Two Years

Today completely snuck up on me.So I was writing this killer Top Ten Tuesday post about shocking and amazing endings, when I saw something about a blogoversary (yes, Wordpress, this is indeed a word). I immediately panicked, thinking, oh my gosh, I missed my blogoversary. So I scrolled through my posts looking for my first one. When was my blogoversary?Today.The past two years have been absolutely incredible. I don't even know how to thank enough people or even come close to articulating how thankful I am that this is a part of my life. Without blogging and reading and writing, I would be nobody. I would just be a girl with a passion, unsure of what to do with it or how to make a difference in the world.From BookExpo America to joining Teen Eyes Editorial to becoming friends with my favorite authors, I've done so much that I'm just so lucky to have experienced. Books spill over onto my rug and I cram them in the back of my dresser because I can't stand to get rid of them, because they're my sustenance, my friends. And I can actually DO something with that - I have a career, a life ambition, a way for God to use me. How many fifteen year olds can really say that with certainty? "This is what I'm meant to do with my life."I'm so blessed. Sometimes I get really weighed down with it. I feel like I'm stuck going through the motions of high school because I could be in NYC and I stress so much about my future life. What are apartment prices going to be like in 2021? What if I can't get a job with one of the Big Six like I want to? I feel like nobody around me gets it, having a passion that just means the world to them. Everybody else is caught up in the little things and unaware of how their actions affect their career choice.But I'm lucky to be able to shape my resume so early. I'm incredibly lucky to start chasing after opportunities and getting contacts and immersing myself in this industry. Sure, it's a little weird to tell people that a lot of my close friends are adults. Or that I have to stay in tonight to finish editing a manuscript. But I wouldn't give it up for the world.My first year of blogging was a lot more frequent. I posted a lot more, had a lot more enthusiasm about legitimate blogging. I read voraciously and reviewed every single book. The second year was a little less. I didn't blog as much. I feel horribly guilty and lucky if I manage to post once a week. I reread a lot more and neglect some books that I've received for review. I focus more on other things than blogging and life has really gotten in the way. But this year has also been amazing for me in other ways - I got into Interlochen, I've recommended a lot more books to the people around me. I've gotten to be more social. Yes, my blog has recently been on the backburner and I feel awful. I feel like I'm learning how to be professional on social media and maintain a personal/professional balance. My blog posts may not be as frequent, but I feel much more confident in the quality.So it's been a balancing act. When I first started blogging, I convinced myself that I was going to be a hit. I'd get a million page views, be sought after for all the review books. A lot more people have gotten into blogging since then and while I used to be jealous of book hauls and other bloggers, I've only gotten to be more grateful for those who've helped me out and my readership.I've had some amazing things happen to me directly because of this blog, and because other opportunities found me because of this blog. It's been absolutely incredible. I'm passionate and that can take over my life sometimes - I need to read more than anything, I need to focus on New York City and Penguin and HarperCollins because if I don't, nothing's going to happen when I graduate - but I've learned to let life come first sometimes. I wouldn't give up this blog for the world.This blog stems from what I want my life to be like. I need to be in New York in seven years, working as a publicist or editor or agent and shaping the future of publishing/reading. It's been such a powerful need, and I'm so close, but not in the aching way that I used to be. It used to depress me and I'd be filled with this insurmountable feeling that right now wasn't enough. I was so focused on the future that I let the present slip through my fingers, so focused on getting involved in the industry that I wanted to forget about making the most of my teenage years.This year has been a fantastic balance. I just can't even describe how crazy this is for me - two years. Two years. It's pounding in my head. This has been such a huge part of my life for two years? It's unbelievable. Just...outstanding how much this blog has done for me. How much you readers have done for me.I've written great posts and crappy posts. I've read lifechanging books and horrible books. I've done much more than I ever thought I would do. Just, if my life can change this much in two years because of my blog, I wonder what it'll be like two years from now.I have so so much I could say about this blog. I have so many posts I could link to and quote and so many things that I just want to pour out. This time last year, I was getting ready for BookExpo America and I was utterly terrified. How would people perceive me? Would I be one of the youngest? What if it didn't live up to my expectations?It was mindblowing. It was slightly chaotic and I got to talk to people who I'd only ever considered 'friends' on the Internet. I got to finally meet some of the bloggers that I'd been reading for over a year. I got to meet publishers and ask about internships and be so absolutely inspired. And of course, the books.It all started with the love of books. We all want that book that will just mess with our heads, absorb us into other worlds. We want the books where you can practically feel every sensation, feel the stirring in our thoughts that we can't ever find again. Those distinct, ephemeral feelings that only come with the smell of ink and paper when you walk into a bookstore. Each one of us feels that. When we're sad and all we can do is read a book that'll make us laugh until we cry again, or just forget for a little while. We devour books like it's oxygen and books are what keep us going. Literally, it's IMPOSSIBLE for us to describe the addiction to words. The hunger for more, for feelings that don't quite exist in our own worlds but do in fictional ones. I still have a few final books in series on my shelf that I haven't read because it's like saying goodbye to my best friends.I have a ton of things I want to do in the next year: start blogging more, have more interactions with publishers, expand my horizons a little bit...I'm sure y'all will hear about my goals later.I just don't even know what to say. Wow. I'm so blessed to be a part of this community, surrounded by these people, given the opportunity to make people feel and to work on the very books that made me feel something too. Books make me alive. Without them, I would be nothing. Hyperbole? It's really not. I'm just so passionate about this part of my life and it's surreal to think that it's only been two years. And I'm looking forward to a lot more years with it.

