Eh. Not as fun to say as Why I YA. But you can’t win them all.
While I may be fairly new to this book blogging thing, typing out my musings for the internet to read feels like I’ve finally come back home. I’m going to make myself feel and sound really old saying this, but… I started my first website while I was in high school. I ran a boyband fan page with 2 girls I met in a chat room on AOL. Back in 1999. I’ll give you minute to do the math. So.. Yeah. That happened.
Fast forward a decade.
January 2009, I posted my very first recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes on my brand new baking blog. For five years I taught myself the ins and outs of baking, posting my triumphs and failures with nearly 200 recipes for everything from cookies to cupcakes to the holy grail for baking blogs at the time, French macarons. (And dammit, mine had feet! On the first try! Take that fussy French pastry!)
But running a food blog is hard work. There’s a LOT of time involved. Figuring out what to make. Tweaking a recipe to make it your own. Procuring all your ingredients. Actually baking. Waiting for it to cool. Frosting your cake or cupcakes. Hoping that you timed it all perfectly and everything’s done while you still have natural light to shoot with. And then there’s the whole editing and writing and promoting and engaging. It’s exhausting! And extremely fattening. I mean, what else are you going to do with that entire cake you just baked? Certainly not just throw it away. Who throws away cake?
And let’s not talk about the cost. Do you know how expensive baking ingredients are? I often spent more money on ingredients to make something for a post than actual groceries I could eat for dinner. There’s something wrong with feeding your coworkers Gingerbread Stout Cake and Brown Butter Sea Salt Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies while you’re eating PB&J for dinner.. For the 5th day in a row.
Eventually I burned out. When it started to feel like work instead of fun, I hung up my apron and called it quits. But there were times that I missed it still. I missed baking. I missed taking pictures. I missed writing. But I just didn’t have the passion anymore. Or the money.
Fast forward 2 years.
I was in the worst book drought I have ever been in. I was so stressed out about work (holiday retail is HELL) and about having to move very soon because, financially, I could no longer afford to stay in the apartment I’d lived in for 9 years. I was teetering on the edge of depression, and everything in my life was suffering for it. I even stopped reading. Between November and March, I didn’t finish a single book. 4 months without reading anything in its entirety. Unheard of for a girl who, if given the chance, can finish a 500 page book in a day. Even though I longed for the escape of reading, the joy just wasn’t there.
Then a few of my friends started posting things about books on their Instagram. They started writing book reviews for their new, or newly refreshed blogs. I started reading them, thinking, “Hey this is a pretty cool idea!” I found myself scrolling endlessly through the beautiful #bookstagram feed. *Lightbulb* I like books. I like talking about books. (My Staff Recommends cards at work are nearly a paragraph long, when they’re only supposed to be a line or two.) Hmm… Maybe I could start a blog again. A book blog this time. It would bring back the writing. It would bring back the photos. And most importantly, it would bring back the reading!
So I jumped in.
It’s been about 2 months since I started, and I’m already in love with this whole process. It’s allowed me to enjoy reading again and I’ve been devouring books at a steady pace. I may have read zero books in the 4 month span at the beginning of the year, but in the 4 months since then, I’ve made up for it by reading 19. (Let’s say 20. I’ll likely finish my current read today.) For the first time in a very long time, I’m excited about something again.
I love that book blogging can be done on a very limited budget. There’s no insane ingredients to buy that I’ll only use once. I get my books from the library most of the time. I use my phone to take pictures. Use free apps to edit them. Other than a couple fake flowers and some fabric for my background, I haven’t paid a thing. And I can do it all at my own pace. There’s no frantic race against the oven and the sun. I can read whenever I want, and snap some pictures whenever I can. I mean there’s still that whole editing and writing and promoting and engaging aspect. But it’s much more relaxed this time around.
And practically zero calorie, fat free! You know, other than the coffee I drown myself in daily.
And the best thing about having a book blog is the community that surrounds it. You guys are amazing. I always felt like an outsider in the food blog community. It was very cliquey and a bit competitive. Everyone had to outdo one another by adding more and more crazy ingredients to the simplest of recipes to take it over the top. (Like, for instance, Brown Butter Sea Salt Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies. I mean come on. That recipe uses 2 types of flour, 2 kinds of sugar, 2 forms of butter, and 3 types of chocolate chips. And don’t forget the sea salt. True, they’re freakin’ delicious, but still. Overkill!) I never felt quite good enough compared to all the other bloggers. I never felt like I really belonged to that community. But here it’s different. We’re not competing to see who can have the most books. Who can read the fastest. We’re all here because we just love books and we love to share that love. It’s a very supportive community, and I’m very glad to be a part of it.
To (kind of) quote The Bloggess, I’ve found my tribe.
Why do you blog?