1000!

So, this is now my 1000th blog post! I guess that is a good occasion to reflect a bit on this blogging journey I’ve been on.

When I started blogging, a thousand posts ago, all I knew was that I wanted to write and share my thoughts. Up until then I had only been on message boards to relieve my fangirl passions but what I really wanted was a place of my own to do as I please without adhering to anyone else’s rules and hopefully without the drama that inevitably always ensues in online fandoms. I wanted my own little fangirl corner and my own outlet. How to approach it, though? Yes, I loved Richard Armitage but I didn’t want to be limited to writing only about him. I liked other actors too and shows and movies that Armitage wasn’t connected to. And maybe I’d occasionally want to write about other stuff too but I figured if I did all that it would become too much of a hodge podge and I’d just embarrass myself online.

I figured if I couldn’t decide on one topic, maybe I should decide on one form. So, I decided my blog could be a collection of letters that I would never actually send but that I would still write and share on my own outlet. My very first post in May 2013 was a very short little letter announcing I was going to start blogging, immediately followed by a second letter (and a bit of a mess) that I ‘wrote to’ John Green about loving The Fault in Our Stars. I planned on following that letter post up with a third letter post but couldn’t figure out what letter to write and to whom. And so I remained silent for over a year, trying to figure out in my head how to do this.

Then one day I had the brilliant insight that I was over-thinking this. So what if my blog would turn into a hodge podge of topics and there was no one form it would adhere to? Blogging was always going to just be a hobby, something to do for fun, so why put any constraints on myself? I would just jump in, without any specific audience in mind (which meant there was no one to embarrass either) and write about whatever struck my fancy. It wasn’t necessarily about the readers, I figured, it was all about me just wanting to express myself, and boom, my third post was born in September of 2014 (16 months after my first post).

That third post, and the true start of this blog, was about having seen Richard Armitage live in The Crucible earlier that summer. It was the “summer of love” and I had been reading all these exciting stories all summer about the play and meeting Richard at the stage door. I decided to finally jump in and add my own voice to all the excitement. I wasn’t much for self-promotion so I don’t think anyone really read that at the time, but that was fine because I had finally taken that plunge and put my words out there and this time I was going to stick with it.

People started actually reading here in December of 2014 when Servetus linked to a post I had written collecting reviews for Richard Armitage in The Hobbit and it all grew from there. I never aimed at having a large audience (often the larger the audience, the larger the drama and I’m not so fond of drama) but it was nice having a few readers. My follower count has considerably grown since then (many follows are not actual readers, though, just ‘commercial followers’) but I think the most people that read here consist of a fairly small group and I like it that way. It’s my own small community. Going by my blog statistics I know that I have more readers than commenters and I feel a kinship with those who just lurk as I used to be a big lurker too on blogs and forums. All lurkers are more than welcome here. 🙂 I had never expected more than five people to ever read here, so I am grateful for each visit to my blog.

So, seven years of actual blogging and 1000 posts on, what is my takeaway from this writing journey?

  • Love what you write about and this blogging thing remains fun. I’m glad I stuck with my hodge podge topics, even if some posts are barely read.
  • I’m happy to blog whenever I want. Sometimes (like this past week!) that’s daily, sometimes I’ll stay quiet for days and even, on rare occasions, a few weeks. I put no obligations on myself, I write purely for fun and don’t want a set schedule or set topics to interfere with that.
  • Commercial blogging is not for me, I like to remain constraint-free, and so I have no interest in ‘growing my audience’ or ‘attracting advertisers’.
  • My main audience, going by statistics and comments, are Richard Armitage fans. My most read posts are the ones I wrote about Richard at the Newcastle International Film Festival in 2018 (here and here).
  • A successful blog post for me is not necessarily a well-read post. For me the ones that are most successful are the ones that gave me real joy or real relief to write.
  • It usually takes more time to write a blog post than I initially think (like this one, which in it’s first draft from a few days ago was really short but then grew and grew). Even short posts I need to re-read regularly to make sure I say what I want to say before I hit “publish”.
  • Sometimes when I start writing I’m not even sure what I want to say. At the beginning when I blogged I always felt I needed to make some real point but that has changed. Now, even when I have nothing in my mind at that moment that I want to say, I just pick something randomly and start writing. There is always something in my head that preoccupies me and only by writing it down does it start to take any form. Sometimes it even turns into something completely different than I initially thought. Some posts are lovely journeys of discovery and some have virtually no point at all.
  • Few people in my real life know about my blog and I like to keep it that way. This blog is my escape, my brain drain and I’m not looking for real life daily feedback on it from family, friends or colleagues. Only my husband and kids and two close friends of mine in real life know of this blog.
  • I am more involved in the community aspect of blogging than I ever expected to be. I like that I have made some blog friends whom I love interacting with and I have even met some in real life! Community was not necessarily what I was looking for but I like that it came along with the blogging. I also love that I sometimes learn things from my commenters, that they sometimes challenge me and it’s been great for refreshing my German too! Some readers here are German and have their own blogs that I comment on, which made me write and ‘speak’ German in my head far more. The writing and speaking were slipping away from me but that has been reversed now to a better, fairly reasonable basic German standard.
  • I like honest discussion, I don’t like personal insults and sometimes it’s just best to agree to disagree and move on. With all that, except for a few minor incidents, my blog has remained relatively drama free, for which I am grateful.
  • As time went on, I have shared more and more personal things about myself, but I also like to maintain a certain distance and not get too close. As much as I truly enjoy interacting with you, my blog friends, and love being friendly with you, I also guard my personal space. Automatic self-protection mode, I guess, and a bit of an introvert’s trait as well.

