When blogging gets personal.

When blogging gets personal.

Oct
04

14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

This post was inspired by Jamie’s story about the collision of her blogging and personal life.

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This site, although comprised of posts about books, memes and other ramblings, is personal. It’s my space that I choose to share. My posts may not be specifically about me, but they are me nonetheless.  I take the time to read and review the books posted on here.  I read and react and post my thoughts to issues happening in the community or publishing world. This post is personal, too.

But, as personal as this all may be, it’s an estranged, or detached, form of personal. Blogger friends, authors and publishers, while easy to talk to, are not necessarily the same as family or friends you see every day (in person).

For me, The Grammarian’s Reviews is a sort of separate personal life. Yes, my family and some of my friends know about it. But they don’t actively read it, search for it, talk to me about it. It’s more of a “Hey, did you post this on your blog?” or “Hey, you can write about this on your blog!” type of relationship. So when people “in real life” ask about my blog, or find out about it, I’m totally unprepared. And, in all honesty, I become defensive and nervous.

——————————-

At the beginning of this semester, on the first day of my media writing class, I had to introduce myself to the class and explain why I’m interested in media (and what aspects of it). Naturally, I blurted out that I’m an advocate of blogging because I run my own website.

“Oh, really? What sort?”

Again, naturally, I said, “A book review site.”

“Oh. Well, you can have a plug. What’s it called?”

I blinked. I shrugged. I stuttered. Then, in a much quieter voice, I said, “It’s called The Grammarian’s Reviews.”

I hoped – I prayed – no one would write it down and find it later. As soon as I got back from work, I logged on and checked my site stats. Sure enough, there was a miniature spike in page views. (What looked like a spike was pretty much just paranoia. But still.) I wondered if I’d receive an anonymous comment, if someone would mention it to me before the next class.

They didn’t.

But what if they had? Why was I so afraid? It’s not like I have anything to be ashamed of. I’m proud of my work, and I’m proud of the YA and book blogging community.  But that’s the thing.

In my world, when people initially discover I’m a blogger, they want to know what kind. “A book blogger,” I’ll tell them. That’s inevitably followed by the question “Oh, what kind of books?”

Which is when it all goes to hell.

“Young Adult,” I’ll say.

“Oh,” they’ll reply. “Like younger books?” Or, sometimes, “Like Harry Potter?”

“No. That’s middle grade.”

I already know it’s a waste of breath because they don’t understand and have already lobbed me into a stereotype.

——————————-

Jamie’s story made me not only reflect upon this, but also realize that there’s a major difference. Being thrown into the book blogging community, there’s already an established understanding.  We may not blog about the same genres or same books or same issues, but we all have a mutual respect for what each other reads and thinks about those reads.

“In real life,” there’s no established understanding. When someone stumbles across my blog, they don’t already have a respect for the fact that I read or for what I read or for why I blog. It’s like I have to sell myself using my blog, without warning. It puts me on the spot. Every time. I don’t like it, but I’ll never deny being a book blogger and YA book reader.

I just need to work on my confidence when put on the spot.

Do you ever feel embarrassed talking about your blog “in real life”? How can you overcome it?

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14 Responses to “When blogging gets personal.”

  1. Anne says:

    I hate to admit it but I actively try to keep my blogging life and my real life separate. My parents know about it, and some of my coworkers, but that’s it. I think some of that is because I had a falling out with the group of friends I used to discuss books with and blogging was a way for me to build a new group of reader/friends away from that. I don’t like to tell *anybody* just in case it would get back around to those friends and they would feel justified in invading what I’ve created as a personal reading space. It may be an irrational fear, but there you have it – we’re all irrational sometimes.

    I’m just glad that the blogging community *is* so supportive. We all have common goals and we all have an understanding that YOUR blog is YOUR space. We’re very polite about respecting that (at least everyone I’ve met is, I’ve heard stories, but fingers-crossed none of my blogging friends ever have to experience that). Even among other book lovers in real life you run into difficulty because people feel the need to argue with your opinions if they disagree, instead of politely, respectfully just saying so. On the internet and through text we have to be very careful because of the pitfalls of communication without facial expressions and inflection that we’re naturally just nicer about what we’re saying.

    Sorry for the novel! Great post, Alissa, lots to think about!

