Friday, February 28, 2020

Happy Birthday Blog, Be Home By Curfew

17 years ago, when dinosaurs were still roaming the Internet, social media didn't exist, Amazon/Google/Facebook weren't vying for The Literal Worst Award, and I knew a lot less about the dirty laundry lurking in corners of book publishing, I started this blog. I was still a young, optimistic, entry-level-ish librarian working in a one-horse Midwestern town and shopping at Waldenbooks.  For those of you now asking the question "Walden What Now?!?!" you have no idea what you missed out on. Seriously, those were the days.

And here I am - all these years later.  Older, crankier, but still loving romance, still believing in the job that gets me out of bed everyday and pays the bills but now working in an area where eleventy billion live with not enough affordable housing to go around. The world's on fire, I know WAY more than I ever wanted to about publishing and authors in general, and yes...I still love romance.

I've been around so long, have written for so many defunct online publications (The Romance Reader, Reader's Gab, Romancing the Blog, Heroes & Heartbreakers...) but the one constant has been this mighty blog. There were years I wrote great blog posts and years I've written terrible ones and years I've barely hung on by my fingernails (pretty much where I've been in the last 3-4 years).  I have all the authority and gravitas in Romancelandia as a slightly wilted plant you forgot that you stuffed in a corner, but 17 years here and 21 years in Romancelandia (in general) affords me...well something.  Probably a secret decoder ring in the bottom of a cereal box.  So in honor of this auspicious occasion I thought it was time to offer some advice to Romancelandia that nobody asked for but I'm going to give anyway.  Because, again, old and cranky.

1) Read. What. You. Want. Yes, even if the cool kids aren't reading it.

2) That being said, don't be afraid to try a new author, revisit a trope you may not be wild about, expand your horizons. There's A LOT in the genre these days. Sample the buffet.

3) So much I want to say here along the lines of "don't be a racist bigoted jackhole" and "stop denying anyone their right to basic humanity" but I think I'll just settle for the more succinct Don't Be A Jerk.  Love is an amazing, beautiful universal human emotion. People who read and write romance (for cripes sake!) should have no issue with embracing that and yet here we are. 

4) Unplug for your mental health. Or as I like to call it - get the hell off Twitter every once in a while. However long that needs to be to maintain some shred of sanity.

5) It's OK to like problematic sh*t.  No, really - it is.  But recognize it. Own it. Don't get your hackles up about it. You know what's sexy? Self-awareness. Maybe unpack some of that personal baggage. Nobody is saying you have to flaunt it all over the Interwebs but my kingdom for a little reader and writer introspection.

6) And for the record - ALL Y'ALL LIKE PROBLEMATIC SH*T.  You're not special.  It smells like fertilizer left out in the sun just like everybody else's problematic faves.

7) There are no cool kids.  Oh sure, everybody THINKS there are cool kids which just leads to massive inferiority complexes.  I feel like I need a button that says Radically Uncool Blogger Since 2003.

8) It's totally OK to not like something. Even if it's a book that all the mythical cool kids are raving about.  Oh the books I've disliked over the years.  The books I'm like, "Really, what now?!"  You're not alone.  It's just that thanks to social media vacuums and sucky people sucking it's super hard to find any hint of "discourse" when talking books anymore.  It's all a Cacophony of Squee.  Which leads me too...

9) Not everything is a squee. For the love of all the deities.  Reminder: I'm old and cranky and yell at clouds a lot.

10) Find your voice, raise it up, support folks in Romancelandia you want to support.

11) Never, ever be ashamed of reading something that makes you happy.  Don't let anyone dim your sunshine. Even cranky old librarians who yell at clouds.

It's been a wild 17 years on this blog. A lot has happened. Some for good, some for ill. But I still love ya Romancelandia. Shine on.


Keira Soleore said...

Happy 17th Birthday to you! Long may you reign.

willaful said...

Can I get #6 on a t-shirt, please? Hell, print the whole list!

Dorine said...

Yay! I'm right there with you celebrating 17 years of reviewing romance this month. :) Huge congratulations on the blogging! I'm so happy you're still here and cranky. We need cranky. We need to think and feel and be ourselves. I love your list. Shine on, Wendy. We need you. :)

Marg said...

Happy blog birthday to you! Totally agree with read what you want, not everything is a squee, but squee over what you want to squee over! I am pretty much never on Twitter anymore, and I'm okay with that.

Carole Rae said...

Happy blog bday!

Bona Caballero said...

Happy blogoversary. I've been blogging for only six years but reading romance novels for more than thirty years. And I subscribe everything you say. I hope I'll keep on reading you for many more years

Elissa Christmas said...

Happy, Blog Birthday, Wendy! Always love your take on things, and I'm glad your still around sharing!

Jazzlet said...

Happy blog birthday Wendy! I don't comment often, but I always read and I really appreciate your take cranky or not. Long may you want to keep blogging so I can keep reading ;-)

Wendy said...

Thanks everybody for all the blogging birthday wishes. Read and shine on!

CindyS said...

Happy Blogoversary! Congratulations on 17 years! (I see the date is from Feb but this just landed on Twitter in my timeline - social media broke some of us. Mostly me 😉) Romancelandia forever!

Wendy said...

CindyS: Make friends with Feedly (or some other feed reader) - it's the only way I manage to keep up these days although I tend to go days in between check-ins!