Learning Hugo, migrating Tumblr, hating it all the way.

I’m currently learning the ins and outs of Hugo static site generator, while using my Tumblr as a case study, and thus a reason to learn. I’ve been relying on this YouTube tutorial series, and the official Hugo documentation.

Coding and markup for webmastering have always been a two steps back, three steps forward, process for me. All self-taught, amateur, and learnt piecemeal, through poring through documentation and online advice, the occasional guidance from friends (usually serendipitous), and hours of trial-and-error and troubleshooting.

People in my (Myers-Briggs) personality type category tend to gravitate towards programming and coding. I suppose I have a knack for it, and I seem to insist on hand-crafting websites myself, so I must find some enjoyment and value in webmastering. But there’s something that separates webmastering from other my “crafting/creative” hobbies such as writing and drawing. I can enter flow states in the latter two, lose myself in the process of making art or writing stories. Hours pass by, and I never ask myself whether art or writing is worth it. (The questioning usually happens after the fact, when I’m out of the flow.)

I make websites, but I can’t bring myself to say that I love the process, nor have I ever been aware of entering a flow state. Webmastering differs from art/writing in that it’s only enjoyable insofar as it gives returns on investment. At every step, the back of my mind is constantly evaluating, “is it worth it?”

Continue reading Learning Hugo, migrating Tumblr, hating it all the way.

Micro.blog: a response to Manton and others, on finding topics of interests.

A reply to @manton and this thread about improving M.B.

Manton said:

There are really 2 parts to this: finding posts that already exist, and encouraging new posts in different topics. Micro.blog is still small, so the most value comes from solving both of those together.

Livejournal is the example that I thought of (and have experience with). Everyone who joins LJ automatically gets a personal blog which functions as their identity account. Furthermore, you can also create community blogs about any topic, but you need to have that requisite personal/identity blog to do that. Anyone can either “watch” a community blog without prerequisites, or fully join to get posting privileges. Your posts to the community blog reside there, but are identified by your LJ identity; your personal blog is separate to this.

I can see something analogous working on Micro.blog. Everyone already has a personal blog/domain. Perhaps there can be a way of creating the M.B equivalent of LJ’s “community blog” — a particular topic specified by user(s), which other bloggers can then “post” under. The blogger still owns their post on their blog, but M.B can congregate them based on these user-specified topics.

This is along the lines of @Cheri‘s suggestion of “tagmoji ambassador”. Yes, user-specified, user-owned, public, unmoderated tagging and community-building starts moving in Twitter’s direction, but perhaps this can be steered more towards Livejournal (private, moderated)?
** Bolded words were edited in later.

While tagmoji works well for general/functional categories, I’m of the opinion that they’re incapable of communicating the kinds of specificity that users desire; I already find Cheri’s examples of “writing”, “programming”, etc, too general to be of sustained benefit; one has to resort to a text search to supplement tagmoji’s limitations. That, and the inability to customize text-tags and/or tagmoji, already limits identification and retrieval of specific posts on M.B (and thus, finding like-minded users on M.B), as @bradenslen pointed out.

I suppose the next question is whether this kind of Livejournal-esque method of aggregating topical interests suits the vision and direction of Micro.blog.

(Apropos of writing a post on Bullet journalling…)

The sum total of my life can be measured in the volume of notes I’ve made over the years. I’ve generated reams and reams of notes about every aspect of life, both in analogue and digital form. All of it is ephemera: important in the moment, inconsequential in the long run.

This isn’t counting my novels in various states of completion, the “meta” notes and outlines surrounding those novels, my world-building encyclopaedias, and a decade of private hand-written journals.

The digital ephemera alone makes a memoir. It’s a totalizing record of my personal life. Someone can look through all of this, and know me so intimately. I’m glad none of this is online or accessible to anyone else.

There’s a scripture in the Bible that goes:

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.

Book of John, chapter 21, verse 25

Boy I get it now. Jesus isn’t the only one doing that many things. The written records of my life are filling books already. And I’m still in my prime years.

The world cannot contain the fullness of a single human life.

A house of infinite rooms: on maintaining focus and specificity on the Internet.

Extended thought prompted by my previous blog post, and this post by Cheri Baker (@cheri on M.B) on reclaiming the mind and self from the tyranny of social media.

A little personal history.

It began in one specific forum thread in the NaNoWriMo forums. A bunch of us writers were posting in a character-chats forum thread, and we started getting to know each other’s characters and stories. Someone started a casual chat group on a different provider, then when that provider stopped serving our needs, opened a Discord server.

