Mmm, cake! Actually, I think I'm going to make myself a cake today to celebrate!
Here's the agenda:
Today: Ten Experiences I Owe to Blogging
Tomorrow: Ten Posts I'm Proud of
Thursday: June wrap-up
Friday: My Ten (plus four) Favorite Books I Read This Year
Saturday: Ten Thank Yous and a Thank You Raffle
Ready to start the party?
Ten Experiences I Owe To Blogging
- Using Canva to design graphics. I have no Photoshop experience, know nothing about HTML, and was happy for a long time that I'd figured out how to save book covers from Goodreads then upload them onto the blog. My Canva game is still shaky, but I can put words on a picture and make wonky collages, both of which make me disproportionally pleased with myself.
- Signing up for a writer's retreat. There is no way I would have been able to justify this retreat to myself if I hadn't spent the previous ten months writing on a regular basis.
- Judging the YA category for the CYBILS awards. This was a major thrill. First, because it got me to read six really great books published in 2015. Next, because it gave me a great group of people to discuss and analyze those books with. And of course, because it's kind of a kick to be an official judge. Made me feel like a Newbery Committee member.
- Designing a poll and a scavenger hunt. You think I was proud of myself for figuring out Canva? When I worked out how to make a swipe left/swipe right poll, I felt like I had conquered the 21st century. (It was actually super easy--shhh.) The scavenger hunt I put together for last month's Wrap-Up Round-Up Rafflecopter giveaway was a lot more challenging, but the satisfaction of finally getting it right (two days AFTER it went live) was enormous.
- Inspiring my teaching. It's hard for me to separate this blog from the new position I had this year as a reading teacher. The lines of what was inspiring what became very blurred. I went to author events both at conferences and with my students--but would I have pushed as hard to get to those events if I weren't part of this community? Heck, would I have KNOWN about these events? Doubtful. I participated in the Slice of Life challenge. I learned about books for my classroom library. I read inspiring thoughts of teacher-reader-bloggers. I thought hard about how to leverage my reading life to improve my students' reading lives.
- Participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. This was such a treat for me. You don't even know. I went into it expecting that my family wouldn't really cooperate and that I'd get maybe 12 hours of reading in 16 hours of participation. I ended up with great snacks, great family support, and round-the-clock participation. So fun.
- Dipping my toes into the Twitter pool. I still don't tweet often, still haven't participated in a Twitter Chat, still don't get how to organize my Twitter Feed--BUT. I did start following some really interesting people, and I did get some good information from Tweets I saw, and I did have a couple of fan-girl thrills when authors responded to me. I'm 46, people. This is challenging. But who doesn't love a challenge?
- Two-way communication with other bloggers. I have had two blogs before this. The first one was a Xanga blog that I used to record and share our experiences when my husband and I spent a year overseas. It was just for family and friends. The second was a blog I kept the first two years my kids were home, dealing with my challenges, excitement, and occasional misery as the adoptive parents of two school-aged kids. That one did get a few comments from the outside world, and I read a bunch of adoption blogs back then too, and was a frequent commenter on some. But I didn't really feel like any of the bloggers I loved had any idea who I was. They were getting dozens of comments per post; why would my occasional comments stand out? But now, although I'm pretty sure Cait couldn't pick me out of a crowd, I feel like I "know" a number of the bloggers whose blogs I read frequently. It's a little weird to be trying to teach my kids about internet safety and then be all, "Oooh, I just got a package from Nicole!", but it's worth it for sure.
- Giving me the book knowledge that helped me get a Book Love Foundation grant. In March of 2015, I applied for this fantastic grant. I wasn't too shocked to not get it, because the application form asked a bunch of questions that weren't applicable. My Twitter handle? My blog? Huh? Wasn't it enough to be a bookworm and a teacher? I started poking around the internet to figure out more about these things, and quickly discovered book blogs. A few months later, when I realized I kept leaving multi-paragraph comments, I decided--maybe I need my own forum. In a gorgeously circular fashion, when I re-applied for the grant this year, AND GOT IT, Penny Kittle told me that part of what they liked was my obviously extensive knowledge about the latest YA and MG books. Well, where do you think I got all this? From this lovely community! So, thanks for those 500 books, y'all.
- Strengthening my voice. I am not happy with every single aspect of my life. There are some weird politics at work, I have one huge parenting issue I can't seem to get on top of, I am fifty pounds heavier than I was three years ago. (I was going to add, "And my house is always a mess," but I just read this awesome thing Jane Smiley said, that she LIKED being surrounded by clutter, because she knew she could either have a clean house, or write, and clutter reminded her that she always chose to write.) All that being said, I have been more deeply content this year, more joyful even, because of the writing I do here, the reading I do online and of books, the way my work life enriches and is enriched by my creative life. I can't say this blog has saved my life, because things weren't that desperate. But it has let me reclaim some part of myself that I didn't realize was missing. *wipes tears*