What If This Blog Were A Book, And Got New Pants

It occurred to me the other day that I have written a lot of words on this blog. Not the best words – Donald Trump said he has those  – but certainly a large portion of other (hopefully less repetitive) words.

In the process, I’ve pondered the question of what blogging is for.

In its infancy, a weblog was pretty much an online journal, but it’s since become a professional occupation for many. It’s not a profession for me, but it allows me to fulfil a childhood dream and pretend I’m a columnist, without having to get anyone’s approval first.

What If This Blog Were A Book, And I Was Trying To Sell It

So far, I’ve written a total of 205 posts, averaging around 900 words per post. That’s roughly 184,500 words, which could translate into two whole novels, if we were talking about commercial fiction, which of course we’re not, but like the aforementioned, I’m not one to let the facts stand in the way of a tenuous argument.

So that’s 2 books’ worth of words on this blog, but no actual book to show for it. This is a bit perturbing, because all the best wordy bloggers have books. Now, in my non-bloggy writing life I write fiction rather than non-fiction, and yet, at some point this blog did start firing on some kind of turbo engine, changing the way I write, and making me wonder about a parallel universe where I write the sort of humorous listy-type books you buy for difficult siblings at Christmas.

I bought one just the other week I’d been hankering after for months. Mallery Ortberg is a titan of the interweb who made the leap to New York Times’ bestselling author with Texts From Jane Eyre, imagined text message exchanges between literary characters. In this article, she describes how difficult even she found it to get that book published, with 2 of the more hilarious responses from publishers being “This is a great idea but we don’t think people who send text messages also read books”, and “Let us know when you write a YA novel”.

What If This Blog Were A Book, And I Was Trying To Sell It

Pic: The Guardian. Text: Mallory Ortberg

This got me thinking about a meeting in a publishing house in the impossibly distant future, wherein the powers that be are deciding whether or not to publish the Book o’ d’Blog, which I decided to submit in a fit of drunkenness whilst under the influence of mushrooms, Hunter S. Thompson and a very dodgy curry. But even in my most psychedelic of imaginings, I can’t help but feel I’ve shot myself mouthily in the foot before I’ve even begun.

And as you all know, there are few situations in life which can’t be explored by means of an imagined conversation, which might go some way towards explaining why I appear to have so many of them.


Picture the scene. It is a Tuesday in November, it’s been raining for three weeks, and that politician you hate is still in power.

The Marketing Department of Big Ass Publishers Ltd. looks like IKEA, without the stock. My blog book has been given a tentative thumbs up by Editorial, subject to sales projections.

Junior Marketing Assistant: Good morning, Madam. Editorial sent this up for us to take a look.

Fearsome Marketing Titan: Thank you, Wayne. Precis, please, baker’s dozen or less.

Junior: Irish woman. Blogger. Moderately funny in 1 out of every 3 blog posts.

Fearsome: This had better be non-fiction. I’m sick of these idiots spending 5 years selling a blog and then coming to us with something that bears no resemblance to what they’re actually known for.

Junior: Well, there’s always YA Fiction, Boss.

Fearsome: Not since 2015, there isn’t. So what’s the book about?

Junior: It’s a compilation from her blog, Boss. She blogs about books.

Fearsome: Ugh. Great. Book reviews? No – don’t tell me. She writes about writing?

Junior: Neither. She blogs about book sales.

Fearsome: Oh, so she works in the industry then?

Junior: [scrolling through electronic device] No. It says here she’s never missed a mortgage payment.

Fearsome: What the hell is she blogging about, then?

Junior: Well, us, I think.

Fearsome: Wayne, I have three lunches to attend before 2.30pm. You’d better start summarising, and start summarising fast.

Junior: Says here she reads a lot of books, and a lot about books. Then she takes the piss out of what’s selling. Sometimes she takes the piss out of what’s not selling. It’s very hard to define.

Fearsome: Why the hell are Editorial sending me something that’s hard to define? They should know if I can’t pigeon-hole it, I can’t flog it.

Junior: Isn’t that a mixed metaphor, Boss?

Fearsome: Thin ice, Wayne. So what’s her bloody theme, then?

