Everything Old Is New Again

I have closed my old blogs and redesigned my website. My online presence is starting over, but I carry with me the lessons of the last four and a half years of blogging. Now that my internship at First & Calvary is coming to an end, I’m going to have a lot more time for writing, and so I intend to pick up where I left off two years ago. In addition to this blog, I have four others covering different topics, all crossposting to LiveJournal and Xanga equivalents, all integrated together.

From the About page:

SilverPen Pub is an amalgam of several ideas. There were five main topics on which I desired to write, but if I were to dump that all into a single blog, no one would bother to keep up with it. Secure in this knowledge, I opted to install WordPress-MU and grant each idea its own blog. Organizing the ideas in this manner allows people to subscribe to the information they want and not be bothered by what they don’t.

The dream behind this blog is to do what so many webcomic artists have and give away my content. Part of it is a simple curiosity whether the same can be done with writing that others do with art, but I also need an outlet. I have so many ideas and things I want to write, but motivation is hard to come by when I am putting words on a page that nobody will see. Taking those words out of a notebook and putting them into a blog grants me that motivation.

Lastly, I desire to establish and/or join a community of online writers, people with the same ideas or desires as myself, and my hope is that we can enrich and encourage each other through open sharing and collaboration on our work. I am sure that such a community exists in this wide, diverse world wide web of ours, I simply haven’t found it yet.

Vision Blogging

At the end of the semester, my schedule will lighten considerably. I will have finished my two-year internship at the church; from then forward, three nights a week will be freed up. School will also be over for a few months, leaving me with a bit more breathing room. Therefore, I want to begin some projects I’ve been putting off for several years.

Continue reading

Anxious Blogging

I’ve got about three or four entries in my head to write, six if you count the other two blogs I update, but I haven’t done anything since last Wednesday. I left on Wednesday evening for a business conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort down at Lake of the Ozarks and haven’t gotten back to writing since then. What sort of frustrates me is the guilt I feel for not updating.

It has now been four days since my last blog entry, and I feel an immense amount of pressure to write. It’s not like I have some sort of contract to do this. I don’t make money off my site, so I’m not dependent on traffic. I don’t even have the vague commitment to “fans” that some bloggers might, because I don’t have fans. I don’t write about anything that’s significantly worthwhile. Except for on the tech blog, I guess, but even that is debatable.

But like so many others, there’s a pressure there to keep going once you start. To respond to the always-on nature of the internet by being always on. My freshman year of college, I got to a point where I would go to coffee shops without my cell phone, with with everything shut off, and such a disconnected hour was not only a relief and a privilege, but it was sickeningly uncommon. How pitiful that we reach a stage where turning our cell phone off becomes a luxury.

Nevertheless, I have plans to blog more this summer. The key, I believe, is to have a schedule and to stick to it. I haven’t yet figured out what my schedule will be, though… my problem is that I have a lot of topics on which I wish to write, but I don’t want them all in the same blog because then I end up with 2-4 entries a day. That’s too much for most people to bother reading, and if they don’t want to read about a particular topic, I don’t think they should have to. What I might do is have 3-5 separate blogs, all contained on my website, and then have those pour into a front-end blog so people can see it all if they want or subscribe to just an individual blog on the topic of their choice. That or use tagging and code something where people can select and save their preferences (or use RSS to subscribe) for just the categories they want to read.

Right now, I’ve got technology, personal updates, religion, and writing (which encompasses fiction, poetry, technique). I want to start another dealing with reading (book reviews, thoughts, LibraryThing, etc.). Potentially, that’s 5 blogs. Part of why I haven’t updated (and therefore feel the frustration mentioned above) is because I don’t want to inundate my readers with half a dozen entries, all on different topics. How should I organize and manage this? I have no idea.

Pagerank

When I first started my website back in 2004, I registered it as spiritgod21.com and, to justify the .com suffix, I registered for Google Adsense and placed discrete advertisements on all my pages. Over the course of the next year or so, I made maybe $7 off these ads, and since Google doesn’t send you a check until you hit $100, I didn’t really make anything. I always felt like a bit of a sellout, having ads on my page, so when I made a new site last August, I chose the .net suffix and committed myself to having no advertisements.

One of the drawbacks of not having Google Adsense is that my page isn’t ranked as highly as it was before. Google claims that having Adsense on your site doesn’t change your pagerank, but I think it’s telling that if you search for my name, my site doesn’t show up until pages 3-5 in the search results. When I had ads, it was on page one. To be fair, I partly blame this fact of poor search results on having lost some readership when my site was down for over a year, and that’s certainly not Google’s fault*, but I occasionally look at my miniscule pagerank (the number that approximately denotes how Google views your site and therefore gives an idea of where you’ll be ranked in search results) and get depressed.

Until yesterday, when my pagerank rose 2 points (out of 10) to a firm 3. I know, 3’s still pretty small, but it’s encouraging to me to see the number go up at all. What’s kind of sad, though, is that it is all because of my tech blog.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me; people search for tech stuff more than they do for poetry or the random junk I usually write about. I’d just avoided having a blog dedicated to technology for so long and had tried to avoid it that, again, I feel like a bit of a sellout for having one. Still, despite how it’s related to my job and how nerdy it is, technology’s a big part of my life and I kind of like writing about it. And on the plus side, it has drawn more attention to my writing; prior to this, my photo gallery got the most hits, but now the two blogs I host on my site are above the photo gallery by quite a bit.