    • Alissa says:

      That’s so true. Many readers I know often like to rag on my reading choices, or don’t even bother to try and understand why I read what I read. It can be difficult to build that respect between one another, which is why I think I prefer to keep my book talk on here. The respect is (usually) already there.

  2. I love this post, Alissa! Part of the reason why I love book blogging is that I don’t have to feel odd or ashamed of reading and blogging. I think I also show a side of myself in blogging that people in real life may not see or understand. But I’m working on my own confidence when it comes to not letting people IRL affect my pride in my blog. 🙂

    • Alissa says:

      I love getting to show the side of myself that people in real life don’t understand. It’s one of my favorite parts about blogging, especially because, when I first started, I expected I’d have to limit myself and my voice.

  3. Kris says:

    I think it depends on the intention of your blog. My music blog, for example, is a weird hybrid of the cyber world/creative non-fiction/personal reflection/academic analysis that there is no way I can completely separate my personal life from it. There’s a danger to that though, which I’ve certainly faced.

    For me, the nervousness about talking about my blog “in real life” is a matter of separation of worlds. My friends read my blog – no biggie, thanks for the support. Enemies have read my blog – yeah whatever glad you have nothing better to do with your life. But, if I write it on the internet then I expect it to be a internet thing. As soon as someone casually pulls out the old “Oh hey, I read you blog post recently” in real life, that’s when I flush red and start stuttering….or stay quiet because inside I’m like “ohgodohgodohgod.” It’s not really something I can control though. I write about personal things so I have to get over it sometimes.

    My secret is just to plow through it. It’s not something I can control so why worry about it.

    • Alissa says:

      True. You can’t control anyone’s response.

      I’d like to, at some point, be able to control my own responses though. I don’t want to stutter or stay quiet or feel bad about whatever they’ve seen. I want to stand behind my work, which I don’t think I do well enough.

  4. Annette says:

    Sometimes I like the fact that my IRL friends and family don’t really check on my blog. I always think about that when I post and make comments. You know, “Would they think this is stupid?” Probably…. but it’s not for them….

    • Alissa says:

      I do that, too. I always think about whatever the current, topmost post is and how friends stumbling upon it would interpret it. But that’s really what it comes down – they’re own interpretation and judgment.

  5. We Heart YA says:

    Everything in the last section of this post = big fat yes.

    We’re all part of a community, so we understand how things work. But outside those “walls,” anything goes, and some people will get it, but many others won’t.

    Is that scary? Absolutely.

    But one thing that might be helpful to remember, is that everyone’s got those “walls” in their lives. They’re Gleeks, or they’re into fly fishing, or they volunteer at soup kitchens on the weekends, or they gamble, or whatever. There’s any variety of “clubs” and communities that people belong to that their friends & family just won’t understand.

    They key, as you said, is to be okay with it. To have confidence on the spot.

    And to not feel like we have to justify ourselves to anyone else. Explaining is one thing; justifying is different.

    • Alissa says:

      I love that you used fly fishing as an example.

      Also, you’re right. Justifying versus explaining is a good way to look at it. I’ll be keeping that in mind!

  6. […] Alissa (The Grammarian’s Reviews) builds off Jamie’s post from last week and talks about when we admit to people IRL that we are book bloggers. […]

  7. […] (The Grammarian’s Reviews) wrote a post on blogging versus personal life. It got me thinking about my personal reasons for blogging in a way I haven’t […]

  8. I did for a while, but then I read somewhere that if I’m really passionate about my blog, I should be shouting from the rooftops that I blog and what the address is. My situation is probably a little easier since I focus on sci-fi and fantasy, which, while nerdy, is generally accepted by the real life nerdy community. In fact, once I started telling people that I have a book blog, I started feeling like I had more street cred as a sci-fi/fantasy fan :D. Not everyone that I tell finds their way back to the blog, but a couple of my rl friends read it regularly. It’s crazy to look over their shoulder in class and see one of my posts on their screen!

    For YA bloggers, maybe pre-empting the misunderstanding by saying “Young Adult, so books like the Hunger Games and/or Twilight” or something more eloquent than that. Since THG and Twilight are popular, it could help bridge the gap…. I suspect a lot of those people might have actually read and liked one of those series and will then be excited to hear about more books like them.