So my life on the Discord chat app began in a writing group.

Continue reading A house of infinite rooms: on maintaining focus and specificity on the Internet.

From Bullet Journal and female authors, to Anthem and Hugo.

At the end of last year, I experimented with Bullet Journal, and jumped in more fully this year. It has been a resounding success. (This may see a follow-up post in future.)

Been reading lots of female authors lately. Marilynne Robinson – Lila, and then re-read Gilead. Finished an exciting romp through N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy (beginning with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms). Now working through Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles, though I’ll have to interrupt it to race through The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, which is in such demand from the library that I won’t get to renew my borrowed copy, and who knows when I’ll get to re-borrow it?

Let’s see if I can’t fill the rest of the year with female authors.

I’ve been playing a lot of Bioware’s Anthem, amongst other games. Anthem is my first multiplayer game, and naturally, I’ve been sucked into the community, and found some friendly servers on Discord to game and chat with. Which has been a kind of blessing: amongst other things, it revived my writing spirit (which flagged for a while) and got me writing fan fiction.

It has occurred to me that I’m still on social media — except I engage in “topical”, focused, and (semi-)private spaces. I quit Facebook years ago, barely check Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram (the latter two remain on death row limbo), and am apathetic about Micro.blog. A re-subscription offer prompted me to log in to Micro.blog for a look-see; I think the last time I dropped by was in February. It’s thriving, and nice to watch. But it’s already become too noisy and amorphous for my tastes, just as Twitter et al have become.

But Discord? Discord is my jam. The first servers I joined were writing groups; the gaming groups came much later.

Discord communities tend to revolve around a primary topic, with detours into generalized chat, and are always private groups (sometimes large, but still gated). It suits the way I organize my online life: focused on specific ideas.## I think I will stop trying to fit myself into a generalized social-media shape. It has never worked for me anyway.

##This paragraph was originally longer, but turned into an idea I should explore some more. This may see a follow-up post in future. UPDATE: The post is here.

My novels are still at the back of my mind. Between Anthem fan fiction and my currently-active novel, A Dirge for the Amphiptere, I have to find a balance to progress in both. I missed April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, but July is still coming up. Best use that to resume novelling.

Also, never underestimate the power of a deadline. I’m part of a writer’s workshop, and they give me enough kick in the pants (and encouragement and feedback) to keep moving forward. Many thanks, fellow writers.

I recently switched from Resilio Sync to Syncthing, and from Microsoft OneNote to Standard Notes. Continuing the march towards open-source and private, one program at a time. Standard Notes, in particular, was the ace-in-the-hole. It has everything I want. Something worth subscribing to!

Google remains the biggest obstacle in this march. I’m about 75% decoupled from it, with the remaining 25% being Google Play Store for my Android phone. Flashing a custom ROM is somewhat beyond me right now.

The best way to learn a skill is to have problems that require that skill to fix. I (finally) have stuff to put on my website, so I’m taking another stab at producing a website through Hugo.

Projects in order of importance: A repository for my Anthem fanfic, proper landing pages for Hierofalco.net. If those go well, porting my Tumblr to a static site on my domain (and finally, administer the death sentence to another social media account).

The hope is to create a “set-and-forget” website production pipeline. Sweat over the infrastructure now, so I can leave it running on its own in perpetuity, just pop in to feed it more content. For someone who has a love/hate relationship with webdesign and coding (building infrastructure is exponentially less fun than creating content for it), this is going to be torture. But I want to do things my way, Indieweb-style.

If I can get these projects and pipelines in place, I may even be able to leave WordPress (which I’m growing to abhor more and more) and close this blog, perhaps transform it. This blog has always been a miscellaneous catch-all. Too generalized. I’ve never been satisfied with it. Disseminating it into specific projects would be the ultimate goal. Then, perhaps, Hierofalco.net would start looking like what I’ve always envisioned it to be: a village of my thoughts.

I saw a wizard yesterday. šŸŽµ

A fiddler playing a Celtic reel live. The sound was like a a clear brook spilling over rocks, like a diving falcon.

I’d not seen real live wizardry, until I saw his fingers moving on the strings. Brilliant. Just spectacular.

I wish I’d recorded his playing, but it was a concert and against the rules. Still, would’ve been worth breaking the rules for. Hopefully the magic will live in my soul, even if I can’t hear its sound again.

Not the concert I heard. But behold that fiddling wizardry.