As a final note on this subject of blogs, there’s been a bit of controversy over the FnC blog and Brian was asking himself why we bother with it in the first place, as it seems to have pretty much no readership. We’ll probably keep it, but if we don’t, chances are I’ll be starting a ministry-focused blog on my site as well. Heck, that might be fun just to do anyways. Lord knows, I always need more motivation to write.

*Originally, I had mistyped this as faul, which Firefox had not flagged as being misspelled. At first, I thought this meant there was some obscure word spelled faul that I was unfamiliar with, but now Firefox is underlining it in red. Sadness; I was all excited about the potential of learning a new word.

Can I live the dream?

I’ve started getting even more ingrained in the webcomics scene, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that I am simply not realizing my goals. I’ve moved beyond mainstream and am beginning to browse indie webcomics (if such a title even makes sense, as all webcomics are technically independent), and it has reminded me why I started a site in the first place. I had hoped to do with writing what webcomic artists do with their art. They produce, post, and give it away all for free. Someday, they compile it in a book and hope that their loyal following will purchase that book, allowing them to make more webcomics. For the gents at Penny-Arcade and Scary Go Round (to name very few of the bigwigs), they’ve done it and make a living off their work. That wasn’t (and still isn’t, in my opinion) their motivation, but it happened. For them, it was the work. The independence.

I wanted to write and post it for free. To gain a following and someday publish. I wanted to do with words what asofterworld does with photography or what xkcd does with drawing. But I haven’t.

Part of this is my own lack of focus. I wrote theological stuff for a while, but my passion burnt out on that. I wanted to produce poetry, but then I got happy and stopped producing. I could probably return to that now, or I could focus on fiction… but fiction seems unlikely. At any rate, I had a goal, and I’m not reaching it. I’m not doing what I set out to do.

The second issue is that I’m not sure there’s a market for it. Not that the goal was necessarily to hit a market and become an independent writer that makes lots of money… not really. But part of me wondered if it was possible; that’s what I wanted to find out. Would there be as much of a following for a blog writer, especially a poet, as there is for art and webcomics? I guarantee I could do it if I just blogged. Picked a topic and ran with it; technology, or religion, or something. People will read it if it’s good, and I could do better work than I do. But would it work? Would people come here for poetry if a new one was posted three times a week or every day?

Is the “second issue” just a way for me to make an excuse and avoid trying for fear of failure? …yeah, probably.

Does anyone even care about poetry anymore? I don’t know man… I don’t know… Should it matter? No, not really.

When I think about what my goal was, and what I’m doing instead… I feel the same as I did my sophomore year, sitting in symphony rehearsal. “What am I doing? I could be writing right now.”

But the only thing I can come up with right now is, “Once this semester is over… once the summer comes, I can start writing again.” I’m going to sign up as a reviewer with LibraryThing. I’m going to start reading and writing more. I’d like to take guitar lessons once a week and exercise more regularly. Just as soon as this semester’s over… just as soon as college ministry and class are done (freeing up about 20 hours a week, total).

Still a total cop out.

MySpace Crossposting

After our last visit to Wichita, I friended my niece, Alizabeth, on a couple of social networking sites. My blog entries already crosspost to Xanga, LiveJournal, and Facebook, but I’ve ignored MySpace since I first got an account a couple of years ago. I never really wanted a MySpace, didn’t like the site or its format, and I found it to be clunky and unwieldy. To this day, I have not found out how to change backgrounds and colours because it simply wasn’t worth the hassle. The site sucks, so why should I work to resolve their deficiencies?

However, there are a number of people that I like but haven’t seen in many years who have stumbled upon my space, for lack of a better term, so I’ve let it continue to exist in the nether that is the interwebs. Now that I’m connected to my niece on there, I thought I might invest a bit more into that heap of junk.

Thankfully, I discovered that I don’t really have to. A plugin has already been made that allows WordPress entries to be automatically crossposted to MySpace. Of course, since MySpace has horrendous formatting tools and tends to rip nicely formatted articles to shreds through its ineptness, the writer of the plugin recommends not actually crossposting entire entries. Instead, he gave an option to allow one to post just a reference and a link on MySpace that points to the original WordPress blog entry.

I write all of this to say that I’m have installed and am testing the MySpace crossposting plugin, so I’ll be publishing and playing with this article several times in the next few minutes as I try to get it to post cleanly. I might even update if it works or instead fails so miserably that my soul is devoured and sent to plugin hell. Only time will tell, my friends.

Edit:: Bah, the plugin didn’t work. After it failed time and again and I did some troubleshooting and account creation, etc., I started reading the comments at the end of the original thread/entry (where I found the plugin) and discovered that MySpace made some changes to their site on October 10th and the plugin hasn’t worked ever since. Oh well 😦

Edit deux:: Dear Jesus was that a PITA! So, I’m already in the mood to tinker, and I think, “Hmm, I was interested in switching my CMS from Mambo to Joomla. Maybe I’ll give that a try…” I look up some pages and find a forum that says it’s really easy and here are the two steps I need to do. So, I do a full backup and try the two steps.

tappita-tappita: http://mstublefield.com… 404 FULL OF EPIC FAIL!

And when I try to restore my backups, it doesn’t work. I’m getting MySQL errors after restoring the MySQL backups, errors after restoring Home directory backups, errors errors errors. So I finally wiped everything and restored the backup. That fixed it, thank God.

I don’t know why I do this to myself. I hate screwing with this stuff; it makes me super twitchy and I get worried and stuff never works right the first time and then I freak out because I don’t really care what the backend is so long as it works right and looks pretty on the frontend. Which it does. I need to keep my hands off my PHP -_-;