A New Chapter for Reading, Writing, and Me
I'd been considering a shift for the blog since this past summer. I'd played around with changing the design and giving it an update away from the signature hot pink. Every time I went to change it, though, I got nervous about what changing something that felt so foundational to the blog would do. Hot pink has always been one of my favorite colors (I had a scarily pink room when I was around 8), and I loved that I built up a successful blog with collaborations with brands, publishers, and authors all with my own signature spin that maybe wasn't the most classically sophisticated looking. I didn't change it this summer, though, because my motivation wasn't right. I was scared the blog didn't look or feel grown up or serious enough. When I finally made the change, though, I did it because the blog no longer felt like me. And that felt like a worthy reason to finally make a major shift to reflect more of my current tastes.
Along with the aesthetic rebrand, you might have noticed that the about page and the social media bios no longer call Reading, Writing, and Me a YA book blog, and my mission is no longer connecting fellow teens to books. At its core, this blog with always have YA running through its DNA, and I'm still going to cover YA books, but that mission statement no longer felt genuine to what I wanted to create for the blog or what I was reading. I felt like apologizing for being off brand every time I posted a review or a book list that wasn't focused on YA, and I found myself avoiding the blog because I didn't want to make a YA book list anymore. It felt like putting on a different version of myself who had started to fade away every time I went to write for this blog.
Six months ago, I couldn't imagine not wanting to only read YA for the rest of my life, and now it's only a small portion of what I naturally gravitate towards. It's absolutely jarring to realize that something that's been such a huge part of my identity is no longer such a presence in my life. But the reality is that I didn't have a traditional high school experience, and I've never related to it much. I lived vicariously through those books and imagined what my own high school experience would've been like. But at this point, even though I'm only 2 years older than the average YA protagonist, I have a hard time finding myself in many of those books. I'm 18, I'm in college, and I live alone. While I don't feel like an adult or relate to literary fiction about 30 year olds, I do feel like a real young adult now. It's brought into stark relief just how much work should be done to separate teen and true young adult in publishing. That's something I still feel passionate about working towards.
And unfortunately, there aren't many books written for those of us who are true young adults. But starting to bridge into genres like romance and literary fiction has become more important to me. I no longer feel awkward and childlike reading books written for adults, and I'm experiencing similar feelings reading romance and literary fiction as I did over spring break of 2017 when I picked up my first ever YA book, All The Bright Places. I'm still dipping my toe in, but the water is starting to feel much more like the right temperature.
And there's some serious joy in that! A whole new world of books I've never experienced at all laid out in front of me. This blog has documented my entire journey with YA. This blog has given me a writing community where I've been able to grow as a writer and complete five manuscripts. It's introduced me to things like Nanowrimo and Pitch Wars. Reading hundreds and hundreds of books and analyzing all of them in reviews has taught me how to write, and getting to talk to authors about their work has given me even more insight into the world. Other YA blogger, particularly fellow teens, gave me friends and connections when I felt totally isolated, and I will never stop being amazed at how sweet and generous with their time YA authors are. That community will always feel like my home, even as I open up the scope of this blog. Luckily, many of my favorite YA authors also happen to write romance, so none of these transitions are creating too far of a leap.
I've noticed over the years that it's hard to connect to teens in the YA community. Not many of them comes to blogs to look for books, and many of us who do are already deeply a part of the community. From my analytics and anecdotally, I know that the majority of my readers have always been adults (as is true with the majority of YA book buyers), so hopefully the expanding scope of the blog will be seen as a welcome change for you.
I've been reviewing a broader range of books lately, but I feel so much freer and more excited about working on the blog now that the scope has been officially broadened. I feel like I'm losing a small part of my identity not being specifically a YA blogger and nearing the end of my teenage years, but it also feels good to make room for changes and new transitional moments.
Moving to LA and being forced to figure everything out on my own has definitely changed me as a person, hopefully for the better. While it was scary and still is at times and provoked a lot of excess anxiety in the beginning, it has also taught me that I truly can depend on myself. I can have tons of fun exploring on my own, and I feel more open to embracing the spontaneous opportunities that come my way. I've been reading more than ever during this time too looking for escape and stability. And I've been enjoying coming back to reading in a new way. I can't wait to share that even more on the blog as I bring it into a brand new chapter. I honestly could not imagine my life without this blog, and I'm so glad that I get to keep sharing my love of reading with you.
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