I’m tearing my hair out now. I’ve been digging further and further into the bowels of my website, poking settings and tinkering with code, just to make some very minor changes.
It began with a seminar run by Nikki Parkinson, journalist-turned-professional blogger and a master of social media.
Nikki spoke to an auditorium full of ambitious writers about how they can harness social media to further their careers as wordsmiths.
Most of those attending the Queensland Writers Centre event were already published authors, and many brandished copies of their book as they asked questions. I felt like a bit of a fraud.
Still, there were valuable lessons to be learned, especially for a fledgling freelancer like me.
The seminar caused me to re-consider my ambivalence towards blogging.
As I’ve said before, I don’t write for the love of it.
Show me the money baby or I’ll pack up my laptop and head out to the garden.
But there might be something to be said for writing and (self) publishing regularly.
It’s good practise and who knows who might read these missives and throw me a commission.
At the very least a blog makes a terrific graveyard for my mounting pile of rejected stories.
In this spirit of vague optimism (or maybe it was resignation – I get those emotions confused), I dusted off the WordPress dashboard to reacquaint myself with pages and posts and all the potholes in between.
What a disaster.
After adding a few blog posts, my inner creative monster grabbed the mouse and began hacking at my previously very stable website.
That ticking, feverish, red-rimmed version of me who likes to cut and paste and rearrange decided I needed to make the blog posts look prettier.
Suffering WordPress plugin dementia. Need a plugin to fix the plugin to fix the plugin. Family threatening to put a plugin me.
— Angela Bensted (@branchearner) May 1, 2016
Vanity. Stupidity. Lunacy. Call it what you will, but my crafty alter-ego had me updating software and purchasing plugins and creating new pages till the wee hours of the morning.
Three mornings in fact. I lost an entire long weekend to this madness. And how much actual writing did I do?
Not a jot.
And this fact feeds my persistent fear that I not a writer at all. I am simply an inveterate shelf-finder.
For years I’ve been filing things – tax returns, the kids’ craft, the husband’s socks, my ambitions – and maybe I will always gravitate towards the organisational rather than creative.
Instead of writing the one story I’ve committed to this month, I lurched from one website problem to the next, losing links and stripping a beautiful formatting topcoat I’d commissioned from a clever IT artist months ago.
I scaled the heady heights of installation success only to plummet into a ‘does not compute’ briar patch below.
php.ini files – I own you. Plugin installed. Boom. Website will be beautiful again within hours (for all three people interested).
— Angela Bensted (@branchearner) May 1, 2016
It took hours spent hunched over a keyboard to completely rebuild my website using this newly installed editing suite.
And my blog posts?
I still couldn’t edit them. They looked rubbish.
So I joined Facebook groups and followed unintelligible chat-room conversations between developers, looking for the elusive solution to my formatting woes.
They talked in code, all php and css and html.
I slept in my clothes.
Finally, in desperation, I emailed the developers (even that required a google ‘how to’ search).
I’ve plugged in, uploaded, reinstalled and sobbed but still don’t have a clean posts page. Considered prayer. Instead emailed California.
— Angela Bensted (@branchearner) May 2, 2016
The lads responded, in English, and after mulling over their response and drinking my 100th cup of tea I finally figured out what to do.
At least, I think I did.
This is my first test post since the interregnum and if it works – and looks pretty – there will be dancing in the suburbs.
If it looks like some half-baked, high school newsletter then I’m heading to the laundry to catch up on a week’s worth of washing and you might never hear from me again.
Well. It’s been a week since I wrote this and there’s been a lot more tinkering with this page – my e-presence, my online self, my webness. I have a sore neck but otherwise not much else to show for all the hours formatting and replugging and caching. I will confess, though, to just a smidgen of self-satisfaction. I hope it loaded quickly on your device and the links all worked.
Now I’m finally off to do some laundry.