You may have noticed that posts on this website haven’t been as regular as they used to be. I thought I’d update my lovely friends and readers about what’s been happening.
I got sick
Firstly, I got super sick. Without going into details, it was probably the worst I’ve been since I moved out of home 4 years ago. And then I got better, only to get sick in a new and different kind of way.
In total, I lost about four weeks. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, I know, but when you’re in the last 6 or so months of your PhD, that’s a really long time!
I also didn’t read anything during this time because I couldn’t look at text for too long. This means I’ve gotten really behind in my reviewing. Which I feel really guilty about, but can’t really help.
Then it got worse
I got better in February, only to find that I am suddenly plagued with really bad headaches. Reading makes them worse!
There have been days where everything is too bright and too loud, and where my vision blurs because the headaches are that bad.
This is a new thing for me, I know lots of people have migraines and I’m not alone. But for this to begin when I am so close to finishing my PhD, it’s devastating.
And it’s not helping me catch up with the things I had to let go with this website when I was sick. It takes me over a week to read even the shortest YA novels.
Now for the best part
I had a huge deadline in February for my PhD, which I’m proud that I successfully made! It involved a lot of hard work from a lot of people.
Unfortunately, despite all my awesome-ness, I was unable to secure a bit of funding that I was hoping for. It’s not really anyone’s fault. There’s only so much money in the world, and I won’t be getting any of it.
But this means I’m on my own until my submission date. Which is OK because I’m blessed in life with an amazing family and a super supportive husband. But it was still disappointing and it sucked what little joy I had right out of me.
What I’ve learnt
This whole episode has taught me a lot though. I never thought twice about how much energy this website demands from me until I had so much less energy to expend. I used to spend my lunch-times on Twitter, my evenings researching new books and covers, my nights reading and reviewing, my weekends glued to social media websites.
When I got sick and couldn’t do any of those things, I suddenly and time to catch up on things I’ve always to do. I made a Valentines Day card for my husband all by myself and started a scrap-book. I watched a few shows I’ve always wanted to watch. I made cushion covers!
I think I’ll be reorganising, and re-prioritising, the time I spend on the website from now on. I think I can use my time better!
So this is a weird time for me! I want to finish my PhD as soon as I can so that I can run out and start earning money. I’m also hurtling towards the time when I need to make a decision about staying in academia or pursuing a bookish career. And I’ve still not recovered from all the illness and stress of the last few months.
I’ve stopped doing Stocktake Saturday posts. They take a lot of energy, and give very little in return. Researching bookish news and cover reveals every spare minute of the day is exhausting. And although I like highlighting the books I get over the week, I’ve noticed the comments veering towards the “I’m so jealous” kind. I’m the kind of person who feels kind of guilty about getting books for review in the first place, so it’s not good for my mental health. I may still tweet what I get now and then, but for the most part I’m going to stop talking about what I’ve received for review.
The monthly newsletter will now fulfil the purpose of the Stocktake Saturday posts. It has a round-up of all the bookish news and cover reveals I have come across, as well as links to popular posts over the last month. It also has the Monthly Must Read and an Australian Women Writer spotlight, which I think are helpful and relevant.
However, there will be monthly Books to Look Out For posts, which I hope will still serve to highlight upcoming titles and covers.
And #OzYAChat isn’t going anywhere. The support the twitter chat has gotten from the community has been phenomenal. It’s not only readers, but authors and publishers and booksellers and librarians have been so enthusiastic about getting together once a fortnight to talk about Aussie books (mostly YA, but we love all books).
I’m hoping to get back to posting a few reviews a week, but I’m also aware that the next few months will be stressful because of my PhD. I’ve never seriously considered not reviewing, however, so I don’t think I’m going anywhere for a while yet. Things might just be different while I sort myself out.
Finally, I just want to say thank you! I know I haven’t been around much, but the supportive messages, emails and tweets I’ve been getting have really brightened my life when I needed them. I appreciate each one of the friends I’ve made through this website, and I hope we continue to have many adventures together.