The OF Blog: Self-validation

Monday, November 19, 2007


Jay Tomio has a very interesting post in regards to the newest wave of SF bloggers that have emerged over the past six months or so. He gives some excellent advice (among many other thought-provoking comments) about the need to find one's own voice and the perils of seeking "validation" from others.

Even before reading his post, I had similar thoughts. I have been blogging for over three years now, but it took me almost that entire time to decide what direction this blog ought to be. I originally created it to be an extension of wotmania's Other Fantasy section, with links to discussions there and elsewhere that might appeal to that well-defined core audience as well as to others browsing the web or seeing a link to the blog in my posts on other forums. Back then, it was maybe an occasional article here, the rare review there, the odd interview over there. But there was no "voice" to it until more regular posts, the vast majority of them reviews of recent books, began to be crossposted here back in June.

I have reviewed over 50 books here (some only in brief paragraphs) in the past year. At first I thought it would be cool to review something first, to be the one who "broke" this book/author to a new audience. To be a "pimp" and get the accessories, like the ARCs and the interviews. But then I found myself wanting to discuss those books that aren't getting a major push. Maybe they are too "artsy-fartsy," or perhaps the publisher doesn't have the money to spare for a mass mailing of books to interested reviewers. But maybe there is something to those books, some of which are years old, that will appeal to me and perhaps I could mention them in hopes that another could give them a loving home.

While it is nice to receive freebies and to promote the "next big thing," that is not what I am about when I write reviews. I am interested in how the books are structured. Lately, I've started to believe that perhaps I need to be even more assertive with my own unique voice in this. Too often, people complain of "spoilers" when a snippet of a text is quoted to illustrate a purpose. I think listening too much to these people has crimped my preferred style of examination. So, depending on the book being read, there might be more "spoilers" of that sort, where there is a closer examination of the text.

I have been toying with the notion of creating a "rubric" of sorts, similar to how essays are evaluated, for the evaluation of the novels I am reading. But since I am so against visible "grades," it might take a different form or perhaps I'll use the criteria without giving the "scores" I assigned for each. It'll be an experiment, but perhaps it'll help me in developing my own voice.

After all, the only "validation" I need is my own take on what I have created and how much desire I have for exploring new approaches while reading new works.


Neth said...

now I wish I hadn't responded over at Jay's blog.

The last thing I want to come off as is another blogger defending myself with some of his comments. I figured that post would get overlooked since he doesn't get near the readership he once did - now it seems we're going to get a procession of bloggers validating what they do over there. Oh's not worth deleting the response or anything.

Keep doing what you do - however you feel like at whatever time your doing it. I know that reacting to whatever outside forces can be (very) tempting, but forget about it (though I suspect this is pretty much your attitude anyway).

Larry Nolen said...

I was going to post this regardless of what had been posted there, as my last part hints at. I was talking earlier with Dunja about how lately I've been dissatisfied with my reviews and that I wanted to do more with them, to express myself even more.

As the title suggests, the only "validation" I've ever needed is my own seal of approval and that is much harder to earn than kudos from anyone else. Wouldn't have it any other way. :D

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