Getting By with A LOT of Help from My Friends

Last week Monday, I was in full on book blogging crisis mode.  You may have noticed I wasn’t around much since the beginning of April and had been posting only the bare minimum required to meet my previous commitments.  Nothing about my life as the Literate Housewife was appealing to me in any way.  I cannot say I was considering packing it up and shutting down operations because quite frankly thinking about that would have taken too much energy.  I started watching TV every night instead of reading, something I haven’t done since before Allison was born.

I knew I was in my danger zone when I was scanning satellite each evening for episodes of any of the Law & Order series or Criminal Minds and I’d watch them until after 1 in the morning.  One thing I’ve learned about myself since those quite literally crazy years following Allison’s birth was that police procedurals are like a narcotic for me.  It numbs me to whatever turmoil I might be feeling and provides a kind of oblivion.  Why police procedurals?  They follow a pretty common story flow.  Bad thing happens, cops work through the clues, and the crime is solved.  You would think that the terrible things that are being depicted in those shows would be too disturbing to an already anxious person, but it’s that comforting formula that apparently does the trick.

Book blogging and reading is supposed to be fun, right?  It’s my primary hobby, so why in the world was a nose diving?  Well, it’s all about ARCs you can say.  I felt like I was drowning in a sea of books I agreed to have sent to me.  As of that Monday morning, I knew that I had 40 books that I’d accepted.  While they may have sounded good at the time of the pitch, each and every one of them was a turn off to me because they reminded me of the 39 others waiting expectantly on my shelves, demanding my attention.  I truly want to take a match to the whole lot, but I asked that they be sent to me and I feel obligated to read them.  Given my reading speed and life situation, I felt like even Don Quixote would have admitted defeat.  When I got home from that work that night to find two more, I nearly broke down and cried.

While working with Emma on her homework that night, I spilled my heart out in an email and sent it out.  It was an impulsive thing, but it was the best thing I ever could have done.  Just verbalizing my feelings lifted my spirits and the warm words and suggestions I received back were exactly what I needed to start breathing some life back into my blogging life.  As a life-long reader, I should have known never to underestimate the power of words.  Instead of those dreaded books on my shelves, I became more and more thankful for the community in which I hope to always find a home.

One thing that became readily apparent to me.  I am most certainly not alone in my blues.  Much of the suggestions and support I received has come through the experiences of the other book bloggers.  They have come through with some wonderful words of wisdom that I’ve been contemplating ever since.  I think it’s going to take some for me to pick myself back up fully and brush myself off.  I’m not going to rush anything, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about my future and how I would like to live it especially in terms of my book blogging.

There are a few things I’ve acted upon since this has all hit the fan:

Tuesday’s Temptation ~ I’ve started a new meme called Tuesday’s Temptation yesterday as a result of a wonderful suggestion I received on creatively highlighting books before reading them.  While this probably won’t be my only outlet for bringing some of the books I’ve requested into the light, it’s a great start.  Most importantly, I had FUN thinking about it and preparing for it.  Having fun with my favorite hobby – imagine that!

Book Blogging Blues ~ I don’t want any other blogger to get to the point that I got to last week if I can be of any help.  As with everything else, I wasn’t alone in these feelings either.  Marcia from The Printed Page had been toying around with an idea for creating a place on the web for book bloggers to gather and let it all hang out so to speak.  She approached me about working together to get this site up and I jumped at the chance.  After a round of emails, we chose to create a ning instead of another blog.  Within the ning, we have added several different groups.  My first group was ARC Overload, within which I compiled all of the wonderful insights I received.  I separated them by topic and created a discussion for each one.  I’m excited to see this grow and hope that it can help people from ever approaching the cliff I was on.  If you’d like an invitation to this ning, please let me know and I’ll get you set up.

I do plan on highlighting everything I’ve learned about this over time here as well.  In the meantime, please bear with me as both The Literate Housewife Review and I grow and change.  For now, let me close here with some encouragement that brought tears to my eyes:

I hope you can get back to enjoying reading, Jennifer.  It’s the saddest thing ever that book blogging might become a reason for you to resent reading.  The best most ethical you can do is to preserve your love of reading.


  • At 2010.05.19 15:46, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

    One thing I just started that can possibly help in stemming the flow of FUTURE incoming books (when you’re accepting again, if you aren’t right now) is to make a schedule. On it, put the review copies that you plan to read by week (or by month, if you want to just do say 1-2 per month). When a week/month fills up, that’s that, and it is closed. You can still accept offered books, but you can then say, “sorry, I won’t get to it until X.” I know some people wouldn’t dig reading on a schedule, but theoretically you could still mix things up a bit, and it helps you not over-commit.

