Tag Archives: milestone

My First Blogiversary

Today is my blog’s first birthday!

Happy blogiversary to me! Image: fiftieswedding.com

Happy blogiversary to me!
Image: fiftieswedding.com

My first blog post was only a couple of sentences long, and I remember how terrified I was as I wrote and posted it. It felt like my head had become a theme park and I was offering free entry, with popcorn and super-sized sugary drinks on demand. As it turned out, of course, nobody but the WordPress bot actually ever read my first post, but my feelings didn’t care about that.

I can’t believe I’ve been writing my blog for a year. In one way, it’s become such a part of my everyday routine that it feels like I’ve been blogging forever, but in another way I’m mystified as to where the last year has gone.

So, what have I learned in a year?

Writing a daily blog is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I love it, and it gets me going in the morning like no cup of coffee ever could (particularly since I’m doing my best to give up caffeine, for real this time), but I’m not going to lie. Several times during the past year I’ve been reduced to tears at the thought of writing a new post, and I’ve had to really draw on all my reserves of strength, inspiration and improvisation to deliver the goods – but then, that’s a good thing. Isn’t it?

Conquering fear is fantastic. I really was afraid of writing a blog. I would have started one years ago, except I was terrified to do it. Starting this one felt a lot like jumping into the void and – against all expectation – learning how to fly, very quickly. It has given me so much satisfaction to look back over my year’s worth of blog posts, remembering how scared I was when I started out, and how I’ve overcome that fear.

I’m a lot less weird than I always thought I was. It’s great to know that other people think the same way I do about things as varied as books and mental health issues, or authors and writing techniques, or family and life. Having said that, it’s slightly bittersweet to think that perhaps all your little quirks aren’t as unique as you’d like to think. So it goes.

People are wonderful. If I’d thought I’d ‘meet’ so many wonderful folks through the medium of this blog, I really would have started to write it years ago. I’ve been buoyed up by positivity, support, friendship and fellow-feeling more times than I can remember over the past year, and I am so grateful to all my wonderful followers for that. It has been incredible to make contact with so many other bloggers, writers, thinkers, artists, and fellow human beings over the past twelve months. I started this blog thinking that (perhaps) my mother would read it once in a while, when she had nothing better to do; now I have over 200 followers and nearly 14,000 hits. My mind still can’t process that, really.

I really, really love writing. It would have been a bit of a ‘whoops’ moment if I hadn’t discovered this during the course of writing the blog, wouldn’t it? Luckily, though, that’s exactly what I found. Writing brings me more satisfaction than anything else I’ve ever done, and I’m privileged to live in a world where I have the opportunity to ‘publish’ my words in this way. Being completely honest, I had hoped to have achieved more, in terms of writing, over the past year than I actually have. However I think, all in all, I haven’t done too badly.

And the best part about having a blog? I can relive every moment of my journey, in ‘real time.’

Writing ‘Clockwatching…’ has been the best thing I could’ve done for my writing. This blog has compelled me to be disciplined, and strict with my routine. It has given me a sharp appreciation for deadlines. It has allowed me to see that I can provide ‘copy’ at short notice, not only once but repeatedly. It has shown me that I am capable of wringing inspiration out of my brain even when it feels drier than a camel’s backside. It has allowed me to take part in competitions and writing groups which have been a huge source of inspiration and feedback. It has opened my eyes to the sheer amount of writing blogs in existence, and I have benefited from every blog I’ve read and followed. It has made me realise, so clearly, that writers are all struggling toward the same goal and that we are all pulling for the same team, and that the success of one writer brings the rest of us up, just a fraction.

Go Team Go! Image: zazzle.com

Go Team Go!
Image: zazzle.com

This past year has, in so many ways, been the most satisfying and successful one of my life. I am hopeful, as I enter my second year of blogging, that this feeling of accomplishment will travel with me, and that I’ll soon have something concrete – in terms of my writing career – to show for all the work I’ve put in. No matter what the future holds, I wanted to say something to all of you who’ve been following my blog and who’ve told me that reading it has become part of your daily life: Thank You.

To all my wonderful friends, both ‘real life’ and ‘virtual’, who have supported me every step of the way, I am so grateful for your help and encouragement. To everyone who has read this blog, thank you. To everyone who has taken the time to comment and critique and help me on my way, thank you. To everyone who has contacted me to let me know how much they enjoy reading this blog, thank you. To my family (particularly my husband), thank you, and I love you.

Here’s to a second glorious year!

 

Image: bizetiquettes.com

Image: bizetiquettes.com

 

A Milestone Note, and a Book Review

Good morning!

So, this morning I awoke to find that my blog had ticked over the 10,000 hit mark while I slept. Also, I’d gained a few new followers on Twitter, bringing me to over 600.

Image: last.fm

Image: last.fm

Of course, I am aware that Twitter is a nebulous and quicksilver thing, wherein you lose followers as quickly as you gain them (more quickly, in some cases); I’m pleased to have reached another milestone, all the same. I’m happier, though, to know that my blog has had north of 10,000 hits since it first came online last August, and for that I have nobody but you guys – my lovely readers – to thank.

