Initially, I considered enumerating all the changes I’ve made—from the brand new and noticeably more minimalist layout to the wait, since when did That Bookshelf Bitch have its own legitimate logo?—and explaining all the additional features I somehow managed to whip up. I mean, what exactly have I been tinkering with for more than a month, right? On the contrary, I eventually decided against that idea once a couple of thoughts occurred to me: one, that is probably the most generic and overused introduction known to mankind; and two, it would be a whole lot more fun to let you explore the many areas of this blog on your own! So I’ll leave that task to you.
Or I may compose a separate post regarding the specific changes I’ve integrated into That Bookshelf Bitch in a few days or so.
Last July, my midyear wrap-up included my upcoming plans for the next half of 2016 and highlighted the reasons that consequently led to my decision of temporarily taking this blog down. With
six (now) nearly eight months of blogging under my belt, establishing the brand and identity of That Bookshelf Bitch while simultaneously redesigning it to better suit my needs felt like the right call to make. Since then, I’ve taken a lot of time (the time that was not allocated for binge watching FRIENDS, that is) contemplating.
With that said, instead of discussing the numerous ways I’ve changed That Bookshelf Bitch, I’ve decided to talk about how working on this blog ended up changing me and to share everything I’ve learned throughout my hiatus — from the silliest observations to the most thought-provoking epiphanies that would have made my Philo 1 professor regret not giving me that coveted uno (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself).
Actual lifeforms that have mass and occupy space People visit my blog!
What I meant to say is, I’ve always thought that people only stumbled upon my page because it was a convenient thing to do at the time. For instance, one of my posts would appear on their WordPress Reader and people would think, “It’s already on my feed. I might as well read the damn thing.” Or maybe a person would receive an email notification about my latest post and s/he would be all, “It’s just a click away, though. Might as well go for it.” Or maybe I would appear on someone’s Goodreads homepage and that person would share a similar sentiment. That sort of thing, you know?
Imagine my surprise when I gained more than a thousand visits despite not releasing any new content at all. All my old content was inaccessible to the public! Do you realize what this implies? There are people who take the initiative to voluntarily visit this blog. I know. It sounds crazy, but I shit you not, friends. A number of people have actually typed my blog’s name on that long address bar and hit the ‘Enter’ button. On purpose. Without having their heads held at gunpoint. I’m not going to lie; that right there is the very epitome of what motivation is.
Two: I shouldn’t have bothered making all those timelines and projected schedules.
I have embarrassingly mediocre — arguably nonexistent, even — time management skills. I knew this yesterday, a month ago, a year ago. More than half my life, actually. However, that never stopped me from setting up intricate timelines and scheduling activities to the very last minute. According to the timeline I painstakingly put together, a month would have not only been suffice to accomplish the entire blog redesigning and content editing but would have also given me more than enough leeway to finish up over 25 book reviews, thus allowing me to finally get back on track review-wise. What a bald-faced lie that turned out to be.
Seriously though, I take my self-imposed deadlines to heart. And the more deadlines I missed, the more frustrated I felt, and consequently, the less motivated I became whenever I worked on my blog. It was awful. Thankfully, I began closing those pesky Microsoft Excel files with elaborate timelines and eventually ignored those imaginary deadlines altogether.
Upon doing so, I started giving myself both the time and leniency I deserved. I allowed myself to take more breathers and to work through my blog’s past content at a not quite leisurely but still comfortable pace. The resulting difference was both instantaneous and apparent. Lesson learned, friends: working comfortably at your own pace is always the best idea!
Three: I feel like I’m dating myself, and it is beyond frustrating.
I will admit to being somewhat of a perfectionist. It’s a fatal flaw that I’ve carried on my shoulders since childhood. Growing up, I always did terribly in my art subjects. My elementary teachers always had to explain to my mother (who took it upon herself to adopt the ancient Asian parenting commandment which prohibited children from, God forbid, getting less than a perfect mark) that little Shealea was so much of a perfectionist she ended up not finishing the project at all.
It gets worse, I’m afraid. My unavoidable perfectionism is, more often than not, accompanied by severe indecisiveness. Can you just imagine the kind of unspeakable damnation I have to deal with every day of my life?
As far as I know, I changed That Bookshelf Bitch‘s color palettes at least nine times — not including the sample color schemes I toyed around with in Photoshop and the six sample posts I created of the same book review. I worked on my ‘About’ page for five days. I reformatted my book review templates five to six times as well. The number of times I rearranged the items on my navigation menu — okay, with that one, I kind of lost count.
To put it simply, I change my mind like a girl changes clothes. (Funnily enough, I am occasionally guilty of the latter as well.) It arrived at a point in which I somewhat felt like I was simultaneously two people. Two people in a relationship. The first Shealea would become frustrated with the second Shealea and say things like, “What do you want? Make up your mind! I don’t understand. Why do I still put up with you? Are you even worth it, Shealea?”
In summary: I pity the fool who will have to endure my indecisiveness for the rest of his life.
Four: Pinterest both saved and ruined my life.
I was recently introduced to the wonders of Pinterest, and can I just say, the website is such a blessing to mankind. Pinterest is basically glorious idea porn for both the creative and artistically frustrated. (I fall under the latter category, yep.) When I decided to alter my blog’s color palettes
once again, I spent a little over five hours exploring the crevices of Pinterest and experimenting with Photoshop. Now I’m obsessed with everything about it!
Five: I should consider revamping my blog more often.
Okay, honestly, it is unlikely that I’ll be giving my blog another extreme makeover for a long time. However, don’t get me wrong. Regardless of how heavy the workload is and regardless of how unbelievably frustrating it is to work with myself, working so hard and so continuously on my blog has been a generally cathartic experience! Having a little personal project I can dedicate all my focus and effort on has gifted me a strange wave of tranquility and fulfillment.
