Thursday, April 28, 2016

A New Start for Portrait of a Book

Welcome back, readers, and welcome back to the blog!

As you probably know, the blog has been rather dormant for a long time. Although I have no excuse, I do have an explanation--and a reason for why I'm finally back.

I never intended to walk away from blogging. I didn’t make a considered decision to take a break for a while. I never intended to let my blog sit idle for so long. It would be easy to say that life got in the way, that because I moved from Houston to Salt Lake City, started new jobs, and still enjoy a much more active social life than ever before, I simply didn’t find time for blogging anymore.

But that wouldn’t be the entire truth. I had definitely slowed down on my blog even before moving. Reading became almost a chore and every book seemed to sound exactly like another one, right down to small plot details. A stretch of less-than-stellar (for me) books combined with the pressure (real or imagined) to always deliver content took its toll. In addition, I wanted to work on writing, and this made me question the reviews I was posting. Who was I to judge literary merit and then turn around and ask a publisher to find my work worthy? I couldn’t reconcile the two, and that led to even fewer reviews being posted.

After so much time away, I feel like I have a clearer head. Yet even in considering making a blogging comeback, I can feel some of the same worries creep in. Why write reviews when so many books that I have now are a year or two old? Is it worth returning to the blogging world if I can’t devote what I remember as being “sufficient time?” Should I just read for myself and not worry about reviewing? But as an aspiring author, I would want bloggers to help and promote my book. And even bad reviews—or just non-glowing reviews—are okay. The publishing industry would hardly be as huge as it is if everyone wanted the same kinds of books all the time. It is possible to explain a reason for disliking something and still be respectful of the product and its creator. Reviews don’t have to be literary masterpieces to deliver enthusiasm about a book and encourage another reader to pick it up. My blog may not be perfect or the top-rated by any means, but if I can recapture the fun, why not go for it? I’m making a few changes—such as a new look and a new review style that’s more fun—and I want to be more social with other bloggers. I used to worry that I needed to be “professional” if I was going to communicate with publishers and authors. But the blogs I loved reading the most, the people whose tweets I paid attention to, are the ones who were open, honest, and unashamedly themselves. That’s always been hard for me—I’m an introvert who listens more than talks, stays reserved until I really know and trust someone, and interject comments only when the time is right—but who’s to say I can’t change? It’s worth a shot.

Now that I am teaching in a school for autistic children, working as an organist and choir director, tutoring, and finishing my second time through grad school, I am busier than ever, but I feel the need to read and blog again. I used to walk into bookstores and feel like I was among old friends; now I walk in, see so many new and unfamiliar books on the shelves, and I feel like I am among strangers. I missed so much time to read books that I was (and still am) so excited for, and I don’t want to do that anymore. Escaping into stories is something that I have always done. As a child, I always had a book in my hand, and I devoured them as quickly as possible. Even though my life not revolve around reading now, I don’t want to let one of my favorite pastimes fall by the wayside anymore. When I do find time to read, it is like a mini-vacation for me, and I hope to take quite a few in the future.

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