Isn’t it funny how sometimes it’s the little things that can get to you as opposed to the bigger things? It’s those little things that can build up along side the big and then cause you to have a mini meltdown. Well that is sort of what happened on Sunday and I thought as in the main the mini things were blog related I would share them with you all. The bigger things aren’t blog related but I will share them later so that you can see where I am coming from. (This isn’t an ‘I’m quitting’ or naval gazing post by the way, it’s more a taking a step back thinking and explaining kind of post.) This is one of my longest posts ever but please do read it, your thoughts as ever much appreciated.
Recently things have been really crazy at Savidge Reads HQ, there was a health blip for me (and we aren’t talking colds, though I do have a rather impressive one now), then there was all the Home Office and visa stress for The Converted One and I, there was also the rather minimal (but delightfully crazy, I am not moaning) time of a mere month to get the longlist for The Green Carnation Prize. Then to top it all off everything went crazy at my day job and I was fighting for my position there whilst redundancies were being made left right and centre. My blog, your comments and other blogs were like little havens in a time of madness – they saw me through.
Now as Savidge HQ seems to be falling down around our ears; the bay window is leaking cos of the rain, we have been invaded with mice, the washing machine blew up, the bath and toilet have leaked and ruined the tiles – oh and now I am sick with a cold our boilers packed up. Yet still the blog and my books have remained a constant something I can focus on and forget about the other stuff (hence why it’s not been mentioned much till now).
Yet when I got two emails from publishers (who will remain nameless as I don’t think one of them meant it the way I took it, I am being self aware yet using it to illustrate a point, and I wouldn’t want to embarrass the other) last week I sat and thought ‘do you think all bloggers do is read books all day and write bookish thoughts?’ I felt like the fact we all have lives too seemed to have been forgotten. It made me have a little rethink as to ‘why do I blog, and what and who for?’ again I promise this isn’t navel gazing, nor is it an attack on publishers, honest.
The first email was from a publisher who sent me one of their big releases, a book they have all been going delightfully doolally for at their offices, unsolicited but with a lovely letter and all that jazz. I had sent an email back saying thanks am very busy but will try and read it in the next week or so, I’m not sure when or when it might appear on the blog. Imagine my surprise when I got a rather demanding, it could be the way I read it, email asking for ‘a breakdown of your thoughts as you have STILL not written about it on your blog’ I think it was meant to be funny, I didn’t read it so.
I then had another email from a publisher who had sent me a press release by email about a book they thought was right up my street, it was but again I explained I had a lot on and if they needed it reviewed in a rush then thanks but no thanks, not in an arsey way either. This email simply was ‘you promised us you would review this soon…’ I actually said anytime between now and Christmas in this specific books case.I felt really guilty at both of these… initially… then I just felt cross.
I hadn’t asked for the first book (I don’t mind getting unsolicited books at all, as long as they come pressure and guilt free) and had agreed to read the other one ‘in my own time, when I could’ sending both publishers a kind email of thanks and explaining I didn’t know when I would read it or when it might appear on the blog. The latter in part is because I have noticed there seem to be trends for certain titles to get over blogged about and that seems less word of mouth more saturation, I digress. I then felt like I needed to get on with that review of the book I read and bloody hurry up with reading the other one. And then I thought ‘hang on… stop, whose blog is this?’ along with ‘but I really don’t want to read that book right now’.
So Sunday when I decided to give up my only fully free day in the last four weeks to doing both… only I sat and had a day off from the blog and brooded by myself over it all instead. (The lovely Novel Insights came for dinner and got her ear chewed off about it all too.) I then saw the lovely Kirsty of Other Stories post and that gave me a further kick up the bloggish bum and so I have come up with a few decisions, though they are still a work in progress.
First up I need to remember what this blog is for and why I am doing it. I am doing it because I love books and want to share that love with other people but mainly for myself. This is my online book diary. Therefore ‘oh blimey now I need to devote a few hours to reviewing it and doing it justice’ and then putting pressure on myself. This does mean I am taking an extended sabbatical from book group, but the sabbatical is wobbly, I may end up going to them apart from when I am in Brazil of course.
Secondly I need to come up with a review policy. I haven’t had one until now and that’s been a bit of an oversight I think. I need to think about the wording over the next few days but the gist will be; feel free to send me your books (and especially your catalogues and press releases) as long as they come guilt and time frame free, I may review them in days – it might take me a month or twelve, no pressure please. (Actually nearly all the publishers I deal with are already ok on this front but it would be nice to set it in stone somewhere.)
Thirdly I think I am going to stop reviewing books (I call them book thoughts to myself but review seems a better label on the blog) I feel a bit on the fence about, because writing my thoughts on books I want to devote my spare time writing about books I love, and occasionally loathe if any truly get up my spout, and doing them justice.
And finally, blimey its been an epic post today, I need to go back to reading what I love both new and also older and reading them on a whim (apart from with The Green Carnation which will be over a much extended period next year and therefore much easier) and more importantly go back to reading in my own time frame. I have noticed I have been reading some books really fast so I can tell you all about them and that is detrimental to the books and to my reading time and experience I think. This could end up with fewer posts but that’s fine, this isn’t my job I shouldn’t have deadlines and pressures I have enough of those elsewhere, we all do.
So I am going to have a good old think over the next few days and along with my review policy come up with some sort of Savidge Guidelines to keep myself in check and remind me what it is I do this for. Any thoughts or advice please?