Junior: Well, she mostly slags off marketing, and then in the middle of it, there’s some sort of fictional satire about a rich couple in Dublin.

Fearsome: Wayne, do you like working here?

Junior: Yes, Boss.

Fearsome: Then I suggest you take your Irish blogger and walk her back down to Editorial, where you should proceed to stick her where the sun don’t shine.

Junior: Yes, Boss.

Fearsome: And while you’re down there, get me a gin and tonic. Actually, make it a double, I’m meeting EL James for second lunch.

Junior: I’ll bring the bucket.


See? Even in my imagination, it seems I’ve failed to think my strategy through. But here’s the question: is a focused blog a boring blog?

Note on the above: I appear to have gone all self-referential again – apologies – but this always happens in the Silly Season, and it gets even worse when I buy the blog a new pair of pants. If you’ve barely noticed that the site had a re-design this week then I consider it a success. I wasn’t going for a dramatic change, just a little less 2012, and moderately more magaziney, such as might suit a blog of so many words. Anyway, this time last year, I was having conversations with my arse, so consider yourself lucky that books were mentioned at all. 


  77 comments for “What If This Blog Were A Book, And Got New Pants

  1. August 11, 2016 at 7:38 am

    I think a blog with a tight focus on, say, sprockets or boll weevils might be a boring one. The boll weevil count in your blog, though, always strikes me as refreshingly low. I hope the Fearsome Marketing Titan of the future has a change of heart and gives you several tons of money. You deserve it (or rather will deserve it, since we’re talking about the future).

    Liked by 3 people

    • August 11, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Your comment has touched my soul. I’ve waited so long for someone to count the boll weevils on this blog, petrified that nobody noticed. But you noticed, Bun. You saw me. And the dearth of boll weevils. I hereby nominate you to take on Fearsome Marketing Titan on my behalf. Please accept this flak jacket, which would be yours in the conditional future, and my undying gratitude.

      Liked by 3 people

      • August 11, 2016 at 12:58 pm

        There are so many would-be publishing experts out there, Tara, who would fill your head with all sorts of nonsense about characters, plot and writing ability. I see my role as being to get you back to the essentials, such as your boll weevil count.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. August 11, 2016 at 7:39 am

    But, but, but editorial liked it! quoth she. Let’s have a pissing contest between the two most obnoxious parts of the publishing business, the prick and the arse. Or would that be too plebian? I’m sure I spelled that incorrectly, but that’s what editors are for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 9:26 am

      I’m beginning to wonder how many authors went to their graves sobbing ‘but editorial liked it’…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. August 11, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Well, your post made me smile, which must count for something. And I’m totally buying the book, WHEN it comes out. Just don’t overdo it on those mushrooms:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 9:31 am

      What mushrooms? I deny everything I can’t remember. But now that I have a proven sale, I’m going to take out an ad campaign. Thanks, M.L.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. August 11, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Oops. I dived straight into the words and missed the new pants completely. Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Ah, but how do you know that wasn’t what I intended with cunning political spin, Mel? And now we’ll never know. *nefarious laugh*


  5. August 11, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I always pretend that I blog in order to ‘practise’ writing (as opposed to ‘practice’ writing, which is what I what to ultimately achieve – see what I did there? I have the best words of all!). I lack any kind of focus, go from blogging daily some months to writing nothing for weeks on end, and I still secretly hope (and believe) that someone will ‘discover’ me and pay me money without me having to significantly develop my ability or style at all. So, to bring this back to your post, which only seems polite…err…don’t stop believing? Or some other eighties ‘prog rock’ reference if you prefer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 9:46 am

      I had to look up the difference between practise and practice, James, with the result that I am stultifyingly impressed with your intelligence, but I’m not sure about your future in politics, because there might be such a thing as too many words. On the other hand, it seems our blogging journeys (see what I did there?!) are quite similar, which must mean that both of us will take over the world shortly. Want to go halfsies?

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 11, 2016 at 9:48 am

        I’ll go sixty/forty. You can have the sixty. I don’t want too much responsibility…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. August 11, 2016 at 8:53 am

    That water looks cold


    • August 11, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Ah! You got the watery header image, did you Kathy? There are a few of them which switch around. I’m stuck on one with a sunflower or a daisy or something this morning. I might customise all of them to images of the word ‘pants’. Or maybe ‘arse’.


