Random Ramble – stuff and nonsense

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It’s been a good while since I had a random ramble partly, I will admit, because I’ve had little to ramble about but mostly because I’ve been too blinking busy and too fluffing tired to contemplate rambling about much of anything.

Now, I may have mentioned it on the odd occasion, but when I’m not boring you all with my epic book reviews, delighting you by letting someone else take over the blog to share the book love who are all way more interesting than me, or generally just being a bit of a plonker on social media, I am a fairly busy bunny who balances on just the right side of total insanity whilst I do my day job. Just. In case you weren’t aware I am a Distribution Manager for a fairly large company and my responsibilities include looking after 400+, 300+ vehicle and around about 27 depots and out based driver set ups in the UK and Ireland. I don’t do this on my own – I’m not Wonder Woman – but it does mean a lot of travel, a lot of pressure and a lot of tribulations, seldom of my own making.

I generally work from 08:30 to 18:00, maybe a bit earlier, but this means I can avoid the traffic between home and the office. If I’m not advising on a personnel matter, I’m stuck with my face in front of a spreadsheet. Just occasionally (every month) you might find me driving up and down the country to visit my depots which invariably means an 03:00 or 04:00 start as they start work at 06:30. I could travel the night before but I hate staying in hotels unless I really have to. Once every month I end up flying to Ireland for a one to one meeting. And, just because I have nothing better to do, you might find me visiting properties to find the best location for a new site or a bigger or smaller depot to relocate an existing one. Or – god forbid – leading a crackpot project which although essential is going to be a right pain in the arse as I have to find a way to get all 400+ drivers through eight hours of training, whilst still doing their jobs, and also launching some new tech which isn’t actually working entirely right at the moment. All between July and the end of the year. 411 drivers! In 27 locations! In 6 months! Easy peasy…

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Now I bet you are wondering what any of this has to do with my book blog, or why I am boring you all with the facts of my job. You don’t care about my job (hell I struggle some days…) Well. This is the thing. For the past couple of years, reading has kept me sane. Sort of. It has been a perfect escape, a kind of way to forget all the stresses of the day and to just lose myself in something else, something more. I never really expected to have rekindled the passion for reading that I had as a child. Didn’t think it was possible, but it appears I have done that and then some. If anything, I am probably worse now than I was back then. Book obsessed one might say. And obsessed with blogging too it seems. Nowt wrong with that either. But there in lies the problem…

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I started my blog a little under a year ago (I know, it feels longer for me too). I never had any expectations about how it would go or what it would or wouldn’t achieve. I just fancied giving it ago. Thought it might help me organise myself and it gave me another avenue of distraction from the madness. So I took the plunge. Dove straight in – sink or swim stylee. No idea what I was doing or how, or even what the scale of this whole blogging thing really was. Fifteen months ago, I didn’t even know book blogging was a thing. Twelve months ago I was barely in any Facebook groups and I had my social media accounts locked down tight because there was no way anyone was going to be interested in what I had to say. I probably had one hundred followers on Twitter and no idea about sharing posts, pushing my tweets or pimping out my site to authors to be able to share the details of their wondrous works of fiction. I just thought it was about reviews and shit (pardon the language but this is my ramble…).

Yep, twelve months ago I’d never even heard of a blog tour, let alone considered how one went about being part of one. All I knew was that I had books on my kindle I really wanted to read and was happy to publish my reviews on line in as many places as I could find to take them. I was even dipping my toe into NetGalley (big mistake…) so that added to my library a little. Life was simple. Life was good.

Life now is good too, but perhaps not quite so simple. Yes life at work is manic as ever, made more intense by winning a couple of very large contracts which have led to more staff and more depots. This is a good thing but it adds to the lethargy which is slowly creeping in.

And so does keeping up with the blog. As any blogger will attest, be they a prolific or a once a week kind of poster, this gig is tough. I know that I am not alone in how I feel, that sometimes I am putting myself under too much pressure to post, to tweet, to share, to interact, so much so that it starts to take the shine off blogging just that teeny tiny bit. I know others who have taken social media breaks to recharge (and I think we all need a bit of that at times) and yet more who have taken a small step back from blog tours in order to get their head back in the game and give themselves some breathing space.

