Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Relevant Elephant In The Room

The Misadventures Of Super Librarian (affectionately known as "The Bat Cave" or "This Blog") has a pretty big blogiversary coming up.  In between moments of the insanity that is my job, my personal life, and a head cold that just won't go away already, I've taken to pondering how I want to mark the occasion.  Should I have a contest?  Should I just write a celebratory blog post?  Should I invest in a tiara and take to Twitter demanding that everyone finally acknowledge the awesome trend-setting prowess that is The Bat Cave?

Don't worry, I'm kidding on that last one.  But it does bring up an interesting point.....

Feeding off Liz's earlier post on social media, and mine on hype, Brie joined into the fray with her own post on the subject - also tying in the concepts of book discoverability, the prevalence of eARCs, and the homogenization of the romance blogosphere.  It hit me somewhere in the middle of reading the comments on Brie's post.  I finally get it.  I really think I've found the answer.  

We're not all concerned about hype, overexposure, discoverability or even the ever popular topic of ARCs and who gets them.  Nope.  We're concerned with the question of relevancy.

Maybe it's because I have this huge stinkin' blogiversary hanging over my head, but sometimes I wonder, why do I even bother?  Am I still relevant in the realm of the online romance community?  For that matter, was I ever relevant?  What makes me think I'm so special that anyone would give a flying crap what I think about....well, anything?

Now before anyone accuses me of fishing for compliments (Oh noes Wendy!  We like you!  We really, really like you!), the point of this post is to say that maybe - just maybe - we're concerned about hype only when we're not feeding into it.  Ask yourself this:

"If I'm not reading and reviewing books by Author A does that automatically make me irrelevant?"

or 

"If I am not crushin' and lovin' on Book X, does that automatically mean I'm not one of the cool kids?"

Now some of you are going to read this and think I'm so full of crap that My Man should put Roto-Rooter on speed dial.  But I really think I'm on to something here.  Maybe it's my online longevity (I've been kicking around in one form or another since 1999), maybe it's because I remember the blogging "good old days" when, if you got one measly comment a week on your blog you felt like you were a rock star.  I took to blogging because I wasn't cool.  Hell, I've never been cool.  Which doesn't exactly make me elite, since having met so many romance bloggers over the years I can honestly say.....

None of us are cool.

Sorry to shatter that illusion, but dude - we totally aren't.

Oh sure, some of us think we're cool.  But trust me on this - we're not.  We're so totally not.

At the end of the day, even though we might publicly state that we started blogging for various reasons, when it comes down to brass tacks?  We, all of us, were looking for a place to belong.  And blogging, especially individually run blogs like this one, are at their core extremely narcissistic   This is The Bat Cave and It Is All About Wendy.  If I didn't want it to be all about me I would have hired on a team of reviewers about six years ago (at least).  I want people to come here and like my blog.  But I also want them to come here and like me.  And if I'm not reading Author A or Book X - those books and authors that everybody else is talking about except me?  Does this mean I'm not relevant?  Does this mean that nobody likes me?  

Yeah, maybe hype, overexposure, and social media aren't the issues we should be talking about.  Maybe we all need to acknowledge that, deep down, this phenomenon reminds us all that we aren't cool.  And sure, a lot of us will admit that when it comes to the outside world?  We're totally OK with not being cool.  But what about in our own community?  What about in The Great Kingdom Of Romance Novel Land?  Don't we all want to be cool there?  Of course we do.  Here's the thing though - we already are.  Because every voice, no matter the author or book being discussed, is a "cool" voice.  Because hot damn, it's a voice talking about books.  And to book nerds like us?  Nothing is cooler.

21 comments:

Sheri said...

All that matters is that mom thinks you're cool. :)

Oh, and Ceci...she thinks your cool but she's two and currently is pooping in the dark of her closet while hiding in her hamper...so consider the source. :)

Lil Sis

willaful said...

Great post, Wendy! And since your review got me to review The Lady Who Broke the Rules and bring it to the attention of some people who were happy to know about it, I'd say you're definitely relevant. :-)

You're right about hype. Hype of authors I like doesn't bug me. Hype of authors/themes/genres I don't like does.

Wendy said...

Lil Sis: That kid is badass. Hope she likes the Hello Kitty activity book. I figure it will keep her occupied for about, oh, 10 minutes.

Wendy said...

Willaful: I think we're all guilty of that - it's human nature. When you're on the inside, feeding the machine, it's OK. When you're on the outside not feeding it? You start rolling your eyes.

Kelly Anne said...

I don't think I ever told you this (in fact, I don't know that I've ever commented here--I usually tweet at you), but a few years back, I was in Argentina with my parents, visiting my brother. He was in school there, so we had to plan our excursions around his availability. I spent a lot of time reading, and quickly ran out of books. I ended up stealing my mom's Kindle, getting on here, then hopping over to TGTBTU and finding every Western you'd reviewed and buying them. That is 100% what I used the Internet for on that trip. I sat in Argentine parks, talked to Argentine dogs (there were lots), and read American Westerns. So, thanks for that!

