A few weeks ago I decided to take a break from writing and posting reviews for the books I read. There were a few reasons for this. Mainly because I was just unhappy with the quality of what I was writing. Honestly, writing reviews started to feel like a chore. I found I could ramble for pages about stories I liked, but then struggled to articulate my thoughts about those I didn’t enjoy as much. When I first started this blog, I wanted to give an honest and balanced account of my thoughts on a book, regardless of who the author was, or how I came into reading the story. But I found that if I didn’t enjoy a story, I would hold back on those negative thoughts out of politeness and ended up writing boring reviews that told people nothing of use. This has caused a lot of internal conflict and unease within me, as I pride myself on being a very honest individual in everything I do.
In my personal life, I am not the sort of guy that agrees with people simply because it is the polite thing to do. I don’t think I could ever be described as a ‘Yes man’. I don’t naturally offer my opinion on IRL situations (I’m often the guy sat in the room quietly observing and analysing what is going on), but when asked, I will consciously make an effort to ensure that what I say is a true reflection of my feelings, even if I know that will not be a popular opinion. Some people like this, some… not so much. I have a reputation for being the guy to ask if someone wants an objective view on a situation, plan, project etc. It’s so incredibly important to me to be true to who I am as an individual. I recognise that this may sound a bit silly, but I want to ensure I do the same thing in my book reviews.
I’ve also struggled a little with how long my reviews should be. I see some reviews that are 2 paragraphs at the most, and then I see some people doing a 4 page review. I like both of these styles. I’ve decided that I will do a brief summary of thoughts for Goodreads, Amazon and Netgalley, and then save my longer, more in depths review for Random Melon Reads. That way, people can easily see if I liked something or not, and then make the choice to come and read my ramblings if they want to.
I’m the sort of guy that if I do something it has to become satisfying to me. This may come across as ungrateful, and I really don’t mean it to, but I don’t base my success on what other people think or say. It’s nice if people read my posts and like what I do, but it isn’t the be all and end all. I really do appreciate the likes and comments on my posts. I believe one can be appreciative of something without it being the paramount outcome. My posts could have 1000+ views, 500+ likes and hundreds of comments, but if they are not meeting my own set standards, then I will never be happy. And vice versa, I could be writing posts that nobody is reading, but as long as I am enjoying it and feel they are at a satisfactory standard then I will continue them. Occasionally I have made the odd quip about my low follower/view count. I think sometimes people have taken these too seriously. I am not being serious in these situations. I am often making a facetious self-deprecating joke in order to show how silly it is to take those things too serious.
Ultimately, if what I am doing is not giving me pleasure, and instead becomes a cause of stress, I will simply stop doing it and take some time to reflect on it. This is what I have done regarding my reviews. Previously, they were messy, unstructured, and just all over the place. It’s really boring, but I need to give myself a template to follow.
Oh my god YAWN MUCH! From now on my reviews will follow an About, Likes, Dislikes, Summary structure focusing primarily on my thoughts about the characters, setting, plot and writing style. I have a google doc template that I type my reviews into before copying and pasting to websites. I want to get a little better at using this document to put down my thoughts as I read the story instead of waiting until the end. I also want to take a little time (maybe a day or so) to consider the story after finishing it to arrange my thoughts before I write the review in full.
I also want to do some more ‘discussion’ posts. Sometimes I will see people comment about a topic on twitter etc and think ‘I have some thoughts on that.’ But, as I stated above, it’s not my natural instinct to voice my opinion. I want to get better at reminding myself that Random Melon Reads is my blog and that it is a place to shout one’s opinion into the void. People can simply not read the post if they are not interested in it.
The way I see this, it’s like a lot of other things in that there are no right or wrong ways to do it, but instead it’s about finding what works for oneself. I’m still in the process of finding what is right for me.
And that’s it. Thank you for sticking with me through my hiatus, and for reading this wall of text, I do appreciate it. I have about half a dozen books that I have read recently that I want to write a review on, so keep an eye out for them. You know, if you want to, there’s no obligation. I’ll simply cry if nobody does. (I’m joking.)
Peace and Love,