This Is Danielle
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About Me: The Reader, Part 1: Reading 50 Books in 1 Year

Long time, no see fam. Hope your summer turned out to be pleasant. I've got another About Me blog coming your way so let's just dive in. In this series of blogs my goal is to give you a sense of what led me to my current blog, This is Danielle, while also giving you a sense of what I worked on in the past. Every minute detail will be in these blogs so pay attention, there will be a quiz! … I hope you know I am kidding.

Today's blog is all about my earliest days of blogging and the blog that really cemented my life in blog culture.

As a teenager in the early 2000's, blogging was practically second nature. One of the most popular websites in 2003 was Xanga.com. My classmates and I used it relentlessly. It was a journal entry site that you could customize and code with cool colors, backgrounds, and even add music playlists. The basic concept of Xanga was an online journal. You wrote something and your friends commented. It was all the rage. I can still recall trying to access Xanga during class and using fancy technology to get around the block the school placed. Obsession pretty much sums up my relationship with Xanga. But what can I say? I was obsessed because Xanga allowed me to create a website in just a few steps. I had wanted to create a webpage for some time and this was my answer.

The web was a bit of a safe haven for me in my early teen years. I was obsessed with a pop group called Jump5 and most of my peers didn't like their music. Instead of joining sports or after school clubs, I joined the Jump5 fan club and created websites all about Jump5 using Xanga and other sites such as Freewebs.com, now Webs.com. I loved creating new pages and interacting with fellow fans.

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Myspace and Facebook followed Xanga and it became less about blogging and design and more about sharing your experiences through photos, text updates, and live stream videos. It is safe to say that the blogging aspect of these popular websites became obsolete, in the sense that most people don't have a blog on Facebook. There used to be a notes page on Facebook but God only knows if it still exists.

There was always something in me that wanted to create a blog of my own. Sure I'd been blogging and creating websites casually since I was 13. But when I entered college, I really wanted to have a themed blog to update regularly. I created a self titled blog for a brief period documenting my life but quickly scrapped that and decided to start fresh. At the time, I was deep into writing a novel. I decided to create a blog on Webs.com that would document my time proofreading and rewriting my novel, with several different writing centered blogs in the process. I titled the blog "A Writing Story", subtitled "My When I Grow Up Blog." The blog was supposed to be a journal about my writing, and I subtitled it because as a kid it was always my dream to publish a novel.

The plan was to publish a blog post everyday. I had a wide collection of ideas. I even went so far as to make a calendar for the month of everything I planned to write about. Unfortunately, with school work the blog became a bit overwhelming. It didn't help that I was an undiagnosed perfectionist who feared to post anything that wasn't perfect in my eyes. The blog lasted about year I believe before I decided to give up on blogging in general. Right now, Webs has frozen the blog because it just hasn't been used but I may try to reinstate it. Here is the link anyway, http://awritingstory.webs.com.   

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I gave up on blogging because I felt it was a distraction from what I should be doing. Instead of writing my novel, I was blogging about writing a novel. I was stressing more about the blog than enjoying it. Blogging just wasn't for me, I decided. My goal was to focus on other forms of creativity and thus I vowed to never blog again.

Fast forward to the end of 2011. I had hardly blogged. A Writing Story still existed but very minimally. At the same time, I was using another blogging site called Tumblr more and more. I had even created an A Writing Story blog on Tumblr though it was mostly reblogs of Harry Potter things. Tumblr, while known for its intense user base, has a lot of room for creativity among people on the site. One thing that was a constant on there were posts about the end of the world. Remember? How someone predicted the world was going to end in 2012? I didn't believe it was true, but some part of me still feared if it actually would happen. I followed a lot of book blogs, being a big reader, and one day came across a post about reading 50 books in 2012. The post referenced the end of the world and how we should read as many books as we can before it ends. Plus, it would be a fun challenge even knowing the world was most likely not ending. I dabbled with the idea of participating.

The more I thought about reading 50 books in 2012, the more I began to realize how little I had been reading up to this point. I called myself a reader yet I only counted 8 books read in 2011 (the real number was actually 17...not sure how I terribly miscounted in my head). I decided that it was crucial to read 50 books in 2012.

Most people participating in the challenge were keeping up blogs documenting their experience. After my history with blogging, I wasn't sure if I was up to doing the same thing. Sure I may post something here and there on Tumblr but I wasn't planning on going further than that. And besides, as far as I was concerned I was not a book reviewer. I read books, never wrote about them.

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But alas, the Spring 2012 semester began and I took a class called Writing and Computers. It didn't come as a shock to me that one of our assignments was to keep up a blog. At first my heart sank. This was just after I had told myself no more blogging, and now it was a requirement if I wanted to receive a good grade. What felt worse was that my peers would be reading it. My first instinct was to create a writing blog. There was a part of me that felt insincere, like I wasn't as good of a writer as I thought I was. I feared being called out by my peers but wasn't sure what other type of blog I could possibly create besides a blog about writing.

Then it hit me. I could blog about reading 50 books in 2012! I lazily titled my blog The Reader. We were required to use blogger as our web host (a site I was unfamiliar with somehow but grew very accustomed to) and here is a link to my very first post and my site in general.  https://thereader101.blogspot.com/2012/01/welcome-blog.html

My main focus on the site was reviewing the books I read throughout the year. As I said earlier, I was very nervous going into this because I had never reviewed books before and didn't even feel qualified to do so. But you would be surprised how quickly you can familiarize yourself with something and in no time I grew to love book blogging! There was the occasional assignment from the professor but for the most part, but blog was entirely book reviews. And I loved it!

The blog didn't get too much attention, but it did not matter to me. By the end of 2012, I felt too accomplished to care. I read over 50 books (read my reflection post here → https://thereader101.blogspot.com/2013/01/wasted-wednesday-what-public-school-did.html) and couldn't be happier. Blogging had become a mainstay in my life. So, naturally, when 2012 came to a close, I began coming up with new ideas on how to continue blogging in the future!

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