All these huge changes for me – leaving a big job, starting a business and finding some success in my writing – have happened against the backdrop of the strangest year in living memory. Who knows what things might look like when the dust has settled?
In the years since I started this blog, I’ve never been so behind on my reviews. At last count, there are fifteen books in the queue waiting for me to get around to writing about them.
I’ve been reflecting on why this is. Yes, I’ve been busy, but no busier than I was before. Reviewing books was something I always managed to fit in. Even after working a 12 hour day, I could be often found writing a book review in the evening (yes, I know, rock and roll!)
Until May this year, I was an employee in a big organisation. There were a lot of restrictions on what I did and how I did it. So, writing book reviews was a departure from all that; an escape into a different world.
I spent my work life engaging and communicating with people, including building up very large followings for my employer on social media channels and a news website, using sensible best practice methods. It was all very accomplished and professional. And I’ve come to realise that my personal use of social media, as well as the way I write this blog, was often a reaction against that. I never worried about follower counts, consistency or reining in my tendency to overshare.
These were my spaces to do whatever I wanted, be silly, not follow best practice; to just reflect on the books I read, and write about the weird, random and often wholly raw, unfiltered and not even vaguely accomplished thoughts they prompt in me.
But, I’ve left that job. I work for myself on my own business where I have freedom to do the things I want to do, not to mention that I’m fully immersed in the wonderful domain of writers and their work most of the time. I’m fortunate enough to have forged myself a job where I spend my time in the world I want to be in – I don’t have to escape to there because it’s where I live.
I’m not building up a following for my employer anymore. And I do wonder whether I now need to become more polished on my own social media and on this blog. These are all windows into my professional expertise – ways potential clients might find me. And if I’m blathering on about how a book made me cry until my face was covered in snot or comparing an erudite Booker longlisted title to Danny the Champion of the World, is that going to be a problem?
Luckily, my business brand is predicated on approachability and friendliness, and I do stress the importance of being real and human in marketing. But there are limits! I haven’t come to any conclusions in this matter yet, but this may also be part of what’s stymieing my review writing.
And since things have been going well with my own writing (woo hoo!) I’m spending a lot more time on my own stories. It’s all a bit of a dream come true and something I’m still getting my head around after the years of striving and rejection. But, somewhere along the way, reviewing other people’s books seems to be the thing that’s fallen by the wayside.
I’m trying not to worry though. This year has been such an anomaly for the whole world; all these huge changes for me – leaving a big job, starting a business and finding some success in my writing – have happened against the backdrop of the strangest year in living memory. Who knows what things might look like when the dust has settled?
In the meantime, please bear with me. I’ll keep pootling on with reviews when inspiration strikes and hope that when I, along with the rest of the world, have worked out what business as usual looks like following this aberration of a year, that my book review mojo returns.