Monday, February 8, 2016

A Book Blogger's Reflection

As many of you have probably noticed, my blog has been relatively quiet for most of the past year. At the outset of my blogging adventure, I aspired to post at least twice weekly. Though that lofty plan fell far short, it was never my intention to neglect my blogfailing to give it the attention required and deserving of such a magnanimous book spreading platform. So, I've decided to step back and reflect on the reasons why I started this blog in the first place.

Several years ago, I'd been reading articles about personal branding. Since literacy is the backbone, ribs, and heart of Cultivating You, Inc., and I am the breath, face, mouth, and body; I thought starting a book blog focusing on books specifically written for the constituents Cultivating You targets would be an excellent way to build my brand. Other than branding, I also started this blog as a means to have authentic conversations with other book lovers about books, to introduce great books that were overshadowed by the more popular books, and to be a resource for people searching for good reads.  

I quickly discovered that blogging is not an easy undertaking. It is a job in and of itself. My first two posts came during the midst of a mentally and emotionally exhausting semestera month after dropping all my classes, then picking one back up, Young Adult Literature. Imagine that! The next followed exactly ten months later. Soon, three more joined the others to round out the year. 

In these last four years, I've learned many life lessons along this blogging journey. 
Lesson 1: Life can and will get in the way causing me to fall behind. 
Lesson 2: When life happens, it's okay to be unsure of the best manner to catch up or even indecisive whether or not to abandon my planned writing schedule and/or projects for a short period. 
Lesson 3: It's unacceptable to fall victim to the uncertainty and put off blogging for months at a time.
Lesson 4Other than my tendency to make the book review process harder than it is, the growing number of unfinished reviews filling my draft folder stems from a lack of discipline to sit my "little self" down and write it soon as I finish a novel, as well as, the book nerd's itch...a propensity to immediately begin another book. :) 
Lesson 5Outside of my faith and family, reading and writing, whether it's private or public, keeps me centered. 
Lesson 6: As much as I love books and yearn to talk about them, I have to confess, I craved followers just as much as those grand book talks. When they didn't flock in droves, flock at all really, my enthusiasm along with my motivation waned. But somewhere within the last four years, I've found myself and realized its not about the followers, but about my love of reading and love of sharing. So bump the followers! Don't get me wrong, I would still love to have them, but I no longer review to reel them, but I write for me...for the joy...for the love of it...because not to do it would be death.
Lesson 7: To generate the conversations I desire, I must post consistently so that my followers and others may engage in authentic conversation. 
Lesson 8: I need to attack my reviews with the same fervor I add books to my Goodreads Want-to-Read shelf.
Lesson 9: It is essential I master time management. For a couple of years, I worked part-time and now that I'm working full-time again it is apparent I failed to adequately manage my time when I had more available to me.  
Lesson 10: Most times, I'm my own worst enemy. 
Lesson 11: Despite the work and frustrations, I do enjoy blogging. I love the feel of accomplishment when I click the publish button.

Whew, lots of lessons...lots of learning...lots of living. At the beginning of 2015, I said "yes"
First BYOB Painting Experience
to More. As a result, 
I volunteered with a nonprofit organization whose goal is to alleviate poverty. While the parents were engaged in the weekly meetings, I worked with the teens introducing them to books, promoting reading, and encouraging them. Though I enjoyed it, I had to forgo the activity because my reading and writing life began to suffer throwing me off kilter. In addition to volunteering, I attended a summer writing workshop at my local library on creating heroes and villains. I walked out of that workshop with the starters of a great story: two characters, a plot, and a means to fuse what I had just created with an idea that had been bouncing around in my head for a few years. My greatest joy over the past year was facilitating a summer program, Hear Me Roar: A 10-Week Journey in Self-Discovery through Literacy, for high school students. There are a number of other things I've done throughout the year including going out more and being more forgiving of myself. 

I cannot close this post without apologizing to Netgalley, ZStreet Team, Goodreads First Reads, San Francisco Book Review, authors, and publishers for requesting or winning books and not providing reviews in a timely manner or at all. It bothers me because I place high value on my integrity and I broke my word to do what I agreed to do. 

In remedy, beautiful, colorful spines line my kitchen table awaiting me to finish up their review. I'm not going to promise, declare, or decree, but will state my goal, and work hard to finish these reviews and be accountable for honing my craft and completing posts. Any retro works-in-progress (unfinished drafts a year or more old), containing my initial reaction to the book after I first read it will be kept in tack, with a disclaimer leading off the review. Also, those reviews will be labeled "draft folder clean out 2016." 

I have learned so much more about myself as a learner, reader, writer, teacher, and mentor this past year. Truly, 2015 was my year of more and I am eager to witness all that is in store for the years to come. 

Have you recently had to pull back and reflect on something? What was it? What was the outcome? 


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. It is hard to get followers, and I've decided that I have to do this for me because I'll get frustrated otherwise. If nothing else, I'll have a good record of good books. I only post books on my blog that I would recommend to others. I noticed your favorite book is Jane Eyre. That is the book that most changed my life and let me know that I can have the kind of life I want even though my beginnings weren't too great.

    1. Indeed. It took me some time, but I figured out that I was worth writing for even if no one else read a single word of what I wrote. A few months back, I listened to an audiobook version of Jane Eyre and fell in love with the book all over again. Thanks for commenting and following my blog. I followed you back. :)


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