Image: gulfshoressteven.wordpress.com

Image: gulfshoressteven.wordpress.com

It’s amazing to think how frightened I was of beginning this blog. I was excited and happy about it, too, but mainly I was terrified. I could never have imagined how much happiness it has brought me, and how useful it has been, in so many ways. Thank you to everyone who’s helped it, and me, to go from strength to strength.

And now, as I am wont to do on Saturdays, shall we have a little book review? Let’s.

I’ve been wondering whether or not to do a review of the following book. I wondered if I was brave enough. Then, of course, I woke up and saw all the wonderful milestone-y stuff I mentioned above, and realised: Yes. I can do this. For this book, friends, is the one I mentioned a few posts ago, the one which took as its core concept an idea which I had also had, many years ago, and hadn’t been clever enough to put out into the world.

That book is ‘Crewel’, by Gennifer Albin.

Image: wordchasing.com

Image: wordchasing.com

I’ll say at the outset that I liked this book, but there were some problems with it. The idea at its heart – that the whole world (Arras) can be ‘woven’, the threads of its matter and time manipulated as though they were fabric being woven on a loom – is the idea I also had, many years ago, and had started writing a story about. The world I’d imagined differed vastly from the one Albin imagines here, and it was fascinating for me to see where she took the idea. Her world is one in which the sexes are segregated until the late teens, at which time most people are expected to marry (without any real ‘courtship’ or any sort of gentle introduction to adult life), where there are particular jobs for men and women (I don’t need to tell you which gender gets short shrift!), where women have to conform to both purity and aesthetic standards, and life in general is very circumscribed.

Then, there are women like Adelice Lewys, Albin’s protagonist. Adelice is a girl who is gifted with the ability to see the weave, and to manipulate it. She has been coached all her life by her parents to hide this ability, because they do not want her to be taken away and trained as a Spinster (the name given to a girl or woman with this ability to see the weave), never to come home to them again. The life of a Spinster is painted as a good one, full of comfort, luxury and freedom – most girls strive for it – but, of course, it’s not as straightforward as that. Adelice messes up her test, passes it by mistake, and gets abducted in the middle of the night. She gets taken to the Coventry, the training ground for future Spinsters, and thrust straight into the intrigue at the heart of her world.

There’s lots to like about this book. I loved the title, for a start – a play on the word ‘cruel’, and a reference to a type of weaving technique (crewelling). I liked Adelice, I liked her family – especially her bubble-headed, lovable, cutely childish sister Amie – and I liked the idea of the Coventry (or ‘Coventries’, as there are four of them), a cross between a convent, as Spinsters are expected to be (officially) celibate, and a quasi-military command centre. I (obviously) love the central idea of the matter of a world being woven, and the weaver having ultimate control over the ‘threads’ of life, able to rip people out of the pattern if they misbehave, or weave in new life wherever they wish. I enjoyed the way Albin uses this idea to examine notions of power, freedom and cruelty, and how easy it can be for those in power to misuse that power.

I liked, also, that she explored ideas of ‘otherness’ – there are a pair of instructors in Adelice’s Coventry who have an unconventional and (in this world) illegal relationship. One of them is ‘remapped’, or has her memory and personality wiped, in order to quell her feelings for her partner, which leads to heartache and horror. The relationships between the girls in the Coventry is interesting; we see bullying and cliques forming, and we notice how easy it is for people who are disenfranchised to start turning on one another, exerting whatever control they can within the straitened reality of their lives. One of these characters, Pryana, is a little too simplistic for my liking; some of her actions and thought processes seem completely irrational and silly, and that annoyed me. But, perhaps there are women like her in institutions like the Coventry, with minds driven mad by fear and a desire to please, and the need to survive.

Now, for the things I didn’t enjoy so much. Firstly, the idea of Adelice’s kidnapping in the middle of the night, and the damage done to her family in the attempt to extract her. If being a Spinster is such a prestigious thing, and every family in the world wants their daughter to have this life of privilege, why do they come in the middle of the night to abduct the girls and bring them to the Coventries? I thought that was strange. I also found Albin’s descriptions of the weave, and the ways in which the Spinsters can manipulate it, very hard to imagine – and I’m speaking as a person who spent years visualising a very similar world! I understand the concept she’s using, and I get the idea of people and buildings and places and lives being akin to threads, vulnerable and prone to damage or ‘ripping’ by a Spinster, and totally under the control of the one who weaves; but in that case, how do Adelice’s parents harbour rebellious thoughts? How does anyone, if they’re all being ‘woven’, including their thought processes and minds? Perhaps this will be explained in a future book. I also found the end of the book confusing and hard to visualise; it also felt ‘rushed’ and a little too convenient.

I’m not even going to start on the love triangle between Adelice, Jost and Erik, and the relationship between the two boys (which I saw coming a mile off); that whole thing really irritated me. I felt it was unnecessary – unless, of course, it’s going to become a vital plot thread (no pun intended) in a future book in the series. Please, YA authors – enough with the love triangles, the instant attraction, the floppy fringes and the lopsided grins. Please?

So, overall, I’d recommend ‘Crewel’ as a good read. It’s quick and enjoyable and interesting, and sets itself up well for its sequel. It’s not perfect, but then what book is?

That’s a good question, actually. Is there such a thing as a perfect book?

Tune in next week to find out… Happy weekend, everyone!