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A Reupholstered Armchair

June 5, 2011


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I imagine my blog is breathing a big sigh of relief right now! I spent most of May trying to envision various ways of blogging with arms that aren’t up to much typing, but nothing I tried (video, photographs, ‘five word’ reviews, trying to research voice recognition software, etc.) seemed to work. I think I was secretly expecting that one day my arms would just be back to their normal selves, and then the whole issue would be moot. By the time I accepted the new pain was here to stay, it felt as if I’d just have to give up book blogging. I put off making an announcement, though, because I didn’t really want to quit.

Instead, I realised I’d have to make some big changes and reimagine my blogging style. I began thinking about what I really want my blog to do; it comes down to two things. Firstly, I like having a record of my reading for personal reasons. Secondly, I love gushing about books to all of my readers, spreading the reading love and maybe convincing a few people to give one of my favourite authors a shot. And ultimately, that doesn’t necessarily require a ton of words. Even if I can’t write extensive, long reviews analysing various aspects of the book and typing out notable passages, I can still manage brief posts about what I’ve been reading. And brief is better than none, right?

Here’s what y’all can expect. Most days, I’ll do a short post (no more than two hundred words) about one book; I’ve styled the formatting on my bookish quote series (which I’ll be continuing on Saturdays). You’ll see the first example of this tomorrow; let me know if the formatting doesn’t work! Since the posts are brief, they’ll just contain the gist of my reaction to the book. And since I’m only doing one title at a time (compared to my old Sunday Salons), I should be able to have enough in my drafts folder to cover my bad days; they’ll be appearing regularly. On Sundays, I’ll take a ‘today in reading’ approach (which is the original spirit of TSS, after all) rather than trying to ‘review’ books.


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Before all of this trouble, I had a few types of non-review posts I blogged regularly. I imagine I’ll be able to keep up the Assembling My Atheneum series (in which I profile favourite authors), just in a more succinct style. As far as book lists go, I’m far too fond of them to give them up completely. But they’ll be less ambitious, since I just can’t do the massive amounts of formatting my bigger lists require. And I’ll probably have to stop linking up titles, which will make things easier. This brings us to my ‘bookish musings’ posts, in which I essentially rambled on about some interesting-to-me topic pertaining to books, reading, or book blogging. Now, I loved the discussions these posts raised (so many of you left thoughtful, challenging comments), and there are still plenty of topics I want to write about. But frankly, I think that style of blogging requires longer posts, and especially an ability to reply to all comments, that I just don’t have at the moment. I can work on writing the longer post on and off, and then ask for your patience in replying to comments, but I expect once a month is as frequent as I’ll be able to publish such posts.
So far so good, but I need your input to determine the last one.

When I did polls at the end of last year, I was surprised to see how popular Library Loot was. I can definitely still record a vlog and post it, but I won’t be able to do all of the pretty covers/linked titles formatting that I did before. I can probably list the books mentioned for your reference, but there won’t be any links or descriptions, just what I copy and paste from my library catalogue. So essentially, it’d just be the video. Please let me know if you’d like that; recording/editing/uploading the video does take time, so I’d rather not do it if y’all think it’s pointless without the covers and links! Here’s a poll to let me know:


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Now for the biggest problem: comments! In the past, I considered it a necessity of good manners to reply individually to every comment I received, with very few exceptions (this sometimes took quite awhile, but I tried to make sure the replies were timely). Now, I just can’t do that much typing. So, if you specifically ask me a question in your comment, I will reply (most likely, it will sound a bit terse, but keep in mind that’s just me limiting my words). If you don’t specifically ask me a question, I regret to say that I won’t be able to reply; when I push myself and type too much, my arms stop working for a couple of days. I completely understand if this makes you less likely to comment! As for leaving comments on other bloggers’ blogs, which is so essential to the social aspect of the community, I haven’t quite figured that out yet. Maybe I’ll do a c&p ‘I’m not up for typing today, so I can’t leave a more personalised comment, but I loved this post’ kind of thing for the bad days. And on the good days, I’ll try to make sure I’m commenting on a variety of blogs. Either way, even if I’m not commenting as frequently, I’m still reading! :) On a final social media note, I doubt I’ll be on Twitter very much; 160 characters can add up when you’re chatting with good friends! But I’ll try to pop in every once in a while.

Whew! Sorry to inundate you with so much navel gazing all at once, but I thought since y’all had been so understanding of my absences, and since I won’t be able to reply to all of your comments, I’d lay out what I envision as the future of A Striped Armchair. I’ll miss being able to do 1,000+ word posts on books which deserve ten times that, but at least this allows me to keep this wonderful hobby! I’ll still be me, just more abbreviated. And finally, thank you so much for all of your support and good wishes. See you around the blogosphere. :) (Now I’m off to rack my brain and try to remember the books I read in May; I didn’t write down any of them. Whoops!)