The big take away here, after writing one thousand posts, is that I still love to blog and that it has brought me so much relief, unabashed fangirling and community. Maybe I even love it more than when I first started out because I have found a kind of groove that I feel comfortable in.

Thank you to each and every one of you for being so tolerant of my musings, for indulging my nonsense and for making me feel comfortable enough to share all these hodge podge posts. Thank you to all for reading, for commenting and for challenging me, for lurking and browsing and with all that helping to make this such a good experience for me.

I plan on continuing this for a long while yet. On to the next 1000 blog posts!

Seven years of The Crucible

Yesterday Richard Armitage tweeted this…

… and I can relate to the feeling old statement. It doesn’t feel like seven years ago that this play was staged at The Old Vic in London and that I went to see it during ‘the summer of love’, a term coined by some Armitage fans at the time due to the outpouring of love for this production and for Richard during that summer run. The Crucible gave me a lot personally as well.

By the time I traveled with my husband to London in July of 2014 to see The Crucible, I had been an Armitage fan for 8 years. I was a solitary fangirl at the time, eagerly slurping up Richard Armitage news and discussions on message boards and on certain blogs, lurking but never jumping in myself. During that summer, Servetus on her blog very helpfully kept a running commentary on all stage door encounters that were shared online, hence making it really feel like a summer of love for me. Check out the archives on her blog for June – September of 2014 if you are curious to see pictures of fans with Richard and read fan reports.

In tandem with this trip I had also been wanting to jump in to blogging on my own blog for a long time. I had started this blog with a single post in 2013 but didn’t know where to go from there as I didn’t want to write a single issue blog, so I stopped again. I was feeling especially inspired by some other Armitage blogs I also read (like Guylty’s blog or Herba’s blog and some other really great blogs that have alas gone silent over time, but popped up again partially during last year’s online blog reunion, see this Twitter hashtag).

Anyway, during this summer of Crucible love I started to feel the pull to also share my Crucible play and stage door experience. I was just a bit iffy about the public attention, i.e. worried that if I did get active, I too would eventually be caught in fandom spats as I had seen happening from the beginning of my fangirling days. I wanted to share but I didn’t want the drama, real life was busy enough. Then in September of 2014 I finally decided to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing, I just jumped in and wrote about my Crucible experience. With that post, really, this blog was born. Richard Armitage in The Crucible and the fans’ enthusiasm had pulled me over the edge and finally got me blogging. I didn’t announce anything about that post anywhere and it wasn’t until a few months later that this blog even started getting any traction but the slow start suited me well.

Not only did The Crucible get me blogging, it also, very importantly, led to my first personal encounter with Richard Armitage whom I had admired from afar for all those years. I can still remember the excitement while meeting him and handing him a little gift and exhanging a few quick words with him. Alas my camera failed that evening (also it was dark outside that stage door) and the pictures are all grainy but I don’t mind so much as the memories are all still there and really do not feel like 7 years ago! I am forever grateful to Mr Esther who helped me get my Crucible booklet and ticket signed and my little North and South poster as well that I had brought from home.

He also took this picture of me with Richard (I look a little manic!), which is now still the lock screen of my phone before I unlock it to reveal Mr Esther and our cats.

What The Crucible also gave me was a renewed admiration for Richard’s acting talents. I’d not been a huge fan of Robin Hood and Spooks and while I did love him in The Hobbit, I longed to see him do a great role without prosthetics. And boy, did I get that with Richard as John Proctor…

Mr E and I were both quite blown away by the production, by the cast and especially by Richard in it. We were mesmerized throughout and feeling quite shaken and drained by the end of it. My husband, who has always been supportive of my fangirling hobbies but always benignly from a distance, was just as much in awe as I was. Richard Armitage on stage is a wonderful thing to behold, he has a big presence there, he feels large and powerful, and when we met him at the stage door after the play he suddenly felt slight and almost shy. He must have felt competely drained.