    • Alissa says:

      That’s a good idea to keep in mind. I’ve never thought of providing examples. Once I get the dreaded WTF look when I mention YA I tend to shut down, so this could maybe help stop that. Thanks!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (book review)

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him—the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target.

384 pages | Published: September 29, 2011 | Penguin Group

MY THOUGHTS:

For a story that revolves around Jack the Ripper, I expected there to be many more Ripper moments.

The first chunk of The Name of the Star consists of serious build-up and character building, specifically that of Rory and her new life at boarding school. It’s a typical fish-out-of-water scenario.  That said, the characters are all memorable and realistic – especially the boys.  For once, it was nice to not have boys banging down any doors, standing outside windows with boomboxes, or going out of their way to get the girl.  Consequently, the romance took a back seat.  And even when it was prevalent, it was spontaneous and … awkward.  Really, all it did was get my hopes up very early on.

I never expected this story to take the turn that it did.  It kept me hooked, but dissolved into a letdown.  I never felt the urgency or terror associated with the Ripper drama. Instead of increasing in action, it dwindles, becoming a long history lesson. Between long monologues and recounts of past events, I fought to finish. The latter half of The Name of the Star feels as if it’s a separate story, woven together out of thin air.  I felt tricked, no longer understanding the story’s progression.  Had there been more answers to Rory’s questions, maybe I’d be satisfied as well. But I’m just left wondering how the story gets from point A to point B.

This is a good one if you enjoy mysteries that pull you in multiple directions.  It’s not entirely unpredictable, but more teasing than anything.  Don’t expect to be scared. It’s rather tame. Ultimately, I’m unsure what The Name of the Star tries to achieve.

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6 Responses to “REVIEW! The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.”

  1. Have you read any of Maureen Johnson’s contemp books? I’m curious how they compare.

  2. We Heart YA says:

    Really good review. We only read part of NAME OF THE STAR (then the library book was due back, haha) but we agree that it wasn’t completely… even/coherent. Like, we enjoyed it well enough, but we were never totally absorbed or emotionally engaged. We might finish it, just to find out what happened, but… well, we might just enjoy Maureen Johnson’s Twitter stream instead. 😛

    • Alissa says:

      Yes, exactly: never fully engaged. I wanted to be, so badly. But the story never added up.

      I think it’s worth finding out what happens. But if there’s a sequel (which I’m betting there is one already planned), I probably wouldn’t attempt it.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (review)

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

304 pages | Published: June 14, 2012 | Penguin Group USA, Inc.

MY THOUGHTS:

Can I just say that Sam and Jase may be my new favorite contemporary YA couple? Really. Jase is the fictional boyfriend I’ve been looking for all along.

Fitzpatrick makes these characters sing. They’re so real and dynamic, always working with each other. I’ve never before seen so many characters flow together.

That being said, I think this plot attempts to tackle a lot, and succeeds in tackling half of it. From politics, to drugs, to sex, to best friends, to boyfriends, to exes – there’s a lot to be said. And most of the time, Fitzpatrick gets the messages across. But the latter portion of the book nosedives so fiercely and suddenly, and doesn’t have enough time to recover. I just wanted more, more, more. It left me feeling like someone stomped on my heart and tried to put it back to normal…unsuccessfully. The resolution feels like a cop-out. When it says “the bottom drops out of her world,” Fitzpatrick wasn’t kidding. In the turn of a page the story goes from a super high to a super low. (Keep tissues handy. Just in case.)

Nevertheless, be prepared to be captivated very early on, even though it’s strange at first. The plot points (although whacky later), are spaced in a way that’s so seemingly seamless and fluid.  You get from Point A to Point B to Point C without ever feeling as if something’s been done just to create this new niche in the story.

If anything, read it for the romance. Really. It’s too darn perfect. Everybody will want a Garrett.

I know I do.

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5 Responses to “REVIEW! My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.”

  1. Alissa. I am INTRIGUED by this book. INTRIGUED. (Also, I like romance. Like, a lot.)

  2. We Heart YA says:

    Oh yeah, we definitely do. 😉

    We felt very similarly too you on pretty much all fronts, and are glad to know we’re not the only ones!

  3. […] Reviews: Goodreads Tar Heel Bibliobabe: 5 of 5 Stars (@theelbibliobabe) The Grammarian’s Reviews: 4 of 5 Stars […]

On falling behind on blogging.

