July 16th is my birthday. I had a far better time than last year when I managed to put my back out on the day and could barely move. I went for a walk in the afternoon and looked for some cake. All I could find locally was the slice in the above pic. That said, it was very rich and I wouldn’t have eaten much more of it even if I could. In the evening I met up with a friend and we went to an Indian restaurant and I had a wonderfully spicy fish masala along with some garlic naan bread. Yum.
Due to some nice soul putting money into my bank account, once I got home I spent the rest of the evening on the internet looking at stuff I could possibly buy (having spending money is a rare thing for me at the moment). I did end up buying the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula on Google Movies as I’m planning to write an article on the different film versions of Dracula and I needed to see that film again before I could even start writing it. Still, it only cost me ten dollars. I made a promise to myself to sleep on it and not buy anything else until the next day, but unfortunately I then bought a whole lot of Magic the Gathering cards… A fool and their money are soon parted, as the saying goes. I would like to say in my defence that it’s been over two years since I bought any cards and there were some things I wanted to get. That good enough?
Along with the article on the Dracula adaptations, I’m also considering writing another about J.R.R. Tolkien’s shorter fiction, and also making a start on Dumb Vampires 2. So I do have some plans for the blog in the short term.
Austin Street Revisited
everything's still here
on a smaller scale -
not so steep
not so large
not so wide
once this suburb
was the centre
of the universe
the land dreamt
and created me
I walked away
into a wider world
but I am still here -
playing in the park
with my siblings
avoiding the creek
where the pirates lurk
escaping the boys
from across the road
running up the driveway
This is another older poem that I’ve reworked. It’s more sentimental than the other ones which is probably why I don’t like it as much. Our house at Austin Street was the first house I remember living in (though it wasn’t actually the first). My brother and I visited the place around twenty years later to find it was exactly the same as we remembered it, though everything seemed smaller. Funny that. In these pictures my house was the white one with the pale green roof.
I want to say at the outset that it’s been such a horrible year I’m just planning to focus mostly on my blog and writing here. Many others (it seems) are posting more detailed analysis of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, so check those out if that’s what you’re looking for.
All I wish to say about Covid-19 is that I feel very fortunate that I live in New Zealand. When the community transmission was still only beginning here, the government declared a lockdown and closed the borders. To date we’ve only lost 25 people due to Covid and there’s been no community transmission for some time. The only current cases are people that have recently returned to this country and all are in quarantine. It does help my country is a group of relatively remote islands… Here we can attend events and go to bars and restaurants without worrying about being infected. That said, seeing what is happening overseas is horrifying with over 1.8 million dead, so far, and a new strain that is far easier to transmit. The good news is that there are vaccines now, but it will take some time before large enough numbers of people are vaccinated to have any dent in the transmission and death rates… Still at least we’re going in the right direction.
It was a strange year for me. I never really felt that settled until towards the end of the year. I had to move twice, was homeless for a little while, and there were several other dramas that I don’t wish to mention. I wrote a lot, but as I completed two novels the previous year, I felt like I did nothing substantial this year, aside from getting My Life In Darkness ready to send off to a publisher, if ever requested. The Sky-Pirates of Durn is still mostly unedited.
It was a year of growth for my blog. At the start of the year until around April the viewing rates of my blog were in steady decline, but as the year wore on the blog views began to increase again. October was the first month my blog had over 2000 views. My goals of getting to 900 followers was achieved in November, and my other goal of getting to 17,500 views for the year was achieved on the very last day of the year. Pretty amazing timing really.
Here are some figures:
Views 17,513 (+2,113 from 2019)
Likes 10,266 (+1,498)
Comments 2,217 (+196)
Posts 264 (-6)
I was surprised to find out I had done less posts than the previous year. I thought it would be more.
The top countries viewing my blog were from the United States (39.4%), India (18.5%), and the United Kingdom (10.5%). The views from my own country continue to slide downwards. In 2018 there were 388 views from New Zealand (8.8%), in 2019 it had gone down to 238 (1.5%), and now in 2020 it was down to 141 views (0.8%). I find that really disappointing.
I think my biggest highlight of the year for me was doing the 13 Days of Samhain in October. I did 13 days of continuous posts based on a prompt. I had never done anything like that before. In fact I did 17 posts over those 13 days as I was also doing my usual other prompt responses as well. Out of those posts, my two favourites were the The Dead Dance (which was a bit cruel I guess) and The Thinning of the Veil (which I think ended them well).
