After recent posts this week, spurred by an anonymous comment left on Amy's post about community/connection, I took a very hard look at what I am doing at my blog. I believe that we are a community here. I have met wonderful people who I consider my friends. If something exciting happens throughout the day, sometimes I'll even think of a specific blogger--and sometimes I'll contact that person just to tell them what I was thinking. I love this connection, this little world that I discovered the summer of 2007 when I left my grad school community and was desperately searching for a new one.
And I feel like I am part of this community. While I wish that there was time that I could devote more to the goings-on, I try to participate in the bigger events--the Read-a-thon, Book Bloggers Appreciation Week--but I have found that I can't do everything that I want to. In my reflections, this past week, I also realized that while I feel like I am a part of this community, my community involvement mostly takes shape in the comments that I leave on other people's blogs. I love commenting. I love feeling like I am part of a conversation--even if it ends with what I say or what the blogger says back to me. I cherish that connection. Some weeks/months are better than others, but people sometimes ask me how I find the time to comment so much. I try to find the time where I can. And if I can't, I can't. And I realize that the 50 blogs that I subscribe to are a mere fraction of what is out there.
Because I share my thoughts and ideas and reactions through commenting, I feel like you guys have a pretty good handle on who I am. There is a connection there, and the people who I comment with regularly are the ones where that connection is stronger. It is stronger with those bloggers who take the time to respond to comments. It is stronger when I can leave a meaningful comment other than "great review." Trish--where the heck are going with all of this? Another reason why I've never done a Sunday Salon: I'm a horrible rambler. :)
I guess the point is, I don't feel like I am doing my part of upholding the community connection. At first I didn't want to get too personal on my blog. But then I found myself sneaking in little peeks of myself here and there. I think that I have a pretty solid voice--it might not be the strongest voice, but it is Trish voice, and I like to think that my voice shows through. While my more personal posts are sometimes few and far between, you've gotten to know silly Trish through the read-a-thon, nervous Trish through my incredibly embarrassing video, and little Trish tid-bits along the way, including my recent interview over at Natasha's. I have a lot to say, I just don't know if anyone is listening. Well, I know you're listening, but is anyone interested? This is a book blog. And my blog is pretty heavy on reviews. But after a year and three quarters, is that all I want it to be? For as much time as I spend on the blogosphere on other people's blogs, I feel it is time for me to put myself out there and do my part to maintain the community connection.
I've always been the reader in the family--for as long as I can remember, I was the one who could always be found with a book in her hand. I don't know what exactly it is about reading and books in general that I love so much, but they are a great source of comfort to me. I love even just looking at my books. Pulling one off the shelf and flipping through and picking up another one. I wasn't an honors student in school and I didn't even really care for my English literature classes. I often didn't even read my required reading (making up for that now!), but I was always reading something.
It wasn't until I was a senior in high school and I was getting ready to write my senior paper that I developed a true love for literature. We had a list of books that we could choose from to write our papers. My first choice was Pride and Prejudice and my second choice was Wuthering Heights. Of course Lisa B. got P&P and I was stuck with Wuthering Heights. But I devoured the book and fell in love with Cathy, Heathcliff, and Emily Bronte's writing. I poured myself into the paper (which was on imagery or something such) and started to sit up and pay attention during class. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had gotten my first choice of Pride and Prejudice. Don't get me wrong, I like the book well enough. But the language in Wuthering Heights was enough to make me drunk: "I lingered round them, under the benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth" (308).
When I went off to college I entered as a pre-medicine student. My background has always been stronger in math and science rather than the liberal arts, but after taking a freshman English survey course, I decided to switch my major to English instead. I entered my sophomore year at Texas A&M with a whole new focus of literature. I still shirked my assigned reading from time to time to read what I wanted to read, but a whole world of words was presented for me and there was no turning back. I didn't know what I would do with my English degree, knowing that I did not want to teach, so I minored in professional writing hoping that I could go into editing (editing you're thinking? Yes, I've never been very good at self-editing...).
After graduation, I had no idea how to get into editing. So, I started working at a small town fire department as an office manager. I loved my job and I loved working with firemen (who wouldn't!), but I couldn't do that for the rest of my life, right? I guess I could, but I wasn't being challenged in any kind of way. So, I took the bullet--something I had always been afraid of--and enrolled in graduate school. I was petrified. Graduate school is for really smart people--not people like me who sometimes read most of the books in class and don't have a firm grip on literary research.
After taking a year's worth of classes, I decided to get serious about my degree and transfer to Texas Tech University in Lubbock (well, the main reason for the move was to be closer to Scott who was getting his business degree there). After another year and a half I earned my MA in English and my lifelong affair with literature and language and reading was sealed. But in the end, Scott and I moved to Smalltown, Texas (Coleman...pop 5,000) and immediately my connection with other readers, the community that I had been apart of for a year and a half was gone. Sure I could email with friends about books, but the connection wasn't the same anymore. Which brings me to blogging...
Why I started my book blog
After several months in Coleman, I was bored and restless. I was reading reading reading, but the information was going in and getting lost somewhere in my muddled brain. A friend of mine recommended Yahoo Book Clubs, so I joined a couple. Four to be exact. But it seemed that the conversations were being dominated by the same folks again and again. Or there was no conversation about the books we were reading. I didn't feel like I was being heard--and it is tough not to be heard when there is an audience there.
On the Yahoo Book Clubs, I noticed that at the end of each month, certain members posted a link to the books they had read during the month. Curious, I popped over and...tada!! Book blogs! A whole new world where people posted about what they were reading. And then...tada!! Challenges! I quickly set up my own blog and never looked back to those book clubs. It didn't matter if I didn't have an audience here, I was writing what I wanted to write about. I was my own audience. I didn't have to worry about if people thought I was dumb or if they thought what I was saying wasn't valid because this was MY space.
Did I mention that I'm a rambler? I guess the whole point to this post is the idea of community and connection. The community is well and alive, and to many degrees I am very much apart of it. But my current method of commenting as much as I can and posting my reviews of books here and there isn't enough of a connection. I'm all of a sudden having troubles voicing what I mean because I'm not really even sure if I know what I mean. :P
I guess I want to reclaim the space that I've created for myself. My blog has always been heavy on reviews and light on other things because of the time commitment that I haven't always wanted to make, but also because I didn't think people cared. Well, guess what...I don't care if people don't care! :) People will read if they want to. If you want to get to know me more, you will. I don't have to be liked by everyone (although deep down inside I do think that would be really nice). I will never be a top-tier blogger, and I might be a little parasitic (I'm drawing on the language of that comment left on Amy's blog mentioned above). But I like that I can draw ideas from you. That I learn from you. That if I have a problem I can ask and you will be there (doesn't my blog look much better without that tired green? Thanks Dar!!). I would like to think that bloggers are mutualistic rather than parasitic. We help each other and make each other stronger readers and writers. If someone isn't learning from someone else, they are either damn good or not learning at all. LOL--now I'm ranting!!
In the end, this is my blog and my experience and I want to put myself out there more. If no one listens, I'll have a very good record of my thoughts. If you do listen, I can only hope that we get to know one another better. Whew--what a cathartic post!!
Off to Half Price Books to ditch some icky books and hopefully pick up some great new ones. So I'll leave you with a few questions--what are your blogging goals? What do you hope to get out of blogging? Are you here for the community/connection? What would you suggest to someone who is new to blogging and trying to become part of the community?