Monday, 15 December 2008

One Year On :: Happy Anniversary

On December 15, 2007 – a year ago today – I started this here humble blog. The idea behind it was to use my words to spur me on to change my life for the better. Specifically, and most importantly, I wanted to lose weight, get fit, make some friends and fall in love. I gave myself a year.

Piece of cake.

On February 6, 2008, I received an email from one of my first regular commenters and brand new blog friends, Suburban Hen. Hen wrote:


‘It used to be easy to find a good blog to read, there were so few to choose from. Only people who were genuinely interested in writing as a medium actually bothered with starting a blog. It was for nerds. And then it suddenly wasn't, which is terribly depressing for those of us who really enjoy reading a good blog; like some people might enjoy reading a good book or the daily newspaper.

You will become increasingly popular and in as such you might change. Your blog might change. It might all go to your head and where once there used to be thoughtful posts about how ugly you are and how much weight you have lost and how delighted you are to receive one comment from a lady expressing her desire to nob you, there might instead be short posts that read something like this...

"...Oh, my EDITOR is so demanding. He/she is expecting me to finish the third draft of my BOOK by next week and woe is me, I just can't find the time, what with meeting up with MY AGENT to finalise the locations for my BOOK SIGNINGS, and with all the INTERVIEWS, you must understand that I haven't really felt much like blogging at all. As I'm sure you can all imagine..."

Please don't misunderstand my annoyance with them as begrudging their success, but that in their success they have mostly left behind the very medium that gave them their voice. I begrudge them that. I begrudge them...well, Mike said it better than me...

"From my own highly subjective little corner of the blogosphere, 2007 was the year that the Bloggers With Book Deals started yielding tangible end results (otherwise known as, coo er gosh, BOOKS!), with many more to follow in 2008. As The Blogsbury Set came of age, and as "portfolio sites" started to make their presences felt, you could also detect the first rumblings of an increasingly widespread shift in priorities. ("Sorry I haven't had much time for blogging recently, but I've been SO BUSY, agents, deadlines, press & PR, oh it's all been such a GIDDY WHIRL!") And what with stunts such as Shaggy Blog Stories, which saw over 200 bloggers left out on the pavement as the Blogsbury glitterati sailed through the velvet ropes, and Post of the Week (over 200 blogs shortlisted to date, so why wasn't YOUR blog GOOD ENOUGH?), there was a distinct sense of competitiveness in the air, as a new élite basked in self-regard ("SO wonderful to see my DEAR FRIENDS doing SO well!") while the Not So Beautiful People muttered seditiously behind their backs ("Who the chuff does HE think HE is, and SHE'S nothing special, and who the f**k made HER the Queen of Bloody Sheba?")"

This is me, introducing myself to you and saying hello, I love your blog. I love the way you write.

And that other people are going to come along, people more engaging and more important than me (if they already haven't. For all we know you're possibly being watched by an agent AS I WRITE) and they are going to fawn over you. While one can't begrudge another person friendship or success, one can sit back and wonder at it all. Coming into your own is one thing, but friendship because it's cool to be mates with the ugly guy... I dunno. I hope it doesn't happen, is all. I hope that if you find friendship with people through your blog, or better still, a lady love, that you will keep your feet firmly rooted to the ground... Meeting a lady love through your blog is probably going to happen, by the way. Completely. Because it happens to the best of them. Don’t Go To Vegas, for example.

Anyway, enough from me.

dix
aka suburbanhen


My reply began:


‘Hello Diana

Thank you for your kind, if to my mind rather overripe, words. You’re the second person to suggest that my writing might change as I get more readers. I’m torn between thinking, ‘well that would never happen’ and ‘so what if it did?’ I’ve been writing, mostly corporate hogwash, for around 10 years, and it’s pretty soul-destroying on the whole. I’ve written other things, for my own pleasure, some of which I’ve tried and failed to get published. So this blog is actually the first time more than two people have read my words, and I do get a big kick out of it, yes. Therefore, if someone offered me money to write about something that wasn't pharmaceuticals or cosmetics or higher education, I would be delighted. Would I then start posting about the stresses and strains of lunch at the Ivy and pressing book draft deadlines and the like? YES!!’


And ended with:


‘Anyhow, I can’t help feeling that you’re rather over-egging the pudding with your confidence that agents and publishers might be interested in big old me… I think the idea of finding love through the blog is more likely than finding a new career, simply because there are lots more people out there looking for love than for someone to publish.

Anyway, we shall see.’


