It’s that time of year again, folks. Time for taking stock – and selling it off.
No sooner have you burped your last turkey-laced memory, realising you can’t even remember eating the last seven Quality Streets, than the ads start zinging at you thick and fast, telling you that you can get what you already have for a quarter of the price you paid for it.
It’s a terrible time. It’s the time of year that old, loyal customers get to feel like prize lemons. Despite sticking by their service providers all year, fly-by-night newbies are the new must-have thing. Only new customers matter. Old customers can go and boil their heads in a vat of brandy butter whilst being back-combed by a reindeer.
I’m as bad. Over the last four months of 2015, this blog got a whole truckload of new followers. And so, in the grand tradition of lazy, linky blog posts, I’m going to do a review of this blog’s most popular posts in 2015 – in a pathetic attempt to impress new readers, with little regard for the boredom levels of loyal followers who’ve stuck by me in thick (headedness) and thin (pickings).
To soften the blow, however, in between some facts, I will be making up some shocking and vile falsehoods, which only long-standing, habitual blog readers will be able to spot. I swear.
- Topics I Never Thought Would Become Topics
A blogger will generally get inspiration from obvious places, such as newspapers, other blogs, animal behaviour studies, and oversized dustbins. Yet there are certain things you never think you’ll end up writing about.
I never saw myself hopping on a soapbox about the wanton destruction of childhood innocence, for instance, but How To Torture A Beloved Story To Death (And Ruin Children) described how one of the best-loved Irish legends of my childhood was ground into dust by a misogynistic schoolbook publisher.
The Secret To World Domination Is… A Hairy Irishman was a little off-topic, but no less true for it. In fact, I’m growing new sideburns as we speak.
I found myself exploring further weird territory with Why I’d Be Really Crap At Having An Affair, which examined the inability to spread ourselves thinly between those close to our hearts. Then, in the spring, I found myself looking at the other side of romance, in Love, And The Way It Might Steal You Away, when for the first time in years, I fell blindly, torridly, and sleeplessly in love.
However, I surprised myself most in 2015 by writing A Mindful Conversation With My Arse. I’m close to my arse, I can’t deny it: but putting our personal ruminations out there in public for all to see was never part of the plan. It led to the offer of a modelling contract with that esteemed publication most famously associated with Kim Kardashian, Posterior Philosophy; but(t), despite sending them my arse’s portfolio as requested, I never heard from them again.
2. Ye Olde Safe Targets
As usual, some of the most popular rants of the year were about author behaviour on the Internet. The Thin Skin of Self-Publishing was of a mind with 15 Reasons Why I Muted You On Twitter (And Other Rancour) and a little parable set at a cocktail party, What If Authors Behaved In Real Life Like They Behaved Online?
Each became inexplicably popular, particularly with a few high up in the Vatican, which proclaimed me Patron Demon of the Internet. It also sent me a lovely purple-and-tarmacadam robe, which I now wear on public transport.
As usual there were a few pot shots at the blockbusting end of the book industry, such as EL James Murdered Your Children And Stole Your Kidneys, where I discussed the myriad of stuff EL James is accused of (making sure to throw in a few more accusations myself). Meanwhile, The Seven Deadly Sins Of Bestselling Authors looked at how success is always derided by those who don’t have it.
In a less ranty mood, my favoured fiction genre of the year was Historical. It starred in The Past Is A Foreign Country: Why Historical Fiction Is Surging, as well as How To Know If You’re In A Historical Fiction Novel, which explored (amongst other things) orphans, cutlery, and a dearth of medium-sized towns.
And when I was being in a more helpful frame of mind, topics such as Authors! Your First Chapter Is Killing Your Book and Authors! Your Free Book Is Worthless seemed to strike a chord. In a minor key. With diminished sevenths.
3. Things That Exploded
When all is said and done, my personal highlight of the year was getting Freshly Pressed in August. The holy grail of WordPressery picked up a post written in June about the supposed concentration deficiencies of the Millennial generation – Why Your Attention Span Is A Great Excuse For Someone Else’s Failure. It was a great excuse for smiling at a time when the real world, quite frankly, wasn’t so bloody brilliant, which I touched on in another surprisingly big post: On Waiting Productively, And Why There Isn’t A Word For That.
I thought that was as good as it could get, until November, when the rant I Hate Women’s Fiction And I’ll Tell You Why splattered hits all over the blog like butter on a lobster bib. It blew the Freshly Pressed post out of the water, and even started a few fights, one of which ended up on the front page of every newspaper in the Low Countries.
The Book Title Generators steadily gathered momentum over the year, until their little nest gradually became the consistently most popular destination on this blog. They continue to do the business, and I frequently take them out, stroke them, and blow their noses.
Finally, the blogging year ended on another high, when in the same week the blog reached one hundred, er, million hits, it went on its holidays for a guest post on US Superblogger Anne R. Allen’s site at Christmas. Ten Reasons Why Being A Writer Is Like Being Santa Claus was fun to write, which more than made up for the extremely nasty letter delivered to me on Christmas morning with enough coal for a Siberian winter.
4. 2015: A Good Year For Tark And Mara
Let’s face it – Tark and Mara always have a good year – but it’s not everyone that can say they did their bit for the poor by getting revenge on the super-rich and joining their ranks in the process. They also spat venom about that insufferable Spalding woman getting Freshly Pressed, and, literally and finally, broke the Internet by inventing the Post-Bloggerist movement.
So there we have it. 2015 in blog posts, rants, shoutiness, intermittent sentimentality and unexpected milestones.
If you’re new here, you’re very welcome. You’ll be most welcome again, if you should decide to stop by. If you’re an old friend – well, hello you. Thanks for sticking around. You’re my favourite, but you knew that, right?
See you in 2016, lovely people.