Eight Years of Posts – 2020 in Review

Blog post No. 424

giphyI totally get the end of a year being a meaningful starting or ending point for people. We perceive the passage of time naturally in days and seasons, but we created weeks, months, and years to make it easier. It’s not like because we started a new year that everything is reset, though. The same issues we had a week ago are still here (unless it’s something you’ve already taken care of, in which case, good job!).
Still, I mark the passage of a year on this blog. I’m up to eight years of weekly posts. It may not be special for everyone, but I’m pretty proud of it. I had some rough starts where ten or so posts came whenever I could force myself to do them, but when I decided to give writing a go, I made a commitment to weekly posts and here I am.
Now, it’s about this time in each of my yearly review posts where I point out that I have one gleaming error in my otherwise pristine blogging record. One week (when I was working three jobs at the time) I missed putting a post out on Thursday and got it out on Saturday instead. I’m usually hard on myself for that failure, but thinking back on it this year, I was able to convince myself that I did manage to get a post out that week, so it’s not all that bad.

It still bugs me a little, though. I have over 400 posts now an I had an idea for the 400th that I didn’t think about until it was too late. I’m going to try it for the 500th post (which seems more like a place to do a little celebratory thing anyway). That won’t be this coming year, though, so I have time to plan.
I’ve been watching the statistics over the years, mainly the visitors and views. WordPress keeps track of it all and spits out a bar graph that you can look at in days, weeks, months, or years. Since I post weekly, looking at days outside of Thursdays don’t matter much unless it’s after an event of some kind and I can see if I managed to get anyone to check out the site. Not that I had many events this year. Usually I’m more interested in weekly, monthly, and most importantly, yearly. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been doing this long enough that I can pay attention to yearly trends (but here we are).

e11c327fb74d87435e48b1408195ede2My best year is still 2016, and there is a distinctive decline of views from there to 2019 and a much less drastic drop in visitors. I’m a little more interested in the visitors since I figure because I mostly do a post a week, as long as people are coming to give that a read (and maybe check out some of the other posts or pages) I’m doing okay. While I am down on views again this year (by just 147) I am up on visitors. I’m only up by 35, but hopefully I’m putting a stop to the downward trend. For most of the year the statistics looked grim. As late as September, I was worried I would be way down in the numbers this year, but something happened in the last few months and I had some solid numbers that really closed the gap. I’m still way under what I had in 2016, but I can only worry about now and how to get more people interested in coming to the site.

I suppose it’s all about content. I could figure out a way to add more, but I don’t want more posts for the sake of posting. I’m already worried that some weeks I don’t manage to find an interesting topic or write a good enough post. This blog was never meant to take up too much time and effort. The real focus is the books, but if I’m bothering to write the blog, I want it to work for me. I expected that going to events and releasing books would equate to more views, but over the last few years, that hasn’t been the case. The fact that I didn’t really have an event this year and got more visitors is evidence of that.

upalazyriver201More social media presence and interacting with other blogs and bloggers is an obvious strategy, but while I do have blogs that I frequent, I’m not really into making social media posts about nothing. I fell like that’s just pestering people. I also don’t want to go out and read, comment on, and share my posts on other blogs just to try and draw some of their audience over to me. Like I said, my main focus is writing and while I will have to wade deeper into social media eventually, I’m not about to stoop to farming strategies to get more people to visit my site in a year. It’s not worth my time. I had a feeling that people not being in their regular routine this year added to the early low numbers. Consequently, I figured that I started to get more views/visitors later in the year as people adjusted to the state of things. That’s all a guess, though.

As far as my writing goes, I had a great year. It was difficult to get used to writing at home without other writers around for encouragement. The Writing Wrecking Crew (the writing friends that I was used to meeting for coffee and productivity) did try to go on-line together and send encouragement, but really, we had to do it on our own more than usual. I’m still indebted to seeing them online, asking who else is at their computer working and for their support, quick answers to odd questions, and for their edits.

tenorEventually I got into a good routine for writing at home. Since I was laid off from the day job in March, I had a lot of time to write, so it’s nice to look back and see that I have something to show for it. Not to say that I couldn’t have done better, but while I had all the time I could ask for to sit and type, I was also stuck at home for months on end. Being stir crazy is real. There are so many things I miss from simple stuff like going out for breakfast with my brother to visiting a book store like Biblioasis just to see what’s in and how my sales are going. I’m not going to lie, a lot of what I miss most is food based. I was really used to going to Anchor multiple times a week and sitting at the counter either writing or chatting with the other regulars and trying to not bother the employees too much.

