A Week in My Head is some kind of journal of all the things that went on in my head the past week. Be it succes, struggle or just some random ramblings. I know it doesn’t replace professional counselling, but this is my kind of therapy – talking it out of myself in this way. Join me if you want and feel free to share your experiences. I’m sure we can learn from each other and A Week in My Head will be a less lonely time.
In case you missed any of the previous entries, you can find them on the A Week in My Head page!
Well, hello there again!
Last week’s entry was a kind of introduction, and my less than stealthy attempt of showing off my bullet journal I’ll be maintaining this year. This week, I’m going to talk about more personal matters. I had a bit of a mixed week with some great things going on – which will come into fruition later on -, binge watching The Dragon Prince – OMG I freaking love that show, give me season 4 already! -, thoughtful conversations. I also got back fiddling with
Children (sorry, insider joke) my short story I’ve been working on on and off for 4 years now. That actually made me really excited, so we’ll see where my sudden surge of motivation will take me. Before my self doubts and impostor syndrome kills it completely for the time being.
But the blog has been on my mind a lot – duh – and for the umpteenth time I was wondering what’s wrong with my approach, mentality and personality which prevents me from feeling like I belong in the community. I could say that all this is only in my head, but that’s not quite an answer, as I know there is something I need to improve on, I just don’t have the slightest idea how. Time to time I dwell on these things and it makes me kind of depressed. Writing was always the thing – besides music – that was my constant company whenever I felt like I couldn’t cope with things. So, let’s see if it works out now.
It’s been almost 2 years since I started blogging. It had become an integral part of my life, and I don’t look at it as a hobby. For me blogging is more than a way to spend my free time, sharing my love for books. I look at it more like an addition to myself, a brand, something I spend time and – in some cases – money on to make it as best as I could. My intention was always to make it seem professional. (You can read more about my blogging journey in an article I wrote for the 1st issue of the British Irish Writing Community’s magazine, Bard of the Isles). And all things considered, I’m pretty happy how the blog turned out. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to things I care about, and I’m incredibly proud of RockStarlit BookAsylum, and all the things I achieved thanks to it. I think that’s one of the reasons I still haven’t abandoned it, even though I came close to it a few times. That, and the constant itch at the back of my mind which never lets me go without writing for too long. It had become the best thing I ever did and that’s not something you can easily give up. Even if you feel as disconnected from the community as I do.
To understand that, I also need to offer some background: I more or less always felt like this when it came to any kind of communitites or groups. I never in my life felt like I belonged, not even in my family. Might have been because of my physical appearance, or because I was among the smartest kids, and later because I didn’t drink and partied like everyone else seemed to. I always felt like I had different values and standards than anybody else around me, different things were important, different things made me feel certain emotions. I always had a handful of friends here and there, and we hung out occasionally, but a lot of times I felt uninvited or felt like some of them had a closer friendship and I was somehow not included. They all had a life – a huge circle of friends, family, work (in high school), after school activities, boyfriends/girlfriends, while I had none of that. After school I went home to read, write and hang out in online communitites. But that was never the same as having real life friends, and I guess that also prevented me to actually hone my socialising skills, and that’s why I feel so crippled now when I go to cons. I’ve never been good at holding a conversation which didn’t happen online. I don’t think I have anything interesting to say so it’s easy for people to overlook me. Not because they are cruel or something, but just because I’m insignificant and small to boot so it’s really not that hard. I have no one to blame for that.
My personal experiences more or less explain why I feel the way I do when I’m among people, but it doesn’t really explain why I feel the same with online communities, and especially the fantasy/blogger community. And that bothers me, because more times than not, I feel like a failure as a blogger. Not because of my reviews, or all the posts I’m writing/organising. No, I’m proud of all that, but I still feel something is missing from my personality. I look at these new bloggers who join the community and seem to fit in so smoothly, already making friends and seeming to be more in tune with the community than I ever was. I see bloggers being active, having a presence on more than one platform, being nice and supportive and making friends all around. And I feel jealous because I can’t be like that. I just don’t have the energy to keep up with everything and I lose focus when I try. I always try to support the people I’m friends with, but feels like that’s not nearly enough. I see these people partnering up for fun things, to create small but close and strong communities and I just can’t imagine myself to be part of a team – which is funny, considering I do have a team for SPFBO, and it surprisingly goes well, except the fact that I can’t control everything which is frustrating. That, and feeling forgotten/invisible a lot of times when I actually make an effort to interact and be part of a group on any platform. Sooner or later I realise I don’t belong and trying not to annoy people I just retreat into my own little world until I completely leave that group behind. I might miss a few people, but sometimes that’s not enough to make me go back and try to be more active in a place where I don’t think I’m welcome in the first place.
