With this post, Track of Words is five hundred blog posts old. Five hundred. Wow.
In the three and a bit years that I’ve been running this blog, it’s grown from a personal project in discipline – a way of making myself stick to a task I’d decided to attempt – into an endeavour that’s far more public and considerably larger in scale. When I wrote and posted my first review (for Rohan Gavin’s Knightley & Son, if you’re interested) I had no idea that a little over three years later I would be writing my four hundred and ninety-ninth subsequent post, or that along the way I would have started interviewing authors, run a competition or be invited to contribute to a podcast.
It’s been in interesting few years, that’s for sure. At times running the blog has felt like a second job – complete with all the stresses and none of the financial rewards – while at other times it’s felt like a natural, joyful extension of my interests and hobbies. Either way it’s been a big part of my life, and I’m grateful to everyone who’s read even a single post so far, and even more so to anyone who’s commented, or got in touch on Facebook or Twitter.
Thinking about the previous four hundred and ninety nine posts has left me in something of a reflective mood. If you’ll forgive me a little self indulgence I’d like to take a quick look back in time before talking a little about what I’m working on at the moment, and some of the plans I’ve got for Track of Words in the future.
I published my first blog post on Track of Words on the 27th January 2014, and it was the first book review I’d written for years…I hadn’t reviewed a book since I was in school. I’ve been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember, but writing that review was the first time in a very long time that I’d really thought about what it was I’d been reading. It was a fascinating experience, and I quickly proceeded to write and post a few more reviews – for two short stories and another novel – before the end of the month.
I published nine more reviews the next month in a flurry of activity, before settling into a slower rhythm over the next few months; some months I only posted once or twice, while others it was five or six times. In October that year though, I went into overdrive – twenty nine posts that month, including my first non-review posts, then fifteen in November and thirty in December, starting what’s become a regular occurrence on the blog – daily reviews of the Black Library Advent Calendar short stories.
By that point I was hooked. Since then I’ve had months when for whatever reason I’ve not wanted or been able to post more than a couple of times, and others when I’ve posted once or more a day for the entire month. All because at the start of 2014 I had just been made redundant and was looking for something to focus my attention on…and a friend had given me a ‘Book Lover’s Journal’ as a gift. A strange combination of opportunity, motivation and inspiration. Look what’s happened since then!
For the first three years of Track of Words I reviewed every single book I read, from science fiction to philosophy by way of crime, history and even poetry. It’s been a complete history of my (often strange) reading habits, not to mention a record of just how many Black Library short stories I read each year! Speaking of which, it’s clear that science fiction and fantasy reviews – of Black Library titles in particular – are the ones that receive the most attention on the blog.
This year, I’ve decided to change my approach a little. I’m keen to maintain a high frequency of reviews, but in order to do that it makes sense to focus on what people want to read the most…which is clearly reviews of Black Library titles. As such, I’m only going to be posting reviews of science fiction and fantasy titles on here – I’m still going to be reading all manner of books (some of which I’ll review on Goodreads, if you fancy checking those out) but I’m going to keep Track of Words focused on SF&F.
Reducing the number of reviews means that I’ve got time for other writing as well. In 2016 I started posting weekly catch ups of what’s being going on in the world of Black Library (the imaginatively titled Black Library Weekly posts), which I hope are of use to anyone less obsessed with keeping a close eye on that publisher’s output than I am! This year I’ve also started the Forgotten Texts series, where I’m looking back at classic short stories from the Black Library archive, and talking about how they fit in with the current state of play in the Games Workshop universes.
If we’re talking about other writing, author interviews are also worth mentioning. I started in 2016, posting interviews with John French, Ian St. Martin and Laurie Goulding, and have continued in 2017 with a couple of short interviews alongside the Forgotten Texts articles, along with a further interview with Laurie. The first part of that one proved to be rather popular, and for good reason, but I’ve not been able to get the second part ready just yet. I’ve had a few people asking when it’s going to be available – the answer is ‘soon, I hope’! I’ve also got plans for further interviews this year, so watch this space…
So what else is in the pipeline for Track of Words, other than loads more reviews, articles and interviews? Well top of my list for this year is to spend some time working on the site itself. I set it up back in 2014 using a simple, free platform with a pretty straightforward design (a standard WordPress theme, for those who are familiar) and it’s worked alright so far, but I think now’s the moment to invest some time and effort into getting it looking as good as possible. Some of the changes I’m planning on making over the coming months will be pretty visible, others much less so, but hopefully they’ll all contribute to a smoother, nicer experience for you guys reading this.
Beyond those changes though, I’m keen to understand what you – as someone who’s reading this blog – would like to see. Do you want longer reviews? Shorter reviews? More reviews of audio dramas, say, or graphic novels/comics? Do you think I’m mad to stop posting reviews of non-SF&F stuff on here? Are there any particular books/stories/audios that you’d like to read reviews of? Do you want more non-review content (or less?), content in different media (video? Audio?) or different styles? If there’s anything that you’d like to see, or if you’ve got any feedback, comments, requests and so on, then I’d invite you to get in touch and let me know. Leave a comment at the bottom of this article, or find me on Facebook or Twitter and drop me a message. I’d love to hear what you think.
In the meantime, thanks for reading (you guys are awesome) and here’s to the next five hundred posts!