Monday 3 October 2016

Intermission 2016

Dear Readers,

As the southern hemisphere summer approaches I have taken a break from blogging. Up to this point I have in fact only been uploading blogs which I had written some time ago. I do however hope to post two or three blogs during December prior to and during the Christmas New Year season.

Blogging is very hard work and can be very time consuming, some blogs having taken a considerable amount of time to research and put together. These are often totally out of all proportion to the number of readers and the 'narrowness' of some of my subject matter probably doesn't help. My Blog series on Timekeeping in Dunedin (of which I am very proud) is a case in point but I do it because I enjoy it, even more so when no one else has comprehensively covered the subject in question. In fact you begin to live and breath the subject you're writing about and it literally begins to consume you so I do understand the passion that people feel when they write.

And I hate to make mistakes or repeat errors made by others but as an amateur blogger it is simply not possible to research every primary record and in some cases secondary records give conflicting information. It has, however, surprised me that I have stumbled across significant but obscure information, often at the very last minute (the above blog being a decided case in point), which has saved me from making embarrassing errors or perpetuating a myth. I'm not sure if that was simply luck, a guiding hand, or my perseverance in researching the subject in question. But undoubtedly inadequate research will eventually trip you up. As I write blogs rather than essays I have generally excluded the use of citations to denote the specific source of information but do note this when it is highly relevant or critical to an argument. If someone else wishes to pursue the subject it would not be hard to find the relevant information from my quoted sources or in fact from my specific quotes.

Without question, seventeen years working in a professional Archive has also greatly - and usefully - assisted my research and writing skills. I can recall a number of articles I was asked to write for publication being carefully but helpfully critiqued. It is probably not surprising that history was also my favourite and highest scoring subject at college and I thank my old history teacher, the late Ray Clarkson of James Hargest College in Invercargill (latterly of Arrowtown), for inspiring me. Ray set very high expectations in the standard of work he expected from his students and was, I recall, a very hard marker! Perhaps it's a shame I did not pursue history studies at University. 

So, for now, and when i'm not outdoors enjoying the summer weather, hosting guests, or away on holiday I will be slowly updating a couple of large family histories, genealogy being another of my passions.

I will however be happy to respond to any messages from readers. I continue to receive some very interesting inquiries, suggestions, amendments, or simply just appreciative comments when I have touched on a subject of mutual interest. I have, through my blogs, come into contact with a fascinatingly diverse group of people from around the world. Two readers have in fact used aspects of my blogs as inspiration for specific chapters of historical novels they were writing. I'm hoping to be invited to at least one book launch!

And it gives me such a buzz when readers get excited about discovering information they did not previously know of and which is of personal relevance to them. In fact I get quite wrapped up in the passion they themselves feel, especially when it relates to their forebears. Only last week I was inspired, through contact with a family member who had messaged me, to offer to transcribe historical diaries relating to an early but now almost forgotten early Otago pioneer, having noted these in one of my blogs. These had been specifically placed in a local historical institution after his death, the family subsequently having no knowledge of their existence. As an early Otago gold miner, river rafter, storekeeper, river ferryman, lake shipper, and latterly a South Pacific Island cotton and coconut plantation owner before finally returning home to England, he sounded extraordinarily fascinating.

But most unfortunately, in the space of the last 100 odd years and after an exhaustive search, the said diaries have apparently vanished. I would stress, however, that I am not casting dispersions on the professionalism of the current entity now running the said institution. I will, however, perhaps try, from other sources, to relate something of this gentleman's varied life in a future blog. But first I must finish the revision of my family histories....   

Meanwhile, I will continue to read daily those updated blogs on "My Blog Roll". The most recently updated blogs are always at the top of the list. These blogs also very much reflect my own diverse interests and I thank those bloggers for their own very hard work.

Again, thank you for your interest and support thus far, it has been appreciated.

Until December,