This year I want to do another weekly ongoing story like I did in 2019. At the moment I’m undecided whether to do Journey of the Sorcerer (set 1000 years before The Sky-Pirates of Durn, and is a sort of prequel) or Oracle (a science fiction story). If you have any preferences let me know.
I also left Dumb Vampires unfinished, so I plan to do the last four parts of that at some point.
I want to send My Life In Darkness to a publisher at some stage this year and also get the Sky-Pirates of Durn edited.
Goals for my blog this year include getting to 1400 followers, and getting over 20,000 views.
I want to thank everyone who reads, comments, or likes my posts. Thanks also to those who have given me advice or support during the year. I would also like to thank Charli Mills, Crispina Kemp, and Sammi Cox for all the wonderful writing prompts they’ve provided all year.
Since my previous post The Hunt Begins has utterly failed I thought, after three years of blogging, I would take this time to ask a couple of questions I still have.
How come some people can do posts that appear on my feed multiple times over several days? Do you have to upgrade your membership to do this?
I have 860+followers, so how come my posts only average around 40-60 views?
How come you can’t properly block people here? I tried blocking someone a couple of years ago and I found, though I couldn’t see their posts anymore, they could still see mine and still comment on my posts, which wasn’t what I was aiming for…
Why bring in this clumsy and annoying new Block Editor? The previous editor had nothing wrong with it and was fairly user friendly. I’m still having difficulty with new one and can’t seem to do line spacing like I used to. If I put a poem up, it merges all the stanzas together and I have tried to fix that, but to no avail. Why fix something that isn’t broken WordPress?
Earlier today I got word that an application I had made for a flat had been accepted. All going well I should be moving in during the weekend. This has ended several weeks of homelessness for me, and it will be great to finally have a place with all my stuff again that I can call home.
Once I’m settled, I plan to resume to work on the longer pieces, such as Dumb Vampires, that I stopped writing during my homelessness. I also plan to work on the e-book of Aalen’s Saga, and begin work on a science fiction novel about colonising new worlds and how it leads to first contact with another intelligent species…
Well I’ve now done 500 posts on WordPress. I would like to thank everyone who has followed this blog, and/or liked or commented on my posts. Thank you. If it wasn’t for you all I wouldn’t have got this far on my blog. So thank you ❤️
Hopefully there’ll be many more…
And now an assortment of posts from my life over the last couple of years, as well as some found pics….
Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t been sexually abused as a kid. For most of my life I’ve been a loner and very distrustful of others that get too close to me. I wreck any relationship I’m in and I subconsciously think there is something seriously wrong with anyone who would want to get close to me. I don’t think I deserve to be loved.
Some of my favourite stories I have written, like the Jess and Cindy ones for example, portray stable and loving relationships. I think I write them as these are the sort of relationships I yearn for, but seem beyond my reach.
I wish I could be closer to other people. I wish I could learn to trust others more. I also wish I could let my walls come down. There is a line from the Suzanne Vega song “The Queen and the Soldier” where she describes the Queen “strangling in the solitude she preferred”. When I listened to that song recently I realised I was doing the same. I’m an introvert and I do like my moments of solitude, but I can go too far with it and end up cutting off everyone around me at times.
In my early twenties I thought that suicide was the answer to my problems. I know now that it isn’t. Life is long and can be very difficult at times, but I have slowly come to realise I want to be a better person than I am, than I have been, and that I do want to survive come what may.
I do see myself as a survivor. I take some pride in that label, but if I truly want to be a survivor and not a victim, then I have to continually work on improving myself the best I can.
My grandmother had two sets of twins. The first were identical sisters; my aunts. Then my father was born. The second pair were fraternal twins; my aunt and my uncle. My uncle didn’t survive the birth as his umbilical cord got knotted around his neck and he died from what is now known as perinatal asphyxia. My grandmother never got to see him. Some time later she gave him the name Paul, and it was as if there was always an absence in our lives.
Years after it happened my grandmother finally asked my father what did they do with his body? My father told her at that time babies who didn’t survive their births were disposed of by the hospital (I think they were probably cremated). She never knew, and she had never been told, and for all those years she had wondered.
For some reason I woke up with this incident in my head. I’m not sure why I dreamed about this part of my family history, but the fact that my grandmother was never told, and she wondered for years what they had done with him still bothers me.