Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why “Out of Shadows”?

I gave some thought to the name of this blog. My first choice was “Reader’s Block” – an idea I came up with after reading something by one of my former University lecturers (Richard Harland). He mentioned suffering more than 20 years of “Writer’s Block” that gave him a large collection of unfinished novels. No matter how many times he started, he would always stall and get no further with a project. (A situation that has changed and he is now a many times published author).

It’s a situation I can identify with. My own writing attempts never got to the stage where I could call a project an “unfinished novel” because nothing I attempted came close to resembling a novel in scope or length. The similarity was not with writing but in the reading. I realised I had an acute case of READER’S BLOCK.

Where Richard had a sizeable collection of uncompleted writing projects, I had a massive library of partially read books. Going to my book cases now I can see countless bookmarked volumes displaying evidence of how long they were able to maintain my interest before other distractions led to their neglect.

Post-it notes, shop dockets, business cards and assorted scraps of paper join “proper” bookmarks of various types: publisher’s and bookseller’s promotional material, tourist souvenirs, home made gifts…everything except the sacrilege of the dog-eared corner.

Occasionally I’ll come back to a long neglected book and will find that I can pick up where I left off. But usually I’ve forgotten too much of what I’d already read for the remaining pages to make enough sense. Then if I try to start again at the beginning I feel like I’m wasting time by digging over old ground, finding enough familiarity to rob me the novelty of reading something for the first time. Usually I find it hard to tolerate repetition and I find affinity with the robot in the film “Short Circuit” (“more input, more input!!!”)

So, the name “Reader’s Block” seemed appropriate for a literary blog written by someone who had difficulty committing to a book for long enough to finish it. The name could be offered to forewarn readers and to excuse myself for sharing thoughts on PARTS of books instead of giving intelligent comments on completed books.

If the name was so appropriate, then why didn’t I use it?

Someone else beat me to it and used that name for a blog, posting two contributions before leaving it neglected in 2001.
Before moving on from that first strike against originality I will note that the owner of the “Reader’s Block” blog provided a reading list of his childhood reading matter; and it was scarily close to my own, naming the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins at the top of the list.

My Second choice was “Out of Shadows” and I decided to stick with that name despite finding another blog with the same title. The difference in this case was the other blog was created almost five years ago but was never used. Nothing at all has ever been posted on it. I therefore decided to give the name a go and to liberate it from neglect.

So why was the title considered in the first place?

After my university days when I still had enough confidence to think a writing career was possible, I had a title ready for my first book: “Out of Shadows into Darkness”. Eventually when I realised the possibility of a writing career was fading away, I created an extremely limited edition (2 copies) self published collection of my stories and gave it that title as a form of closure on my writing ambitions.

The title has remained fixed in my mind since then, and due to the continuing absence of a proper book to which it can be applied, I will use an abbreviated form of the title for this attempt to relaunch myself into the world of books, literature and related arts.
“Out of Shadows” could possibly describe this tentative journey, with the hope that it will be a journey into light and not further into darkness and greater obscurity.

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