  7. August 11, 2016 at 9:10 am

    And how long does this silly season last for – hopefully for a long time to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Generally August in its entirety, C.J. So we’ve a few weeks yet. Of course, we’ve no guarantee I’ll ever make any sense at all, a prospect I quite look forward to myself.


      • August 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

        Could your blogging be related in some way to a quote of Caesar Agustus “I found Rome a city of bricks, left it a city of marble”

        Liked by 1 person

        • August 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm

          If only, C.J. If you have any idea how to spin that, I can say like Rome, I would be eternally grateful.


  8. weebluebirdie
    August 11, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I’m a big fan of the so-called unfocused blog. Those who manage consistent material must spend all day pondering it, which effectively means the blog is Work. The best blogs are those which give little glimpses into whatever is flying round the writer’s head at that point. Interesting people have varied thoughts with no guarantee of consistency. I’m fine too with the blogs which appear infrequently. I get very bored with bloggers who write about why they can’t write. It’s better to accept that there will be gaps and post when you want with what you want. There we go – my manifesto 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • August 11, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Sounds like a licence for me to not do anything I want, Birdie. Excellent stuff. I had been agonising over the things I didn’t want to do, and now not only do I not have to do anything, I don’t have to not do anything either. You’ve made my Thursday, and possibly my 2016. I’d write you a poem of thanks, but thankfully I don’t have to. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • weebluebirdie
        August 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

        Glad to be of help. Mind you, apparently this is not a transferable skill to Proper Work.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. August 11, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Not in this case. There’s so much more scope for sideways thinking through books than say music. That you’re able to connect the business of books with so many disparate things and make a laugh/sense/fair game question out of them makes me think you should keep ‘er lit. The rest is a bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      I have yet to connect the business of books with actual money, Depterness, let’s not forget that. But in the interim, I have found a place wherein nobody can shut me up, which is indeed a bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. August 11, 2016 at 11:48 am

    As you know, I’m a fan of new pants. Keep ranting Thelma. We love you for it!
    Louise xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      You got me all choked up, Louise. I may need a bucket of gin and tonic myself to recover. Whatcha doin’ for lunch?!


  11. Ali Isaac
    August 11, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Ooops… I didnt notice the new pants, but now you come to mention it, they are quite cool. I dont think Ive ever come across any tight fitting pants in the blog world… I mean tightly focussed blogs. They all allow a little room for expansion… I mean, rambling. Having said that, I find people who change their pants on a daily basis quite irritating; one becomes accustomed to a particular level of comfort, know what I mean? Anyway, Im going to stop here. I have a feeling this topic of conversation could degenerate quite quickly, and I dont want to soil your new pants. 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Ali, you are hereby awarded the ‘Taking The Metaphor And Running With It’ Award for this week. Congratulations! You have won a new pair of metaphorical pants, and a small piece of cheese. Please call this toll-laden number 1800-NOT-SO-FREE with full details of where your metaphorical pants are headed. Imaginative destinations will be rewarded with 100% metaphysical joy.

      Calls cost €1,800 a minute in addition to the standard network charge. tarasparlingwrites.com is not responsible for empirical happiness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac
        August 11, 2016 at 3:44 pm

        Wow! I never win anything! I’m so excited! Oh… I really have won nothing. Again. Lol! Thanks Tara! 😁😄😢

        Liked by 1 person

  12. August 11, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I like the new look, Tara. Very magaziney. I like your blog too – always entertaining and focused but with variety, if that makes sense. You compile lists, make fun of just about everyone in the industry, have hypothetical conversations, vent, lay bare the ridiculousness of what we all do and have to deal with. I do wonder what will happen when your book is ready and it’s time for a little self-promotion of the author variety – excerpts, promos, etc. It will be entertaining, I’m sure 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      That’s good to hear, Diana. It’s always good when someone else knows what you’re doing. Particularly when you’ve no idea yourself. On the self-promotion front, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen there. My own best estimate however is that if I ever have to promote anything other than my current mood on this blog, I’ll die of fright 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 11, 2016 at 3:09 pm

        Hire Tark and Mara to do your book promotion. It would be hysterical watching them plan and implement their strategy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • August 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm

          I know you’re kidding, but it’s got me thinking. They are a masterclass in reverse psychology. Oh my Blog. What have you unleashed??