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60 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2011 9:28 am

    Less is often more.

    A succinct Eva is better than no Eva.

  2. June 5, 2011 9:32 am

    Anything that makes you able to keep blogging, Eva! <3

  3. June 5, 2011 9:38 am

    I agree with the other commenters: do what you can so we can read your reviews. I’d rather you do short reviews than disappear

  4. June 5, 2011 9:52 am

    Whatever keeps you in business, my friend—I’ll miss your longer posts, but I’m really glad you’ve found a compromise that works.

  5. June 5, 2011 10:52 am

    I want you to keep going, and shorter reviews can be even more effective — when they reach people who don’t have time to read 1000+ words. We still want to know what you enjoyed, what you thought of a book we are considering, and what you think is a bust. Keep going, using whatever method works for you. I voted “I don’t care” about the video for Library Loot, and what I meant was that I want you to do what makes you happy, using whatever format is best for you.

    You are surrounded by our love — and our joint love of books. Hang in there!

  6. June 5, 2011 11:04 am

    I’m sure we’ll all take what we can get. We love our Eva and we’ve missed you! And I simply said I don’t care to the poll, because I don’t. I want you to do whatever is most comfortable!

  7. June 5, 2011 11:13 am

    I agree with all of the other commenters – short bookish thoughts from you are certainly better than no you at all! You’ve been greatly missed.

  8. June 5, 2011 11:15 am

    Wonderful to see you back, Eva :) We have been missing you very much. Sorry to know that your arms are giving you pain while typing. Hope and wish that you get well soon. I would love to read your short posts on individual books, the ‘Assembing my Atheneum’ and ‘Booklists’ series and listen to your vlog on ‘Library Loot’. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the books you read in May.

  9. She permalink
    June 5, 2011 11:30 am

    Welcome back, Eva! I’m glad you’ve found a new way of blogging that works for you. :D

  10. June 5, 2011 11:35 am

    Do what you can. Seeing a bit of Eva is better than none. :) Welcome back!

  11. June 5, 2011 11:37 am

    I’m sorry to hear how much the pain is acting up and I am happy that you will be around at all. I love love love all of your posts and even just a few words about a book is great. Whatever is easiest for you works for me – I’ve missed you :)

  12. June 5, 2011 11:42 am

    I’m just glad you’re back and that you’re okay. You were missed!

  13. June 5, 2011 11:52 am

    Whatever keeps you here with us, Eva! I’m sorry to hear how much pain you are in but selfishly I am happy to know you are finding a way to still stick around. I’ve missed you!

  14. June 5, 2011 11:58 am

    Hope you get well soon! In the meantime, please take care of yourself! You are one of my favorite bloggers & I’ve missed you but I do not want you to compromise your health for the sake of blogging. Seconding the others: a little Eva is better than none.

  15. June 5, 2011 12:11 pm

    It’s your blog, and you should always blog in the way that’s best for you. For everyone else, we’ll just be pleased to see you posting and enjoying it again! :)

  16. June 5, 2011 12:12 pm

    Eva, do what is best for you. I have always particularly enjoyed your videos because of the way your enthusiasm shines through so clearly. But it is time to take care of yourself. Your health comes first, so do what you feel you can most comfortably handle and don’t worry about it. After all, we are all here to have some fun that we don’t often get in the real world. When blogging begins to feel more like an obligation or, god forbid, a job, you know you’ve overdone it.

    Best of luck to you. I hope you get some relief soon.

    Sam

  17. Kathleen permalink
    June 5, 2011 12:59 pm

    Welcome back Eva! I always enjoy your insights into what you’ve read and love your vlog where you tell us about your library finds. You are one of the few bloggers I’ve found that focuses on non-fiction and I love that! I’ve been having some carpal tunnel issues so I can relate to the issues you’ve been experiencing and how it can make it to blog. So reimagine your blog any way you see fit and I will still be here!

  18. June 5, 2011 1:12 pm

    Eva, I’m so happy that you were able to let us know what’s going on in your life. As many have said before, a little Eva is better than no Eva. Short reviews are great and I think you have been doing so much of the work for us, such as all the link with your Library Loot. If you just talk and maybe hold up the book (if it’s comfortable), we can do the rest.

    Take care of yourself and I pray that your health improves and your pain is manageable. :-)

    Hugs!

  19. June 5, 2011 1:20 pm

    I don’t comment often, but please know that I’ll enjoy whatever you post, and more so if I know that it’s not physically onerous to do it!

  20. June 5, 2011 1:38 pm

    I’m glad your back, Eva. What ever you need to so to be healthy and keep in touch is all right by me!

  21. June 5, 2011 1:40 pm

    Oops, grammatical error. I meant “I’m glad you’re back”.

