On book blogging and balancing “dual lives”…
I wouldn’t trade being a book blogger for anything. Every day I’m so grateful that I found a hobby that I love so much, has presented me with so many opportunities, and has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people… But it’s also a tricky hobby at times because it IS so public.
BLOGGING + HOME: I’ve never been a really outgoing person. In my group of friends — from elementary school all the way through college and even adult life — I’ve never really been the outgoing one or the risk-taker or the one to put myself out there. When I started a book blog a little over two years ago, part of the reason I did it was because it was essentially anonymous. The only person who knew I was starting a blog was my one friend who enjoyed reading as much as I did and honestly that was it. I didn’t tell my family until after I had started blogging for a while and it started to become a bigger part of my life and I definitely didn’t tell my extended family or my friends because… well, it just felt WEIRD. It’s not like I was saying anything in my blog that I wouldn’t say to my family or friends but there’s a little sense of security putting your thoughts out there knowing that most of the people who are reading it will never meet you in person and you get to distance yourself from it a little bit. (Granted two major things have changed over the years since I latched onto that idea and one is that I have made such good friends with so many book people and HAVE met them in person and do in fact know them really well now and two that I actually do share some personal things on my blog from time to time (like now?) although it’s not as often.)
I’ve finally gotten to a point where some of my closer friends know about my blog and my family definitely does… My mom still brags about it to people like my aunts and cousins and I still get embarrassed (even though they say they’re impressed haha). I definitely still have a distinct separation there, but not really so much with my “regular” home life. Obviously my fiancé knows how involved I am with book blogging and supports me with it and he’s really proud of me too. I TRY not to let blogging activities interfere too much when we’re at home spending time together (reading, tweeting, blogging) and do that when we both have time to sit down and do our hobbies. Sometimes I have to reel myself in when I’m doing too many blogging things and not really paying attention to Shane because it’s just so easy to get addicted and glued to my phone or computer when I’m getting blog comments or tweets or Instagram likes but I have to remember that while those things are very rewarding and as much as Shane does support me, I don’t want to neglect him because of those things.
MEETING BOOKISH PEOPLE FACE-TO-FACE: I think the other thing that people don’t normally think about as far as “balancing dual lives” is the face-to-face interaction when I DO attend book events and I DO see other bookish people in person. I’m not the best conversationalist. I enjoy writing blog posts because I get to take my time, formulate my thoughts, and figure out exactly how I want to word things. I can interact well with people via email and Twitter and blog comments because they’re quick interactions and I don’t feel the pressure to keep the conversation going or make sure I say exactly the right thing in exactly the right way. When I first started going to events, I was just a nobody so I didn’t even bother trying to interact with people because, well… I didn’t know anyone! I was happy to keep to myself and just enjoy the event.
Maintaining a blog can be a lot of work but for me, that’s the easy part. The hard part for me comes the time where I meet people face to face — especially people I’ve been interacting with via the internet for weeks or months or even years — and then I feel the pressure to come off just as smooth and eloquent as I feel like I’ve made myself during internet exchanges and that’s really not an easy thing for me. Even after knowing some of my local bookish friends for a year or more now, I still find myself uneasy and not knowing what to say when I see them again at book events and sometimes we don’t even sit together because I’m just too awkward to put myself out there and invite myself to sit down. I’m afraid I’m that girl who talks too fast and says weird things. It’s easy to sit in front of a computer screen and feel confident about what I’m saying and how I’m projecting myself but I just feel so much more pressure to do those things in person and sometimes I DO feel like I’m two different people when I’m talking to book people in the flesh.
BEA 2014 was somehow “worse” than 2013. BEA 2013 was my first year attending so I was more focused on meeting Alyssa for the first time and not being a total weirdo with her (thankfully this was an interaction that was totally natural once we were together and things just flowed so smoothly!) and then I had to navigate the conference for the first time so I was more focused on where to be and how to get there and what books to grab. 2014 was a very different BEA for me because it was so much more social than the previous year. Yes, I did meet a lot of bloggers for the first time in 2013, but I felt like I had established much better relationships by 2014 and I even had a few publisher contacts who I was really nervous to meet in person as well! I really do love all of my blogger friends but it was so overwhelming to see SO many people that I knew but still hadn’t actually MET in person and I easily freaked myself out about what to say and how long to stop and say hi to people and who would recognize me and who even WANTED to talk to me so … I did the awkward thing and avoided people. Again. I mean, I didn’t intentionally AVOID people, but if I spotted someone from across the room, I didn’t go the extra mile to go say hi because I was so nervous about what to say and how to say it, what to talk about, how to say goodbye, when to leave. I know I was overanalyzing things, but it’s overwhelming to meet so many people for the first time! I tried to do my best to act natural and just like myself because obviously that’s who I am when I email and tweet and comment, but I just get easily flustered in new situations and tend to stick to myself or cling like GLUE to my roomies in social situations even though I felt totally confident wandering the floor and even walking the 25 minutes from my hotel to the bar by myself in a city I’ve never navigated before for a blogger party because I couldn’t catch a cab. Sometimes the social situations really are the hardest things for me.
To anyone who was a victim of my awkwardness and shyness, I apologize and I hope you understand! I’m constantly making a fool of myself in front of the super exciting but super scary people like authors and publishing contacts (which I’m sure I did at BEA too) but I’m never sure how much enthusiasm is endearing and exciting and how much is actually creepy and overboard! If you’ve ever felt my awkwardness, please know I don’t mean it personally! I surely did not mean to brush you off or avoid you or talk your ear off when you wanted me to leave you alone! Sometimes I feel like meeting book bloggers and industry professionals is like being around your crush. I just have a massive book-crush on you all and I never know what to say or do to make sure I come off as best as I possibly can! 😉
I know I’m not the only person who feels this way! Do you ever feel like you’re balancing two different lives being a book blogger? Do you find it more difficult to balance at home? Do you have difficulty with the social aspect like I do? What’s the best way to balance your blogging life?