On falling behind on blogging.

Oct
14

19 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

As many of you already know, I’m a college student (tackling senior year!). This probably means nothing to you.

But it means everything to me. They tell you college is what you make of it, and well…I’m making the most of it. My schedule is jam-packed. Between classes, work, homework and thesis-writing, I have little spare time in which I feel like doing anything productive. Seriously. I’m all about putting aside the computer and just…not thinking or worrying about stuff.

Because of this, I severely slack on my personal reading and blogging.

But this isn’t one of my typical apologetic, I’ll Be Back Soon! posts.

I was inspired to write this after reading Amanda’s post on the entitlement mentality.

Every winter break and summer, I put a lot of my time into blogging and reading. Not because I have to, but because I want to. After going months estranged from the community, I begin to crave that normalcy and friendship again. In short: I miss you guys! So I throw myself out there. I participate in read-a-thons, try new projects, become a Twitter-holic. In return, I get visitors here. I meet new bloggers. I expand my blog reading list.

Every time I go back to school, I lose visitors. With no new content to draw them in, TGR sits abandoned. The best I can do is offer occasional posts and comments, which is enough to stay in touch with those I’ve grown closer to, but not nearly enough to build and maintain new blogging relationships. Even knowing this, I still, at times, get that nagging entitlement feeling – the one that says, “They know you’re busy. They don’t expect posts. Surely they’ll keep tweeting you as if you’re still around.” Or, “Don’t worry about it. You’ve established a small following of readers. They’ll be here when you return.”

But the truth of the matter is…they’re not. You’re not. You don’t keep visiting a blog that isn’t putting out new content, no matter how often you used to visit. What’s the point in visiting a somewhat-deserted blog?

It’s not that I enjoy feeling entitled. It’s not even like I truly feel entitled. For me, it’s more about knowing I’ve put in so much work, and the thought of it going to waste really bothers me. No one wants their blog or presence to be forgotten, do they?

I don’t know how to manage my time. I have calendar plugins and personal notes to get myself to read and post, but I can’t get myself to ever sit down and do it during the school year.

Is there a way to fix this? Is there something I could be doing to get back on track, to keep blogging while at school? Help!

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19 Responses to “On falling behind on blogging.”

  1. Definitely put college first; your formal education and all the fun stuff. Maybe you could post, short ones if need be, about your classes, the books you’re reading, heck even review books you read for classes. Your posts and reviews don’t have to be long, just substantial. Could you manage one post a week or every two weeks? If not, maybe monthly?

    You could do discussion posts, as you have time.

    While you want to keep your readership up, and I understand that, don’t stress over it. Even if you can’t post regularly, when you’re online visit and comment on other blogs so you keep up those relationships and keep your name visible.

    Have fun at school and good luck!

    • Alissa says:

      I’m definitely putting school first, of course. (I’d be worried if I wasn’t!)

      But once a week might be doable. I’ll have to look into planning something like that. :]

  2. First of it, it’s not “entitled” it’s “addicted.” You’re addicted to the feedback of an active community, to the little footprints that get left in your stats that tell you you’re not alone in the universe.

    Welcome to the club.

    I used to have a boss who messed endlessly with the schedule on a paper thin staff, trying to avoid having to admit he needed more people. I had to tell him, “you know, no matter how much you rearrange it, you’ll never turn a bikini in to a burka.”

    Your time is a bikini. You can only cover so much. Cover the necessaries (including sleep!) and then cover something that makes you happy, and the rest can go get sunburned.

    Remember this about blogging — blogging is forever. All that work you put in still counts for something in the blog-o-sphere, especially in terms of search engines. When you come back to it, you may not have your audience, but you will have an easier time building a new audience. (And they will be interested in your old posts. They won’t care how old they are.)

    • Alissa says:

      I really don’t think I’m “addicted.” That’s a bit harsh of a word and carries a lot of negative connotations.

      But I love the bikini analogy! It’s a great way to think of it. And it’s important to remember that blogging is forever.

      • Oh, I didn’t mean to be harsh, but I was speaking literally — there is something literally addictive about immediate feedback. It causes chemical reactions in your brain. And it affects everyone. It’s not like being a addict.

    • We Heart YA says:

      Completely agree with Camille here! (And haha love the bikini analogy.)

