In June 2010, just six months after we got serious about blogging, we did a series called What We Wish We Knew. It started because I wished I'd known it's okay to say no to ARCs and I asked other bloggers for their inputs and what they wish they had known when they began blogging.
I probably don't need to say it, but my thoughts as a blogger of 6 months and my thoughts as a blogger for over 4 years? Not really the same. The idea of saying no to ARCs seems like it's not even something to consider. It's obvious to me now, though it hasn't stopped me from saying "yes" to way more than I can really handle. But there are other, way bigger, things now.
I wish I'd known how much blogging was going to take over my life. I spent a lot of years blogging and having most of my friends be on the internet, not meeting any of those friends until I came to college. I still haven't met my best friend and I still don't know when I will. I also still haven't met Lanna. Yet these girls, and some guys, were my social life in high school because I didn't really have friends who got me there, and are my social life now, because when I can't find them online, there's someone in the city I can see in person. I now spend more time with blogging friends than with school friends. My bedroom in my first ever apartment has more books in it than anything else, not counting the two boxes and half a bookshelf filled in the other room. Most of my social events revolve around books. Blogging even lead to me finding the career I want and two jobs I love. Blogging has touched my life in every way, even when I'm not really doing it myself.
I wish I'd known how much I would love blogging. I adored it for several years, and I still love to do it now when I have the mental and physical energy to do it. Finding the motivation and the time is a challenge now, but every once and a while, I get both and I get to blog and I'm reminded how much fun it is and how much I get out of it. It's almost like an addiction at times.
I wish I'd been better at saying no from the beginning. Not just to ARCs, but to blog tours and cover reveals and other events. I sometimes feel like they're an easy out and use them to fill up blog space when I don't want to be creative. But they can get boring sometimes, and I just wouldn't say no. I wouldn't say no to a publicist because I didn't want to risk the connection I was building with her. I wouldn't say no to certain book events I wasn't feeling up to because I felt it was important for me to be there. I wouldn't say no to certain extra curriculars related to blogging because I thought it was good to have that extra thing. I don't have any regrets about this blog or my social life or my extra curriculars, but I know that every once and a while, I do things that don't make me happy and don't need to happen. And I wish I'd learned to say no early on, so it would be easier for me to do it now.
I wish I'd known how important my identity as a blogger was to me. I'm always afraid that if I lose that bit of identity, I'll lose everything that came with it. The blogger friends and author friends and publicity friends. The ability to go to special events. The "numbers" that are so important. The access to books. The always interesting inbox. And a lot of that would probably get lost if I were to quit blogging, and that's terrifying to me. It's been my life for so long, how do I just stop? How do I not be a blogger any more? And it's silly because my biggest fear is definitely losing friends, but that's also the least likely thing to happen.
I wish I'd known to take advantage of the chance to learn time management. It certainly seems like I should have been learning a lot since we were blogging pretty consistently for years while going to school, but for some reason, college made it so much harder. And then I started being social. And then I started working. And I just keep adding things to my plate and I'm kind of managing my time well, but not really. If I had been an even better blogger than I was from the beginning, I would have forced to learn. And it wouldn't be such a challenge.
I wish I'd been a consistent commenter. I very rarely commented unless I had to for some reason, and now I don't comment at all. I tweet. And it's so absurd because I've always known how much comments mean to me and how much I love comments and how permanent they are compared to tweets that can be horribly hard to find and keep track of. But I'm now so far away from that habit I should have built from the beginning, that starting to do it feels weird and awkward and impossible.
As a baby blogger, how the blog looked and how to reply to review requests and all of these little things seem so important. But now, they really don't. We haven't had a blog makeover in years. I don't reply to 90% of review requests, because if people can't read my policy, why should I bother? The bigger picture is so much more important to me.
I'm so grateful, all the time, for blogging and what it's taught me and the community of people I've been brought in to. And my wishes for past me basically boil down to learning even more from the opportunity when I had the time and being even more in the community. I don't have a single regret about what I've done with this blog (well...maybe one), and I think that 15-year-old Julie did an awesome job handling things...but the perfectionist in me looks back and can't help but think how much more potential I had.
Still. We did well, 15-year-old Julie. We did really well.