I have a bit of an announcement to make. Some of you may have already guessed (or at least suspected) what I'm about to tell you all, but for those of you who had no clue, I hope that this doesn't make you rethink your support of me or this blog.
First, I'd like to give props to Jennifer over at The Relentless Reader for this post which made me realize that the time had come for me to be open and honest. As I was submitting my comment on what she had said, I realized that all the time that I've been blogging honestly I've still been lying to my followers. Every single opinion that I have had about a book has been true, but there's been a big glaring lie that I've been blogging under since the beginning and I want to come clean.
My name isn't Gabriel. I write under a pseudonym. Of course, lots of people do that every day. But here's the other part of the lie...and it's kind of a biggie. I'm actually not a guy.
The decision to write under a male alias was made right at the beginning of this blog and it never occurred to me that one day I might regret it. For one thing, there weren't many men who wrote book blogs so writing as a guy set me apart. For another thing, my real name is insanely common, especially among book bloggers, so I figured that the name Gabriel would be more memorable. It also allowed me to have a unique rating system and to write a book blog without being sent tons and tons of requests to read romance novels, which I really, truly despise.
As time went on, however, I realized the drawbacks of not being honest about who I was. I realized that book blogging meant more than reading books and talking about them. It meant conventions and meet-ups and interviews with authors and becoming part of a community. I think one of the main reasons why I started to slowly slip out of the blogging world at the end of last year was because I knew that I wasn't being myself and could therefore not truly be a part of the blogging community.
The main thing that really bothered me about it, though, was that I had to be sort of dishonest when I was reviewing books about certain topics. I couldn't say, "Oh, this appealed to me because I know exactly what this woman went through." I had to tip-toe around subjects with a dismissive, "I have no idea what's going on because I'm a guy," which is so completely false that it made me feel guilty.
My review of Bossypants is a glaring example of that. I didn't like the book and I do feel like it's inaccessible to the male population in some ways and I don't want to read about periods and breastfeeding,. But writing under a male pseudonym made that review slightly difficult to write because there were a lot of things that I could identify with her about (parenthood not being one of them) and I couldn't come out and say that. I've always had to be really careful about what I wrote in order to keep up the pretense of being a guy, making every word I write important, and keeping me on my toes as I edited. It got exhausting after awhile, to be honest.
After my boyfriend coaxed me back into blogging I kept saying things to him like, "I feel like I need to say something about this," or "Maybe I should just tell the truth." His reaction was to say, "Do what you feel is right." At first I thought that that was going to be just writing under this assumed identity for the rest of time and never saying anything. But when Jennifer's post came in my reader today I realized that the time had come to step forward and say something before I slipped...or before I signed up to do something in real life that would have revealed my true identity anyway.
I feel bad that I misled people. With all of the outrage last year over the "lesbian bloggers" who were really men and the public outcry over Greg Mortensen and James Frey being less than truthful, is it any wonder that I feel like a heel admitting to everyone that I'm not who I've been saying that I am? Do I think that what I did is horrible? No. My reviews are always truthful and honest (with the exception of anytime that I've ever said something like, "As a guy..."), as are the stories that I've told about my life and the opinions that I have about the world. My writing was just colored by the alias that I had assumed in order to write this blog.
I'm terrified that I'm going to lose followers over this, but I'm asking my readers and my fellow book bloggers for forgiveness. I'm still the same smart-ass reviewer that you know and love. That's never going to change simply because I've admitted that I have different body parts than you've been led to believe. I feel sort of free now, like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I'm just hoping this doesn't came back to bite me in the butt.
Now about the title of this blog and everything that goes along with it. I like the title. And I like the way that I review books (i.e., the Gabriel Scale). One of the main reasons why I chose to write under an alias in the first place was because of the fact that I talk openly about a lot of things, including my job, and I didn't want the hassle if someone found out who I was. And I'm serious when I tell you that pretty much every third person in the world shares my real name. But I also really want to be able to do things like BEA without people going, "Wait, who are you? No, really. Who are you?" So I was torn between leaving things the way that they are or changing this blog to reflect who I truly am.
In the end, the best thing for me to do is, of course, is to change the blog. Not the structure of it or the way that I write or anything like that. I'm currently looking for a new blog title (all of the clever ways to use "bibliophile" are taken) and will be changing the way that I rate books. If I don't get that done before this weekend's Bloggiesta, then that'll be added to the list of things to do. There's a lot of stuff to do in order to right all of this, but in the meantime stick with me. There are reviews coming (I've already scheduled my review of The Hobbit) and I have plans for where I'd like to take this blog in the future.
Again, I apologize for my dishonesty. I truly value each and every person that I've met through this blog and I hope that you will understand what I did and why I did it.
Sincerely (and honestly),
Jen (see, I told you it was a common name!)