Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reflections & The Return

So anyone who follows this blog even halfway semi-faithfully will have gotten to meme that I took a 2-month sabbatical from The Reading Hedgehog (which actually turned into a 1-month sabbatical). It had become a chore, and even something I dreaded doing every week, and I was seriously tempted to just hit the delete button. So I took time off, to rediscover my love for books and to reassess the future of this blog.

I did a ton of thinking, as well as relaxing, during my month off. I examined the reasons I started my blog, and how those reasons applied to my life as it is now. I re-established my love for books. And now I'm ready to share my findings with my wonderful followers:

Firstly, The Reading Hedgehog isn't going away. While my reasons - and therefore need - for this blog have changed, I know I can't give it up. But part of the reason I was finding it to be a chore is because my reasons for running it had changed. The Reading Hedgehog started out as a whim idea. I had watched the movie Julie and Julia and loved the idea of blogging. So I created 667B Baker Street - which then morphed into this current blog, and then an obsession. I poured every ounce of my spare time into reading books and researching upcoming releases just so I would have content for my blog. Just as reading has always been an escape from life for me, working on this blog became a way to shut out the rest of the world - and still feel like I was somehow a part of it. Because, y'know, socializing online isn't all that different from actually socializing! The blog also became a way to make me feel less guilty about spending so much time reading.

The cold facts: I am not the person I was when I started The Reading Hedgehog. I no longer feel guilty about sitting down and reading for hours on end - because I am earning my own money now, and paving the way for a future, and I have earned my right to unwind with a good (or bad) book. Reading is one of my biggest passions, and you should never feel guilty about your passions! I also have a life outside of the internet. I still value and love all of the friends I have made on the online world. You guys are awesome and I appreciate each and every one of you, and it would totally make my day if I ran into any of you at future author/book events! But recently I've also found pleasure outside of my little internet sphere. I have friends I can hang out with, new hobbies (like swing dancing and rock climbing and cooking), and I've recently rediscovered my love for traveling - which has, in its turn, reawakened my writing genius. Suddenly the world around me is almost as interesting as a lot of the books I read!

It's a long story how I went from reclusive, anti-social, insecure, totally and absolutely introverted Me to this more outgoing, embracing-and-living-life, daring-to-dream Me. And how it happened is irrelevant to this post. It wasn't an overnight process, though sometimes it does feel like it was.

Anyway, I was still running this blog under the pretense that I was still the same old Me who started it in 2010. But because I'm not her anymore, I didn't see the value in it. The pressure to have something up every day was wearing on me, the last thing I wanted to do after working all day was go home and work on something else that felt just as much a job - only I wasn't being paid for it. Books were becoming less and less of an escape, and more of a chore. I was losing my interest and my love for it.

This was a crisis. Mara does not lose her passion for books.

But I realized that just because The Reading Hedgehog is no longer filling a part of me that is now filled with other things, didn't mean I had to stop running it. A lot of time and effort has been put into this blog. I have met a lot of fantastic people because of it - and there is nothing more thrilling than to meet a famous YA author and have them say, "Oh! I've been on your blog! Thank you so much for reviewing my books! How is your hedgehog?" I feel like I would be disappointing a lot of you if I suddenly closed The Reading Hedgehog down.

So it's going back to what it should have been from the start: another passion and hobby among so, so many. I will continue to do reviews and memes like Waiting on Wednesday and Top Ten Tuesday. I will have guest posts and monthly wrap-ups and book hauls and blog tours and author interviews - and all that good stuff. But I am not going to feel the pressure of having something up every single bloody day. I wrongly assumed that you guys would abandon my blog if I didn't keep up this strenuous pace of constantly having new content. But I know that you all understand that sometimes a girl needs a break. Most of you are bloggers, too, and totally get what it's like to feel the pressure of reviews - and balance outside life at the same time. It isn't fun. And because I'm running this blog all by my lonesome, with no help (though I do sometimes wonder if I should take on a second content manager), it's double the work for me. And I can't sacrifice my outside life for the blog. Nor should I sacrifice the blog for my outside life.

In fact, I shouldn't even feel the need to make a choice.

So The Reading Hedgehog will not, in general, be getting a huge change. I may not have something up every day, but I think we can all live with that. Quality and passion are a lot, lot more important than quantity. But I also want to have the time to expand the BookTube aspect of The Reading Hedgehog, and my ultimate goal is to someday totally put The Reading Hedgehog on BookTube and use this blog as another means for people to view the videos.

As for my other blog - Curves In The Road - it's still staying up as well. I need a place to share more than just books on: recipes, life events, quotes, travel adventures, fashion - anything and everything. Curves In The Road is the perfect corner for that and it helped remind me what I loved about blogging so much. And while it may seem that I just added onto my workload, rather than decreased it, I haven't. Curves In The Road is no trouble, and I want to keep The Reading Hedgehog very content-based. I want to continue to share my passion for books with all of you. It's one of my favorite things to do! But I don't want it to be a chore and I know you don't want me to feel that way, either. Once something feels like an obligation, all the passion and sincerity is sucked out of it.

So, followers, keep your eyes on The Reading Hedgehog (and Curves In The Road!). There will be reviews and memes. Maybe not on a daily basis, but they will be there. And hopefully my reviews will return to the quality they should be, as I will choose to write them when I am actually in the mood to write them, rather than when I need to fulfill my quota. There is nothing more dull than a forced review.

And keep an eye on my BookTube channel. I put my sabbatical to good use and have been experimenting with my GoPro camera. And hopefully my videos will be improving in quality - and therefore quantity. I may even get back into video reviews of books!

Thank you all for being understanding of my 2-month absence. It was much needed and I hope that I can make The Reading Hedgehog into everything it should be - and more. You guys are awesome and amazing and have been a big part of my life. I look forward to seeing you around in the BookSphere!