Hell, it’s about time…

Hell, it’s about time…

Every personal blog as an obligatory “it’s been a while” post, and this is mine. It’s been about two years since my last confession, so I thought I’d catch you all up on what’s been going on with me in the meantime.

Why did you leave us?

The reasons for that are technical and stupid.  Shortly after my last post I left a very stressful job and was all ready to jump back into writing, but I was a little strapped for cash and I let my URL for the site laps.  After I got all that sorted, it turned out that WordPress.com in their infinite wisdom have decided not to allow you to just buy the ability to add a URL to your sites, but instead only allow you to do that as part of their more expensive subscription services.

I totally understand why they made that change, and I think it’s probably a good one for their business considering that life on the web is becoming more and more about jamming all of your personal data into social media sites so that they can sell it back to you, and less about having a curated online presence.

But it pissed me off at the time and I decided that I would spin up my one site on some hosting that I already have.  As it turns out, hosting your own personal blog is a bit too much of a pain in the ass for me and I would much rather have WordPress do it for the low, low price of one of their subscription services.  It just took me like two years to get there.

Was that it?

I think like a lot of people, world events have made creative endeavors seems really pointless and every time I sit down to do one I feel like all my energy has been zapped away.  I haven’t been writing much fiction either.  (Although I have written some.) And my podcast has seem to have finally run its course.  I’ve alway struggled with having the energy to be creative and the current political climate have not made things any better.

It’s not all gloom and doom, however.  I did get married in the last two years.  (And right now anyone who has gotten married is like, “Why the hell didn’t you just lead with that.  Of course you haven’t had time to write.”)  The wedding was great and one of the best days of my life, but God damn did it take up a lot of my time with planing and being stressed out.

Why are you back now?

My life is a lot less stressful then it used to be.  No, the political landscape has not gotten better, and in fact, we’ve now pretty much lost Net Neutrality, but I can deal with it a lot better and I don’t internalize it like I used to. Plus my default position on world affairs is always one of hope and I’ve finally gravitated back to that.

Plus, not to get too preachy but I think the attacks on Net Neutrality and the corporatization of the web are more of a reason to be running a personal site not less of one.  Our words are part of who we are and we should own that content outright.

But most importantly, I like blogging, I’ve missed it and I want to get really good at it.  Plus, I have this theory that writing begets more writing and I want to pursue more creative things in the coming months. Hopefully this is the start of more updates from me, and I’ll be doing some more tweaks to the site.  (It’s one of my favorite parts about blogging.)

If you got this far, thanks for reading the site and with this, we resume our broadcast day.

How I Blog

How I Blog

Since I’m about a month into my year long blogging challenge, I thought it would be fun to write about how I actually blog.  Let’s start with the technology I use and then move on to my actual process.

Computer: MacBook Air (13 inch, 2014 edition).  While I do have a desktop, the MacBook has been an absolute revelation.  It’s super light, fast, and has an amazing keyboard that just feels great to type on.  I have this thing on me at all times, and I’ve found that I write a lot more in those little down times we all have.  Like when I’m on the train.  Also, my God does this thing have great battery life.  It never wants to die.

Blogging Platform: WordPress.com.  I’ve been a WordPress user for about eight years now.  It’s sort of become blogging in my mind.  I’ve been thinking about moving the blog to a self-hosted version of WordPress, but I haven’t really wanted to put up with all of the handholding a self-host requires.  Right now, it’s just better to let the nice folks at WordPress handle everything for me.

Writing App: Desk. I had a little trouble getting this to work with my blogging platform, but once I did, it was a dream.  It has a really slick interface that gets out of your way when when you’re writing and then it’s there the second you need to do any kind of formatting.  This is exactly what I like out of a writing environment: just a box to write in.  It’s not that the writing environment with WordPress is bad, it just lives in my web browser – the distraction machine.  Desk keeps me from flicking to another tab in search of who wrote the original Shadow stories or something like that.  In fact, when I’m actually writing I create a second desktop on my Mac just for my writing program so I don’t have any distractions.

Note Taking and Planing App:  Evernote.  I have a notebook just for my blog with a master list of blog ideas.  That’s the main thing I use the app for right now.  I do something pre-write directly into it if I have a particularly complex post that I’m working on.  I probably should find ways to use this app more to organize my writing.  That’s probably something to work on in the coming months.

Image Searching: Creative Commons Search.  I’m trying a lot harder to use photos in my posts.   The problem is that I suck as a photographer and it’s hard enough just to find time to write let alone take a few photos.  Generally, I jump onto Creative Commons Search and find a few pics that go with the theme of my post.  It’s been working pretty well for me so far, so I haven’t had to go onto any of the pay sites to find images.

My Process: While I do have a nice desk, my preferred method of blogging is to either be on the couch or on the train.  I like being in a slightly unorthodox position when I blog.  It lends something to the immediacy of it.  

I also try to do all of my first draft in one sitting as fast as I can.  The most surprising thing about blogging for me is how quickly I can do it.  I’ve regularly banged out over 1000 words in under 40 minutes.  When I’m writing fiction, it can take me almost an hour just to do 500 words.  I’d love to be able to tell you why this is, but it’s absolutely beyond me.  

After the first draft is done, I do a reread and polish.  Then it’s posted right away.  I really should let them set longer, but I’m usually looking down the barrel of a deadline and just want to get it out there.  The resting period is something I really need to play with more. 

And that’s how I currently blog.  This will likely change as the months go on so I’ll do another post like this once the changes are significant enough to justify it.  

Blog Year January Update

Blog Year January Update

January is over and I thought I’d check in to see how the challenge has been treating me so far.  I have to say, I completely underestimated how difficult this was going to be for me. It wasn’t coming up with content that was the issue, it was time management.  I thought this would going to be a lot easier than when the I did the month long blogging challenge a while back because I only have to come up with one post a week not one every single day.

This is actually kind of an issue because it isn’t forcing me to write every day so Thursdays have been sneaking up on me and I almost missed it the other week when I just got back from vacation.

But I’m very proud to say that I haven’t missed a week yet, and I’ve even had a few posts in between Thursdays.  I think what I need to do in February is build more a writing “grove.” Maybe do some more prewriting on posts during the week and keep checking WordPress daily. I’ve be working with the Reader function to force me to check it every day to read content.

I have to say that I like this challenge much more than I did the month long one because it feel like it’s a more regular part of my life instead of this wild thing I’m doing for a month.  I just feel like a blogger and I haven’t really felt like one before even though I’ve been running blogs off and on for over ten years now.

I Got a big boy URL

I Got a big boy URL

So last night I was researching things for my blog and decided to put money where my mouth was and actually by my domain name for this site.  It’s something that I had been wanting to do for years but I never felt justified because I didn’t post on here much.

But that’s the rub.  I wasn’t blogging because I didn’t have the site I wanted and I wasn’t getting the things to make this the site that I wanted because I wasn’t blogging.  The setting the blog year challenge was a great thing for me to do but I think I need to put effort into developing the site itself as well as actually posting on here.

Part of what I like about blogging is the content management / web development part of the equation.  I like building websites.  It’s something I’ve been doing pretty much since high school, so I think if I was going to stop, I probably would have done so by now.

That’s why I’ve finally have gotten around to getting an actual domain name for the blog.  I have more plans for stuff that I can do on here.  I probably will move this site over to my own installation of WordPress, but not right now.  I’d like to build up a few more posts first and use working with the technology as a reward for how much content I’m posting.

Image via Flickr