Specifically, I have a lot of people to thank.


Reut is one of my best best best blogger friends. From long emails and Skype sessions about personal things, exchanges of quotes from books and recommendations, and just talking books and publishing, she is one of the few people I can say really understands how badly I need to be in this industry when I'm older. She's the same way. I haven't actually met her in person (yet!) but she is one of my closest friends. I ADORE Reut so much. If she lived in Tampa, we would be inseparable. She's like a sister. Thanks so much for always being there. Love ya.Brent made my year with so many things. I'd been a fan of Brent's blog and basically stalked his Twitter all the time, so when I got an email from him after a personal post I had written, I nearly cried. He has the best way of articulating the frustration of being a teenager in the industry and knew exactly what to say to keep me going when I was struggling beneath blogging and a passion I couldn't do much with. From finding opportunities for us to his entertaining tweets to his encouraging messages, Brent is absolutely fantastic.Kelsey is also one of those people that I NEVER thought I would be lucky enough to talk to. I saw her at BEA and introduced myself for a second. And even though I was just this nervous, awkward fourteen year old, she was nothing but kind, and she didn't even know me yet. It was after BEA that I actually got up the courage to talk to her and learn from her. Her faith and determination to make the best of the world constantly inspire me. Her love for editing and writing, and hilarious anecdotes never fail to brighten my day. She's given me advice about high school, about books and publishing, and is just the type of person that I'd like to be like when I'm older.Gabrielle is my writing buddy. We talk books; we talk writing. She gives the best advice about everything and is like an older sister to me. She has one of the kindest, purest hearts out there and is always willing to lend a helping hand, whether it be 3 P.M. or 3 A.M. I adore you.Beth is such a wonderful person. After meeting her at BEA, it was amazing to continue to talk to her. It was so refreshing to get to see her in person earlier this year! She came down to Tampa and we talked about books, publishing, high school, everything. It was honestly one of the highlights of my year and every time I see a tweet from her or a mention of her, I'm incredibly grateful that I got to meet her and that she has been such an influence.Kimberly is so sweet. Her words always make my day better. She's smart and warm and one of those people you can't even think a negative word about. She's FABULOUS. Her books are FABULOUS. She's funny, adorable, and has done all the invaluable little things that make me just so so grateful.Craig - how do I even begin to describe Craig? He's always checking in, wanting to know how my day was. He's always asking how my day is. He's so kind and he's so willing to share anything that might help me out, whether it be personal or writing advice. He's always there and ready to contribute to help somebody out, and I appreciate it so much.Cat is just so quirky and wonderful. No matter what, she's always willing to talk to and make the day of a little awkward freshman. She's funky, she has excellent ideas and book taste, and she's straight-up hilarious. She's always the one I stalk after a bad day! Thanks Cat!Y'all all made my year absolutely amazing:Amanda, Bailey, Willa, Jen, Emily, Vy, Kristi, Jamie, Lucy, Steph, Doni, Christa, Siobhan, Leah, Jeremy and Jeffrey, Sasha and Em, Melissa, Kaye.Each one of you deserves all the happiness in the world and I adore you for everything. Each one of you has done something to contribute to how amazing this year has been for me. I'm probably forgetting a ton of people. And to think, these are only the people directly related to the industry - I'd be going all day if I thanked all the people who have also contributed. I seriously can't thank y'all enough for being so generous and helpful and just purely astounding people.I just can't believe it. Thank you all for reading. Two years? Here's to two more.Grace