The last few weeks have contained more questions than I’ve had to ask in quite a while.

I’ve found myself a spot reviewing books for RMIT’s magazine “Catalyst”, which is incredibly exciting. It’s a really well-produced glossy thing, with an incredibly patient and helpful editor. The last few weeks have seen me drafting and re-drafting before submitting, then re-drafting and re-editing, re-working, re-submitting. My final submission was something I’m proud of. It was a hard task to review a whole collection in just 500 words, but I feel like I gave it a pretty good shot, and produced something I’ll be proud to see in print.

Writing reviews for print is new to me. As was raised in a comment on my last post, reviews for my blog are quite a bit different – they can be almost throw-away, conversational pieces full of half-baked impressions. I’m not entirely sure I’m happy with this difference, and want to move LGWABP toward a more permanent style of reviewing.

All this aside, the whole process of writing a review for print, to be put before an editor, made me realise how much I don’t know. I’ve sent out copious emails to various people in the last few weeks.

“Do I put ‘ed’, or ‘edited by’?”
“What’s conventional to include at the top of a review?”
“Invert the paragraph? What does that mean?”
“What’s a word for overly comprehensive, in a negative way?” (This question did get a pretty fantastic reply in the form of a metaphor about an obsessive lepidopterist whose rampant┬ácataloging robs his obsession of beauty… Unfortunately that didn’t make it into the review, but by far the best answer possible to such a question. Thanks, Tully!)
“Can I have a random subjective paragraph in here?”
“How academic does this need to be?”
“Do I italicise the title, or put it in inverted commas?”

Even though I’ve been reviewing books for ages now, both for TV and for my blog, there’s so much I still need help with.

Somehow this gets me excited – I’m actively seeking out things I don’t really know how to do. Forcing myself out of my comfort zone. Getting stuff done.

I’ve got a similar project coming up – I’m writing an article about a new local not-for-profit organisation, which I’ve never done before, nor anything like it… But I know I’ve got plenty of people to ask when I run into questions, and that I’ll be learning and expanding my skill set. Wish me luck!

 

A question to the floor: this new gig with Catalyst means that more than ever I’m keen on keeping abreast of new-release books, preferably before they’re released. So my current question is, how do I do that? Do I just need to keep tabs on publishers’ websites, or is there somewhere that brings all publishers together and talks about future releases from everywhere?

 

The BAS review will appear in RMIT’s Catalyst, which comes out on the 14th of February.