Sunday, May 08, 2005

Times, They Are A Changing

I am no longer going to post daily reviews.

There. In good journalistic fashion I have placed the most important sentence in the story at the top. Now for the explanation.

There are two major reasons for this. The first is burnout, I guess. When I first started this reviewing gig it was fun. I enjoyed dissecting the stories and discovering why I enjoyed them and, especially, why I didn’t. I thought that it might give me more insight into my own writing. More on that later.

Since December 3, 2004, I have written over 140 postings, the vast majority of which are reviews. Lately writing reviews has seemed more like work than play, more so this last week than ever. I kept thinking, “Just get through this week, then think it over.” Finally, as Candace noted, I couldn’t even get through the week.

Also lately I’ve felt that my reviews haven’t been quite up to snuff, at least in my own eyes. I think I’ve overdone it, and I need to recharge my batteries.

The second reason for this course of action is the fact that my fiction writing has practically halted during this time. More than one person whose opinion I respect has told me that they believe my fiction writing has suffered because of the blog. My aim is to become a well-known writer of fiction, not a well-known critic. I have to recognize my priorities.

In the year prior to starting “the short of it” I finished twelve short stories. Since December of last year I have finished one, “Moby Dick In A Can.” A pretty good one, if I do say so myself, but still. As I mentioned above, one of the reasons I started reviewing was to strengthen my own writing. Since I haven’t written much of anything other than reviews I can’t say if that goal has been achieved.

I do know that when I go back and read my published stories I cringe. I do know that I have been trying to revise one of the stories I wrote last year for three months without feeling that it’s yet good enough to submit. I’ve about come to the conclusion that it’s time to let it go and let the cards fall where they may. I’ve got to give my internal critic a good kick in the ass and tell him to lighten up. I don’t think I can do that while writing daily reviews.

Reading for reviews takes more time and intellectual effort than simply reading for pleasure. Often I will read a story two or three times, think about it for a while, then write the review. When I’m done, I’m tired. It’s time to get back to reading for pleasure for a while.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to do any more reviews, but I’m only going to review stories that I think are particularly good or exceptionally bad. That means that the appearance of those reviews will be erratic, on no particular schedule.

I also intend to do the occasional author interview, the operative word being “occasional”. I wanted to do more of those before now, but it seemed that the pressure (completely self-imposed, I now realize) to churn out the reviews kept me from taking the time to do the proper research I felt needed to be done before I contacted the author.

I’m also hoping that this lack of pressure will allow me to post more of my musings on the short story form. But again, on a very occasional basis.

I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all the people who have been regular, or even erratic, readers of this blog. You have made it a success beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you all, more than I can say.

I would appreciate it if you would keep my RSS feed in your aggregator so that you don’t miss the times when I post in the future. I promise to try to make it worth your while.

In short, this blog is not going away, it’s just going to get more irregular. Thanks again.


At 2:30 PM, Blogger Megan said...

I find nonfiction incredibly draining. I never wrote reviews more frequently than a quarterly schedule, and that still felt like a lot. And a critique? Whole other circle of hell.

All the same, I'm glad your reviews won't disappear entirely. You've provided a good survey of a chunk of the short fiction available, and there's always some meat. I'd much rather read actual reviews than fluffy rah-rah pieces or pointless shredding of an author. Sometimes I agree with your take on a story, sometimes I disagree, sometimes you prompt me to track down a story I wouldn't otherwise have read. So from my perspective, your blog's already been a success.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Ray said...

What Megan said, with added Banks verbiage.

You set yourself a huge task, Bob, and you coped with it admirably thus far. But if it's pushing the fiction to one side, then that's not good. Got to feed that monkey...

Like I'm not gonna check in anyway, but I'm glad you're not knocking the blog on the head. Might not comment a lot, but by Christ, I do some readin'.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Ditto on all fronts -- if it's keeping you away from writing fiction, then it's a good idea to cut back. We'll still be checking in, the good addicts that we are.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Graham said...

If you're open to guest reviews, I'm sure some people would see fit to contribute.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Sarah said that Ray said that Megan said (though without the Banks verbiage, I'm not that crass). This has been a good source of info on the shortstory front and I know several people (myself included) who look forward to one day being reviewed on this blog, so I'm glad it won't be going away.

P.S. Your blog project story better not suck because of this, that's all I've got to say.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Dave White said...

I just want to make sure I've got this correctly. You're basically getting rid of the "meh" review.

That's cool. Go where your heart desires Tinsley... go for it.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Aldo said...

I think we understand and support your decision. Hell, it's your blog, do as you please!

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

But, if I'm not reading your reviews, I don't have any excuse not to do my own writing....

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Megan said...

That's what Boing Boing's for. And The Onion. And CNN. And IMDB. Somehow we'll all muddle through.

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Iain said...

It's a shame, because I think The Short Of It has been good for the reader and good for the profile of the genre.

But if that's the effect that it's having on your writing output, I can well understand why you're cutting back. Also, if it's becoming a chore to keep up with, it's daft to do for the sake of it.

Good to see you're not stopping altogether though, and look forward to the posts in future, whatever schedule they're on.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Dave White said...

New post! New Post! New Post!

Oh.... wait... ohhhhh, look at that.

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous said...

Much as I love what you've blogged, I like what you've written here a great deal more. If you don't have representation and you do have a novel-length idea--call me. I'm a New York agent who has a number of current and former bloggers on my client list and would welcome another--especially one who's turned out a story as good as "Familiars."

At 8:26 PM, Anonymous Lisa Silverman said...

I've written some book reviews on my blog,, and they take about ten times as long as most other posts -- and that doesn't even take into account the time spent reading the books, so I can understand your burnout!

Best of luck in finding your groove again in your own fiction. I hope you can find the right balance between that and the blog. The idea below about guest reviewers is something you might want to consider, to maintain the popularity of the site while you're "on hiatus."

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At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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