Stacy's Place on Earth
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Friday, January 11, 2008:
Reviewing slump
When I was in school, I dreaded reading assignments. Not because I don't like to read, because since I proclaim my love of romance novels, that's obviously not true. No, my problem is, is that when I "have to" read a book, story, poem as a task, that's what it becomes - a chore. And I dread chores. I think this is the reason I hated "Catcher In The Rye" and won't read it a 2nd time.....or maybe I really didn't like it just because.

Anyway, I tried to review for an online website, and discovered that instead of being overjoyed to review new releases and occasionally getting ARCs, I dreaded it because I felt like I was in school all over again, so I stopped and went freelance. Reading should be about pleasure and enjoyment, and not feel forced.

And I do like to review books on my blog. No pressure, and not every book I read gets reviewed. But now I've finished 3 books in the last month or so that I planned to review but I haven't because...I am in a reviewing slump. I feel like I cannot get my thoughts together to string a coherent sentence, much less convey the appeal or scope of a story I had just read and wish to share it with other readers. I feel at a loss as to how to get back into it. I have reviewer's block.

One of the stories, Joanna Bourne's "The Spymaster's Lady", is of the the books I had intended to review. I finished it, loved it, but now I don't know what to say about it. I decided to re-read it, but I haven't gotten very far on my 2nd time around, and now I feel bad about it.

Maybe I'm suffering from reviewer's anxiety. The reason I think this is because I read 2 very eloquent and powerful reviews of Bourne's book at "Dear Author", and know that I could not say it any better than what's already been said.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

How do you approach reviewing?

Whose reviews do you like to read?

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  1. omg, YES, I totally feel this way. It's one of the reasons that I've not sought out any reviewing gigs (not that I think my writing's good enough for anyone to take me on, but you know what I mean...). But even the pressure I find myself putting on myself gets annoying. I told myself when I started my blog that I would feel free to write reviews how and when I wanted and that I wouldn't stress about how pretty or proper they sounded. But when I actually sit down at the computer with the intention of writing a "review", I sometimes get all tense and start to get pedantic because I do want to sound slightly intelligent and not just "squee, omg, this book was fab!" But sometimes that is really all that comes to mind! lol.

    anyways, that wasn't any help at all was it? lol. I think I have found that if I sit down and at least draft up some reactions to a book right after reading it, even if those reactions are just little phrases and questions to myself, it does help me in putting together a more organized review later on.

    Um, anyways, for what it is worth, I will look forward to reading your impressions of the Bourne novel. I can't wait to get my hands on it!!!

  2. Hi Stace - I did the same. And I reviewed for Armchair Interviews. They only wanted 300 words. Which actually was a challenge unto itself, just because that's really not enough.

    I only recommend or pimp books that I'm confident those who read romance will like. And frankly, I tend to do a paragraph, or if I'm feeling really excited I might do a whole blog post about it. I'm just not someone who wants to take the time.

    Look, those of us who visit you here do so regardless of whether there are reviews. Why don't you take a little pressure off of yourself and say, I loved these books, and I'd recommend them, and that's enough.

    We'll love you no matter what, darlin'!

  3. Oh, Stace! That's SO normal! First, don't compare yourself to anyone else. (I'd say the same to you, too Sula, for what my opinion on this is worth). This is a big ol Internet, with plenty o room for all different styles of writing about romance. We all have our flavors and voices to add to the discussion and commentary. Just like there are all kinds of writing in romance novels to be appreciated, some more "sophisticated," some more accessible. Some, as Sula says, more pedantic. Me, when I sniff the pedantic in my stuff, I try to slash and burn. But it sometimes slips through anyway, alas/alack. Although, when all is said and done, sometimes squeeing, is really fun to read anyway.

    I get romanced out sometimes, too. And, frankly, the Bourne was so good, it ruined me for other romances for a while. It's really stunning. I actually had to have our graphic folks make a new rating for it for next week's feature.

    I like Sula's idea of writing reactions immediately, and always tell myself I'll "do that next time." But I find I do a re-read just before I write up a feature.

    And I think you're right; when you start to feel an obligation to your viewers, it can take some of the fun out of the "job." This is the nature of creating an organized effort like what you've done here. I'd say give yourself a break. You deserve it, for all the positive karma you toss out here. and even if you didn't choose to do it that way, you just deserve a break, because you're trying to be professional.

    I totally applaud your being so forthright in this. Writing, engaging,'s damn hard work, especially when you're a one woman show. Give yourself a break. Do a nice, decadent re-read. Maybe take a nap. Oh, and watch North/South one more time. Then by monday you should be rejuvenated. :)

  4. I have a problem of writing too much when I review, sometimes hitting the 800 word mark! And when you love a book so much, it is hard to put into words how you are feeling.
    But when I dislike a book, I find that to be the hardest review to write. Wish I could say- "This book sucks. Move on. Should have never been written." Harsh I know, but so truthful.
    I need to get Bourne's book! Plus I read a major spoiler about it. WAAAA, why do I read those spoilers?!?! I did the same for Lover Unborn by Ward and even before I got the book, I was like WTF?

  5. It happens to all of us, Stace, seriously. This is one of the reasons my reviews are few and far between at BB. If I don't write them immediately after I finish, or if I read other reviews of the book first, I often won't be able to write one at all. Then I have to remind myself that I'm not writing for anyone but myself.

    I either loved or hated a book, and I want to put my thoughts on why down on paper. Since I have a review site, I do it there. Simple as that. Maybe if you think to yourself that you're reviewing solely for yourself, or perhaps pick one person you're writing the review for, then it might help you get over your block.

    A lot of times I'll think, "Gosh, *insert name here* would love this book!" and I'll write my review as if I'm trying to convince them to read it.

    Chin up, babe. You'll be ok. :)

  6. Oh, good point, Holly. I never read anyone else's commentary on books, Stace. That way lies madness...

  7. I think it is definitely a very common thought. At the end of the days, I've decided that as much as I love it when other people read and comment on my reviews and posts, when I first started my blog it was as my reading record, and so it was for me. It doesn't always help to remember this, but so long as the review will be useful in helping me to remember a book in the future then it will have done it's job.

    Katiebabs, for me the good and bad reviews are easier for me to right than those for truly average books!

  8. I don’t really have anything inspiring to write since I don’t review books like all of you do. But I do love to read your reviews but I also love the fun corky posts as well. Bolging is supposed to be fun not stressful. So I say post what you feel like.

  9. Thanx everyone, for your candid opinions. I guess lately it's started to bother me, and I don't want reviewing to lose its enjoyment for me. I just have to "let it go".

  10. Definitely! I get reviewing slumps all the time. I'm 2 reviews behind as I write this and about to be 3 behind. What-ev. :)

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