It is still so instinctive to compare myself with other bloggers. I have always suffered from chronic self doubt in every single thing I do so I have absolutely no idea why I set myself up to fail by creating the blog in the first place. Why I thought I’d be good enough. I often find myself doubting what I do because I’m not able to connect with publishers and authors in the way it seems so many other bloggers are. I am a very shy person (my staff would disagree but then that is different – there I am paid to play a role and I do it rather well) so having the nerve to interact with others isn’t natural for me at all. Even people I would consider friends now I still umm and ahh over whether to comment on tweets and posts because it feels like an intrusion.  And so many people seem to be more established than me – to just know more people. To know them better. Many started from book groups and clubs on Facebook, had a group of friends and followers who were there all ready and waiting to support and champion their blogs. Sometimes I feel like I appeared from nowhere. Nought to blogger in 3.6 seconds. And without a safety harness to boot. Every day feels like a battle to find my ground, find my voice, and one which I even now I am not sure that I am winning. It makes me doubt what I do or why I do it. As I said, lots of great blogs out there. Does mine really make a difference? There are times when I have to stop and wonder why I carry on…

But that’s the thing. I know that many of my fellow bloggers have felt exactly the same way. We all feel those pangs of doubt. All question whether we are good enough. All wonder if the negativity which keep rearing its ugly head is worth it or whether we have the strength to carry on. We all suffer periods of lost mojo – be it reading or reviewing –  and we all feel a little lost sometimes, buried under a sea of books and review requests which we can’t seem to get on top of. I know I for one look at some of my fellow bloggers and think how in the hell do you do all that you seem to do? How did you get onto the radar of that publisher, and how do you keep on top of your reviews the way you do or find the creativity to keep cranking out reviews of such fab quality all the time?

I put myself under too much pressure but, in truth, that’s how I keep going. I may be sat on about ten reviews that I need to write but I know that when the chips are down and I have to get them written I will put pen to paper (or more appropriately fingers to keyboard) and I will produce something of moderate quality. It won’t be the best, it won’t be the worst, but hopefully it will be me.

Now this post isn’t about self pity or getting compliments so I’m not giving anyone the chance to comment ;). This is just me getting this doubt out of my system. Letting off steam. Probably not a brilliant idea as steam is the one thing I am already running out of at the moment but hey ho. Ya cannae win ’em all. My life is dominated by peaks and troughs, highs and lows, and always will be. I am not sure right now if I’m on a come down from a high, or dragging myself up from a low, but I’m hovering somewhere around the edge of the disenchanted forest, sat on a park bench waiting for the next doubting Blogger to come walking by. I know they will. I think it’s the one blogging year itch (doubt) thing. We all seem to suffer from it.

But… I also know that if I get up off my fat butt and carry on my journey I am going to be cheered on by some bloody fabulous people. Because that’s the thing about our wondrous blogging and bookish community. The support. I may never meet half of the people I interact with on a daily basis but I know I will always have their support and that is something I never expected when I started this blogging gig. To have a post shared or to have a bit of banter on Twitter is just perfect. But to receive a gift copy of one of your favourite author’s latest audio book to thank you for all your support, and then to be asked by a publisher to read a book so they can get some early feedback from me… Well maybe I’m not quite so useless after all. And boy. There are some very fabulous people out there in the blogosphere. Ones who do motivate me, cheer me, support me and give me that little nudge when I’m feeling blue. I hope they know who they are and how truly special they are too.

And you can always count on my support too. I will try my best to retweet and blog and comment as I always have. If I miss a few over the next few months, its not because I don’t think you are fab and that your review or feature isn’t brilliant. Likewise if I don’t say thanks for a retweet, it’s not because every single one isn’t important to me. I never take your support for granted and I appreciate every last one of you, you wonderful people. But… well if I’m not here as much over the coming months it’s because I’m probably sat in a darkened room somewhere trying hard to avoid stabbing the next person to ask me a really stupid question whilst simultaneously trying to plan 3,288 hours of training with a further 3,288 hours of driver accompaniments, and planning next years £21m+ budget. I’m going to try my hardest to keep reading and keep blogging but it’s going to be tough that’s for sure. Time stands still for no blogger. Thank god for audio books. At least not every bit of travel time is wasted time…

All this talk of losing my mojo… I’ve actually finished 5 books this week and am half way through another two 😉 Really this is just another pointless exercise and demonstration of my ability as master procrastinator as while I have been writing this nonsensical post, I could have been writing up one of my outstanding (as in late not fabulous) reviews instead. Dang it.

Have a wonderful weekend of bookishness all

JL