It's the second anniversary of this blog, and I have been reflecting on a lot of things over the past few weeks. As many of you have noticed I did not blog for almost a month. I thank you for your notes and emails. It was much appreciated. I feel the need to tell you a story, the story of how I became a book reviewer and how I became a blogger. In part it will be the story or my life and my family, and in part an update for some of my earliest readers, and for some of my more recent readers it will be an update to some of the events you are aware of through this blog.
I write because I must write, I am not sure I could ever go long without writing in some form. I have been a person who has kept journals since my first time in university. I currently am on volume #34 since August 1994 when I started using the Blueline A19 series of journals. I have used each colour that they come in and now just stick to the green. I have also keep these some style journals for a number of jobs, and for working out. I write because I must. I love the quote "The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it." By Leo Rosten. If 3 years ago you would have told me I would be a published writer I would have laughed in your face, and maybe gone so far as to call you a fool. You see I have a dual-form of dyslexia, when I graduated public school I was told I would never finish high school, but not only did I finish, I finished early and with distinction. The summer between grade 7 and grade 8 my parents sent me to a private summer school, we were in class 8 hours a day 5 days a week, most of the summer brake, but I went from reading at a grade 3 level to reading at a university level and fell in love with books. From that point to now I have probably averaged more than 3 books a week outside of my school reading. What I read has changed from time to time. In high school I read mostly science fiction and fantasy, at university I went through phases of the classics, and contemporary writers, and when I became serious about being a Christian I began devouring Christian books. Recently when I returned to the Catholic church that became a strong focus. Yet I do find I go through phases in reading, children's lit, sci-fi, literature spiritual … always with a mix for at any given point I have 20 or so books on the go.
A few years back I was working at a book store, I developed some relationships with people in the publishing industry and started receiving ARC's (Advance Reader Copies) or Review/Desk Copies of books. I started writing reviews for these publishers, excerpts of which were used on dust jackets or advertising campaigns. After about 6 months of this, I said to myself "Self, you are already reading these books and writing the reviews maybe you should try publishing the reviews." So I contacted my school newspaper Imprint and asked if they wanted some book reviews. That went well, and I have been primarily writing for them ever since. I have also published book reviews in 5 other publications (see sidebar). The blog started because friends who did not have access to the publications I wrote for wanted to read my reviews. As such the blog has been primarily an information blog. However most of my time for the past 2 years to read, and write has come about by accident.
Quite literally by accident, 2 years ago tomorrow I tore my rotator cuff at work, I had a tear in the supraspinatus tendon. I have been off work since that time. I was a foreman for a landscape irrigation company when I was injured. I went to physiotherapy 5 days a week for a year and last October had surgery. They cleaned up the scar tissue on the tendon and closed the tear, and shaved part of the bone off both above and below to give it more room when it gets inflamed. The surgery has worked wonders, and though the shoulder will never have the strength it had before the injury, pain and sleep are much better since the surgery. With this time off work and at home I decided to try and hone my craft as a writer. I tried to post a review a week, whether one was published that week or not. That first year off work I read nearly 200 books. This past year things have slowed down but that is because I now have a nearly 1 year old daughter.
So now we know I write because I must, and I published by accident. Now for some info on my life. This past two years has been very hard, emotionally, spiritually and of course physically. I don't like not being able to work. I have permanent restrictions because of the injury of no lifting at shoulder height of 15lbs and above shoulder height of 10lbs and no repetitive motion or sustained work at shoulder height or above. I do not enjoy having a daughter and a son on the way and not being able to provide for them the way I think I should. I sometimes find it hard to hope, when after 2 years of prying for a job and hundreds of applications I have only had 2 interviews. It is hard because we have been on reduced income for 2 years because of my injury and inability to work my old job or find a new fulltme job. I am upset with myself because I have gained so much waist in the 2 years off work with my injury.
Yet it has not all been bad. My first born Abby was born and I got to spend most of her first year home with her. I had the opportunity to donate bone marrow and write a three part series about it, part 1, part 2 and part 3. I have also had the opportunity to really focus on writing and developing my reviewing style, I have also written news and feature stories. And we now have a second child on the way, Liam Patrick is due January 7th. I have also been able to do a few websites for non for profits, and an academic association. All my websites can be seen from here.
I took August off of blogging for a few reasons, first I am back in school through work insurance to try and become employable again. I have done my Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications for Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Outlook. I did in 4 weeks what usually takes 10-12 weeks in class, and during that 19 days in school wrote all 5 pretests and certification exams. Starting Monday I am doing a network specialist course which includes CompTIA A+ Certified Technician, CompTIA Network + and the Microsoft Certified Professional training courses. I am in college 5 hours a day, plus an hour a day lab time for these courses. On my MOS courses I averages over 95% on both theory and practical for each course and passed my Certification exams on the first attempt. These new courses starting Monday should be a little more challenging but not too difficult. I will also still be at university taking 1 course Monday evenings RS 266 Religion in Popular Film. I am only a few credits away from graduating university and want to try and finish that.
I want to say thank you to so many people. People in know in real life and some I only know through the blogsphere. This past winter my computer was about to die and through some people, most of whom I have never met I got a new computer to be able to keep writing. To people who used to be on my email update and prayer request list, Thank you. To all the kind generous supportive people in the blogsphere, Thank You. It is really the people in our lives who make it worth living. Andrea and I have always been surrounded by good friends and family, and through the blogging world I have discovered many more great people who pour into our life through their writing, their blogs, their personal notes and through the witness of the life they live. There are way to many people to name so here I will say a generic Thank you!
I am sorry this post is so long and rambling, but I just wanted to share some of what has gone on and why I am here even after 2 years. I just hope it makes some sense, and helps you make sense of me.