At dawn she lay with her profile at that angleĀ 
Which, when she sleeps, seems the carved face of an angel.Ā 
Her hair a harp, the hand of a breeze followsĀ 
And plays, against the white cloud of the pillows.Ā 
Then, in a flush of rose, she woke and her eyes that openedĀ 
Swam in blue through her rose flesh that dawned.Ā 
From her dew of lips, the drop of one wordĀ 
Fell like the first of fountains: murmuredĀ 
‘Darling’, upon my ears the song of the first bird.Ā 
‘My dream becomes my dream,’ she said, ‘come true.Ā 
I waken from you to my dream of you.’Ā 
Oh, my own wakened dream then dared assumeĀ 
The audacity of her sleep. Our dreamsĀ 
Poured into each other’s arms, like streams.

Stephen Spender

Storycraft learnt from recent novels read. šŸ–‹ļø

From Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: the gradual character revelation. Bardugo dribbles character development and revelations out across the entire novel. When one character trait is fully revealed, the same scene hints at a new character trait. And when that is revealed, a new one is hinted at. This continues for all the POV characters, well past the novel’s halfway mark; even into the climax and denouement are new character traits being revealed. This slow, “nested” revelations of character are the hooks that keep the reader engaged and engrossed, wanting to discover something new.

So I’ve been reviewing the character arcs in my novel. How can I stretch out the details and revelations of a character arc over time? Make a note of each scene where character development takes place, and structure the reveals/facts to reveal one thing but hint at the next.

From The Ladies of Mandrigyn by Barbara Hambly: how to introduce memorable characters and embed them in the reader’s mind from the first few words. Hambly is brilliant at writing vivid, memorable character introductions. The characters’ personalities shine through powerfully within the first sentence of their introductions. They’re unforgettable from the get-goā€¦ what’s more, their personalities continue to be strong and vivid as the story progresses.

I want to learn this sort of kick-ass character introductions. Does it involve developing 1-2 quirks for each character, and then amping them to the Nth degree? I’m still reading this novel, plenty of chance to study how Hambly does it.

From Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon: project management for a creative endeavour, especially Kleon’s advice on maintaining analogue vs. digital workspaces. This dichotomy is extremely powerful for segregating different sets of information, and more importantly: the mental gear-switch required to operate in those disparate sets.

I used to keep both the manuscript and the revision meta in the digital space. I’m typically well-organized, but for a long time couldn’t figure out why my creative projects always ended up in organizational chaos. Creativity can’t be fully tamed into a structure — I’ve made peace with that — but this chaos was actually crippling my productivity and causing much discouragement. Then I started handwriting novel drafts last year, and had an epiphany about coupling mental processes to physical ones.

Now, my novel manuscript is in the digital workspace, while the the notes that guide the revision process (the “meta”) is in the analogue workspace. Doing the project vs. analyzing the project’s progress involve different mental processes. Hooking the mental gear-switch to the physical, visceral movement between analogue and digital workspaces is incredibly powerful. Now that I’m physically recording the meta with pen-and-paper, I’m way more organized, and no longer struggle with switching mental gears.

I think I write about as many words in the meta as I do in the novel manuscript, if not more. But now it’s helping, not hindering. Just have to make sure that it doesn’t metastasize and overwhelm the creativity.

From recent, inconstant attempts to post handwritten quotes from my current novel, A DirgeĀ forĀ theĀ Amphiptere: Dear God, my handwriting is atrocious. And the photos aren’t even straight. So woeful! Time to practise penmanship again!

Part One of A Dirge for the Amphiptere is finished. 30 days to revise 17,000 words. It’s light-years better than the previous draft. And I’ve learnt so much about editing and the craft of weaving the myriad strands of character, plot, setting, and voice altogether into a coherent story. Lessons on how to not reveal character backstory too quickly, but drip-feed it instead. How to saturate the storytelling with setting/world-building — and just when you think you’ve soaked it properly, just how much more that you can still do. How hard it is to create idioms and proverbs from scratch that reflect the gestalt of an entire culture. And much more.

Part Two is next. It’s three times as long as Part One. I’m sitting at the opening chapter, seeing at myriad ways I can change it to make everything — character development, world-building — richer. Didn’t someone say that editing was a bottomless well? Where you can keep fishing in, at the expense of finishing a novel and moving on the write new ones?

Must keep going. I’m not going to meet my February deadline for finishing the full revision. Shooting for end March. Camp NaNoWriMo is in April, and I want to begin something new by then.