You're the only romance reviewer I follow, so I'd say you're pretty damn relevant in my life. Happy blogiversary!

Jena Briars said...

This was a damn refreshing post, Wendy! I'd say even outside of Romancelandia - the bookish community online is *really* sensitive, and probably the best advice you mentioned: Don't TRY to be cool. Just do your honest reviews, etc. And I love Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane. :D

(No, but seriously, what are you doing for your blogiversary? It would be cool if you could have a little birthday hat for the batgirl graphic in the header!)

Wendy said...

Kelly: You have succeeded in making me want to drop every book in my reading queue and hit the westerns. Hard. Not possible at the moment, but I think I'm going western for the February TBR Challenge. Just need to narrow down my choices....

Wendy said...

Jena: Unless I hit upon an inspired giveaway idea - it's probably just going to be a post commorating the solemn occasion (ha!) that is my blogiversary.

And I LOVE Daria. My Big Sis likes to say that I AM Daria, but who is she kidding? Daria is way cooler than I am :)

Jena Briars said...

I was just thinking of the paintball episode the other day, and it was cracking me up! :D

azteclady said...

We like you, we really like you.

Weren't you Queen Librarian of the Universe at some point????

:-p

Anyway--as long as there's book talk, you are absolutely relevant.

Also baseball and libraries and stuff.

Charlene Teglia said...

What makes you relevant is your unique perspective. Not all of us are going to love the same book or even read the same book. Which is fine because if I know you and I share a love of Z and you love X, I may give X a whirl.

Wendy said...

AL: I was! I was Queen Librarian Of the Universe! Which I still chalk up to an unfortunate incident of "group head trauma" - LOL

Wendy said...

Charlene: And that's why, ultimately, relevance is in the eye of the beholder. Think how boring books would be if it were a One Size Fits All kind of world?

azteclady said...

It was good sense and better taste--the shame is that they have to name a new Queen every year.

For us, however, you'll always be Super ;-)

azteclady said...

Riffing off Ms Teglia: that unique perspective is also what makes book discussions so much fun--because even if we all like the same book, we rarely like it for the same reason, or even the same parts with the same intensity, so sharing what it is that makes that one book so awesome, while listening to another's view of it, just makes the reading experience all that much better.

S. said...

I think everyone wants to feel appreciated, like you said it's human nature. I, for one, have set pretty low expectations about my blog because I know I'm not the most dedicated person and I know many people out there write things in a much more captivating way, like you, for example.
I think what really matters is if you're relevant to those you admire and who admire yourself back, and those whose trust and - eventually - friendship in the bloglandia you "achieve" in the end.
I know I won't be very recognized but it warms me to know a few people whose opinion I trust are following me too. :)

Happy Blogiversary..hope you can find a picture of many books wrapped in a bright big bow lol

Marguerite Kaye said...

There are almost as many romance blogs out there as there are romance writers. I choose to read your blog because I happen to like your voice, I know it's yours and that the opinions you give are straight from the heart and not written with a view to being controversial (even when you are) or in-the-know or trend-breaking. Writers of books are just the same as writers of blogs, we all want to know that people are reading us and that they enjoy reading us. There are times when I think my books disappear into a vacuum, times when one particular book that I think is less great than another gets a lot more attention, and I just don't get it. I am guessing you're the same - why did that post get so many comments and this more interesting one none! You're one of the few blogs I read every post, and you've given me loads of books that I not only really like but would never have picked up otherwise. So a big ra, ra or whatever the Scottish equivalent is, from over here. Please keep going, please!

LynnD said...

Wendy: You are extremely relevant because I can rely on you to talk about books that aren't part of whatever "hype" is going around. I can go to other blogs/review sites for those books, but it's here that I come to find the hidden gems that no one else is talking about :-). As for "cool" remember, it's the nerds who now control the world!

Wendy said...

S: That is very true. It's easy to lose sight sometimes, but at the end of the day what is important if finding your own corner, your own "people" and staking a claim.

Wendy said...

Marguerite: Even if I wanted to quit my blog - I'm not sure I could :) I've been doing it for so long it's almost like a reflexive habit - even when blogging inspiration is in SHORT supply.

You are so right - sometimes writing (even when it's blogging) is like operating in a vacuum. It was very much like that in "the old days" of this blog where I was literally throwing things up on the wall to see what would stick. Now, with so many other voices out there? It's easy to forget the Wild West days, the infancy days, of my blogging.....

Wendy said...

LynnD: It's one of the reasons I like to keep the TBR Challenge going - because it's one day a month where at lest a few of us can focus on books that aren't the latest, greatest, hottest, hippest things being talked about. It's almost like an oasis in Romance Bloglandia ;)