My sister shared an article with me the other day on CNN.com called "Lighten Up On Yourself" by Elizabeth Gilbert. The article is specifically aimed at women, but I think it could apply to anyone (guys, you'll have to back me up on that).
The article's title sums up Gilbert's primary point: We need to lighten up and not dwell on mistakes we've made or compare ourselves to anyone else. While the point is a good one (and I highly suggest you read the original), you may be wondering what all that has to do with a blog dedicated to the 'joie de lire.'
1. LIGHTEN UP
So I can't finish reading a book because I've lost interest in it. Why should I beat myself up about that? The book wasn't required reading, and the reading I do for fun should be just that--fun. I don't need to lose any sleep at night wondering what happened in the last 400 pages of a book whose first 300 pages weren't what I needed to hold my interest.
2. NO COMPARISONS ALLOWED
I subscribe to some pretty amazing book blogs. When I read other bloggers' posts, I have moments of blog envy, followed directly by thoughts like "Why can't I be more like that blogger?" I get down on myself for not blogging more frequently and being able to offer regular features because my frequency is so erratic. I get down on myself for not having as many followers as other blogs or not having as many hits per week as other blogs. Instead of making those comparisons, though, I should be focusing on the fact that I have an outlet for my thoughts on reading and that there are other people out there willing to take time out of their busy days to read through those thoughts. If only one person reads my posts and gets something out of them (every once in a while), I've made a difference.
I need to accept the fact that I will most likely never be able to stick to a blogging schedule--much like I've never been able to stick to any strict schedule for sustained lengths of time (which is why being a professor and having a semester-by-semester schedule works great for me). I would love to be a blogger who posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by 8:00 a.m., but I know that while I could (and did) do that for a while, I will invariably come across a rough patch where all my energy is directed at another project. Because for me, I know I work in cycles: I read 5 books in a week and then don't pick up another book for a month; I write blog posts every day for two weeks and then don't have time to look at my blog for a week; I get massive amount of research completed in a week and then don't spare another thought to the topic for months; I grade stacks of papers in three hours and then ignore grading for a week. Is it the best way to work? Probably not. But it's me.
And as Gilbert says, I need to "map [my] own life." I may not be the picture of perfection, but I love what I do, and I love that other people are willing to go on my reading journey with me. Even when my blog only reflects that journey at irregular intervals...