          Liked by 1 person

  13. August 11, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    I find that blogging is a great way to avoid working on the latest novel, or doing any book-marketing (yuck). It’s easy to convince myself that blogging is work, just because it’s done in a room that I call “My Office” somewhere between 9 and 5, mostly on weekdays.

    Liked by 2 people

    • August 11, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      I find that too, Sarah – unfortunately. When I add in the hours spent in day-job prison I call ‘The Office’, often very little fiction gets written!


  14. August 11, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I rather enjoyed the arse convo.. 😉 Very classy pants – new frosty nude. Mara will be delighted 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  15. August 11, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    So funny Tara! I change my blog about twice a month. I only have 23 followers, I’m guessing that don’t mind. Lol. I think I really like making new header images. As far as the content, whatever’s on my heart for that moment is what I post. #BEYOU!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Sounds like a good philosophy to me, Cindy – and thank you! I should consider posting whatever’s in my heart, rather than floating through my brain minding its own business 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  16. August 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Reblogged this on Cindy M. Jones and commented:
    Are you focused on ONE thing for your blog or do you blog whatever’s on your heart?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Alex Hurst
    August 11, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Like the new theme…. and yes, an overly focused blog is boring. I tend to call those ‘schtick’ blogs, and their charm tends to quickly wear off if they update frequently. (Maybe that’s one of the reasons I shun cable news?!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      I do like the element of surprise myself when I’m reading, Alex. I imagine the only people who like an overly focused blog are the Powers That Be, for the two minutes they spend reading a blog while making a decision on either its content, its author, or its future. I blame the 30-second repetitive news cycle too.


  18. August 11, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I bounce from topic to topic, but it’s somewhat focused on my writing career. I think it helps to run off into the weeds from time to time.


    • August 11, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      You’ve put it perfectly, and I’m going to do my level best to remember this. It was running off into the weeds which put me on the path to writing what I should have been writing in the first place. My name should really be Tangent Sparling…

      Liked by 1 person

  19. August 11, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I think every blogger who writes thinks ‘look how much I could have written if I didn’t have a blog?’ But the thing is a blog is god for mental health when it comes down to it-it allows us to dissect those thoughts that run around in our head, put some structure to them and then release them into the abyss. And a focused blog can’t be boring if the content being, em focused on is what other people need to know or think themself (albeit not in such an amusing way). I look forward to your book being on my list of gifts 🙂 Oh and great redesign!

    Liked by 2 people

    • August 11, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      But who would you buy my book for, is the question! Someone you like, or someone you don’t? I’ll need to do a reader survey so I get the marketing right. It could be the difference between a green and a brown cover.

      I don’t think I’ll ever regret a word of blogging, even if it has meant less fiction, because there’s no doubt my fiction is all the better for it. Plus, it allows me to pretend I’m already productive. Fewer people ask you what you’re doing when you’re a blogger. Mainly because they’re petrified you might actually answer!


  20. August 12, 2016 at 8:05 am

    First of all, nice redesign, esp. the boll weevils. Second, as you say, it’s August. If you’re worried that the powers that be will blackball you for this post, fret not: they’re all sunbathing on our islands. And third, you have TWO guaranteed sales, not one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      It would be very presumptuous of me to imagine that the powers that be are reading any of this, Nick, no matter where they’re recalibrating their ch’i. I am glad to have a 100% increase in sales regardless. I’m so pleased you got your butler to pledge his support.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. August 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Well I must admit to getting to the end of that and feeling all nostalgic about talking to your arse…

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Sigh. So’s my arse, Graeme. So’s my arse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm

        Beginning to wish I hadn’t started this conversation…

        Loved the post, though. Made me realise I should stop blogging and get on with writing my fiction

        Liked by 1 person

        • August 12, 2016 at 9:50 pm

          Unfortunately, it’s having the same effect on me. I can’t win!

