What’s Up, I’m Back (for real!)

Why, hello there.

Before anything else, let me just give all of you virtual hugs because I REALLY MISSED EVERYONE! It has been months now since I’ve truly been on this blog – I say truly, because even though I still try and post stuff every now and then, read and comment on your posts and whatnot, I didn’t actually feel like I’m truly here. (Um, what?)

You guys know how I’ve been on and off this blog for the past few months. Well, okay- maybe you don’t. But since July, I haven’t been able to post and basically be around that much – which is funny, since it was only last May that I started The Bookish Agenda. Today actually marks the fourth monthsary of this blog – the reason that I chose this specific day to officially wake up from my blogging hibernation that lasted for almost two months (oops).

Anyway, this post basically aims to explain two things: number one is all about the reasons (excuses, really) for the dreadfully long time I have been away from the book blogging community. This part will probably consist of mostly just boring life updates and all that, so feel free to skip ahead to the second thing- which is all about what’s changed and what’s remained in The Bookish Agenda. Spoiler alert, though- it was just the little things.

Why I’ve been gone

As most of you know, I graduated from University last June, and the months following that have been purely dedicated to wallowing in self-pity catching up on Suits episodes looking for a job. It was a struggle I never want to experience again; if you can remember, I posted a Life Lately post a few months ago wherein I ranted about how unbelievably hard it is to land a job when you’re a fresh graduate with a relatively useless degree.

Hold on- let me just scratch unbelievably and relatively from that sentence, as I guess it’s actually no surprise that job hunting is no walk in the park, and my degree is not really “relatively” useless (absolutely would have been a more appropriate modifier).

Then, by some miracle, I finally got a job last August. It is by no means the dream job (hell, not even my dream job) but it pays and sustains my book addiction so who am I to complain and be picky? However, this also means that I’m busier than ever – what with the nine-to-five routine that I am now on, coupled with the almost six-hour trip to and from the office.

Yet another reason that I’ve been gone – and one I’m honestly still hesitant to admit – is that for a while, I didn’t want anything to do with this blog anymore. It even came to the point that I just wanted to delete everything, pack up, and start again under a new name. Don’t get me wrong; I love this blog and everything that comes with it, but I just can’t help but obsessively think about everything I could have made better or things I should have done before fully delving into blogging – that sort of stuff. So even if I did have time to spare amidst the job hunting, and eventually, my new job, I still found it hard to simply go back and write again here.

I thought hard about what I was going to do, and eventually I came to the conclusion that I already love this blog far too much for me to just go and erase it from existence. Besides, in the short time that I have been blogging, I have already managed to make friends with a lot of wonderful fellow bloggers and bookish people – the ones you don’t normally pick up on the street, so of course I can’t just let them you go.

I decided then that I would formally go on hiatus so that I could be more able to work on the changes and improvements that I want for this blog. Evidently, it was a long process, especially since it’s not exactly the only thing I do with all my time. But now, The Bookish Agenda is up and running again, and I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out. Honestly, stepping out for a while may probably be  the best decision I have made this year, second only to the one last May, when I started this blog.

And now… The Bookish Agenda 2.0

I did end up deleting everything – book reviews, features, discussions, even my categories and tags. I hated that I had to do that, but I know that I can’t go back to this blog without first getting them out of the way.

I wasn’t happy with everything, from the theme and the layout down to the content itself, so I knew I had to get rid of them all to be able to start over properly. I even considered buying my own domain and purchasing a premium theme so that I can take more control of the layout, but ended up thinking twice about it. I guess that’s a really big step I’m not quite ready to take yet, especially this early in my blogging life, so I had to make do with a free plan and theme for the time being.

As you may have probably observed, my blog’s appearance went from girly to minimalistic – the change I’m most happy about. When I first started, I picked pastel green as the brand color for this blog – for no particular reason, really. I made my banner and logo around that color, and even managed to find a free theme to match. It wasn’t long before I got sick of it, though, so I went around experimenting with other color schemes and themes (admittedly, I had very few options) until I settled with the latest before this one. (Stupid me didn’t even think to keep screenshots, sorry.)

