Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Saturday 23 March 2013

Revamping the Blog

It’s been over a year since I started the site, and I’ve posted almost 350 blogs, which, as it happens, is more blogs than the husband has written in the seven and a half years that his website has been running.

You can learn a lot in a year of doing something.

Malcolm Gladwell taught me that it takes ten thousand hours to get really good at anything, so, clearly, I’ve still got a bloody long way to go, but, nonetheless, stuff has been learned... and things.

One of the things that I’ve learned, and it’s a constant niggle, is that I wasn’t organised enough at the outset... I wasn’t nearly organised enough. I started the blog on a bit of a whim, coming off a high, excited because Naming Names won a runner-up spot for the Mslexia prize. I threw together a website in a couple of hours, powered up a blog and began. I gave it almost no thought, and didn’t consult any of the lovely people I know who could have helped me. It didn’t take long for me to realise what an idiot I’d been, but I’m an impetuous sort of a woman, and once the impulse had been satisfied there seemed to be no turning back, and fixing the thing after the event just seemed too much like hard work.

I’m a year in, now, though, and I’d only have to keep this up for another couple of years to have a thousand blogs for a total of at least half a million words, and almost certainly a million. I can’t let that happen... I can’t let things get that out of hand!

Here’s just one example of my lack of foresight: I regularly find I want to quote old blogs, but there are almost 350 of them, and I can never remember what I wrote, where or when, or in what context or, heaven help me, under what title. I had no plan when I began of what I would write, when or how I would divide up blogs between personal subjects and writing-related things. I also had no coherent strategy for giving posts titles, so, many of them convey nothing of the content of the blog they’re attached to. This is also pretty stupid when it comes to advertising the blog, especially on Twitter where it also matters how long a title is. You see, a total lack of planning on my part scuppered me from the outset, and I continue to sit back and do nothing.

Then there are the daft titles, the ones that get too much of the wrong sort of attention, and mess up my statistics.

Aaahh... Statistics... What with one thing and another, I can be a little bit OCD, and statistics are one of the things that kick off that trait in me, so anything that puts a kink in my parabola, a spike in my graph upsets my equilibrium. Use the word ‘porn’ or ‘sex’ or even ‘knickers’ in a title, even if it’s totally justified, which, of course, it is, and the blog’s statistics can run riot all over the place. People, and I suspect that most of them are bored twelve year olds, but people actually trawl the web using key words like ‘knickers’. But that’s not all, the week I wrote a blog called “The Oscar Pistorius Defence” my stats were in real trouble... I suppose at least that blog had the advantage that the content matched the title, and, when I go looking for it in five year’s time, it shouldn’t be difficult to find, always assuming I can remember the bloke’s name, or how to spell it.

Then there’s the whole blogroll thing. I’ve got one at the bottom of the page, which is incomplete and I don’t use properly, but then I’ve got a list down the right hand side of my page, which is more complete, but not up to date and it isn’t labelled, and it doesn’t, as it were, roll. What was I thinking?

I also wonder whether it might be useful to group blogs together. I could do the top 5 most popular blogs about, writing, or top 5 snarks, or 5 blogs about writing for the Black Library or whatever. I don’t know. Also, I have no idea how to do that. Are those things pages rather than posts? At the moment I’ve been putting fiction in my pages section, but I’m thinking of dropping the fiction. Do you guys want my odds and sods of short fiction?

And that’s sort of the point of this blog... I simply don’t know. I’m still a novice at all of this, and this blog isn’t winning any awards for... well... anything. Not that I mean for it to literally win awards... Do they even have blogging awards? Yeah, stupid question, of course they do... There are awards for everything. There are probably awards for awards. “The best Award for Film Awards goes to (drumroll) the Oscars!”

So, dear reader, if you can think of any way that I might improve your reader experience, or any other way that I could make visiting my blog a nicer more user-friendly experience, perhaps you could let me know... Just one small thing, though... Could you please make any changes simple to make, because tech isn’t my strong suit, and I suspect I’ll be making the alterations myself.

Thanks, much appreciated.

Put "Beautiful Blog Award" into Google and you get this! Huzzah!


  1. Maybe it would help if you redefined for yourself, with a years experience behind you, what your blog is for now. For yourself, what do you want it to achieve? Who do you want to read it? How do you want to be perceived by someone coming fresh to your blog? I've been blogging a lot longer but have less than 500 posts, because my blog is primarily a journal for me, and secondarily, for people who happen to be on a similar journey.

    1. You're right, a mission statement to 'blog about writing and other stuff' doesn't really cut it, does it? Smiles.

  2. Whatever you decide to do, please keep the snarks. Its ways great to read that its not just me that gets annoyed about things!