  22. June 5, 2011 2:02 pm

    I know I’m breathing a sigh of relief to see your post! And I’ll echo everyone else and say brief posts from you are better than no posts! And your health and comfort is the most important thing of all, so you do what you need to do.

  23. June 5, 2011 2:18 pm

    I’m sorry to hear your arms are still bothering you so much. Hopefully this new way of blogging will allow you to keep up with something you love so much. I’ll still be here reading, whatever form your posts take.

  24. June 5, 2011 3:27 pm

    Sorry to hear about the arms acting up, but I’m glad you’re (relatively) okay and that you’re going to keep blogging! I know a lot of us have been missing you tons, and even a small amount of Eva is better than no Eva at all. :D

  25. June 5, 2011 4:18 pm

    Do whatever works best for you. It’s great to see a new post on your site, no matter how much you’re able to write.

  26. June 5, 2011 4:26 pm

    I love the title of your post. :-D And I hope this new system works out for you…I’m looking forward to seeing your posts again…whatever length they may be.

  27. June 5, 2011 5:32 pm

    Like everyone, I’m glad to see you blogging again! :) I’m so sorry you’re having continued pain. I am happy with any posts you do and can offer no constructive feedback because whenever I see your blog name bolded in Google Reader I get excited no matter what you post.

  28. June 5, 2011 6:10 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that your pain is here to stay but I’m glad to see you’ve figured out a way to keep blogging. I say do what you can and don’t sweat the rest.

  29. June 5, 2011 7:45 pm

    Glad to see you back, but sorry the pain is so bad. :( I know how that goes-my hands have been acting up something awful recently (I think it also has to do with the amount of grading I’ve been doing at school as well).

    I’ll be happy with whatever you write! I just love seeing the eclectic mix you read and your thoughts!

    :)

  30. June 5, 2011 7:51 pm

    Do whatever you can – I am just glad to see you and welcome your voice in what ever way works for you.

  31. June 5, 2011 8:16 pm

    Sorry to hear about the additional pain, but we’re certainly grateful for anything you can do on the bloggy front. *HUGS* to you, Eva!

  32. June 5, 2011 11:23 pm

    I’m happy with the smallest comment from you, Eva! As long as you’re around, I’m happy!

  33. ana permalink
    June 6, 2011 2:39 am

    You have been missed and we have been concerned to know how you were. The pain is so very frustrating for you but your love of and gift for communicating will help you find a way to keep sharing your enthusiasms with your many friends. Caring for yourself must be your principal goal. May your delight in reading sustain your spirit.

  34. June 6, 2011 3:02 am

    As someone who also struggles to post as often as I’d like, I hope the new system works for you :)

  35. bookgazing permalink
    June 6, 2011 3:12 am

    I’m so happy to see you in my feed reader again and I want to keep seeing that, so I look forward to your new adapted blogging style. So sorry that the pain has increased. Good wishes for the bad days.

  36. June 6, 2011 6:15 am

    I’m glad you’ll be back Eva, in whatever capacity works for you. I’m sorry your pain has gotten worse.

  37. June 6, 2011 6:37 am

    I was so excited to see TWO posts from you in my reader this morning. Yay! So good to have you back. Short and sweet is fine. Do what your body lets you do. No worries on the comments, just share with us a bit when you can.

  38. June 6, 2011 7:20 am

    I’m glad to see you back, Eva. Do what you can. I love your gushy posts :) even if they are short.

  39. June 6, 2011 8:31 am

    Brevity is the soul of Eva.

  40. Laura Miller permalink
    June 6, 2011 8:32 am

    You don’t say whether your research into voice recognition software yielded any results, Eva, but I just wanted to pitch in my two cents on this subject. I recommend it. I have intermittent repetitive stress injuries that flare up when I do long, intensive bouts of typing (such as transcribing interviews or excerpts from books). I’ve used Dragon Naturally Speaking, which runs on Windows and is pretty close to magical, so great that I was willing to partition the hard drive on my Mac and set up a separate Windows hard drive just to run that one program. I could not have written my book without it.

    Until recently, the Mac options in this area were pretty bad, so frustrating that most people who tried them just gave up. However, a year or so ago Dragon Dictate was released for Macs, and it approximates Dragon Naturally Speaking very well. I used it recently and was very impressed.

    I’d urge any writer having trouble with their hands/arms/shoulders to try these programs. It’s a little expensive to get them up and running, especially since they recommend you buy a special headset microphone. However, my apartment is relatively quiet, and I’ve successfully used Dragon Dictate with just the microphone built into my MacBookPro.

    Yes, there is a learning curve, and the software will make more mistakes at the beginning before it learns your voice. Occasionally, things need a technical tweak. But when you consider how difficult voice recognition is to design, they are indeed miraculous, and once you get accustomed to having to dictate punctuation marks & so on, quite easy to use.

