I'm surrounded by shelves in here, but there sits to my immediate right a shelf which is specifically for books that I have read and which I have yet to write about. As of right now, it looks like this:
Some of the books in that pile have been there for a dismayingly long time. Red Colored Elegy, Sayonara Gangsters, and especially The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa — I've been trying to find something coherent to say about them for months now, and every time I've opened up a document and started to type, all that's come out has been either babbling fanboy gush or meandering jargon.
It's far harder to say something meaningful about a work you admire enormously, or which demands that you drop some of your typical defenses and approach the work on new terms. And sometimes you just come up empty: I've been trying to write something good about the other Yoko Tsuno books for a long time (sorry, Cinebook, I'll do it soon, I promise!), and each time I come up with something I end up deep-sixing it out of shame. Not good enough, I tell myself. Too trite, too contrarian, too this or too that. I also hate doing capsule reviews (probably gonna be my undoing) — there just doesn't feel like much that can be said in a graf without being redundant.
What I've found is best, ironically enough, is not to think very much about the process beforehand. Put the book in front of you, open Word, type something. Roll forward from there. Maybe the fifth graf will become the first one, it doesn't matter. As long as something is coming out, you can shape it.
I'm curious about the way people create obstructions in their minds. I suspect over the last couple of years I've built up a resistance of sorts to being casual and chatty about the work I love, because I feel like that doesn't do justice to it. I hated Twitter and Facebook for those reasons: they forced you to reduce everything to blurbs and one-liners. Conversations are reduced to countercharges. I've resisted this kind of talk for a long time because it seems to make nuance impossible. On the other hand, it also makes for splendid blurbsmanship, the art of which is hard to ignore when everyone else's time is what you need most.