So. You’ll never guess what’s been happening over the last couple of months…

Well, you know I started seeing Morag properly? Well, I did. And this time round we’re having fun. But serious fun. Grown-up, going out and forsaking all others fun, with no messing about, no mind games and no nonsense. Well, that’s the plan, and thus far it’s going well. I think not blogging about it all makes it easier. So I should really shut up right now, before I say anything I might regret. Although this is different obviously. Here I’m just sketching an outline, I’m not giving away personal details about Morag’s body hair, or loud toilet habits or the fact that she doesn’t clean her teeth of a morning. Oh. Those were just examples by the way, of idiosyncrasies a person might exhibit. I realise I made it sound like I was describing my lovely Morag there. I was not. Sorry.

Anyhow, as I say, it’s going well. So well in fact, that we’re planning on spending Christmas together, just me, Morag and the occasional special guest or two. And that’s not all. We’re also planning a trip to meet Morag’s old man and her step family, in Scotland, just after Christmas. And that’s not all. Also – on the sole condition that nothing goes horribly wrong between now and the end of the year – we're planning to give living in sin a shot come January.

In the same house.

I know this might seem a little previous to some of you - it certainly does to me - but it's what we both want, so we're going to just cross our fingers, hold our breath and jump. Just like Butch and Sundance. And if that means we're destined to die in our prime in a hail of poisoned pig-bullets, so be it. At least we gave it a shot. I’m very excited. And a little scared. But I want it. It’ll be fun. We have fun together, Morag and I. And as long as we continue to have fun together, I think we’ll be alright.

So that’s pretty good. I’m happy. Very happy actually.

Now, ordinarily this news would be more than enough of a wonderful thing to be able to make the anniversary post sufficiently special.

But these are no ordinary times.

Second big news item coming up… Drum roll…

You remember that writing project I mentioned on Friday? Well, it's a rather special one. I still can't quite believe I'm about to write these words, but here goes...

I’ve got a book deal.

Ha!

Actually, 'ha' doesn't really do it justice, even with an exclamation mark. What I really feel like doing is running up a few walls like Donald O'Connor at the end of Make 'Em Laugh. But I don't want to be writing this book from a wheelchair. So instead, let's just imagine, just for one moment, that this is me...



Ha!

Diana. You saw it. I shook my head at you, and I smiled and thought, ‘Who is this silly, simple-minded wretch?’ But you were right. And I take my hat off to you. Furthermore I promise, with my hat held out in front of me like – alas – a skull, I promise that I shall never sully these pages with tedious talk of deadlines and blog star-fucking. Also, I promise I will never whinge about the pressures of good fortune. Or if I do, I will grovel on the ground and wring my hands in abject and heartfelt apology just as soon as it’s pointed out to me.

The truth is, I have no intention of spending any time whatsoever with the agent, or the publisher – not because they’re dim-witted, spineless, self-serving imbeciles, as I’m certain they’re not – but because I’ve got a book to write, and as of yesterday, a garden to tend. More importantly, I've got a wonderful woman whose company I crave, and in a few weeks’ time, I’ll have a kitten to raise and tutor in the ways of righteousness. And frankly speaking, a kitten, a garden and the company of a wonderful woman are just about pretty much all I've ever wanted, so I can't see myself giving them up to go and hang around with publishing people.

Indeed, as far as the day to day business of my life goes, I promise that nothing will change. Except perhaps, I will be a lot happier as I potter around, from litter tray to oven glove to knicker drawer. (I am obsessed by the concept of the knicker drawer by the way. I would like to write about it at some length, but of course I simply don’t have time. Deadlines to meet, lunches to do, bloggers to schmooze....)

So there we have it. One year on and I can safely say, the decision to start this blog was by far the best decision I ever made in my entire life.

Thank you, the internet.

What a contrast this post is to this one of just three months ago. It just goes to show, something you probably don't really need reminding: life is irrepressibly, relentlessly surprising. But also, sometimes, sometimes, the surprises are pleasant.

Two more things worth noting:

1) Yesterday was my birthday. I am 31.

2) This is my 200th post.

Life - for the moment at least - is sweet.



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51 comments:

Anna Pickard said...

Hurrah! Wonderful news all round.

Anonymous said...

My favourite post so far.

Congratulations.

Amy said...

Happy belated real-life birthday and happy blog birthday! I wish you and Morag and the soon-to-be kitten all the best. I say fuck it, jump headfirst.

This year has been a pleasure. x

artfulkisser said...

Happy birthday and congratulations Stan. What a great way to finish the year! Thanks for sharing your blog with the world, I've thoroughly enjoyed your writing. Good luck with the book. M xx

Angela-la-la said...

Blimey. Er, I mean bravo. That's if you still read comments from bloggers without books :)

All the best to you and Morag. And the kitten. And, yes, well. Blimey...

anitakrishlee said...

