Ringing the changes at VCTB – pseudonyms out, richer content in

New year is a traditional time for change. There are a few alterations to the way VCTB operates that I’ve been considering for a while, and now seems as good a time as any to roll them out.

First and foremost, you may notice that I’ve ditched the nickname, and am now writing under the name I was born with. More than anything else, this is to do with a personal sense of professionalism. When I first started blogging a pseudonym seemed a good idea, as I was simply intending to be a conduit for information I found elsewhere (as anyone who has foolishly browsed through the early archives here will have realised).

Now that I am publishing what I consider to be serious and original content on subjects that I care about, I feel it’s time to stand beside my writing in a more forthright way – and hopefully be taken a little more seriously by those who might previously have been put off by my tongue-in-cheek nom de plume. So: my name is Paul Raven, nice to meet you. (And yes, I know about the other more famous holders of that name. Just don’t rub it in.)

Secondly, and somewhat more important from an administrative point of view, I would like to point out that the email address for the site has changed – you can see it at the top of the sidebar on the main page, in a little spambot-proof graphic. I decided to switch to Gmail because the spam filtering is better than any client-side application I have discovered so far, and it will make it easier to organise my archive of genuine communications. Furthermore, it means I can get at VCTB-related mail without having to be sat at my desktop machine at home.

Thirdly, the day to day content of the site. Obviously, it is my intent to continue providing reviews of genre novels, magazines and short stories, some of which will be reruns of my work for various magazines, but much of which will be me reporting on what I’ve been reading off my own back. The non-commissioned works should be easy to tell apart – as I’m not constrained by word counts here, they tend to be a little more involved (or rambling, depending on your point of view), and I also have the freedom to look at titles that aren’t necessarily ‘current’. It is my intent to get a review out every week – though that’s not a hard and fast promise, as I only have so much time to read and write with.

Ah, time; therein lies the rub. Trawling the RSS feeds and collecting lots of links is a lot of fun, but it’s very time-consuming, and the resultant posts are a little on the dry side. What I intend to do is cut back somewhat on the volume of links collected, and only save the cream of the crop each day. Then I’ll do a post every couple of days that ties some of them together thematically with a bit of discussion, which will hopefully make for more interesting reading. I’ll keep the daily link-dumps for now, but if the new system works out and seems popular I may turn off the automatic posts. Serious link-hounds can always add me to their del.icio.us network, or subscribe to the RSS feed that my account there generates.

However, this may be the last thing you want to hear – maybe you only come here for the daily links. A big part of the fun of running VCTB for me is knowing that I’m supplying my readers with the material they want. So if you have any comments or feedback regarding the parts of VCTB you like (or dislike), I’d greatly appreciate you letting me know. The comments field is always open, and I’d really appreciate finding out what it is that keeps you coming back every day.

Of course, this isn’t all pure altruism on my part either. The entire reason I started blogging in the first place was to get myself into the discipline of writing regularly. In some respects, that has been immensely successful – I now write most nights, and I never imagined I’d have twenty regular readers within a year, let alone over a hundred. But the corollary is that my creative writing output has actually declined in volume over time, which is somewhat self-defeating.

Hence this attempt to tidy up my blogging procedures, leaving me more time to read books for reviewing, and writing things that aren’t blog posts. A career change would help greatly in this respect, too, and that’s something else I’m going to look into over the next few months. But for now, I must make the best I can of the status quo – so hopefully the coming year will see VCTB become something that is more fun for you to read, and more fun for me to create.

2007, here we come. Thanks again to you all for reading; it’s very satisfying to know people actually enjoy what I do here. Please drop a comment and let me know what VCTB can do for you – and have yourself a good new year, too!

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