Breaking Up With the Book Community

It’s certainly been a while since we just talked about life and the internet – which these days are nearly the same things. But as I’ve expressed, everything makes a certain sort of sense now. We’ll take that as indisputable proof that the road to success looks vastly different to everyone.

Some people’s paths are paved in gold jewels and a nice rest stop along the way that looks suspiciously like a Panera bread.

Some people’s paths are sunny and all they have to do is keep on keeping on and make sure they have plenty of water.

Mine just so happens to be a briar patch of bullshit and every single one I hack out of my way is through pure force of will.

The densest and thorniest part of the patch that simply will not let me cut it the hell down is the Book Community. I’ve never been in a place where I was so paranoid about being myself in my entire life. It’s been a hindrance and very stifling, despite how many wonderful people I’ve connected with there.

And it all had to do with me Allowing it to be.

So, we’re going to talk about my role in the toxicity of the Book Community and how the best way to improve my experience in it… is to not be apart of it.

Side note: I know you guys love tea videos and want to hear all of what’s good, but unfortunately for your thirsty selves – this is the Cerebral Hedonist. We drink coffee here.

So, what’s wrong with the Book Community?

To begin with, the Most straight forward answer I can offer is that the book community has absolutely no identity.

Unless one can identify as pure vitriolic chaos.

The community presented to me on Twitter and Booktube, especially in YA circles – and this is my experience with it – is like a child trying any and everything until something sticks and so far, nothing has. It tries it best to converge into a meaningful place of positivity and support while also regularly shifting into a monster of negativity, harassment, and policing.

Its quite a messy little sandbox that once you enter becomes quicksand. Suddenly you’re trapped in it for a year a two and slowly assimilate into the absolutely foolish fantasy that it is. I say fantasy because once you reconnect to the real world of books – or the real world in general, you’re reminded that the majority of it all is just a blip on some obscure conspiracist radar that no one listens to anyway.

The weird entrapment that is booktube and book twitter, for me, begins and ends with a certain level of dishonesty and, more importantly, disrespect. This is namely because there is no minding your own business in the book community. Even when you’re minding your own business, someone who doesn’t know what yours or even their own business is, feels entitled to mind yours as well simply because you’re standing in the same space together. And slowly I started to become one of those people.

I realized I got sucked into it. I would hear about something absolutely trashy and wrong and log in, want to see the bonfire, give my unasked for two cents…. And then feel utterly unsatisfied afterwards.

Because absolutely nothing changes.

This can be said about many fandoms, but the book community is where I seemed to get trapped in it because I never was a discourse hound in any other fandom space. All of the virtue signaling, all the calling-out, and mobbing and policing, and guilting? It felt like a very alien world that damn near changed me. But then I remembered, anything people do on Twitter or their channels or even their Instagram and Tiktoks, any of it has absolutely nothing to do with me. I’m not bored enough to care and I have far too much on my plate to make my life about it. My escape from real life is not seeing what’s going on social media, but actual progress and… books.

The book community doesn’t know what sort of community it wants to be. I realize I don’t have to stick around waiting for it to find out what it wants to be. I don’t have to help it either. I don’t want to.

I understood my parts in it: calling out what I considered very obvious lies; picking apart people’s excuses for being bigoted or whatever; bitching about what’s being read and what isn’t – which is done more than actually propping up the things you think people should be reading. All the confronting, attacking, harassing…

I don’t know… it just feels like bullying after a while. It all feels like bullying.

I guess when I got there, I finally checked myself. All of that stuff truly didn’t matter. In the grand scheme of it all, its not my culture. This is not my language. I don’t speak the language of abuse or aggression as a default. Oh, I will defend myself when provoked, but none of this stuff, the floundering of the book community…

Anything good I could do in the world, anything amazing I could build, anything better I can be, I can achieve without the approval and scrutiny of others. I don’t need someone’s validation to think and feel something or to even just be kind. No one is entitled to what I chose to do and don’t do and I’m not entitled to others.

I’ve always been quiet. I’m not as loud and rambunctious as I act on livestream with the crew. I’m not boisterous or hard. I get excited and overly passionate about what I know and what I believe in, but I am a believer in solving a problem and unfortunately, the book community has no solutions that aren’t a cyclical performance of prop-up, callout, and deplatform. No real solutions other than destroying people. It’s just not in me to be apart of that and it certainly isn’t worth it in what I have set for myself.

So upward and onward.

