A few days ago I saw a tweet from Nat who said she forgot to sign up for the BBAW interview swap. I forgot too, and we soon decided to do a last-minute interview with each other. You can read the first part of the interview here, and then click over to In Spring it is the Dawn for the second part of the interview.
NAT: Thanks for offering to do an interview with me at the last minute.
So, an easy one to start, how long have you been blogging now?
IRIS: Thank you too I have been blogging for a little over 1,5 years. It still feels like I am a new blogger, but I guess it is about time to let go of that label.
NAT: I never seem to find enough time to blog, or read, as much as I’d like to these days. How do you juggle blogging and reading with writing your thesis?
IRIS: Hah, that is a good question. I hardly know myself. If I were wise, I would put my blog on hold for the upcoming 2 months, to concentrate solely on my thesis, but I find it hard to do so. Blogging is an escape, at the moment, for when things become too stressful. When my arm starts to hurt from typing and using the mouse after a day of working on my thesis, cuddling up on the couch with a book I enjoy feels like a true break. When I cannot think of the right formulation to use in my thesis, I sometimes surprise myself by finding a word that might just fit in a random book I’m reading at that time. I know this isn’t perfect, and I really wish I had Ana’s (thingsmeanalot.com) strength to close down my blog for a month or so. I realise that both my blog and my thesis would benefit from such a decision, since I am always juggling both and can never accomplish all I set out to do. Instead, I am trying to accept that until I finish grad school, my blog will never be as good as I want it to be. It is a struggle, and I end up feeling completely useless and frustrated at times, but I try to tell myself that blogging is a hobby and as such it shouldn’t be stressful, but should serve to be the escape from thesis-writing that I want it to be. So I have started by not posting daily anymore, but aim for 3 posts a week or so & that seems to work just fine.
In the second part of the interview, Nat talks about her love of photography. This is a picture of a Japanese maple at Tonogayato Garden, Tokyo
IRIS: How long have you been blogging? Have your blogging habits changed over the years?
NAT: I can completely relate to your struggle to balance blogging and life. And I’m not even working on a thesis! I’ve been blogging for over five years now and my blogging has changed quite a lot over that time. When I began, it was a very general blog. I basically just posted very short thoughts on the books I read (I can’t even call them reviews) and random photos from our life in Japan. As I discovered the book blogging community, I began to take part in more blogging events, and memes, and all the rest, and met many wonderful bloggers. Since most of my family and friends in real life don’t read much, it was a revelation to be able to connect with other book lovers from all over the world.
This really inspired me, and over the next couple years I blogged quite regularly and started to develop more of a focus on Japan, and Japanese literature on my blog. I now host Hello Japan!, a monthly mini-challenge related to all things Japanese, a Japanese Literature Book Group, and a Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge, among others. Of course, I still read a variety of books and genres, but it has been fun to help introduce Japan a little to those who may not be as familiar with it. Over the last year and a half or so, blogging has sometimes had to be sacrificed for things going on in real life, and I try not to let it bother me even though it does. But despite not being able to devote as much time as I’d like to it this last while, I’m happy with the way In Spring it is the Dawn has evolved, and hope it will continue to do so.
IRIS: Your blog had been nominated for best cultural book blog for its focus on Japan, congratulations! Do you feel you blog about Japan in a certain manner living there yourself while most of your visitors (I think?) are from other parts of the world? Do you think it will affect your blog once you decide to move to another country?
NAT: Thank you! I feel quite honoured, and really quite thrilled to have been nominated in the first place, and then to make it onto the short list. Your blog was nominated for Best Eclectic Book Blog. Congratulations to you too!
That’s an interesting question, and you’re right. As far as I know, most of the people who read my blog are from other parts of the world. Some of my regular readers do have an interest in Japan already but I like to think I try to describe things in a way that even people who aren’t familiar with Japan will be able to understand. Of course, I don’t only blog about Japan and Japanese literature so you don’t have to be a Japanophile to follow along.
How my blog will change once we leave Japan is something I have been thinking about lately since we most likely will be moving next year. I’ll always have a connection to Japan though through my husband, and Japanese food and culture will always be a part of our life. On the book side of things there are still many many contemporary and classic Japanese books and authors I’d like to read, and I can read those wherever we live. So I actually don’t think it will change my blog too much, and a little distance might even be a good thing. I will miss the cherry blossoms though.
Cherry blossoms falling into the Chidorigafuchi moat on the grounds of the Imperial Palace
IRIS: How does living in Japan affect the technicalities of blogging? Personally, being from the Netherlands I feel I am outside that most active community of publisher-blogger relations, for example, so I can imagine that living in Japan it might feel like that even more.
NAT: I know what you mean. I feel that way too sometimes. Living in Japan does limit my opportunities for review copies as many publishers aren’t able, or willing, to ship books overseas. But I really appreciate the publishers and authors that do, and I’ve loved working with them. Now that e-galleys are becoming more popular, through sites like Netgalley, it is becoming less of an issue. Review copies aside, the wonderful thing about the Internet is that it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. Anyone can start a book blog!
IRIS: The international atmosphere in blogging is one of the key things I love about it. What is your favourite and least favourite part of book blogging in general?
Hmmm. My favourite part of book blogging is the community and being able to “meet” so many awesome people from all over the world that share my love of books. Book bloggers in particular are generally very friendly and welcoming. There are many people who I’ve met online through blogging that I now consider friends.
My least favourite aspect of book blogging is probably the competitiveness that sometimes exists. Or the “scandals” that sometimes pop up. But I generally just avoid those. For me blogging is about having fun chatting about books. I’m not really interested in debating the right or wrong way to blog or whatever other hot button issue people are getting riled up about.
NAT: I think one of the downsides of book blogging, depending how you look at it, is hearing about so many books that you then end up buying. My poor wallet! I know you put yourself on a book-buying “hiatus” recently. How is it going?
IRIS: I agree. Since I started blogging, I realised that there are simply too many good books out there. Books that blogging only makes me want to read more. So yes, it worsens the problems book lovers generally already have in two ways: getting to know more books & an enhancement of the urge to read them all – at least that is how it works for me. Putting myself on a book buying ban was a self-conscious decision to try and put a stop to a never ending circle in which I would put too many books on my wishlist, binge when I even allowed myself the option to browse the bookdepository, etcetera. The book buying ban is going well so far (but I have only been on it for a month). I did buy one book, but it was the one book I made an exception for in advance: a biography in pictures of Astrid Lindgren’s life. My boyfriend sought it out by himself, knowing how much I like Lindgren’s books, but the edition he found was in a less-than-perfect state and so we agreed to buy it together when & if we came across a better copy. We did this weekend, which is why I “broke” the book-buying ban.
NAT: I think that’s a perfectly good reason to break your ban.
Ever since the big earthquake and tsunami in March this year, I have a small emergency bag packed and ready to go. So I got to thinking that if I could only take one book with me, which one should it be. I ended up deciding to take my copy of Haruki Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World because it’s definitely the kind of book that would keep me entertained, and that could be reread, if I really was stuck without anything else.
So, what would your one book be?
IRIS: These kinds of questions are always so impossible to answer! I wish I could make a cleverly thought out decision, but I cannot really. I think I would choose Pride and Prejudice, because I fell so hard for this book when I first read it. And when I reread it nowadays, I can practically dream what comes next – which may proof difficult if I really could only read one book. But nonetheless, I find it hard to ignore the first book that suggests itself to my mind, and that will always be Pride and Prejudice.
Click here to read the second part of the interview. I would highly recommend you to do so even if you do not care for blogger interviews. Nat’s blog is wonderful.