Whenever I see people’s letters to their younger selves, I instinctively recoil. Not because of them, but because of me. Writing a letter to my teen self would only be useful if I could somehow rig it to smack her upside the head, because Lord knows she wouldn’t believe me about the whole queer thing. She did, through a strangely fortuitous combination of luck and ignorance, make a lot of ultimately good choices, but that formative stage of my development is best left where it is—unexamined and lost to the sands of time. (Or at least the bowels of my iPhoto, where she lurks in hideously unflattering short haircuts.)
But, after a good long time and somehow all too suddenly, there is a past version of myself that I can actually bear reflecting on—the one that started this blog. Five years ago, I was in my first year of college, staving off clawing my cuticles to ribbons by brainstorming a book blog. I had little to no encouragement, but, while disheartening, that was ultimately alright. After all, I wasn’t starting it for someone else. I was starting it for me.
Since day one, I have considered this blog my living reading journal. Five years on, I’m a reader-response theorist and, thus, know that all readings are subjective and speak as much to the reader as to her material, but back then… I suspected it. A little. And that’s why I can go back to this iteration of myself: she suspected the things that have ultimately made me the woman I am today. And that woman is tied up in this blog, my reading, and the community I’ve found here.
It’s changed, of course—I’ve streamlined the features, redesigned the layout, and started reviewing films. I’ve changed, too. I’ve grown as a writer, a critic, and a person. I’m an aunt now. I live in New York now. And I’m a part of something bigger now.
When I began book blogging, I did not expect to find the kind of community that I did, of smart, ferocious, and witty bloggers, eager to remake the world of speculative fiction in their own diverse image. While I don’t comment as much as I wish I did, I do appreciate each and every person who has been kind or interesting (or, amazingly, both!) over the last five years. To all y’all—bloggers, commenters, and nameless lurkers—I raise my glass.
Here’s to five years past, and here’s to five years more. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.