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    • At 2010.05.19 15:55, Jen-Girls Gone Reading said:

      Thank you for the sincere post and thank you for Book Blogging Blues. I jumped at the chance to join, and I have already joined ARC Overload.

      Please don’t let your blogging take away your love of reading…that was a gift in the first place and it would be unthinkable to take it away. Do whatever you need to do to keep being a “lover of words.”

      Best of luck!

      • At 2010.05.19 16:19, Jo-Jo said:

        Well I am off to search for the ARC overload! lol
        I know how you feel because I have about 10 review books at home and I know I am not a speed reader by any means! I know it doesn’t come close to 40, but it might as well be in my eyes!

        • At 2010.05.19 16:21, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

          I’m so glad you found some words to help you! I feel sure you will find your way out of this.

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          • At 2010.05.19 17:05, Marcia said:

            Thank you so much for teaming up with me at Book Blogging Blues. Your contributions are wonderful and sure to have an impact on others experiencing the same thing. May the pleasure of reading soon come back into your life.

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            • At 2010.05.19 17:33, Misfit said:

              The best of luck to you. Reading is supposed to be fun, and one more reason why I don’t care to get a lot of ARC’s, the few I get from Amazon Vine are more than enough. I’m a library girl and damn happy to be one.

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              • At 2010.05.19 17:50, Ti said:

                It sounds as if things are starting to fall into place. Your ability to keep things positive never ceases to amaze me. So glad you are feeling better.

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                  I’m with Ti on this: you are so amazingly positive! It is an inspiration to the rest of us!

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                  • At 2010.05.20 06:27, Marg said:

                    Sounds like some positive steps in the right direction!

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                      • At 2010.05.20 08:21, Stephanie said:

                        I know how you feel–I have a ton of ARCs that I need to read, not to mention library books. It get overwhelming. If you are getting burnt out though, there is nothing wrong with stepping back when you need to. If you don’t want to read, don’t read. Same goes for blogging. Just taking a break can do wonders and before you know it, you’ll be right back into the swing of things.

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                        • At 2010.05.20 09:16, Fyrefly said:

                          Oh, I’m so glad you’re on the upswing! We’d hate to lose you from the community, but I think we’d hate even more to think that something that’s supposed to be a fun hobby was making you unhappy!

                          (By the way, I am right there with you on the police procedurals-as-narcotic thing. I’ve been stressed out recently – not about blogging, but still – and I’ve burned through four seasons of Bones in an embarrassingly short time.)

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                          • At 2010.05.20 11:24, Sandy said:

                            Whether you realize this or not, you helped me too. I was beginning to feel like I was trudging around with ten pounds of mud on my feet. You, and your shared insights, helped me put it all into perspective. You are the best! And if you ever need a pick-me-up, just chase me down and we can chat about Mr. Vance.

                            • At 2010.05.20 18:20, Beth Nolan Conners said:

                              Hi, Jennifer — Thanks for sharing this, as I think many people have shared your feelings at one time or another! It seemed like you had been kind of “quiet” lately on the blogging front, but I assumed work/family/life was busy. I’m sorry this happened, but it seems like you are on the right track and are doing some positive things. I’ll look forward to reading your Tuesday Temptations! :) -Beth ps — my go-to tv when I’m stressed/burned out is Little House on the Prairie or Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (gotta love a happy ending!).

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                              • At 2010.05.21 14:09, Alyce said:

                                I completely understand, and there have been a few times in the past couple of years that I’ve thought about just chucking the review blog and moving on with life. But that’s usually just for a brief moment and I jump right back into it because I do love it so much and don’t want to walk away.

                                I’ve been thinking recently, wouldn’t it be nice to just have an official blog vacation week? We have so many other celebrations, how nice would it be to just give ourselves permission to all take a week off and not go near the computer? I don’t know if it’s a realistic thought, but something I’ve been fantasizing about lately as I’ve been flirting with burnout.

                                I have already decided that when my husband and I go on vacation next month it will be a blog-free vacation. I’m so much looking forward to being unplugged from the computer for a while.

                                • At 2010.05.21 17:04, caite@a lovely shore breeze said:

                                  yes, when the ARCs pile up, blogging can be a love/hate thing…
                                  But I too share your need to seek out a nice L&O when chaos reigns. Funny, isn’t it, but I have often said that is the appeal of mysteries, TV shows or books, the battle of good and evil where good, and order, usually win.

                                  • […]  I did slow down the rate at which I was acquiring review books, but I still reached my personal breaking point.  This is something I’m  still working myself through.  So, how do I approach the second […]

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