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Sunday 20 January 2013

Forteana Blog 2nd Annual Report

This blog has been going for two years now! The most visible change over the past 12 months is that I changed the name from “Forteana” to “Andrew May’s Forteana Blog”. This may look like blatant self-aggrandizement, which it would be if I imagined that adding my name to the blog’s title would cause people to take it more seriously rather than less seriously. Actually it was the exact opposite – I realized from comments that were being posted that some people expected the blog to be an authoritative and impartial source of information, and then they got angry when they found it wasn’t. The last straw was when someone accused me of being a troll on my own blog! So I changed the name to reflect the fact that what you get here is me, not some would-be rival to Wikipedia.

Another reason for the name change is that over the last year I’ve been trying my hand at writing on non-Fortean subjects, such as my book Bloody British History: Somerset (left) which came out in September. I wanted to be able to mention such writing without being accused of going off topic – hence “Andrew May” gets equal billing to “Forteana” in the blog title. As it is, I haven’t really gone in for the hard sell as much as I ought to – I just don’t have the perseverance, ego or thick skin required to be a successful writer!

This time last year I’d done 130 posts and had 47,000 page views. I’m now up to 180 posts and 107,000 page views. So the rate of posting is down (to essentially one per week) but the number of views per post is definitely up. By far the most successful post I’ve ever done is my annotated version of Raphael’s School of Athens, which continues to get hundreds of referrals from Google every month... nothing else comes close. That one wasn’t even a particularly Fortean subject, and I had to make an effort to come up with Fortean connections for the various individuals depicted. In light of the post’s unexpected popularity, I wish I hadn’t bothered with the Fortean angle at all, and just played it straight!

When I started this blog (and I suspect this is true of most first-time bloggers) I was only thinking a few months ahead, for which I had plenty of material. Since then it’s got steadily harder and harder to think of new ideas that are up to standard and “on topic”. The trick, of course, is in thinking of a format for the blog that is effortlessly self-perpetuating. This is exactly what my former colleague and long-time fellow Fortean Paul Jackson did when he started his own blog, Random Encounters with the Unusual, last June. Paul describes this as “a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way”... the result is definitely worth adding to your RSS reader if you haven’t already.

I did one guest post for Paul during the year, on Somerset’s WW2 Oddities, and another guest post for the Sevagram blog, devoted to the works of A.E. van Vogt, on the subject of Unravelling van Vogt's Fix-Up Novels. Other blogs I contribute regularly to are Jon Downes’s CFZ blog, where I do a twice-weekly “Words from the Wild Frontier” post, as well as the Lyme Regis Museum blog (currently hosted on Blogger but soon to move to the main Museum website). Also last year I started to do occasional posts for the Montacute House blog – including several folklore/mythology-related subjects that could easily have been at home on this blog, such as The Skimmington Ride, A Devilish Candlestick, Montacute's Hunky Punks and The Nine Worthies.


Paul said...

Andrew, happy blog anniversary. I am glad the blog is still going strong. Thanks for mentioning my blog, however the credit for my blog having an "effortlessly self-perpetuating" subject must go to you, as it was learning from your experience and heeding your advice that steered me in the right direction!



Andrew May said...

Thanks! I'm sure the basic idea for your blog, based around photos of unusual but not necessarily Fortean places, was your own and nothing to do with me -- but as soon as you mentioned it I could see it was a really good idea. I might even have pinched it, except that I don't travel around as much as you do -- and when I do I never think of taking photographs!

Kandinsky said...

Congratulations on achieving longevity in a sphere where bloggers are usually as short-lived as Napoleon’s soldiers in Russia.

I've only been visiting for about a year and enjoy the erudition. Proof, if needed, that diverse and often nebulous subjects can be tackled intelligently.

Andrew May said...

Thanks very much -- and thanks for all your previous comments as well, which are much appreciated. Needless to say, if it wasn't for intelligent feedback from people like yourself, I would have given up long ago!

Anonymous said...

I like the name change of the blog and the progress you have made over the year. Thank you!

Andrew May said...

Thanks, Miss Bacchus!

Ross said...

I enjoy this always intelligent, well-written blog. As a van Vogt fan, I very much appreciated your post on his "fix-up" novels over at Sevagram. I hope you'll write more about van Vogt.

Andrew May said...

Thanks Ross, I really appreciate feedback like this. I will take "more about van Vogt" as a request and add it to my list of future posts!