Basically, I wanted a not-so-popular theme to set this blog apart from others of this kind. (One might say that the content should be enough to do just that, but come on, let those who don’t judge books by their covers throw stones at me.) After hours and hours of browsing, I came across Pachyderm by Caroline Themes. It was really cute, and one that I haven’t seen around that much. I customized it as much as I could – changing the background and fonts and stuff. I also made a header that is all pinkish going on red (what’s that color called anyway?) with cute little flowers adorning the corners. Even the font was all girly, too. I was incredibly satisfied with the end result that I even gave myself a literal pat in the back.

Eventually, though, it started looking awful to my eyes and I had to wonder why I even picked pink, of all colors. (Nothing against pink in general; I was just particularly getting sick of the color at the time.) I realized then that the reason I hated the way my blog looked was that it didn’t reflect who I am anymore.

I’ve always read of how funny it is that a person could change in a very short amount of time, but I never really grasped the whole truth of that concept until it happened to me. In the span of a few months, I changed from a girl of frills and sparkles to one who doesn’t want anything to do with them anymore. Maybe it was finally being somewhat of an adult or something. But I just knew that I had to do away with all those colors. So eventually, all that was left was white. It might be such a petty thing for some, but I swear – the moment I changed themes and saw the stark contrast between the old and the new one, I just felt at peace and started thinking all is well with the world again. Sometimes, even the tiniest bit of change can do that to you.

So, that was that. The layout is taken care of, and all that’s left to worry about was the actual content. I wondered for a while what to do with all my old posts. The original plan was to keep them and maybe edit them a bit, but I got impulsive and ended up deleting everything. I thought for sure that I would regret it, but so far I’m still happy with my decision.

I’ll probably restore some of the posts eventually, though – mostly the reviews. But it will be a while before I do that since I’m planning to thoroughly edit and revise them first. Despite a few people saying they liked my reviews, I knew that I could do better. Personally, I think they were a little all over the place and childishly written. Although it’s not like I’m planning on doing this for a living, be a professional reviewer or whatnot (now that’d be the dream job), I still feel like I owe it to the world (or to the readers, at least) to write good and not-a-pain-to-read reviews.

In light of this, I updated my “Reviews” page to contain not only a directory of all the book reviews posted here, but also a brief insight into how I write my reviews. It’s kind of like a review policy, I guess, but it’s more for the readers of my blog, rather than authors or publishers looking to have their books reviewed.

I also completely rewrote my About page; the last one was too embarrassing, I even cringe just thinking about it. Whenever people I knew in real life wanted to see my blog, I’d tell them to steer clear of the About page, which of course prompted them more to check it out (what is up with human nature?), but I had to at least warn them. Anyway, I wrote a new one that I could at least live with and not stay awake at night worrying about.

As I have said, it was basically just the little things that changed with this blog. It wasn’t like I had a lot of stuff going on here before the hiatus anyway. But there were other stuff, too, that are not in this blog exactly but are still totally related.

I created a new Goodreads account, for example. Although, I don’t plan on using it yet until 2017 as I’m still finishing my 2016 challenge with my old account. The main reason for this is really just because I’m not happy with the old one. (I really do have issues, don’t I?) I was reading since even before I was in school but it was only when I was in high school that I discovered Goodreads. Even then, I did not really use it for anything except to occasionally browse for suggested books and all that. I guess it bothers me that my Goodreads doesn’t have an accurate account of all the books I’ve read in my lifetime – which is really stupid, I know. But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to create a new one and from then on be more devoted to keeping record of books I read.

I also deleted my Twitter account associated with this blog (@bookishagenda) and created a new one (TBA!). I guess I just really wanted a fresh start, and besides, I’ve been really terrible at managing my old Twitter. It would sometimes take weeks for me to reply to someone or simply check my account. I guess I had a hard time juggling it with my personal one. I actually wonder why I bothered creating a new one. Oh well, let’s see how it goes.

And… that was all, actually. I am so excited to be back at last! Before I end this post, though- to everyone who kept on following this blog despite the inactivity for the past few months, to the ones who’ve bothered to message me and check that yes, I was still very much alive, to the new followers I’ve acquired despite being on hiatus – thank you. THANK YOU, really. Here’s to the months of reading and book blogging that we all have ahead of us. May we never have to be on hiatus again. 😉