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2011 in review

1 Jan

Well, the #oneaday year has passed. Granted, I haven’t blogged every day, but I’ve blogged as and when I could and ended up with 220 posts.

I’ve really enjoyed the project and have met some amazing bloggers through it. Whilst I know it’s not going to carry on with the same momentum, I hope people keep blogging, especially Ian (moaner. Funny moaner), Pete (one a day poppa), Nick (one sentence film reviews) and Ben (awesome, awesome drawings); all of whom keep awesome blogs in very different ways.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I don’t really go in for resolutions, but I definitely resolve to write more for pleasure this year. Will you carry on blogging in 2012?

Let it snow – new blog post for Madam Rage

30 Nov

My very fabulous friend Gemma is a buyer for a fabulous new fashion website, Madam Rage. Gemma and I used to work together at Oli.co.uk and so I was thrilled when she asked me to put on my fashion blogging hat again to pen a few sartorial musings for the Madam Rage blog.

 

madam rage online fashion shop blogger gemma critchley snowflake print dress

 

My first post is all about day-to-night Christmas party wear and you can read the full post here on the Madam Rage blog.

Writing it reminded me how much I’ve missed pure style blogging. I love The One a Day Project and it’s been refreshing to talk about life in general rather than just clothes, but I think I’ll be bringing more fash back in future!

The Creative Panic

10 Oct

I’ve shown love for my fellow bloggers before via my one a day blog, and I think it’s time you all witnessed the glory and wonder that is The Creative Panic.

Written (or should I say drawn) by Ben Hood, this is a collection of awesome drawings as part of the same project. He’s one of the most talented illustrators I’ve ever come across and this is my recent favourite:

get your geek the creative panic ben hood one a day project #oneaday gemma critchley illustration geek glasses nerd glasses drawing art

Dude also does commissions and prints if you so wish to adorn the walls of your office/abode.

Enjoy!

A visual ode to the One a Day project

4 Aug

How I sometimes imagine my fellow one a day participants of the One a Day project may see the world, via the ever-awe-inspiring David Shrigley:

 

david shrigley guardian cartoon blank page art glasgow artist

Achieving my life’s dreams by proxy

25 Jun

I’ve been reading books by a rather fabulous author, Lindsey Kelk for a while now. Anyway, she doesn’t just write stories, she also blogs quite a bit, about beauty, (good) music and her own adventures.

On her blog a while back, she asked her readers to submit their ‘to do’ lists as part of the launch of her latest novel, The Single Girl’s to do list. So I did. She posted it on her blog alongside the others and I was thrilled with that, but I never imagined it’d end up in the actual printed, published book.

But it did!

Gemma Critchley Lindsey Kelk the single girl's to do list book writing published chick lit i heart new york cover       Lindsey Kelk the single girl's to do list waterstones book offer cover

I hope no one was offended by anything in there (especially my lovely family or chap, I said I felt like the black sheep as I wasn’t married/had kids but we don’t actually have any kind of black sheep – and I’m not a single girl, but I do have a to do list – it just sounds good for dramtic effect. It was either that or ‘SHARK ATTACK’ and I don’t think that would cut it, judging by the odd looks given to the woman on the direct line advert when she suggests it).

I saw it today in Waterstone’s in all its papery glory and I was dizzy with happiness. Okay, so it’s one page in someone else’s book so I’m not a published writer in the proper official sense, but if you look at the technicalities, I can kind of say I’ve achieved a small part of a big dream. My name is on there, and even the link to my blog got published and it mentions the very wonderful One a Day Project, too (which you can donate money to for Cancer Research here if you’re feeling generous). I’m rather proud and can’t wait to get properly stuck into the rest of the story, too. You can buy it here if you want to read it.

This has all spurred me on to write even more – not just via this blog but to carry on with the stories as well.

All in all a great day. I also found out my amazing little sister passed a big part of her teacher training course and one of my best  friends got a first in his engineering degree. Hurrahs all round!

Without wanting to sound too much like Heather Small: What have you done lately that makes you feel proud?

Cathode Narcissus

19 Jun

I’ve just finished reading Dorian: an Imitation by Will Self.