I did manage to write over 160 000 words finishing the first drafts of two books. Add to that this blog, the progress I made towards ebooks, and getting Broadcast Wasteland out in April and I think I did alright. I had over 10 000 words to cut from Break/Interrupt and I’m going to have to get rid of a good 50 000 words from the Invasion Novel, but I wrote them. I did some work early in the year for The Misadventures of Bowling Ball for Glen Hawkes. It was in payment for him doing the fabulous cover for Broadcast Wasteland. Since we haven’t been able to get together, it was put on the back burner. He had the previous issue to release and other art projects to do, so, while I’m looking forward to getting back to it, he seems busy enough. He agreed to do the cover for Break/Interrupt, too.

20200421_125458I’m excited for that. I’m exited for the whole book. After Neon Heart and Broadcast Wasteland ended up being longer that I planned, I was really shocked when Break/Interrupt ended up even longer. I’m glad I cut it down, but it’s still going to be 10 000 more words than Neon or Broadcast. I plan on ending that trend with the next one, though. Not to get ahead of myself in a post looking back, I’m going to get a lot more planning done to make sure it’s a tighter story. Heck, it may even be a part one of something within the Synthetic Albatross series. I was a little worried with Broadcast as April approached this year. I made sure to start it in September and was happy to have gotten it written in just over a month, but edits took longer than expected and I was working right down to the wire to get it out at the start of April. I didn’t have any event to get it ready for, but there was a sale at the printer and I didn’t want to have to pay more for the setup.

Because the timing was tight with Broadcast, I started Break/Interrupt early. It too longer to write, but I was still done before I had been for Broadcast. Even with the extra length, I’m a head of where I was with the editing, too. There wasn’t the same hectic holiday mess that came with the day job and even though I love my family celebration (and missed it dearly this year) I was able to spend more time going over the edits I got from the Writing Wrecking Crew. You hope that each book is better than the last and while I think I’m a better writer in general than I was when I wrote The Thinking Machine, and I’m excited for people to read the new book, I find it impossible to tell if something I’ve written is any good or not.

bored-icegif-6This past year was something else. I’m sure everyone had a lot of stress and conflict to deal with. Getting used to a new normal is difficult for an individual or a family. When the whole world needs to adapt, things that seemed stable and certain end up all out of whack. While I had to deal with stress, not seeing my family or friends, and experiencing being board for the first time since I was a child, I did get to experience what writing for a living would be like. That part was exciting. I still have a long way to go, but I proved to myself that I can do it. I’m getting faster at first drafts, I’m writing longer pieces easier (sometimes to my detriment) and I think I’m improving overall. I kind of liked not having a day job to worry about, even if the lack of income is a specific stressor (and a real issue when I will need to look for work).

2021 is likely to be more of the same for longer than most people think. I’m eager to keep writing, but I’m as tired of the seclusion and caution as the next person. I can’t wait to get back out to events, sell my books, meet with other writers and artists, and support all the local businesses that I love. 2020 was strange but I took advantage of it the best that I could. Now I have to make something of the raw words that I wrote wile hiding in my basement room shunning outside world.

4 thoughts on “Eight Years of Posts – 2020 in Review

  1. Vanessa Shields

    Congratulations! That’s an amazing feat. Keep it up! And, I so adore all your gifs…they make me laugh so hard! Do you know the story behind the falling villain in Die Hard? 🙂

    1. Thanks. Sometimes it’s easy to find good images and gifs, sometimes it’s a challenge.
      Didn’t the director tell them to let him go early to get a realistic creation out of him?
      Not that Alan Rickman would have needed it.

  2. Pingback: While in the Middle of an Edit – Ben Van Dongen

  3. Pingback: Nine Years of Posts – 2021 in Review – Ben Van Dongen

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