Excellent news, and a wonderful close to the year! All the best with the book, and living it up with Morag :)

Miranda said...

Congratulations! I don't write a blog but read them avidly, and yours is in the top three best-written that I know. What's the book about? When it's finished please do advertise it!

All the best.

Luka said...

If someone now offers you a pie you will truly have it all!

Well done, I am chuffed to bits for you :)

daisyfae said...

what's this? crunchy middle-aged woman in the middle of Nowhere, USA with a little tear in her eye? so very happy for you! and Morag. and the Publisher. and of course, a Kitten to be named later...

(PS: Suburban Hen - can you predict some lottery numbers for me?)

ian said...

Ha, indeed!

And happy birthday.

Andy said...

I started reading your blog about eight months ago (I can't remember how I discovered it), and was immediately blown away by your account of your school reunion. What stuck in my mind was how much unhappiness and cruelty you have experienced in your 31 years (and that's only the stuff you have written about), and how you have tried to rise above it with such dignity and grace.

So I couldn't be happier that things are suddenly going very well for you. You deserve it. You really do. Wade into the river of fortune and happiness and drink deeply.

Sam said...

Congrats, BdJ - maybe your moniker is more prescient than you know and Billie Piper will soon be playing you on ITV2...

Clare Sudders said...

Woweeeeeee!

That is so brilliant. I'm so glad you and Morag started talking sense to each other and made each other happy as a result. And as for the book deal, yaaaaaahoooooo!

Hurrah. So pleased for you. You very deserve it.

Am I allowed to ask about the book? Publisher? Agent? Advance? Fiction? Non-fiction? Any of it already written? Did you approach them or they you (I bloody hope it's the former cos otherwise you are the jammiest sod ever) (but you do deserve it, so I spose it's all right)? You're not going to answer any of these qus, are you? Bugger.

KK said...

Congrats!!

Amazing news! What timing as well. Wow. Almost too good to be true.

But I fucking told you! I told you it would happen. You just cannot write this well and not get something out of it. You fucking bastard. I am so jealous. Sorry, i mean that in a an affectionate way you big turd of lucky (talented actually) shit.

Congrats. Congrats! Congrats!!!

Merry crimbo!

savannah said...

congratulations, sugar! what a difference a year makes - continued success and joy! xoxo

Allenby said...

As happy as i am for you, your last post felt a bit like a "happily ever after" ending to a good film..... i hope the sequel is as good as the first!

Tim Footman said...

That is fabulous news, Bête. Well bloody done.

But despite all the success and sex, I hope you'll still be the cantankerous, gloomy, self-pitying bastard we all tolerate so dearly.

oatmeal girl said...

Oh my goodness, what incredible glorious news. And a kitten yet! That makes it just about perfect. A happy anniversary indeed.

Anonymous said...

hello

Have only commented once, but lurked lots (bit writing-shy). Just wanted to say, this is WONDERFUL news. Just wonderful. On all counts, but specifically the book. Utterly deserved, and I could not be more pleased for you.

Make sure you remember and drink in every lovely last feeling of joy at all of this.

Well done. Well done. Fantastic news.

s-fm x

Clive For Coffee said...

Absolutely brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on sin-livin, kitten, garden, and the icing on the cake: the book! Is it almost done yet? Because I can't wait to read it!
Jennifer
Portland, OR
USA

Zoe said...

congratulations!

Penelope said...

Congrats on a whole year of blogging! I guess we started about the same time, and I know I've been reading here from the start. It's been quite the year for you huh? What a fabulous way to see out 2008 :o)

BPP said...

Happy birthday there, chief. Any boobs in this 'ere book you're planning on writing? And explosions?

Carnalis said...

*heart: warmed*

I am so pleased at all your news. Belated birthday wishes x

Lindy said...

Started reading your blog from the beginning and knew straight away that you were a fantastic writer - and have followed it avidly ever since (sad git that I am.....) LOVE the way you write and have lived through all those toe-curling moments with you: you draw your readers in. Have to confess that I started to smile at the beginning of this post, but had completely welled up by the end of it! You deserve it all and you have demonstrated so well that one can't just sit in a sea of self-pity and wait for it all to fall into one's lap (ahem, in a manner of speaking)...YOU made it happen! So many congratulations and may 2009 be your happiest year ever. Please don't stop writing and PLEASE don't change! You're exceptional. Happy Christmas Bete! xx

suburbanhen said...

Gambling's a SIN, Daisyfae!

Coastal Aussie said...

Wow and congratulations. Delighted to read about all your happiness-es. Hope this doesn't spell the end of your blogging.

Catofstripes said...

Well YES! well done you bastard.

the captcha is inglesso. Does that mean anything?

