Thursday 18 November 2010

Little Otik is one year old today

It’s exactly one year since this blog - an ongoing account of my cycling circumnavigation of the Czech Republic - stuttered into life. To celebrate its birthday I’ve baked a lovely virtual cake.

I must confess that I had no idea what I was getting into when I started blogging. If you’d asked me back then, I’d have guessed that creating the blog itself would be the hardest bit and that writing up my adventures would be the easiest. After all, I am a writer of sorts (a professional translator), so how difficult could it be to create some content?

Well I can tell you now that I had it completely the wrong way round. Despite the fact I’m no computer geek, Circuit Rider CZ had a remarkably easy birth. Thanks to Blogger, it was up and running in no time at all. Sure, I’ve had a very steep ride up the learning curve since then, but it’s not hard to get hold of simple advice about RSS, HTML, URL, FTP and the like when you need it.

Writing blog posts, by contrast, has proved to be a whole lot tougher than I expected. I wasn’t encouraged when some kind soul commented under one of my first entries that my writing was “stereotypically stereotypical”. Still, I guess if you stick your head over the parapet, someone is going to take pot-shots at you. Thankfully I’ve had only positive feedback since then.

When I’m translating, I always have a source text to work with. When blogging, however, I start with a blank screen, and that can be very daunting. It’s also a very time-consuming process - not just writing, but also formatting the text, inserting photos and other graphics, checking facts and so on. It takes me just as long to write up each stage of my trip as it does to cycle it.

Above all, however, a blog needs feeding constantly. Otherwise, it withers and dies. After all, who is going to follow a blog that has no new content from one week to the next? I have nicknamed my blog “Little Otik” (or Otesánek in Czech), after the central character in a macabre Czech folk tale of the same name. Otik is a tree stump which comes to life after being adopted by a childless couple and which subsequently develops an insatiable appetite. In 2000 the story was made into a stop-motion animated film by Jan Švankmajer. You can get a taste for just how surreal and black it is by watching the trailer below. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but suffice it to say I’m heading for a sticky end if can’t keep this blog under control.

Little Otik - NOT for the squeamish!

Don’t get me wrong, I have really enjoyed my first 12 months as a blogger. It’s been well worth the effort. I’ve learned a heck of a lot, I’ve met some interesting people and I’ve created a great record of my cycling exploits over the past year. And I have - I hope - provided some entertainment and useful information to my readers along the way.

Happy birthday, my voracious Little Otik!


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Circuit Rider CZ from Mrs Circuit Rider, who is very proud of your achievements!!! It was not always easy with grumpy Circuit Rider when there was a lack of inspiration in order to feed the voracious Little Otik, however, it was my pleasure to read the new entry first. Keep going and best of luck in the second year!!! Love you, xxx, J.

Karen said...

And don't forget what a boon it will be to future descendants to read of your exploits. In the meantime, thank you for sharing your adventure with those of us you have never met. I have learned lots from you, Simon, about the Czech Republic, and enjoyed your struggles and successes from my arm chair.

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