When I started writing a book blog what seems like a lifetime ago, I was a bookseller in real life. My intent had been to drum up a little business for the shop where I worked, develop a following, and maybe grow up to be one of those bloggers who break out and get recognized by publishers and writers.
The first hiccup in that journey happened when I wrote a lukewarm review for a book, to which the author and her fans took great exception. Out of deference to my employer, I took that blog entry down, and then decided that, if I couldn't offer an honest opinion there just wasn't any real point in publishing any reviews. I obliterated the entire blog and all its reviews, and as far as I can tell there is honestly no trace of any of it out there anywhere anymore.
The second act was an attempt to revive the blog, anonymously this time, with no identifiers regarding my location or my name or my employer. I clued in a small handful of people, but because I couldn't openly promote it, it went nowhere.
During that process I developed a profounder appreciation for the folks I know who are successful with book blogging. They put in hours and hours of time, mostly adhering to rigid schedules of publication of their reviews, joining challenges and actively interacting with other book bloggers, publishers, and writers across every form of social media.
I mean, I'm here to tell you -- they put the work in, people. I had to admit I just didn't have the focus or time or energy to do the same.
And then the bookstore closed. For the first time in nearly three decades, I became "just" another reader with opinions, and I could no longer pretend that The Surly Bookseller was anything more than an exercise in vanity. I own that. People who don't want other people to notice them and what they do don't publish things on the Internet and encourage people to read them. There is nothing in the world wrong with that, either. I love a good blog, and am grateful to those who write them.
But my heart just isn't in this anymore. I've begun writing very brief reviews on my Goodreads account. That's a one-stop place for me. I can keep a list of books I want to read, see what other folks are reading, and write a review or just settle for awarding stars when I don't have anything of interest to say about what I've read.
The thing I miss most, now that nearly a year has passed since the bookstore closed, is just being in the presence of other people who love books and reading. I miss needing to stay informed about what's out there, what's on the horizon. I stood in the children's department at Barnes & Noble in Hoover a few weeks ago and literally cried for missing being surrounded by new picture books and putting them in the hands of parents and grandparents so they could delight the children they love. My husband found me in the back corner, pretending to look at a rack of Star Wars socks for toddlers, having no idea that in that moment I had had to make peace with well and truly shutting the door to what had become a integral part of who I thought I was meant to be in this world.
I have ignored my other blog for a long, long time. It's time for me to get back to that one, as soon as I can figure out what the point of it should be. (Along with that whole vanity thing, of course.)
Truth is, my Mama wanted me to write. She believed in me, and I think I have avoided doing it because she isn't here to cheer me on. Maybe it's time to see if I can be my own cheerleader.
So ends this blog, then. I thank any of you out there who might have subscribed to it over the past years, or clicked through to read when I posted a link on Facebook or Twitter. Every comment you've ever made, every time you might have come into the bookstore because I'd piqued your interest and bought a book I recommended, you filled my cup. I will always remain grateful for that.