned.

terry pratchett banana quote

  1. Besides, rating systems are on a scale for a reason. Books make me feel all sorts of emotions, ranging between AHHH THIS IS AMAZING to UGHHH THIS IS TERRIBLE- so naturally I need a system that reflects that. Talking numerically, if I refuse to go below 3*, I’ve suddenly skewed everything upwards and made 4* books average and now I can’t give 5* sparingly and… arghhh- do you see how confusing this is!? That’s why I have a clear system:

banana rating

  1. Even worse- without clear rating systems, the reader might be misled over whether it’s worth investing time and money in a book. Book reviewing serves a purpose and as much as we may hate to admit it, we *need* to discriminate against books sometimes, because (unfortunately) we don’t have money trees and as much as we would like to personally finance every author/publishing house/book shop on the planet, that is simply not possible. As it is I’m shopping on AbeBooks, scanning every amazon bargain and hopping over to the library once a week (highly recommended practices 😉 ) Contrary to popular belief, our tbr’s don’t just want to be fed all the time- they want to be starved a little as well (okay they’ll never go hungry- but maybe we should put them on a diet). The fact is, we’re not just reading reviews to have our own opinions confirmed or to hear how every single book is just excellent and we need to read it- we need to know whether we should read something or not. If there’s a reason I really shouldn’t be wasted my hard earned cash on something- I want to know about it. And if that means my tbr will get shorter, so much the better!

monster book of monsters

  1. It’s a challenge! Call me crazy, but seeing a negative review for a book I love is like throwing down a gauntlet (and vice versa). It’s great to have perspectives challenged and see things from another point of view- and nothing makes you think more critically than seeing an opposing opinion. Naturally this doesn’t mean you have to agree with the reviewer- sometimes hearing someone’s arguments can actually help you bolster up your own views as you think of counter arguments and you can go away with your opinions intact- but this just shows it doesn’t hurt to hear another point of view, it can only help.

come at me bro.gif

 

So there you go- those are my reasons I’m happy to be a negative nancy from time to time. What do you think of sharing negative opinions? Let me know in the comments!