    For someone unable to use their hands at all (and therefore needing the VR software to execute commands like saving files and switching apps) they may be more frustrating, but if you can do a little with your hands, and just need something to drastically reduce the overall number of keystrokes, they are life savers. As long as you don’t expect them to work perfectly and instantly out of the box, they can make writing possible again. I have several friends who can testify to this.

    • June 6, 2011 8:34 am

      I second Laura’s comment. That’s what I was headed here to say. Dragon Naturally Speaking works wonders! Give it a try. After just a bit of training, it does a pretty good job.

      • June 7, 2011 10:00 pm

        Thnx for the suggestion guys! I’ll mull it over, but I’m in the market for new laptop & haven’t decided on OS yet so can’t get any software. ;)

  41. Verity permalink
    June 6, 2011 8:47 am

    It will be lovely to see you as and when x

  42. June 6, 2011 8:54 am

    Like I said on Twitter, I’m just glad to see you here…no matter the length of the posts. Your voice would be greatly missed if you left us.

  43. June 6, 2011 11:20 am

    Glad to hear you’re doing better. Like everyone else has said, do what’s comfortable for you. We’re happy as long as you are:) But it’s nice to *hear* your voice again.

  44. June 6, 2011 1:05 pm

    YIPPEE!! It’s EVA! {gentle hugs}

  45. June 6, 2011 2:33 pm

    I’ll look forward to seeing all of your posts!

  46. June 6, 2011 3:27 pm

    As always, I’m just glad that you are back!!! I always miss your posts when you are gone and love that you help to expand my reading :)

  47. June 6, 2011 9:26 pm

    I’m VERY happy you are back ! However and whenever you blog, I’m sure I will enjoy your posts. Since you are one of my favorite bloggers, I will be happy reading ANYTHING you post. I’m just happy to have you back !!!

  48. June 7, 2011 4:54 pm

    So sorry you have to deal with all that pain. Do what works for you. I’d rather see you here in a more limited capacity than not at all!

  49. June 7, 2011 5:11 pm

    Sorry to hear its not been great for you Eva, hoorah that you are back blogging though. I don’t care how long or short your posts are (please keep the Library Loot video’s I love them) because either way its you writing about books and thats what I love. Short or long your thoughts are very much appreciated. So are the insights into your life in general, keep us in the loop as you want and when you want!

  50. June 7, 2011 10:15 pm

    Just echoing what everyone else is saying – glad to have you back and your new vision for your blog sounds great! I love hearing what books you have become passionate about.

  51. June 8, 2011 11:41 am

    Just glad you’re back. Missed you! (And I am printing out some of your blog posts to have on hand for when we can start ordering materials again for the library in July. New fiscal year=new authors of color!!!)

    • June 10, 2011 11:17 pm

      That is such a wonderful comment to receive! :D

  52. June 9, 2011 6:43 pm

    Hugs!! And hoping this new direction enables you to keep blogging. Sometimes it’s just about participating, even in small ways, rather than needing to do it ALL THE WAY the way one used to. Keep it short and sweet. People will still read you. Hoping you feel better soon. What a drag. (and I say that only as someone who *totally* gets what an understatement that is)

  53. June 10, 2011 4:54 pm

    I’m so glad to see you back , Eva, and I’m sorry to hear you’re in so much pain. But whatever way you can blog that makes it comfortable and easier for you is fine with me. I’d rather have little Eva than no Eva. :) I love the pictures of the armchairs you chose, by the way.

  54. June 11, 2011 5:10 pm

    Hi Eva, you’ve clearly put a lot of thought into this and for what it’s worth, I think you’ve made some good decisions. Good luck with the short reviews :P Don’t you think that sometimes they are harder to write than long ones? (rhetorical question, no need to answer! :))

  55. June 13, 2011 9:21 am

    I’m glad you’re still blogging. I admire your determination to keep on posting even through a shitty situation.

  56. November 9, 2011 5:53 am

    I saw this when I came to your blog to comment on your Christie post. Wish you all the best dealing with the illness.

  57. May 28, 2012 6:51 pm

    Eva,

    I’ve just been exploring your blog and decided to add yours to my reader…I’m really impressed with your thoughts and taste.

    Also, my wife has fibromyalgia and some other stuff (always seems to be a constellation of things connected together, right?), and I showed your blog to her and we were both moved by your experiences. My wife spends a lot of time in bed with her laptop, and if she wasn’t able to type much, I know how hard that would be on her. It’s how she stays in touch with people, since it’s really hard for her to go out or on trips.

    My wife was bed-ridden for about 2 years after her first year of college, but slowly recuperated and graduated, worked for a non-profit for a little while, got a master’s degree, and now we’ve got a 2-year old. She’s got flare-ups that are really tough on her, but she does a lot better now than she used to (she’s 32 now). We wish you the best and hope that managing things will grow easier.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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