A short while ago I posted an article titled Dear Bookish Social Media, We Need to Break Up, in which I explained my falling out of love with bookish social media. I mentioned that I wasn’t deleting this blog or my bookstagram, but I was reducing my time and effort on Goodreads. I received a lot of messages about that post – it seems that many of you are feeling the same way about bookish social media.
And I get it. It makes sense.
Since I posted that article, a few things have changed in my life – the key one being that I moved back to Australia. Since then, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to produce content to share online. Every time I move I’m faced with this same challenge – learning how to work with a new space is never easy for me, and I find myself uneasy every time I pick up my camera to take photos.
While in New Zealand I was staying with my sister, so the space I had was hardly mine, but it was set up in such a way that it was easy to take photos. Now, I’m staying with other family while I get ready to move to my own place, and lacking my familiar setting is difficult when it comes to taking photos for bookstagram. If you’re a follower of mine over on Instagram, you’ll likely know that I’m not a master of the flat lay, I prefer more bookish lifestyle photos. This means, more of my life and living situation get included into the photo, even when my surroundings aren’t exactly photogenic. Sometimes it takes a great lot of work to style a photo that will match my Instagram feed. Usually, that’s not a problem. Usually, I have creativity abounds, I can look at a space and figure out how to work with it, but that’s not the case right now. I’m exhausted, and that’s blocking my creativity.
My instagram has come to a screeching halt. It’s caused me to take a long look at my account and ask myself what I want from it, what I want to share, who I want to be online, and my answer has been the same for months now, but I’ve done nothing about it – I want to be more.
I feel limited by the hashtag bookstagram. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not leaving bookstagram. I love it too much.
But I was sitting at the beach yesterday evening with my camera sitting on my lap, just watching the world go by, and I got to thinking about bookstagram. I didn’t have any photos to post later that day, but still, I wondered, what would I talk about if I did? I’d probably mention that I’m stubbornly refusing to let anything other than War and Peace be my first read of 2019, so I’m slowly getting through that classic tome. Then maybe I’d ask what the longest book on your TBR for 2019 is. Or maybe I’d ask if there are any classics that you want to read in 2019, but they scare the socks off your feet. That’s a semi decent caption, no problem – but then, what would I talk about the next day? Still reading War and Peace, it’s quite long, a bit dense. And the next day? War and Peace again today, how about you? And the next?
Sure, I could talk about another bookish topic, we don’t always have to discuss our current reads, but all too often I sit there with the cursor blinking in the caption box as I wonder what to write, and end up writing nothing, not posting at all that day because I want to say something, but I don’t have any words dribbling out of my brain. Then, I think of other things, not quite so bookish things that I could say if I just had a different photo. I could talk about my favourite literary travel spots I’ve come across over the years – like the Moria Gate Arch just north of Karamea that makes me feel like I’m really in Middle Earth, or how the hills south of Auckland all look like they could house Hobbits. Or I could talk about the magical experience that is sitting down in the flax bushes by Lake Wakatipu, looking out over The Remarkables and reading whatever fantasy novel I had on me. Or I could talk about that time I pretended I was Robinson Crusoe on some island in New Caledonia when there was no one else around. Or I could recommend a list of books to take with you on a roadtrip up the Queensland coast incase you break down between Rockhampton and McKay and end up having to stay the night in a town where there’s nothing but a servo and a diner.
I love books, but I also love more.
In her poem, This Summer’s Day, Mary Oliver wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Well, Mary, I’m glad you asked, because I plant to go everywhere. I plan to read everything I can. I’m going to finish War and Peace, and you can bet that it will be my first read of 2019, even though it’s the sixth of January and I’m still only 20% of the way through. I plan to visit as many of the Pacific Islands as I possibly can and not be so cagey about the fact that I was born in Polynesia and I’m head over heels in love with coconuts. One day, I’m going to rent a cabin out by Castle Hill and write a book during the nights, and forage for nonexistent fruits during the day. Another day, I’m going to roadtrip the coast of this beautiful country I’m so lucky enough to call home, in a old van that will probably need to be serviced every single time I putt into a new town. At some point, I’ll venture over to England, Ireland and Scotland to see where my ancestors came from and maybe visit a few castles pretending that I’m not quite as far removed from the royal bloodline as I actually am, and I might even find some magical standing stones? You never know.
And I’m going to share it on the internet, even if 1% of my followers say that they prefer to see only bookish content.
And I hope you do the same, because you are the owner of your content, and I think it’s about damn time you own it.
Thanks for reading! Wishing you the happiest New Year!
Ka kite anō!
(colloquial shorting of ka kite anō au i a koe, meaning I’ll see you again).