After months of preparation and waiting, the Book Blogger Appreciation Week is finally here. Last year (being my first year of blogging), I was mostly watching the buzz from the sidelines. This year though, I volunteered to help Amy (BBAW founder) with any background help. And let me tell you, there was just a ton of work to do. It didn't matter that this has been running for 3 years already - there was still a lot of paperwork involved and clarifications to make, fine tuning of processes, and changing whatever didn't work last year to something more reasonable. And now, after all that hard work, I'm glad to sit by and do some posts in celebration of this event. There are a bunch of daily topics up at the BBAW site for this week, if you're interested in checking them out. I may be participating in some or all of the topics, depending on how busy things are at my end.
Today's topic is all about Community - "While the awards are a fun part of BBAW, they can never accurately represent the depth and breadth of diversity in the book blogging community. Today you are encouraged to highlight a couple of bloggers that have made book blogging a unique experience for you. They can be your mentors, a blogger that encouraged you to try a different kind of book, opened your eyes to a new issue, made you laugh when you needed it, or left the first comment you ever got on your blog. Stay positive and give back to the people who make the community work for you!" [from the BBAW site]
I can honestly say that one of the best decisions I've ever taken was to start a book blog. I am sometimes known for not completing things I start (which is not really a bad thing, sometimes I don't know in advance if I'll enjoy something), and when I was considering mixing my love for writing and reading on a more public level, I was definitely worried that I won't stick to it. Part of the motivation was all those book challenges being hosted annually. As I've learned since, they can be a terrible magnet that'll keep you planning lists for a long time, and the challenges rarely get finished. Still, I caved in, made up a design that pretty much smacked of beginner material, and settled on a name before wondering if the choice will come back to haunt me later. It's been a wonderful experience mostly because there is an incredible community to share the journey with. Sure, we have our dramas, we have been directly and indirectly ridiculed by professional reviewers, but we've also lobbied support for authors and rallied together vehemently when something crazy was happening in the book world. And then we have events like Armchair BEA and BBAW that only reinforce the meaning of this community further.
During my almost two years of blogging, I have seen a lot of regular visitors and a lot of changing faces. There are some who have quit blogging and some who have gone from just visitors to best blogging buddies. There are many bloggers I truly admire, whose blogs I visit almost every day, and whose recommendations I trust - Helen's Book Blog, Bermudaonion's Weblog, Tales of Whimsy, Raging Bibliomania, Tea Time with Marce, English Major's Junk Food, Bibliophile by the Sea, Caribousmom, Mental Foodie, A Bookish Way of Life, to list a few. Today, I feel more or less comfortable with what I do here, and once in a while, I try to shake up things to keep the novelty going. So, when I read this question, I went back to those first days of blogging (when you're basically blogging in the void and you feel weird joining in any blogging conversations).
I tried to find out who my very first commentor was, and I wasn't surprised to see that it was J. Kaye. J. Kaye used to blog over at J. Kaye's Book Blog, but when she decided to focus on her writing, it was taken over by Rachel. I have since lost touch with her (and if she's still reading book blogs, I hope she leaves a comment so that I can find her). I remember joining a few challenges at her blog, and she had many wonderful ones going on there. And then one day, she gave me a shout-out at her blog, which was kinda like being the shy girl at a party and then pushed into the limelight to all those stares, but it was oddly satisfying too. I found my readership climb since then, and I realize I could have stayed at low stats for a longer time, if not for the wonderful J. Kaye. It's not the stats in particular that flattered me, but more the sense of being finally accepted by the blogging community, and getting over the new-kid-on-the-blog feeling. Of course, it's all in the head, but it's still a wonderful transition.