That Crucible experience stayed with me for a long time (still very much alive in my mind and heart when I finally posted about it a month and a half after I’d seen it) and I was pleased when it was announced that the play would be filmed. When it came to the cinema in early 2015, I took my mother to see it and she too was very impressed. So much so, in fact, that for my birthday two months later she even gave me a watercolour painting she had made of a Crucible scene. It is now hanging above my signed Crucible ticket and poster in our dining area. That painting became my blog header and I also had a phone cover made of it that Richard Armitage even signed a few years later at the Newcastle International Film Festival.

I am glad The Crucible made me able to share some fangirling with my husband and even with my mother and I credit Richard as John Proctor for giving me the push to set me off on this blogging journey that I have really been enjoying these past almost 7 years. The play has been an important catalyst for me and I have loved revisiting it again and again over the years. I still think it is one of the absolute best things Richard has done in his career, he would have really deserved that Olivier Award he was nominated for at the time.

Long story short: happy 7th anniversary to The Old Vic’s The Crucible production, I’m glad you were made.

What the…?

This blog still runs on a free WordPress account and so far (despite the new block editor that took me a bit to get used to) I’ve been quite happy with WordPress as a platform. With a free account come ads at the bottom of my posts which is fine by me but now today, I see this underneath last night’s post:

There is a whole WordPress sponsored post on my timeline! I don’t want that! I don’t want whole advertising posts on my timeline that I have no control over and that I can’t remove. This aggressive marketing and pressuring to get a paid plan is frustrating. As if we didn’t already have enough frustrations to deal with this past year… I was going to upgrade my plan in the not too distant future to a paid one because picture space is running low on my blog but now I’m thinking, with such aggressive marketing, maybe I should just look for a different platform? Place ads on the sidelines or underneath my posts but don’t contaminate my timeline by placing whole blog posts in between my own posts. I really hate this, WordPress!

Edited to add: and the sponsored post doesn’t even stay where it was, it even moves up so that it is now placed between this post and last night’s post! Yep, I really hate this.

Blogging memories January 8th

Herba is looking back at her posts on January 8th over the past years and that’s fun! So, I decided to join in as well with my own trip down memory lane on this blog, starting six years ago.

2015: On January 8th I briefly wrote about the terrorist attack on a satirical French newspaper called Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the feared retaliation on all Muslims after that.

2016: No post on January 8th, but I did post on the 7th, trying to convince Richard Armitage that cats aren’t so bad. The tweet he had tweeted then is gone and I don’t remember what it said anymore and the video I had shared then is apparently also gone. I still stand by the love for cats, though!

Three days after that post, David Bowie died just two days after his 69th birthday. I went into full on mourning and writing Bowie tributes on blog. Today, January 8th 2021, would have been David Bowie’s 74th birthday, so I’m adding a little tribute here now as well, as shared by Ricky Gervais today. Totally worth a watch for a great David Bowie laugh!

Happy Birthday, David!

2017: I didn’t post on January 8th but did post on the 7th and on the 9th. The post on January 7th was about winning something in Guylty’s Christmas raffle, receiving an Armitage puzzle, and speculation about a new Richard project.
The post on January 9th had me dreading the Donald Trump inauguration and mourning the loss of the Obamas. Sadly, all my fears and worse were confirmed by the Trump presidency of the past four years.

2018: No post on January 8th, but closest date I posted on was January 7th when I was very ill with the flu and my cat comforted me.

2019: Again, no post on January 8th, but I did do one on January 7th, writing about the trip we had taken over New Year’s to Hamburg.

2020: January 8th had me discussing Richard Armitage goodies, i.e. interviews because Uncle Vanya was premiering in the theatre and something on the small role he did in the South Korean film Space Sweepers (coming out soon now on February 5th 2021 on Netflix, by the way!)

Thanks for the inspiration to do this, Herba. It also makes me realize how quickly time is flying by. I pretty much remember writing all those posts and some don’t feel like that long ago…

To everything…

…turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn…

A time for going away (I love the sunroof in our car)…

A time for walking in the woods…

A time for watching over your family (Mr Esther looks a bit like a secret service agent here)…

A time for reading…

A time for working…

A time for blogging during your break (because you just can’t shut up, no matter how tired you are)…

(I really like my image gallery!)

And a time to realize that I am very much enjoying ungluing myself somewhat from the laptop screen and the world. After I shut down my work laptop later this afternoon it’s off for a walk, an early dinner because mini me has soccer practice, and back to my book again this evening. Already looking forward to all that!