          Liked by 1 person

          • August 12, 2016 at 10:23 pm

            Much as I love reading your posts, if you’re getting an urge to write your fiction, do it. I always think that’s a good idea when you get an urge

            Liked by 1 person

  22. August 12, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I could have written this. I didn’t but it all applies. If I focus, I get bored. Maybe I’ll write a book about soup. That will sell!

    Nice pants BTW.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 12, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      Your pants inspired me, I think. Write the soup book. I’ll spin it with the apocalyptic angle and we’ll count in stacks of 10,000.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. August 12, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    I noticed your fancy new jeans but thought that’s how you must look on a phone!
    I write a whole heap of feck all on my blog, so am not one to comment, but I do love reading all you write so for what it’s worth, what you’re doing is spot on for me.
    As for submitting and possible rejection, I think I read somewhere someone aims for 100 rejections. Be bold. I thought about turning mine into something too but thinking about it is all I did.
    I do really hope to meet you at next years Wexford festival and hear you’re published. Go for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Oh, that would be a mighty thing indeed Tric! I really hope so too. I actually don’t mind the rejections. I seem to take them quite well, and treat any complimentary ones like acceptances. A real acceptance would probably result in a fugue state worthy of a domestic noir plot 😉


  24. August 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    I noticed the new design. I noticed it straight away because I’m specially trained for this sort of thing.

    I’ve yet to come across a blog that was focussed on one thing apart from a guy who made Airfix kits, but I like Airfix so actually found that blog really fascinating. I suppose if you write about everything then the focus must be something like ‘I’m a person who can’t focus on anything,’ thus putting you into a subsection of socio-anthropolgy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 14, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Hmmm. Airfix. I might have missed a trick there but you’re already reading this Chris so, phew, etc. Now let me get this straight. Your comment indicates multi-faceted expertise on your part. You’re a graphic anthropologist? Or is it a sociodesigner?

      Liked by 1 person

  25. August 13, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Well, you’d have a sale here, because you invariably make me laugh. I spend my mental life having conversations and they don’t make me laugh at all (except when I realise I’ve talked myself into a sniper’s sightline)… on the other hand, if you want any kind of life away from your computer and the nearest post office, I can’t recommend publishing a book. Of any sort. Variety is good, but I’m a little concerned about the funereal borders on the comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      I’m not sure about them myself, Hilary. I’m going to say my comment borders are intentional, in the name of black comedy. Let’s call it deadly gravitas. And you’re my third customer now for a book. Just wait until I put this into my query letter – it’s going to start a bidding war for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. August 14, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Firstly, I love Mallory Ortberg – her Women in Fine Art posts on The (sadly defunct) Toast always make me laugh until I cry. So if she’s having trouble getting people interested in her writing, what chance do the rest of us have?
    Secondly, I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself, Tara – your blog is great, and I think a book based on posts you’ve already written would be an excellent read. You can mark me down for a copy right now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 15, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      I think I’ve come across as a little needy and whiny in this post, Helen, when I genuinely didn’t mean to! My joke on myself is that I am currently submitting fiction whilst trying to trade off non-fictional blog rants, which seems a bit daft. I’m still putting you down for a copy, though. Your comment is legally binding. Of course you knew that. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • August 15, 2016 at 9:24 pm

        Of course I did *googles Lawyer* Yes, just add my name to the list of customers 🙂
        In all seriousness, you didn’t come off as whiny – rather, it was more of a lament at the current parlous state of publishing and trying to sell books to anyone – which I can totally relate to 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  27. August 15, 2016 at 6:07 am
    • August 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Hahaha!! I thought so myself. Unfortunately those badges don’t seem to be displaying properly here but for everyone else’s benefit, it’s ‘YUGE’.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. August 15, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Yes, put me down for a copy of your book when it’s done! And remember that calligraphy looks really good on dust jackets. Jus’ saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 15, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      You guys are fantastic. That’s 5 guaranteed sales I’ve amassed now, a full boll weevil dictatorship, a mushroom starter, and unlimited free dust jacket designs from a top professional calligrapher. I’m going to be as rich as Donald Trump (pre-bankruptcy(ies)) 😛


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