As always, I was blown away by Self’s intricate and knowingly clever prose, and the fact that story was built on one of the best-loved books of my adolescence – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – just added to the mix to make it all the more enjoyable. Disturbing, heartfelt, evocative, provocative, saddening and terrifying in equal measures, the book serves to recreate Wilde’s dandies as a portrait of the Gay scene in London and New York in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s – the hedonism and cultural liberation of the fin-de-siecle art world swirling together in the grip of the emergence of AIDS. It’s a gripping read and splendidly told at the bedside of several of the characters, sucking you into a sordid underworld of drugs, sex and vanity; but at the same time having Self’s telltale wry sprinkling of humour. I absolutely loathed some of the characters but loved the book and on more than one occasion found myself stopping to re-read a particularly well-crafted sentence.

Will Self Dorian An Imitation post it notes wall ideas author cathode narcissus

Every book I read by Will Self inspires me to get my pen out, or put fingers to keyboard and create something. If you’ve read the book recently, or re-read it in the context of now and not of the ’80s/’90s, you might draw parallels with any of your own user-generated content and Baz Hallward’s Cathode Narcissus, which forms the centrepiece for the novel. The image below is as close as I could get, it’s Nam-june Paik’s video installation, ‘Moon is the Oldest TV’. No one seems to have made an actual Cathode Narcissus yet – I was sorely disappointed when I discovered that www.cathodenarcissus.com a) did not exist and b) did not even pretend to exist – maybe I should create it? Maybe I really shouldn’t – maybe that’s the point? I loved how one of my other favourite writers, Joe Stretch, intertwined both Friction and Wild Life with the real world and the virtual one, but then again I suppose Dorian was written in 2002, right before or even on the cusp of the explosion of mini-Cathode Narcissi sites like Facebook and Myspace, so it is perhaps to be expected.

Cathode Narcissus Dorian An imitation Will Self The picture of Dorian Gray Nam-june Paik’s video installation, “Moon is the Oldest TV

My interpretation of Dorian: an Imitation was made all the more resounding by an article I read in today’s Observer, by Aleks Krotoski, about the ever-blurring lines between online and offline identities. It talks about how online we have the power to create ourselves as we wish to be seen, rather than how we actually are; but due to the fact that technology and ‘real life’ are becoming more and more intertwined, that polished version of ourselves has inevitably become more real. Our Facebook pages, our Twitter feed and our blogs (yes, including this one) are increasingly brighter, shinier versions of our own lives. We can edit out the undesirable bits and amplify the good parts of ourselves. We can curate our interests, leaving out our guilty pleasures and instead tailoring our personalities to be the version of ourselves that we want the world to see. We are effectively leaving the digital world strewn with billions upon billions of our own versions of Baz Hallward’s Cathode Narcissi.

I’m not a morbid person – for the most part – but I do sometimes wonder what kind of eulogy I’m building for myself online.

Are these banks of links and pages of profiles really the only legacies that we want to leave in our wake?

#oneaday 150: Sell out with me tonight

8 Jun

I got into a conversation yesterday about something that always riles me: selling out. This post from A Little Bird Told Me, one of my fave local fashion blogs, explores the tip of the selling out iceberg in relation to blogging for the love of it and being paid to blog. It’s not very often that I get ranty, but this one really gets me…

I’ve blogged on both sides of the fence – blogging for a living as part of my role working for a fashion website and blogging in my spare time just because I love to write. I’ve guest-blogged for designers and I’ve recruited guest bloggers to write for the site I used to run in my last job. Prior to The One A Day project, I blogged via LJ from 2004 – 2010, so I’m not exactly new to it. However, I always, always find blogging for myself more rewarding than being paid to pimp a product – once you’re being bankrolled or sponsored (even if it’s not in monetary terms) by a brand, you take on an allegience to that brand and have to conform to certain guidelines. It becomes a job, rather than a hobby and you lose some of the freedom and delight that comes with having your own blog.

selling out sell out blogging fashion blog press day PR new media comment  selling out is the new keeping it real

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely loved the blogging and writing bits of my career. I am a writer at heart. But I don’t think you should mix personal blogs with work ones if you’re not prepared to comply with the way that the media/press industry works. If you can make money off the back of your blog, Great. But with a great backhander comes great responsibility and you’re subject to swaying your content to be biased towards the hand that feeds.

I think ‘selling out’ in blogging terms completely depends on your outlook and what you want from blogging.

