I have a hard time letting go of things that no longer serve me. Only to say I still have them. As if maintaining this "thing" that makes me unhappy will validate me somehow. As if I hold on long enough, I'll find happiness in it. It's why I'm stepping away from blogging. I fear being rendered invalid as both a writer and as a person of any level of importance once I step back, but I'm doing it, anyway.
I started reviewing because I was unemployed and pulling at my hair with a lack of activity. I wanted to be a writer so bad, and while I pursued my masters, I had to do something that tied me to writing regularly. School assignments weren't enough. Creativity in school work was limited, and I needed to be creative. So, I started reviewing books.
It's about 7 or 8 years down the line, and sadly I've grown to dislike reviewing books for several reasons. I am an honest person, people, mostly, do not value honest reviews. When I first started, I felt differently, but now I'm critiqued just for not liking a book someone I follow wrote. The tie between me and the faux relationship we've created snaps the moment I expressed my dislike for their novel. Blogging is also a lot of gratuitous work. It's constant deadlines, and for many people, the fear of not getting it right. Fortunately, I never feared what people might think of my reviews. I wrote them honestly and courteously concerning the feelings of the author, but even that wasn't enough. The deadlines became overwhelming. As a lover of books, a genuine lover of books, it's hard not to overextend yourself in that regard. You honestly want to read as many books as often as you can. I was that girl. If I could just read the books, I can validate myself as a writer and as a reviewer, and I'll be happy.
Baby, that's a lie. If I could offer any advice to a newbie reviewer, do this for yourself. I did, at least initially, but along the way, it became something else entirely. I started finding myself saying yes to books and authors I wouldn't normally consider, you know, based on personal tastes. You disappoint yourself in favor of not disappointing a stranger. That's crazy.
I'm walking away from people's obligations of what I should and should not be saying. Not that it was a weighty factor before this, but it's one piece of baggage I picked up along the way. Did I mention that often, authors don't even say thank you? We go into this for whatever reason, but when an author asks for a bit of your time, and you share it, the least they can do is offer a simple, "Thank you." It's really not that hard.
Not to mention the discourse and the drama. With the pandemic still ravaging the streets, people dying in record numbers, constant, stagnant, never changing drama about books seems trivial in comparison.
That's not to say I won't still talk about books because at the core of me is an honest love of books. Reviewing stole that from me. I'm reclaiming my time.
I will fulfill all of my obligations for books I've already agreed to review. But both Literally Black and This Girl Reads A lot as we know it will be a non-existent entity. I've grown some genuine friendships through this experience, and I will always be thankful for that. I'll still be reading and rating books as I read, but writing a review piece for every single one, I will no longer be doing that.
Thank you to every single person who has supported me as a blogger and has found value in my reviews. For now, it's not goodbye, it's see you around.
Signing off, Jazmen.