On a more personal note, my third year in college was no doubt the worst one I’ve had. Lowest point of my life, you ask? That was it. But I’m going off-tangent.
People process and handle feelings in different ways. People have different coping mechanisms (that should all be respected, by the way). Based on my past experiences, I’ve come to a conclusion that while some people manage their emotions by throwing themselves into their academic work or by partying frequently or by drinking alcoholic beverages excessively, I don’t. And maybe to an extent, I can’t. For one thing, attending social events feels more like a chore to me rather than a means to relieve myself of stress. For another, I don’t think I have exceptional study habits either.
I’ve realized that my coping mechanism is working on my own. I like busying myself. I enjoy investing time, effort and patience into something only I am capable of creating, something I deeply believe in, something I can claim as mine. It gives me an inexplicable sense of purpose, of self-worth, and of getting closer to finally being okay again.
Six: Contrary to popular belief, longer is not always necessarily ideal.
And yes, that was intentionally phrased as a mild, thinly veiled innuendo.
One crucial part of revamping a blog is rereading the old content and improving it. Means of improvement include, but are not limited to, proofreading, rewriting, reformatting, restructuring the HTML, replacing graphics and visual aids, and if all else fails, deleting the post itself. In my case, book reviews are a major constituent of my blog’s overall content. As I reread and edited my reviews, I began to take note of how each written critique surpassed the word length of its predecessor. My first review, Somewhere in Between, was composed of roughly 630 words, whereas my book review for Gambit reached more than 3,100. Pretty alarming, in my opinion.
It was then that I realized a few things: one, writing long reviews consumes a lot of time and might compromise efficiency; two, a concise review with a reader-friendly length might be more effective in convincing other people to give the book a try; and three, great length does not translate to a proportional increase in great quality. With this newly found insight, I will definitely be more mindful when it comes to review writing.
Seven: Procrastination is more than just inevitable; it is actually essential.
I’m not trying to justify all the times I stopped editing to watch another episode of FRIENDS. Like I said earlier, blogging at your own pace is ideal. I’ve noticed that trying to rush through my workload leaves me susceptible to overlooking errors and forgetting various details. Additionally, by continuously pushing yourself and refusing to give yourself a proper break or breather, you may be missing out on opportunities. It is always great to take a step back, let yourself breathe and visualize the bigger picture. It is ridiculously easy to get too caught up in what you’re doing that you fail to see the grander scheme of things.
Sometimes, it is advisable to step away completely. Leave your work alone. Do something else. Allow your ideas to generate elsewhere. Gain fresh perspective outside your work area. Let inspiration find you.
Speaking of inspiration, I personally believe that blog hopping is arguably the most productive method of procrastination when it comes to redesigning a blog. Think about it. What better way to attain additional insight than by exposing yourself to the different styles, designs and mechanics found in other blogs? In fact, Kate’s The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging really helped me when it came to brainstorming. Her posts introduced me to other areas and avenues of book blogging that I’ve never really explored.
Not only was I able to draw inspiration from a number of other lovely bloggers, but also their brilliant posts kept me sane. I’m not even kidding. I missed writing my own posts and generating my own original content. It drove me mad sometimes. However, reading fantastically written works from other people was a pretty great alternative.
I’ve decided to compile them here because these posts demand to be read and appreciated. (Let’s remember that I was gone for over a month, so I can guarantee that this will be a rather long list.)
- I am a sucker for anything Marvel-related, and Jonas talks about the teasers and trailers that were released at SDCC by Marvel and Netflix.
- Rachana has an answer for your question, “What makes a book blog unique?”
- Alyssa shares how she edits her Instagram photos.
- Kate’s “10 signs you’re a bad feminist” post is a definite must-read!
- Jessica joins the #IAmAFeminist Twitter campaign and declares feminist is not a dirty word.
- Elle recommends empowering female leads.
- Jenny’s guest writes about the importance of talking about mental health in YA.
- Shannon whips up a cute post on how to turn blogging lemons into lemonade.
- Amanda cites ways to measure blog success without relying on statistics.
- What does a book blogger actually do? As always, Cait from Paper Fury has the answer!
- Stephanie shares her pet peeves about the book blogging community.
- Lydia makes a case for cheating in YA.
- Poppy asks, “Do you follow bookish trends?”
- What is the role of male leads in YA Fantasy? Are they just heartthrobs? Ask Anushka.
- Charlotte writes about why Hermione Granger is important.
- Bookfume defends “whiny” characters.
- Kristen gives four tips for writing when you are depressed.
- Jill enlightens us about bullet journals.
- Summer lists things that make book blogging so worthwhile.
- Iridescence tries blogging daily and shares her experience.
- Marie cites the struggles of being a book blogger.
- Aimal talks about delayed releases.
- CW returns to the blogging community with a bang.
- Finally, I was unable to attend this year’s #BookwormsUnitePH. Good thing Jam and JM have fantastic recap posts!
Eight: I’m pretty much the very personification of the “#blessed”.
I should have invented that hashtag, to be honest. I am at least 110% convinced that I have the most amazing sets of personal and blogger friends! Seriously, the thought of leaving — even if it was only momentarily — was pretty difficult. That Bookshelf Bitch has grown to be a personal safehouse for me. It’s the only place where I can write with reckless abandon and feel comfortable with doing so. That’s why I am so abundantly grateful that everyone has been really supportive and incredibly kind to me!
By the way! I will be conducting another international giveaway on my blog tomorrow to celebrate both That Bookshelf Bitch‘s official relaunch and my 20th birthday! Yes, you read that right. I am turning twenty years old tomorrow!
Stay tuned for my succeeding posts!