It’s an affliction. One I can’t seem to shake. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried, but this girl is just set in her ways.
No, this practice didn't sprout overnight. It's been a constant; It just never used to bother me. I’d read a book, type out a few words and that’d be it. It was a quick and easy process.
The thing is, throughout the year, I’ve come to realise that with every new book I read, I've just have more and more to say. Like a lot. Because I like opinions. And naturally, I've got an affinity for my own (it's the vanity, I tell you!) In the early days my reviews averaged 700 words. Short, sweet, concise. But then they took a turn; gradually, they become more critical, perhaps at times analytical. Why? That’s just how I write. It’s easier for me to zone in on issues, pick at ideas and break things down. It's a skill ingrained within me since the toddler days. I was that kid who’d wait for her friend to labour over constructing that lovely princess sandcastle and then I’d kick it down. That sounds mean, it really does, but I swear I wasn’t. In my mind (I'm sticking by this) they were accidents, but who knows. All that’s for sure is that this is a natural gift— taking things apart, that is.
But when you take a literary work apart, it’s not as smooth of a process as simply swinging your foot in the right trajectory and crushing the hopes and dreams of some five year old (I apologise sincerely to all my childhood friends.) It takes a bit more effort than that. My new means of undoing involves analysation and evidence. Evidence that is credible, supportive and substantial.
Unfortunately this requires time, effort and a lot of sticky notes. Actually, let me rehash that. The actual process of collecting evidence is easy. Some may even call it fun. The fun, however, dissipates when I’m combing through pages and pages of notes—some of which are golden, but most are duds. And then the process begins: What makes the cut, and what doesn’t? If there are cons, then what are the pros (I’d like to think that there are always pros. I actively seek them out—being a Debby Downer isn’t a life I want to attain for myself.)
So it’s a arduous affair, this whole reviewing thing. Nowadays, most reviews of mine average 2000 words and onwards. If I pull myself together, it takes on average about 40 minutes to write one. But then we get into structure and editing and all in all, it brings it to an average of an hour. An hour of my life, gone. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it. Writing reviews bring me so much pleasure! They feel personal, you know? I bare my point of view, pouring them into words—my likes, dislikes and whatnots. And as a bonus, they act as a little personal recap—the words that I write may not directly and explicitly recount the plot but they trigger things.
What bothers me is this inclination to write my reviews before continuing onto my next book. The unwritten rule. I just can’t bring myself to factor something else into my mind. But why? What hinders you, Jess? To be honest with you, I don’t know. And it’s killing me, this feeling of not knowing. I like being in control, knowing the facts, knowing where I stand. This situation boggles me. I’ve guessed that perhaps it could be due to the fear of confusing two different books together. I want to keep my reviews as objective as possible, and that includes keeping all the thoughts exclusive to the book in question. But in doing so, it means that I have got to write my review immediately after closing the last page of the book. That is the consequence of fearing book contamination.
However, this poses a problem: I love writing the actual review but in order to keep things fresh, reviewing immediately has made the process feel like a chore. BUT wait, there’s more. Because I’m super selfish and just want everything in the damn world, it also rules out the most obvious solution. You’re probably thinking: “This is the easiest problem in the world to solve. All you’ve got to do is give yourself a break in between reading books and in that time, let everything sink in and then write your review.” But no. I’m also stingy on time. Being the fabulously impatient person that I am, I like to work with immediacy. Like immediately reading another book following the completion of another.
So there’s my little personal problem for you all. I’ve got no means of fixing it. Perhaps it's a personality thing and I'll never be rid of it. Who knows? It’s not to say that I don’t always enjoy the process. I do ( And ashamedly, I enjoy it even more when I write negative reviews because sometimes faults are easier to elucidate D:) Someday I’ll figure out the perfect balance but for now, I’m stuck: Read, review, read. It’s like a sandwich except you’re not allowed to customise it. My Mother would be shocked. She hates being forced to eat both slices of bread.
So what are your thoughts on my problem? Have you got a diagnosis? A medicinal cure, perhaps? Or are you caught with the same affliction? Do tell. I'm curious.