Diary Entry #5

Dear Diary,

Why do some people think writing reviews takes a mere 180 seconds (3 minutes)? I saw a meme on Facebook alluding to that very fact.
Yesterday, an author asked me why I don’t post my reviews as soon as I read the book.

Posting and writing a review are two separate tasks. I always write a review after reading a book. Technically, if you think about it, I draft reviews while reading if you count taking notes!

Their question was a good one.

My answer: I like to ponder the book for a few days, meditate on the theme, and reread the book.

Do authors and readers honestly think reviews, worthy of magazine submission, are accomplished in 180 seconds?

So, why this entry?  I joined my friend in writing a weekly post: Top 5 Wednesday. I could not seem to come up with the requirements to satisfy this week’s Top 5 since I run from romance novels.

So, instead, I am sharing my top 5 moments of angst when writing literary reviews.

Top 5 angst-ridden literary blogging moments

1. Remembering the correct school of literary criticism 

My ultimate goals are (1) to become a contributing reviewer for literary magazine and blogs and (2) write editorial reviews for authors to use in their marketing materials. Therefore, in an effort to educate myself, and remember what I learned in college, I always apply literary criticism and theoretical principles when reviewing books. This is a time-consuming endeavor.

2. Trying to sort out a plethora of scenes in order to craft the best review

Authors tend to have so many subplots interwoven throughout a novel and it takes time to sort it out when crafting a review. When outlining a review, I have to pour over pages of Kindle notes and scraps of paper in order to pull out the best pieces of the novel. Why? The answer is simple – I seek to make the author shine! I endeavor to take what their written word and paint a portrait, allowing the prospective reader to peak into the story. This is not an easy task and takes a while to develop. Think about this – an author takes about 6 months or more to create a world and develop characters that dance along the pages (or screens) of the book. So, for a reviewer of my caliber to draft literary reviews, it will definitely take longer than 180 seconds (3 minutes…yes, I am repeating this purpose.)

3. Reviewing the synopsis for the 50th time and realizing the author undoubtedly wrote it before the novel was completed

Quite often, I will use the synopsis as a guide so as to not reveal too much of the plot, or subplots. This becomes difficult when authors write a synopsis that, in no way, speaks to the published story.  What is a literary reviewer to do? Well, I go over to Amazon and review the “Look Inside”, which is normally 10% of the novel, and make sure I have not revealed anything that does not take place there.  (This alone may take 300 seconds.)

4. Reading other reviews to make sure I am not being too harsh, or too nice

Reading reviews is important, as it allows me to understand what other readers observed in the story. More often than I care to admit, I end up rereading a story when a review mentions something I didn’t see. (For example, I am currently rereading ILL WILL due to the rave reviews.) For the record, it is actually a good idea to read a story a second time, for this second around allows you to glean the key features of the story and present a well-rounded review.
The first read is for pleasure and the second read is for review purposes.

5. Worrying incessantly that I leave my signature on each and every review

Having previously stated my ultimate goals, I worry, with each review, that I have not presented my best literary work. Hence, I have folders of drafted reviews covered in red (or purple, green, orange, blue…depending on the number of edits).