It was on May 2nd 2006 that I started off with this blogging lark, and I’m mildly surprised that I’ve managed to keep it going for a whole year. But here we are.
I occasionally wonder how and why I’ve managed to keep it going steadily, and I think the answer is that it fits in very well with my lifestyle. I’m a retired teacher whiling away his twilight years on a Ph.D thesis about the ways that soldiers were represented in fiction during the Great War and in the twenties. When I got going, the more I read and researched, the more I came across interesting trivia (and non-trivia) that would not find a place in my thesis, but which fascinated me. I thought somebody else might be interested in them too, and I started the blog.
It seems to have worked. Over the year there have been over 30,000 page-reads of the blog. It started very slowly, but now averages over 100 a day, which I gather is reasonable for a blog on a specialist academic subject. I have some readers who visit regularly, and a lot more who are tourists carried in my direction by Google. Some still come looking for Naughty Julie, and I’m afraid that they must be sadly disappointed. I like to think, though, that maybe a few of the priapic beasts have lingered a while and picked up some insight into the works of Warwick Deeping, or even May Sinclair.
The good folk at WordPress let us know which pages from the blog’s history are getting traffic. It’s odd how there can be a sudden surges of interest – in Robert Keable, say, or Sapper – just as suddenly dying down again. One or two posts have faded away without being read by many people – my selection from what William Orpen said about Douglas Haig, for example. – a rather rare tribute to Haig’s human qualities, and even his sense of humour. Maybe nobody thinks to google for that?
I’ve read about vicious comments in response to blogs, but my commenters have been – with only a couple of exceptions – uniformly civil, even when setting me right about my mistakes. So far I’ve received no death threats. My favourite comment is to a post where I hammered the sentimental children’s book Private Peaceful. There was an academic comment endorsing my stance from Dan Todman of the excellent Trench Fever, and then a brief response from a kid: “i read private peaceful its brilliant.” The thing I like about the Internet is that kids like her can have their say and make their voices heard among the more sophisticated – and reminding us that she, after all, is the dreadful book’s target audience.
A particular pleasure has been receiving feedback from relatives of my novelists – two grandsons and a great-neice so far.
Writing the blog is probably good for me. Sometimes I do it just to get a rant off my chest. Sometimes it’s useful to sort out my ideas by putting them in writing. Sometimes I’ve just found a joke or an idea that I think others will enjoy.
Anyway,I’ll head on into the second year…