Usual warm fuzziness abounds from all parts of the UK and Normandy.

Anonymous said...

I've never commented before (though I've been reading your blog a long time) but I had to for this. I am so happy for you! You deserve all the success and happiness in the world. G'luck for the future.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
Bravo, toutes mes félicitations. Je suis ravi pour toi , et pas du tout surpris car ton talent est évident !
Is your book going to be translated in french ?

Uncle Did

Anonymous said...

I'd like to join the throngs and shout CONGRATS at you. Mercilessly! You have been a pleasure to read and I,for one, would buy any (well - if it is like your blog writing) books written by you. Yes, I said books. I think you will be going plural.

So, again.....

CONGRATULATIONS x

'aaaaaaaave it ;-)

Ann Anon

janetyjanet said...

Yay!

good things DO happen to good people so yay for you & yay for Morag & yay for taking plunges & yay for book deals & yay for good news

I toss my shoes in your general direction - but in a happy celebratory kind of way instead of an objection to your evil invadey tendencies

xxx

ps. yay

AndrewM said...

Congratulations on all fronts, big fella.

You're still a weirdo, tho'.

Carolina said...

Bete, while I almost never comment anymore, I am still a faithful reader. I am so thrilled to see that you have arrived in a happy place. Time doesn't allow me to blog anymore, or read many for that matter, but you, I still keep on my list of priorities. Yay!!

Boz said...

(In the style of Marsha from Spaced): "'appy anniversareeeeee!"

And Birthday. Of course. Don't let any bastard buy you a joint birthday / christmas pressie...

archivedmusicpress said...

Brilliant news. I'm on the other end of the stick at the moment. x

Mallory said...

Over the last three or four days, I have read this blog from start to finish, or present, I suppose it is. And I must say that it has been as enjoyable an experience as a good novel. At times I loved you. At times I wanted to scream at you to see the stupidity in which you were so content to stew. At times I wanted to have a good sob with you.

And now I am simply elated to hear of this fantastic news. The above having been said, I am truly hoping that a book is published soon, and that we are given all the details. But even more exciting than the book, I'm so thrilled that you and Morag are giving a proper relationship a go. I wish you both the best of luck.

Oh, and I do hope to see photos of a kitten in the near future. I have to live vicariously through you in that department, as the stench of a thousand overflowing catboxes has saturated our carpets yet somehow we are not allowed a kitten in our house. Strange.

Congratulations!

La Bête said...

Thank you all! I’m touched by all your good wishes, and amused by the little bits of sweet abuse.

I’ll answer all questions very soon I’m sure. In the meantime, I’ve got three days to finish my government job, and then, for a couple of months at least, I’ve got a book to write. I can't wait.

Thanks again.

Misssy M said...

I have no sweet abuse- I have only best wishes. I just got an agent for my book which I only started writing because my blog gave me the confidence.

You would have done all that in time anyway, so would I -but some of us need the affirmation that a wee POTW win gives, or a few nice comments give or a bit of practice by writing little pieces every couple of days gies to find our voice.

I wish I have started my blog ten years ago (but then I was too busy having little babies)

I genuinely, GENUINELY am delighted for you. Yes there is a lot of shit out there in blogland, but if you're good, you're good. End of discussion.

Gillian xxx

Dan said...

Well done (you swine).

Of course some of us have too much blogging integrity to accept a tawdry book deal. yeah, too much integrity that's it.

Pearl said...

Bête! That's fantastic! Love! Books! Kitten! And all so well deserved.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

how many people ever get to live their dreams?! it is an amazing feeling, isn't it ... a good friend of mine gave me some strange advice once ... she told me to always remember to "feel my feet". So be there in every moment, Bete, and enjoy them to the fullest.

Heidi said...

Congratulations to it all and to you. And happy birthday!

Michael said...

Get in!

gullybogan said...

I'm working on a book at the moment, too.

Better still - it's being made into a movie!

It's called "The Road", by Cormac McCarthy. I'll let you know when i finish it.

I think you'll like it.

I promise not to bore you with talk of booksellers and the like.

Larry Teabag said...

I hope it'll have pictures in. Terrific - well done.

Selena said...

Congratulations on everything Stan! I'm so, very, happy for you and Morag and the kitty and the garden and the knickerdrawer too.

mike said...

Bah, I left quite a long comment yesterday but Blogger must have eaten it.

Short version: HOORAY, FANTASTIC!

Merry Xmas from Mike

(Word Verification: hetthed. Speak for yourself, ducky.)

Vulgar Wizard said...

Happy Birthday, sir. I turned 32 on the 10th. Ha!

The Pink Half said...

Fantastic news, Bete.