The Cerebral Hedonist – my beloved passion project – encompasses everythign I want and believe in. I have no desire or ideations of being an influencer, of being this huge personality who has a bunch of people excusing and defending everything I do. Nor am I an activist. I’m not here to fight everyone’s battle and I’m saying its okay I don’t.

The Cerebral Hedonist is something better than a following and fans. It’s a curated community. Everything about us is collaborative from the point of creation to the point of appreciation. Having so many to appreciate this alongside us is more than I could have ever dreamed of. We’re trying to build up people who are building us up. Feedback, ideas, and propping up others who take the time to prop us up and appreciate what we do. This is the community I desire. Where if you love something, you are free to support it.

I’m curating a space of mutual respect.

A respect for the lives, feelings and minds of the people who find their way into my quiet place. It says that I have not forgotten that behind these keyboards, phones, screens, you are all just people. You’re people with your own personal aspirations and dreams who don’t deserve to be treated as a number and have no obligation to be part of something that doesn’t put you in a good place of mind and help you excel.

This is slowly expanding shared universe. Everything you create and put out there is a world, star, galaxy, and sometimes a whole other universe that we all share. We are growing together, each working on our individual pieces and I think somewhere in trying to keep up with the book community and all that made me forget.

Whelp, I couldn’t find what I was looking for in any fandom I dipped my toe into, so I chose to build my own. The Shoal is something I want to keep growing, making it bigger and better with each new heavenly body until it spans into its own cosmos. Now I have people ready to take that journey with me and its awesome. We’re all here on the path of success and they all lead to the stars.

So, in conclusion, I don’t really need the book community anymore. I made own and we got each other. From now on all my book talk will be just for me and I will continue to hopefully lead by example in my little corner of the world.

And with that cathartic statement. I’ll see you guys next time with some new creations.

If you guys want to help me on this journey, check the description box below and explore the universe I’m building and if you want to support it, join my Patreon or donate to ko-fi. Every little bit helps me build and focus! Thank you for listening.

Stay Well Read

-The Scholarly Squid-

The Diminishing Human Element

As we all know, there are some very loud conversations going on about diversity, representation, and, my favorite, problematic content. To elaborate, that would be: does potentially offensive, and/or triggering content have a place in creative media, (fiction, art, film, etc.)?

The Answer is yes.

The Answer is always YES!

Welcome to the Cerebral Hedonist! I’m your Scholarly Squid and here comes a thought on:

The Diminishing Human Element in Creative Media

The demand for diversity and representation in books (especially from the Young Adult community) has become a cacophony of who is allowed to write marginalized cultures, characters, and experiences and how that should meet an all-positive checklist. This checklist excludes any traits that could be socially negative that would, on the average character, humanize them and make them more realistic. Essentially it infantilizes the character, story, and reader. There are words for these that no one’s using: Tokenism and Gatekeeping.

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Dr. Self-Love or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Abandon NaNoWriMo

So, NaNoWriMo is the pinnacle I’ve tried to hit since I heard of it. That was like in, I don’t know, 2011? It wasn’t part of my writing expectations and I never took it too seriously until it became a habit. At the time, I thought that in order to be a real writer, I had to finish NaNo. Which is and isn’t weird because some of my favorite authors can finish a book in a month or don’t feel like they have to since they have so many other projects. But 50-thousand words in 30 days; how bad could it really be?

Well, I’ve never “won”!

I kept failing at it. Then, they added another month called Camp NaNo, then another. Both were meant to be less pressure with flexible guidelines. Even then I still didn’t get it done and god knows I tried. I would feel that weird sting of failure. It didn’t make sense to me. Realistically, I didn’t give two fucks and a Pop Tart about NaNoWriMo and I’d complete higher wordcounts in a manner of weeks before NaNo ever came into my life. Yet here, I was feeling a sense of dread every April, every July, and every November. Because if I opted out, I’d feel like I wasn’t taking what I was doing seriously. Seeing everyone doing it would make me feel like I’m lazy. So, I would opt in.

Doing it this year though? Tailoring it to one of the projects I’ve been excited for since Camp NaNo July, I realized what exactly the problem was.

NaNoWriMo is poison to me.

Let me explain before you pull out the pitchforks.

Look at dat shit? Who can Write with that?!

When I announced I was doing it, it was with dread, anxiety, and the set expectation that I would not finish it because what the hell is so different about this time as opposed to last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

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