One of the things that irks me is this ‘we cannot be bought’ or ‘we should be able to operate outside of normal media rules’ blogging mentality combined with a desire to be included in certain industries. If bloggers (particularly in the fashion world) do not want to be ‘courted’ by brands, or expected to provide content in return for invites to shows and press days, then why aspire to attend them?

Press days and shows are designed for one reason only: to generate positive publicity. You can bet your bottom dollar that if a blogger was invited along to an event then produced a negative post about the brand hosting that event, they wouldn’t be invited to many others. Why else do you think fashion events are teeming with cupcakes, nail bars and goodie bags? It’s not because the brands are nice – they simply want to wow you into being nice about them. By attending, bloggers are saying they are available for courting and are willing to write in exchange for blog visitors/samples/etc. Brands love bloggers because it adds a layer of authenticity to their proposition. Advocacy is a million times more valuable than advertising in this overly-social world of content creation and curation that we live in.

fashion cupcakes high snobiety louis vuitton chanel fashion cup cake press day PR blogger blog

Like I said on Twitter yesterday, it’s a two way street. The brand gets ‘credible’ advocacy, the blogger gets publicity and traffic. We are all editors and curators of our own magazines now, but just because the media landscape is changing doesn’t mean that industry rules will or should.

Selling out is always going to be a massively subjective issue. Bands, writers, artists, bloggers – we all face that ‘sell out?’ fork in the road at some point. The path you take is up to you. Being commercially-minded doesn’t make someone a bad person or make their blog any less credible in my eyes. But imagining that blogging for a brand without conforming to that brand’s ideals is possible is rather naive and idealistic.

There are some amazing bloggers out there who work really hard to make their blogs a success and I think it’s fantastic that we’re in the thick of a real DIY-success ethic where you get out what you put in. If reaching a wide audience, engaging people in conversation, provoking thought, getting recognition and being successful is selling out, then I’m all for it.

As long as you’re happy in what you’re doing and it’s right in your eyes, that’s the best way to play it. I could bang on about selling out all day but in the end, the concept only really exists if you believe it does – shape your own idea of integrity and as long as you stick with that, what others think shouldn’t matter.

#oneaday 102: ¡proactiva!

13 Apr

Well, I’m off on holiday at 7am on Thursday, flying out to the very gorgeous Palma de Mallorca for four glorious days of sunshine and cocktails with my girls to celebrate my friend’s despedida de soltera. As you read this, I will be relaxing with my girls and a pre-holiday vaso de vino blanco, having finished work for a few days.

spanish dancer skirt postcard

I don’t need to apologise for not posting whilst I’m away as I have lined up a selection of pre-scheduled posts for your perusal. I bet you can’t wait to read them (they are actually a lot better than the drivel I’ve been posting lately, I promise. Saturday’s post is especially lol-worthy). Right, back to el vino.

¡Olé!

#oneaday 74: A really good “blog”

15 Mar

A colleague at work sent this link around the other day. If, like me you are a fan of punctuation, a habitual nit-picker or a general pedant, you will “love” this.

It’s a collection of pictures of misused quote marks, reflected in the imaginative title: The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks”. A fine example of the work carried out by this blog is below:

the blog of unnecessary quotation marks eats shoots and leaves punctuation

Annie's going to be going to "Australia" for a while. You know. Jail.

Enjoy!

#oneaday 68: Limitless possibilities

9 Mar

Just saw a trailer for the film Limitless.

Just read Pete’s blog about having a bit of a crisis about what to do with his life.

Just replied to Ian’s tweet about having an existential crisis.

Just finished reading a book about positivity and reaching for the stars.

Just had a conversation about what we’d do if money wasn’t an issue.

I don’t know if I believe in co-incidences or if it’s something in the air, but everyone seems to be in a bit of an end-of-winter slump at the moment and people seem to be questioning a lot of things. Why are we here? What should we do? Why should we do it? What’s the point in anything?

I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to any of these things, but I think if people are questioning life in general, then there’s still hope. I’d hate to think I ever got to the point where I had nothing to strive for or where everything was perfect. It’s good to have a challenge. It’s healthy to wonder about what’s around the corner and to dream about what might happen when it gets here.

Keep questioning, keep challenging, keep dreaming.

When you stop doing that, then’s the time to start worrying.

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