I have been thinking for some time about the nature of this blog. I love having a space to reflect upon what I read but many of my writer friends are uncomfortable about writing reviews and I do understand their position.
I feel it is important to be honest about how I react to a novel, but at the same time criticising a contemporary is never easy. I don’t ever really say how much I acknowledge the difficulty of writing to begin with. Finishing a novel, a short story collection, a book of poetry, a graphic novel, these are all huge achievements and it is all too easy to reflect upon something created than to create something oneself. This is before I even begin to bring in taste (though hopefully, it’s pretty obvious by now what kinds of books I like, and that should make it easier for people to see where my reviews are coming from).
I have also made a conscious choice not to be overly personal in my reviews. I don’t often mention my family, or my own writing. I suspect I would get more readers if I did, but I have an instinctive desire to keep things at a distance. It might be more honest to talk about the number of times my reading gets interrupted by all the usual chores of being a 40 year-old married woman with a portfolio career, children, and a rather self-indulgent love of over-analysis. Perhaps people would like to read about what memories my reading evokes. Perhaps they would love an anecdote or two about how one of my young daughters (eight and six) read the current novel over my shoulder and made a witty remark about the prose. It is distinctly unmodern of me not to want to share all the nuances of my daily life with my blog. But, sorry folks, I just don’t think I can do it.
What I really want to express in this post is a note of apology to any fellow writers who feel my reviews don’t do their work justice. I know how hard writing can be and I try to acknowledge all the hard work whilst being truthful about what that work produced in my reading of it. I hope I would have the grace to accept similar truths from others.