YALLWest, Blogging, Writing and Why What A Nerd Girl Says Is Going to Change

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you guys that my life has changed since I first started this blog nearly five years ago. I was 24 years old. I was working at Panera Bread. I was in a relationship with someone else. I was writing novels and failing at finishing them. I didn’t always know who I was.

But I did know this. I had an overwhelming love and passion for books and geek culture, for sale particularly young adult literature. As you guys know, YA lit has and continues to receive a lot of negativity. It’s not legitimate literature, when are the authors going to write “real books”, none of it is worth anything, and on and on. This angered me. I’ve been reading and championing YA literature since I first read The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot when I was 12 years old. To read something like that, something I felt so connected to…it felt unreal. It also felt…hey, I kind of write like this. I write this style, I write these stories…and they can be good and valued and PUBLISHED. YA has always meant the world to me.

That was where What A Nerd Girl Says came from. Thats what the past five years have been. I have poured everything that I have into the community, showing support and love, championing YA in general, spreading the word about authors and books that I love. I may have never reached an insane follower status. I may not be famous. But that does not mean that I have not worked so hard. I have done so much. I’ve read 100-200 books a year for the past five years.

But I’m tired. I’m so incredibly tired. My life has changed so much since the beginning of this blog.

This past weekend was YALLWest. Now, there have only been thee years of this event but I went to the first two without a hesitation. I couldn’t miss this. The moment they announced that an all YA festival was coming to California, I was sold. An entire festival dedicated to the love and passion of YA literature. There are so many amazing book festivals but even at events like the LA Times Festival of Books, you get the scoffing and rolling eyes and judgement of those passing the Teen Stage. To have a festival where you wouldn’t get any of that felt like a dream come true.

But I did miss this year and I missed it on purpose. I had the day off from work, with the intention of going to the festival. But I didn’t go. And that breaks down to two reasons:

I still love books. I love books more than I love anything else in this world. Books are everything to me. They are there when people aren’t. They are there through good and bad. They are there when I’m happy and they are there when I’m falling apart. I am still as passionate about YA literature as I was five years ago, even more so. But I’ve lost the passion for blogging and for the community.

You see, the community has changed. What once was this tight knit group that banded together over a mutual love and passion and the desire to champion something that got so much hate, has turned into a high school cafeteria. There are cliques, there is drama, there is competition, there are bloggers and bookstagrammers and booktubers who tear each other down. It feels like a race and I got exhausted. I forgot about reading these books simply because I enjoy it. I was reading to keep up with everyone else. I was constantly trying to read the newest thing or keep up with the best and most popular series or read the next cool book before anyone else. I got concerned about followers and giveaways and I got insane about getting the advanced readers copies. The past six months or so…I’ve forgotten how much I love to read and I haven’t read much. I’ve read less than twenty books this year, which is unheard of for me. I don’t love it like I used to. I don’t enjoy it. I want to get back to that love. I want to let go of that “job feeling” and just get the passion back. I don’t want to feel stressed. I don’t want to feel like my blog is part of a competition and that’s definitely what it has turned into.

I also decided not to go to Yall West because of my life as an author.

I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I could remember. Ever since I discovered that it was an actual job that you could have…I wanted it. And I made it happen. After years and several books and tears and all of that, I made it happen. And I always thought that when you became an author, you suddenly became part of this exclusive club. I felt like I’d finally be a part of something. I thought I’d have author friends, and we’d write together and support each other and all of that.

And the fact is, it didn’t end up like that. Not in the slightest. Authors that I’ve supported for years have given me cursory congratulations but have created walls between me and them, walls that weren’t there when I was a blogger and pushing their books super hardcore. Some authors don’t even take me seriously, because I am an indie author, I don’t have an agent, I am not on the same publisher as them. It has felt…discouraging. Disappointing. Heartbreaking. Being a published author has become a dream come true but I still don’t belong. I felt like I belonged to the community more as a blogger than an author. It has also caused me to step away from blogging a lot as well. Not only have I not had the time because I’ve been writing, I just felt…disconnected. Like I wasn’t part of the blogger community anymore but also not part of the author community either.

As an indie author, I have to do pretty much everything by myself. Promotion, getting on events, making sure people know that my book exist. And its a lot of work but I work hard at it. I’ve been on several events since the publishing of The Awakened, and its because I’ve made the connections and I’ve wanted to be there and I knew what it could do for me.

I wanted to be on YALLWest. Of course I did. It’s a mere 45 minute drive from me, its centered on YA, it would be the best place for me to showcase myself and my book. Its perfect. And I would never expect them to just take me. I’m small and all that. But I was going to try.

It would have been one thing to not have room for me. I would never ever expect to be added to the event. But finding out that I could never be on the event because of the circumstances of how I was published…it broke my heart and I lost a lot of respect for the event. You can only appear as an author at YALLWest if your publisher is a sponsor of the event.

Um. What?

