The OF Blog: You've come a long way, baby

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

You've come a long way, baby

I had originally thought about waiting until late August, when this blog would turn 7, to write this post, but then again, why wait?

It's funny how things change with the times.  In August 2004, when I started this blog (then named OF Blog of the Fallen), there were very few blogs out there devoted to SF/F issues, or so it seemed at the time.  The one non-author (and really, that's relatively, since he has published writing) blogger I was aware of then was Matt Cheney, whose The Mumpsimus I still consider to be one of the best reading/criticism blogs out there.  So I thought I'd start this blog to be an outreach from wotmania's Other Fantasy section, which occasional original posts out there.  No real thoughts of doing anything major with it, and the post activity from August 2004-May 2007 bears this out.

Then something began to happen.  First, there began to be blogs started by people who frequented some of the same forums that I did.  You had Pat's Fantasy Hotlist (2005), The Wertzone (2006; which lately has become the most visible non-author blog that I've noticed) and Neth Space (2006) at first emerge from this corner of the SF/F online community.  Then came that annus mirabilis, 2007.  It was around then that certain bloggers had begun to receive review copies (I had received a few back in 2004-2005, but that was because I co-ran wotmania's OF section, not because of this blog) and then there seemed to be a rush of bloggers in that year and into early 2008 (too many to list here, although I'd say A Dribble of Ink is likely the most prominent of those, but it's hard to tell these days, since so many have expanded in the past 3-4 years).

With this rush came inspiration (to get me to transition from a large website's main moderator for one literary section to a blogger), confusion (what should I focus on here?), and frustration (why are so many people reviewing the same few books at the same time?).  Through it all, there came the gradual attrition (about half of the blogs I noticed in 2007-2008 are no longer active) and then a new wave in 2009-2010 that for some odd reason tried to emulate those older voices while covering some areas I never really thought about (paranormal romance, the PR-tinged elements of urban fantasy, pop-horror, etc.) or which never interested me.  While I still think a lot of those pieces are a bit too vapid for my tastes, I have to admit that several have grown very large audiences in the interim and that's nothing to poo-bah about.

But the coolest thing is seeing who has expanded from being just a blogger.  In the past two years, two of us at least (Pat and I) were asked to edit anthologies; Pat's was an original one, Speculative Horizons, I would have been a series editor for a newish best-of reprint anthology if it weren't for market reasons that the Best American Fantasy series went on hiatus.  I see Aidan has begun working with, tweeting as @tordotfantasy, as well as he and others contributing pieces to and a few other places.  British blogger James Long went even further, becoming an editorial assistant at Orbit UK.  I've done freelance work, both for free and for pay, writing review pieces, interviews,  and columns that were published at Amazon's Omnivoracious, SFWA's Nebula Awards site, Beyond Victoriana, and in a few other places via others translating my writings into Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch.

The biggest bit for me is that this fall, I will have two translated stories published.  The Weird and ODD?, two anthologies edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, contain pieces that I translated from Augusto Monterroso and Leopoldo Lugones respectively.  They are not long pieces (neither would be much more than 2,000 words), but it still seems like I'm in a dream.  I'm getting something published on paper that I can present to my family!  So surreal, thinking back over the years.  I imagine the others who are working their way from starting personal blogs toward having larger platforms within the various literary communities probably feel something similar.  Therefore, why not just write an appreciative post without snark (shocking, I know, coming from me) and make a joking reference to a Virginia Slims ad (ironic, considering I'm allergic to tobacco smoke)?


Neth said...

Well, congrats on surviving 7 years and keeping your interest up during what were often challenging times. While our interests have diverged over the years, it's nice to see so many of the original wotmania mafia still around.

It's a challenge - I know I've struggled to keep content coming with the whole real life thing getting in the way. That and a lack of ambition relative to many other bloggers out there.

Congrats as your budding literature career grows - maybe one day it will even pay a bill or two :)

Joe Sherry said...

Not bad at all, sir.

I do enjoy seeing that most of the bloggers who were around when I started mine are still going - or, at least a number of the ones I preferred to read.

I've had a number of burps where I lost motivation, and right now the whole military training and schooling thing has been a hinderance to proper blogging.

Matthew Cheney said...

Thanks for the kind words, Larry, and congrats on surviving so long. The history is pretty amazing -- The Mumpsimus is only a year older than OF Blog, and now and then I look at the Wayback Machine's cache of the Locus Links Portal from the month I started, August of 2003, to remind myself of how very small the SF blogosphere was at the time. For me, it was the only example in my life of being in the right place at the right time, because it's much, much harder to gain any notice these days in a pretty crowded field.

Happy (slightly early!) anniversary, and here's to another 7 years, at least!

Super Happy Jen said...

Blogs are the things most worth reading on the internet, but so tremendously unprofitable and thankless to write. Good for you for keeping up with it.

Aidan Moher said...

Let me echo the congratulations, Larry. It's not always an easy task to keep going for so long, but I'm glad to see you've finally carved out a niche that you seem happy to occupy.

Here's to seven more years, you big grump.


Seak (Bryce L.) said...

Great topic and article (oh and congrats too). I think it's just peachy that bloggers are becoming more and more involved and more hands on with the things they love.

At the same time, it isn't just anyone who's "making it big" in the industry, it's those who actually work hard and do a good job with their niche.

For instance, I think some publisher needs to find out how to use Adam Whitehead somehow, either for some anthology or new encyclopedia of all things geeky (i.e. awesome). It'll come, I'm sure.

Larry said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Matt, viewing that archive link was sobering. I remember most of those sites...and how most of them are gone.


If we didn't have challenges, what would be the fun of things?


I'll excuse you for your burping ;)


It all depends on how one defines "thankless," I suppose. I've been lucky in that I have drawn somewhere around 1 million hits to this blog during its history (I don't trust the Sitemeter data). That many visits for what I like to think is not fluff does humble me...for a few seconds, anyway ;)


I like to be cantankerous :P


Good point, especially since I was recently visiting Adam's site and peeked at his Sitemeter data and noticed it was noticeably higher than even Pat's. Maybe he'll get something like that one day, as he certainly does seem to do a lot of legwork.

Niall Alexander said...

Don't get me wrong, I'm overjoyed to see so many bloggers succeeding in related pursuits in large part because of their blogs - and you too Larry; it'll be a pleasure to see your translations in print later this year - but I think it's important also to note: not everyone out there is blogging to gain some greater glory. Not every blogger has to have some mad ambition to which their blogs are but the first of many stepping stones. A good blog is a good blog in its own right, and that's fine, right?

Saying that... good show, sir. :)

James said...

Yeah, not all of us want to use our blogs as a stepping stone. Some of us don't even bother making sure we run a good blog.

...or is that just me?

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