Have you ever heard the term “Test Block”? Have you ever drawn a total blank when faced with writing a book review?
Can you guess at the connection between the two? Let me help.
So here we sit outside, sipping iced tea under the ever-so-cool canopy of the half dozen aged oaks in my yard, listening to the trill of cicadas, as the wind goes ‘shush-shushwah’ing through the neighbour’s stand of old growth Australian pines.
Go ahead. Casually broach the subject. “Sooo, you’re reading/writing a book……?” I’ll give you a glowing outline, sitting there under the tree.
Just don’t ask me about it outright, or request it in writing. For some unknown reason, I’ll draw a blank and then that pleasant interlude under the cool canopy, listening to wind, cicadas, etc, will more closely resemble silence from a vast auditorium, sound of solitary cricket chirping amongst a crowd of clueless spectators.
The first book I ever read that I knew I should write a review for was “Dublin in the Rain” by Andrew Critchley (also the very first author I ever ‘met’, sort of). It was a fabulous book…I’ve actually read it twice. My neighbours asked me what I was reading (“…glowing outline…”), my husband and I discussed it in depth as we were in the process of reading it.
I went to Goodreads to submit a review. And sat there staring at that blank text box…and the blank screen in front of my mind’s eye…for what must have been an hour.
I could see the visuals this book raised up in my mind. I could follow the story from start to finish, even if I couldn’t hear the dialogue.
I faced the blank text box again.
What the devil was wrong with me? It was an awesome book! It accessed every emotion I own! I really, really loved it! Why couldn’t I just do this?!
I remembered the first class I had in English Lit, when our assignment was to create a portfolio. The professor shot questions at the class and we took it in turns to talk about ourselves. It was great…until she said, “Alright then, let’s get this all on paper!”
(what the bleedin’ hell is my name??!!😧😧😧)
I swear I couldn’t remember!
You know a subject, inside-out, until someone asks you about it, point blank.
That’s Test Block.
The only subject that I could’ve earned a full scholarship on, were it based on grade point average, ‘cos yeah, I aced it…Test Block 101.
I spoke with my daughter, another bookworm/writer. “Go at it like it’s a book report, Ma’. Didn’t you say you always loved writing book reports when you were at school? That’s all a review is!”
Whew! One down.
Eleventy-seven to go.
This is gonna take awhile.