It broke my heart. If they said maybe next year, okay. Or, when you have a new book coming out, sure. But that…that broke my heart. It felt elitist, it felt…I just lost so much respect. Sure, I don’t have an agent and I’m not published with a huge major publisher. But I love Ben Alderson and I love OfTomes and I love what they have done for me and my books. I can’t imagine my books in a better place. But to hear that it held me back from the biggest YA event of the year, that it hindered me, that it made me not good enough…I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let myself be a part of an event that didn’t think that I would ever be good enough for them.

My life has changed, my passions have changed. I’m a different person that I was five years ago.

And that’s going to change how I run this blog. I thought about shutting it down for good but I can’t do it. This thing is my baby. Its about to be five years old and I can’t imagine letting it go.

But yes, its going to change. This will be my last post for sometime. This blog is getting a makeover, a revamp and relaunch. It’s going to be very different once I relaunch it, hopefully by the end of the month. This blog is going to turn into…more of a lifestyle blog, if that makes sense. It’s going to be my life and what I’m doing and what I’m passionate about it. Sure, it’ll still include books and nerd life because those are a huge part of who I am. But it’ll also include music and all the things I’m trying now. I want to talk about all the good food I’m eating and the new things I’m doing. I want to talk about the concerts and festivals I’m going to and the new shows I’m watching. I want to talk about my boyfriend and my friends. I want to share all my adventures. I want to share the beer I’m trying now at all these breweries and I want to share the hikes my boyfriend is taking me on. I want to write another novel and I want it to feel like a passion again and not work.

I want to be happy about the things in my life and I want to be happy writing about them on this blog.

I know its a change from what this blog originally was. I know that you came here somewhere along the line over the past five years because of what I wrote about it. And I know that some of you won’t stay because of the change. And that’s okay. You came here for a specific reason and I completely understand. I’ve met amazing people through this blog over the past five years and I’ve been incredibly lucky. I hope that you stick with me as I venture into this new journey and this new adventure.

Happy Living everyone <3

4 thoughts on “YALLWest, Blogging, Writing and Why What A Nerd Girl Says Is Going to Change

  1. fishgirl182 says:

    Hi Sara! I don’t want to make this a huge comment but I just wanted to give you a big internet hug. I totally get where you are coming from. I didn’t go to Yallwest this year or last year. I almost went this year but truthfully, I had a lot of things going on over the weekend and wasn’t sure I could dedicate a whole day to the event, fun as it is.

    I was also drawn to the YA scene because of the community. I am not as involved in it as I used to be. That’s mostly because of time and money and the fact that I read a lot of other stuff besides YA and don’t have the time to go a ton of events anymore. I am sorry to hear about your recent frustrations but I am not super surprised. I hope you don’t let it get you too down. There’s still a lot of really amazing people and authors out there and I definitely think you have a place in the community.

    I am excited about the changes to the blog and look forward to hearing more about your other passions. <3 <3

  2. Meghan says:

    Girl I’d read your grocery list j/k. I love the idea of incorporating more of your life. Especially because, hello Breweries!

  3. Ukelele says:

    Staying anonymous for this, but quite simply: I am a traditionally published author with big publishing houses, and my deals are quite substantial, too. I’ve been published a good while and been a guest at yallfest -once- and maybe never again. And your experience is exactly mine. Six figure plus advance, big marketing campaign, and yes– the exact same thing. My one and only yallfest, I stood in this room, looked about at these huge faces of big name authors, and totally had a sense that I did not belong, and I wonder if I will ever get asked back.

    This is what it is to be an author. It demands the same social skills I lack.

    Every YA event I go to, I feel like I am back in high school and not part of an in-crowd. Even being a New York Times bestseller has not changed this. There are very tiny, obscure authors with, say, Entangled who will waltz much more easily into the YA in-crowd because they -are- the type of people who effortlessly blend in or they are the types who will dye their hair funky colors and play faux cool long enough to be gathered up as someone or other’s eager lackey. The fact is, many of those social skills that predispose some to be part of the ‘in crowd’ all their lives are the very skills that led many of us to write in the first place.

    So– write and be an author because that is you. Fuck being part of a community of authors. The fact is, we are all competitors for sales. Yes, people cloak it in niceties and act very sweet because many of us are young women, but in most every other field of publishing, the naked competition is a little more obvious. They will not determine your success. Blending in with them does not validate you or make you an author.

    So all I can say is, feel disheartened? Demoralized?

    You are officially an author, then. It’s nearly universal.

    I honest to god have no author friends, just very brief passing friendships with people I would never trust with my secrets. Fact of life. And the YA community in the past year has been at peak sjw viciousness, so I don’t expect that to change until the backlash to the sjw types hits full force. If you’ve just entered recently, then you’ve come at the worst possible time, when the loudest voices are the worst possible people. Just wait.

    Oddly enough, though I’m not part of any sort of YA in crowd, it doesn’t impact my career. And a lot of those who do blend in seamlessly are not selling the numbers they’d have you think.

    So don’t forget that. It’s not you. It’s most all of us.

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