Breaking the Format

A Time for A Change

there are days I want to nuke my blog theme from orbit

— ▪Bel▪Writes▪Things▪ (@belghast) August 5, 2015

A few days ago I made the above statement on twitter, because I had reached a point where I was finally frustrated with my original blog theme. For the last several years I have structured my posts in a way as such to hide the faults of my theme. For example the whole “heading” construct that I use is largely to keep any images I post from overflowing and acting wonky. I’ve used the same theme since 2008 and over those years I grafted new appendages onto it like an undead juggernaut until it reached the point where it was simply having trouble staying upright. My theme believe it or not was originally a super limited World of Warcraft theme, that I have revitalized time and time again trying to keep it current. When I first started my blog for example, there was no menu editor in WordPress, and the theme was originally designed to have someone actually go into the php pages and edit navigation items. I hacked in basic nav support, but I have finally decided to get off my ass and apply some structure to the way things are laid out. After spending an hour and a half the other night reclassifying posts… I came to the sad realization that my theme didn’t actually have suckerfish style menu support and every bit of effort I had just done was essentially in vain.

So quite literally I did nuke my old theme from orbit and replaced it with a brand new one. For awhile I had considered building my own and I have downloaded Underscores more than a few times to get started on that. However the end product never really makes me happy, and it always ends up feeling extremely spartan. So while I COULD build my own theme… I decided not to. Instead I decided to go with the extremely flexible GeneratePress. The freebie version has a lot of features, but I ultimately wanted some of the things that their paid addon gives you, and after doing some of this myself for years… that $30 seems like a steal. Ultimately to have a theme that I can simply patch each time a new version of WordPress comes out and adds more toys to my disposal is worth twice that amount of money to me personally. Last night I rebuilt the logo from scratch and pestered the hell out of one or two friends as I tweaked this font size or that amount of spacing. I think I am mostly done for the time being, but I am sure I will be tweaking things over the coming weeks. I am curious to know what people think, so drop me a line and let me know.

Breaking the Format

ffxiv_dx11 2015-08-03 20-50-02-49

Another thing about my blog that frustrates me, is that I have a clearly defined format that I always seem to follow. In large part every post has three headings, three images, and six paragraphs. In that format I usually introduce three completely different subjects as I hop around through what I have been doing. For awhile I have referred to this at least privately as my “swiss army post”, that is everything to everyone and reliable. I absolutely do not mind reliable, because in truth every single day I have a conversation with my readers… albeit a generally one sided one. I share lots of details of my life, and my gaming… and that part is awesome. The problem is that every single day feels formulaic, and I am hoping to begin to change that a bit. As I was sorting my posts I noticed that I have this way of starting down a path only to quit after a few weeks. There were so many “series” that I started down and never got very far… remember Easing Into Eorzea? or Forum Fodder Friday? or even the more recent Storytime Saturday? All of these are prime examples of why the daily posting routine has become so important to me. I know that once I get disconnected from my routine… I never really return to it.

Ultimately what I want to do is allow myself to post more spontaneously. When I make more than one post in a day… it feels like I am stealing material from what could be the next mornings post. So I hold off on doing it… and then a backlog of ideas happens… and I feel are no longer relevant because I did not post them “in the moment”. While I started Blaugust as this festival of routine and regularity… I think personally I am going to use it to mix things up a bit. I already nuked my theme from orbit… maybe it is time for me to nuke my format as well. Once again I would love to hear some feedback from my readers since I am basically going to be doing some renovations to what you have come to know about this blog. I am sure I will still create swiss army posts in the future, because at this point I can knock them out while I am sleeping… literally most mornings I don’t remember writing a post. However I also want to play with the format a bit and try and find room for smaller and more focused posts. One of my key problems with advertising my posts on Anook for example, has been that rarely are they actually devoted to a single game. This also was a huge problem when it came to trying to categorize my posts.. because you might click through to my World of Warcraft posts to find half of them only mention the game in passing. Essentially I want my Tales of the Aggronaut to be better than it actually is, and I am hoping you are all willing to struggle with me on this new journey.

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