The OF Blog: The OF Blog turns 5 today

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The OF Blog turns 5 today

Back in August 2004, around the time that Web 2.0, or the blog craze was starting to reach critical mass, I decided to start this blog. As can be seen from the first post, there were many things I had in mind back then that later became staples here. Originally, I had thought of the OF Blog as being a sort of repository of information and thoughts related to discussions that used to occur at wotmania's Other Fantasy section (strange to think that in less than a week, that site will close its doors. I'll have a post devoted to that in a few days). Now, five years later, the OF Blog probably attracts more attention than the entire OF section has received over the past couple of years.

At first, this blog was meant to be a team blog, with moderators from wotmania having the capacity to add and edit information here. But for the past couple of years, it's been mostly a solo effort, although each team member still has the right to edit/post as they see fit. Before June 2007, it was rare for there to be more than a half-dozen posts in a month and sometimes a month or two would go by between posts, as I was very much involved in working seven days a week at two jobs for much of 2006-early 2007. But after an interim teaching position was set to end in late May 2007, I decided that it was about time that I started to make this place something that I would want to visit.

Despite having one of the older blogs around, I did notice what people like Ken and Pat were doing and I decided that I'd take that and interject my own personality into it. At first, most of the posts were reviews or interviews, mostly of recent books. I wrote to a few publishers, noted my connections with wotmania and the newly-reactivated blog, and soon I was receiving review copies from Tor and Random House, among others. I really have to give a lot of thanks to Colleen Lindsay, who was then a freelance publicist working with Random House to promote David Anthony Durham's Acacia and John Twelve Hawk's The Dark River. She convinced the publicity department that I was worthy of being added to Random House's reviewer database and ever since then, I've received hundreds of books from all of their departments. Of course, Colleen is now doing well as a literary agent and her blog, The Swivet, is very much a must-read item, but hopefully she won't mind if I give her belated thanks for helping me out back 26 months ago.

The past couple of years have been a blast for the most part. The format of this blog has continued to change. I have gone away from a review/interview-oriented format to more of an op-ed piece, with occasional activist posts along the way. I began to feel comfortable enough with expressing my opinions and my interests enough that by early 2008, I was promoting quite a few Latin American and Spanish authors here. This focus will continue to grow in the next few years, as I was asked by Jeff VanderMeer to help assist with the editing of the Best American Fantasy, specifically charged to help devise a longlist of Latin American spec fic short stories available in English and English translation that the guest editors could whittle down. It is a great honor and privilege to be asked to do this, as I said last week, and this is likely the best thing that has happened for me as a direct result of editing this blog.

Other fun things over the past five years would include my sometimes-hilarious interview with Patrick Rothfuss just before he became well-known outside internet circles, my chats with authors and editors like the VanderMeers, Jeffrey Ford, David Anthony Durham, Kathy Sedia, Hal Duncan, Charlie Finlay, Sarah Monette, Matt Staggs, Fábio Fernandes, and so many others. It is the sharing of information and opinions that creates the foundation for friendships and I certainly have been blessed to get to know them and the dozens of bloggers with whom I have interacted over these past five years.

Doesn't mean there haven't been arguments or spats. I never trust a close relationship that hasn't had at least one major disagreement in the past. But I rarely take things personally and I hope others haven't taken my sometimes-pointed criticisms to be personal attacks. However, despite my desire to keep it non-personal, don't think for a moment I wouldn't stomp on somebody's argumentative balls if the balls are out there deserving to be stomped on. Nature of the beast, ya know.

Hard to say what the next five years will bring, other than me turning 40 (I was barely 30 when I started the OF Blog in 2004). Hopefully, there will be more people visiting this site, perhaps be more vocal and dare to tell me why my post sucks and so forth! I do get rather uneasy when it's just praise and not constructive criticism as well. If I dish it out, I damn well better be able to take it, no? One thing that I do know will happen next year is that there probably will be more comments regarding short fiction. While I will not be revealing anything in the way of what stories I'm reading for the BAF anthologies, I will likely recommend more print and online magazines for readers to consider, especially for those who want to see what writers south of the Río Grande are writing these days. I probably will also write more essays dealing with social issues surrounding the global SF communities, as I very much am a social justice activist and I want to highlight literature that reflects some of these values and concerns. I'll probably stir things up some more, as is my wont, although that'll be in the interests of discussion and not in the interests of making me look good.

So...who's here ready to stay with this blog for another five years? Who's praying that I give up soon? Also, what memories do you have of this blog that you'd like to remind others of, even if it might embarrass me?


Joe Sherry said...

Happy Blog Birthday! I had to check, but apparently my 5 year was in June and I was much more scattershot at the time (the blog had a different title) and was less focused.

Which is to say well done, sir. I'm interested in following your next five years.

Mihai (Dark Wolf) said...

I sign up for the next five years :)

Happy Blog Birthday! And may you have more. I wish I'll celebrate 5 years of blogging someday and if it is half as successful as yours I'll be happy. Keep up the great work, Larry!

David Anthony Durham said...

Congrats. Keep it going!

ediFanoB said...

Happy Blog Birthday! 5 years in terms of web is a long, long time.....

Fabio Fernandes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fabio Fernandes said...

I´ll definitely be here, sir - by the way, we will most probably be like siamese twins, doing lots of reading and editorial stuff together, so let´s take good care of ourselves (you watching your knee, me trying to lose some body fat here) and start the next five years. Keep up the excellent job!

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