My hand wasn't actually up. I consider myself a blogger in the same way I consider myself a "play-dater." (I'm perfectly willing and happy to have a mom and her kids over to play but I refuse to call it a date.) Which is to say that yes, I'm a blogger but that's not at all how I personally identify myself. I am just a regular person who happens to have a blog. I also happen to enjoy having it but I don't look at it as some sort of professional tool that is going to make me a shining star in the world of men. I keep up this place for me and mine because I want to remember what I thought about certain books. Some of you are kind enough to read my thoughts and have refrained from tracking me down personally to ask me about my opinions which you find bizarre and I thank you for that. Honestly, I really do.
I've been blogging here at Reading to Know since 2006, and at other (now defunct) blogs before then. If you've been tracking with me for the past 10-ish years (and some of you have!) you'll have seen Reading to Know go through any variety of changes. Why has it changed? Because I have changed. Because my thoughts and opinions on any variety of subject matters have changed. It will go on changing and, baring something unforeseen, I will go on writing about those changes experienced through the world of reading and books.
Over these many bloggy years I've witnessed the same things that you all have: promos for the next great bloggy conference, the tips and tricks for getting your posts out there, the promise of a future of full of fame and glory which came about at the result of writing up delightful product reviews of the best roll of toilet paper on the market. We bloggers (speaking generally and generally speaking) tend to think we're big stuff. Comments matter. Page views are counted. Do we or do we not advertise on the side-bar? What about attending that conference where if we attend we are promised bloggy buddies for life as well as up to 10,000 new followers?! Travel! See the world through your blog! Get free things! Possess notoriaty! Possibly (gasp) write. a. book. (!) It's glorious fun to think about, is it not?
Now, I can't say that I've totally been immune to the idea of getting the word out there about Reading to Know. If I'm honest (and I will be) it's nice to know that people read along. It's nice that some of you have read along for such awhile that I can truly count you as my friend (and know you count me as one also). Now when I write, I don't always write strictly for me but I write out a conversation that I'm having in my head with you. I've come to know your preferences, your opinions, your cares and your joys. We've conversed enough over these many years to know that we're still going to be friends even if we suddenly stopped blogging. (But we would never stop blogging, of course. No. You'd better not!)
Obviously you are reading this now because I (still) have a blog. That is exactly how I prefer things. Here is my point: I own it and it does not own me. No deadlines. No crazy rules for myself about how often to post, when to post, what to post (and when to inform you if I will or will not post). I'm not denying myself face-to-face fellowship with people in my "IRL" community so that I can tackle my bloggy to do list. It's not so consuming to me that I feel a constant need to mention this site when in the actual company of others. (In fact, I pretty much never do.) Reading to Know is just a blog, not a life. (Let's call it a fun diversion though because it most definitely is that!)
Really, the quantity of people who visit my bloggy abode is not at all important to me. (Nice? Yes. Of course!) But when pressed to answer honestly I also have to tell you, it's the quality of the people who have become my friends that matters more. This blog is absolutely not a popularity contest and - you might have noticed - I don't spend a lot of time playing "link-around-the-web" games in order to increase the number of page views. I don't care a hoot whether publishers like me or not. It's not about them. It's about developing thoughts and sharing with real friends. No striving. I never want this blog to own me because as I've watched other people's blogs begin to own them I always feel a sense of futility on their behalf. If they don't reach their bloggy goals, will they feel a disappointment? Will it be a dashed hope and dream? Frequently it seems so and that's unfortunate for anyone.
In the past people have asked me for advice on how to blog. What host to use? How often to write? How to be noticed? I've given a variety of answers to those questions in the past but in the present my response would be different. I would simply say: "Don't strive." Do you what you love, love what you do. If it's stressing you out too much, perhaps your focus is wrong. Don't write to win a popularity contest. Write for you. Write for the specific people that you love. Enjoy the small moments and if a big one happens well, enjoy that too! Consider it an unexpected fun gift, say thank you and then . . ? Move along. Remember the really important aspects of life. Those usually aren't the things that are staring up at you from a screen.
Whatever comes of blogging, be willing to enjoy the ride and make it so that you can.