It probably also doesn’t help that I always seem to be out of the loop – I either read books later than others, or don’t read them at all for various reasons. I hardly ever seem to be reading (and liking!) what everyone else seems to. Unlike most of the people I got to know in this short time, I’m pretty new to the genre. I haven’t read all the “classic” fantasy books most of the fans did, I haven’t watched the movies and series, out of disinterest or lack of time. And that also kinda makes me an outsider, because when it comes to LOTR, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, I’m drawing a blank. I lack that depth of knowledge and fandom others seem to have. I grew up reading historical fiction, YA, mystery and if I’m being honest, I miss reading outside the fantasy genre a lot. Once I’ll catch up on stuff, I definitely will try to make room for other genres to prevent burning out on fantasy.
So, all in all that makes it hard to connect with other readers and even though I love experimenting with things on the blog, a lot of times it’s just like screaming in a void. And that makes me feel sad. Not because of stats or the blog – although that’s part of the reason – but because even though I’m trying to do my best to give publicity to authors and bloggers alike, it never seems to be making a difference. That’s when questions like “Could I have done anything differently?”, “Is it my fault?”, “What should I do to make my voice be heard?” creep into my brain. And I never seem to find the answers to that. Or, more like, I always come back to the realisation that I should get myself involved more in the community, but I just don’t know how. Or I just should be much better at marketing, who knows? I guess that’ll be one of the goals of this year, to figure that out.
In case you missed any of the previous entries, you can find them on the A Week in My Head page!
Timy Im typing on my phone so this may not be the best response.
First, I don’t want to imply in anything I say that I’m negating your feelings. Your feelings are real.
I share many of the feelings you have about yours blog when I think of mine especially about wanting to improve it. I also often feel I’m behind on books everyone is reading or has read. Partly because I don’t read as fast and partly like you i haven’t read all the “classics.” Please know that I consider you an integral part of this community and would miss your presence if you stopped. I think a lot of us feel the same way about all of this. Anyway just wanted to let you know I hear you and wanted to give you some encouragement.
Thanks Jason! I really appreciate your words 🙂 I guess one of the main problems is that I keep comparing myself to others becasue I’m pretty competitive and want to be among the best and get discouraged when occasionally I realise that I’m not. I know I have an audience and that I made awesome friends, but there is always something more I want to have, and I guess that’s the mentality I should working on to change. I dunno. Feelings are stupid.
I totally understand. And yeah feelings are often stupid.
This is … very relatable to me. I grew up never fitting in, using books and writing in the place of company. I’d finish all my work early in class and ask to go to the library for the remainder, or read under my desk. I felt out of phase with everyone around me — in my case, I didn’t know it, but years later I would get diagnosed with autism, which made a lot of sense of my life.
Even now, knowing myself better, I find it really, really difficult to connect with people, and even harder to belong. Both in-person and online. Not to mention that anxiety makes even taking the first steps of getting to know people hard.
But I’m also very aware that how things feel inside can look very different to outsiders. And from the outside, you seem vibrant and fun and extremely social. You seem to fit in so easily with other bloggers and the writing/publishing community that I am always surprised when you express feeling isolated. And as for being relevant to readers, I feel like the way you blog about different things than the latest thing everyone is shouting about is one of my favourite things about your blog — it always draws me to click on your latest review, and I love how open and honest your personal posts are, and how you are always doing things differently (with things like Tales from the Asylum and the Questioning and your musical reccomendations for books).
Marketing though is definitely hard. I don’t have any advice on how to do it better (if I ever find out, I’ll be sure to shout it from the rooftops though)! If it feels like your posts aren’t reaching far enough, I don’t personally feel like it’s the content and is more likely to be a marketing issue — just that getting new eyes is a hard thing to do.
Okay, that was longer than intended! ^_^
TL:DR, you’re awesome and your blog is refreshingly different and you should keep doing what you’re doing
I’m both sorry and kind of relieved that you are going/went through similar things. Sorry because it sucks, but relieved because I’m not the only one and that’s nice. I don’t know if I have autism or not, I never got checked for it. But I guess once I finally make that step and make an appointment I’ll get my answer.
Thanks for your words! It definitely made my day that someone sees what I actually try to do and appreciates it 🙂 Thank you for loving my blog!
Ugh, marketing is such a pain in the ass. I need to do better regarding my freelancing gig because that’s pretty much dead at this point. *sigh*
Freelancing is mostly built on repeat customers and word of mouth, right? And since books take so long to write, I imagine repeat customers take longer to come back. I hope you can find a way to market your services better.
I’ve been recommending you to writers when I can but nobody has taken the plunge yet (I talk to a lot of people who want to get published but then never return to their manuscripts after they draft them, so I guess that’s why …)
😭😭😭 You are officially my new favourite person!! Thanks for recommending me 😘
Yeah, mostly word of mouth and return customers. There is a forum I was meant to check out and I honestly should make more effort. So far I was doing fine but I had some people stepping back or delaying so now I’m stuck. I’m also thinking about developmental editing which might help. I need to do some thinking.