This August marks the fourth year I’ve been on bookstagram and blogging about books. It’s been such an incredible ride thus far and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this experience.
When I first started making bookish content for the Internet, I was in a way different space than I am today. I was working way too much traveling for my job and spending a lot of time by myself. I lived in hotel rooms. I ate a lot of meals alone. I wanted to make some friends, but having trouble doing so because I couldn’t always go out for dinner or coffee with them. So after perusing bookstagram as a casual viewer, I decided to start my own account including this blog. For the blog, I knew that I would always spend time writing about things. I didn’t think anything would come from it, but I did it anyway to at least have the credentials to request books from Netgalley.
Now, I write and read and share full time. I love coming here everyday than going to the office. I love chatting with the lovely folks I’ve met through this community and engaging with people who understand me. It’s truly a blessing for me to be here and do this with you all. This hasn’t been an easy four years. I’ve been met with a lot of my own personal roadblocks. First off, I’ve never considered writing full time. It was something I imagined I would do for a publishing house or a company, but I never thought I would be writing for myself full time.
Secondly, getting myself off the ground was very difficult. It took a lot of energy to be engaging, writing content, and reading the books. I felt like my personality and my writing style were also roadblocks. I’m always worried I come off too weird or not personable. Race played a small role in it too with that nagging thought that maybe people don’t like me because I’m Asian.
But once I got the momentum, figured out how I want to present my work and thoughts, and basically created a system of making content and reading books that it started to get a little bit easier. I say a little bit with such a grain of salt because I still combat with my insecurities everyday. I still combat the feeling that people don’t understand me or I’m too weird. I find myself still backing out of blog posts or deleting stories because I don’t think it’s good enough. I still hate my photography. These are feelings I try and overcome on a daily basis and because of my overthinking brain, I think about this a lot. I think about this before bed. I think about this the moment I wake up. I think I might even dream about this.
But what I’ve learned in the time I’ve been here is that you can’t please everyone. Some folks will think you’re weird and think that the topics you bring up are a little out of their wheelhouse. Some folks won’t like your content because you post the same kind of things. Some folks won’t like your aesthetic or your opinions or you. The biggest learn I’ve learned in my four years is that I should be writing and working for myself. I make content that I would appreciate and I would love. What I’ve realized from being myself and working for myself is that there are more people who are similar to you than people who don’t like you. The people who don’t like you or are just plain trolls are loud, but they are minimal. You’ll find that there are more people who enjoy you for you. It’s still something I’m getting used to.
A lot has changed since I came on here with the intention of writing book reviews and bookish content. I feel my blog is an extension of what goes on in my head packaged to make sense, of course. LOL. I’ve used blogs since I was 14 years old writing about my daily life and terrible poetry on sites like Livejournal. Remember those days? Back in those days, I was writing for the 10 IRL friends that I had trying to figure out if my friends have had relations with certain crushes and the like through their words. I even found out I had a secret admirer through a blog post they wrote and I read. It’s kind of surprising when someone names you as their crush and would gladly move to America (they lived in Australia at the time) for me. Ahhh, the good old days.
Of course, things have changed and blogging here is much different than when I was 14. Now I write for a much bigger audience who values my input and has interesting conversations with me about books and reading. It’s still a place to find book reviews, but sharing what’s happening in my life and what’s going on is a different little tidbit I never considered for myself. And that part is something that I want to extend further in the future. I’m always thinking up of ideas for posts here and while I’ve been a little shy to share them immediately, I do plan on fully investing in that part soon.
And the wild part is that I’ve read more in these past four years than I think I’ve ever done in my life. I wasn’t a big reader when I was a kid. I only got into it when I became an adult and only after a year or so post-grad. My boss at the time was the lifesaver who shared with me some great books that she thought I would love. I’m thankful for her suggestions everyday because from the spark she set in my heart, I’ve molded and made my own. In a year, I would have read 2-3 books when I was a kid. Now I read over 100 books a year, which tiny Simone would have been so surprised by that little data point.
Books have brought me comfort that music did as a kid. When I was younger, music was everything to me. I even have the tattoos and degrees to prove it. But as time moved on, books somehow took the place of music and what drives me are excellent stories written with a ton of heart. I love a good story that transports you to another world, makes you consider different perspectives and lives, and makes us all dreamers. Finding the genre that works for me was also super exciting because I finally have a place where I can adore almost every book I read. When you know what genre you like, it’s very difficult to find a book you don’t.
What’s been the most surprising part about this entire endeavor is that I’m still learning. I’m testing myself and experimenting with my own reading to see what works and what doesn’t work for me. I’ve also been changing the way I write my reviews and focusing on creating content that will not only entertain, but relatable. I’m always trying to make TBRs a thing for me and I’m always considering ideas for bookstagram and beyond.
The final thing I want to reflect on here is the community. While we have our disagreements on stories and opinions, they’ve never been met with vitriol or passive aggressive nonsense that I see all the time in other communities. Perhaps it’s because the book community knows that books can be interpreted differently and what someone gets out of a book might be different depending on the person. But the discourse is always exciting and I love hearing other people’s opinions and what they picked up from a book even if I didn’t like it or don’t fully agree. The community is one of the main reasons why I do what I do because engaging with you all and hearing your thoughts and creating content that you can relate to is important to me and I don’t plan on stopping that any time soon.
So, thank you for being with me for four years. Thank you for engaging with me and being open. I can’t wait to see what the next four years have to offer. Cheers!