  3. I don’t think wanting to see return on our hard work is being entitled.

    But you’re right: you can’t expect people to treat you like always when you’re not around. That’s not to say that we don’t miss you, though. We do. Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for dealing with blogging and school. That was the reason I waited so long to start my own book big.

  4. And that should say book BLOG but my phone is stupid.

  5. Liz. R says:

    I wish there were a way to keep blogging while at school, but it’s hard. I’m trying to get more organised but there really just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ve only been here a few weeks and I’m already feeling pretty overwhelmed by all the work! And I get what you mean about putting in the work and it sort of going to waste. However, I do also feel like I let everyone down when I take a break and abandon the blog for a while. Sadly, though, it has to be done. Education must come first.

    • Alissa says:

      LIZ! <3

      Granted, there are times when the work isn’t overwhelming, and that’s when I’m able to put out posts like this. But they’re very few and far between. I also feel like I’m letting people down when I don’t consistently post. But like you said, education has to come first. I just wish there were some way to find balance.

  6. […] (The Grammarian’s Reviews) asked what we do when life gets in the way of blogging. I know I need to work on this […]

  7. Nikki Steele says:

    I’ll be a bit contrary to the other posters, but in the same supportive way that they all are too. Yes, you should put school first, but (and this is a major but), from everybody I’ve seen graduate around me for the last few years (myself included), life gets inordinately busier after school than we could have ever imagined during school. It’s not to bust your butt or even draw on the entitlement thing. What it more gets to is priorities. I imagine you will always feel busy, but making blogging a priority every day or every week that works for you is at the bottom of it.

    Again, trying not to assume that you don’t feel overstressed or out of time. When that happens, it’s just that realignment needs to happen as well and you have to pick and choose those things that you can fit into a normal 24 hour day. If you need your blog and the community to feel sane, make an hour a day for it or two hours on Sunday nights, something to make it into a habit.

    Sorry for my longer response! We all feel ya. I have you on my Reader so I’ll definitely check back in when you have time to put up new content. Good luck!

    • Alissa says:

      Aw, thank you, Nikki. You make an awesome point! Blogging (and the community) DOES make me feel more sane. Making time for it really is the issue. Maybe looking at it that way will be better instead of worrying about scheduling specific posts. Like, before I can do that, I need to first make the time.

    • We Heart YA says:

      Also love and agree with Nikki’s point too: life is always going to be busy, and probably only more so as you get older, start a career, maybe a family…

      A couple ideas:
      – Once a week might be a good, reasonable goal.
      – Partnering. Do you have any friends or fellow bloggers that you’d be interested in having join the Grammarian’s Reviews team? With 4 of us, it’s much easier to keep regular content going, because we have a schedule, and if something comes up with one of us, one of the others can cover.

      • Alissa says:

        I’ve actually looked into partnering in the past, but I’m not looking to do that right now. :/

        I am, however, looking into attempting once-a-week posts.

I spy a book festival + updates! – thegrammariansreviews.com

I spy a book festival + updates!

Sep
21

4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: News

It’s time for the National Book Festival in D.C. again! Remember last year when I met Sarah Dessen? Good times.

BUT THIS YEAR WILL BE EVEN BETTER. Why?

John Green. R.L. Stine. David Levithan. Lowis Lowry. Melissa Marr.

These are some of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to see them, to hear them speak. (And maybe get some autographs if I feel like standing in lines for several hours.)

I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet any fellow bloggers last year, but I’d love to change that this time around, if possible. Let me know if you’re going!

———————————

And now, an obligatory response to the Where have you BEEN? question:

School. It has taken over my life. Even when I’m not in classes or at work, I’m STILL working. When I have downtime, I tend to waste it playing games or lurking on Twitter. You know – basically wasting it on everything aside from reading and blogging. But this isn’t anything new, is it?

Bottom line is I’m booked solid. But I’m not gone!

I’m doing my best to keep in touch while also keeping my school priorities straight. It’s an important year.

Hope everyone’s doing well!

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4 Responses to “I spy a book festival + updates!”

  1. PLEASE COME BACK TO US SOON, ALISSA!

    (And yes, that totally required all caps.)

  2. Liz. R says:

    Ooh that book festival sounds awesome! Wish I could go. And definitely got to keep school a priority – I haven’t been posting much for the same reason. Hope you manage to get some time to relax though :).

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