A Quick and Belated Look Back

And a Slight Technical Tragedy

Personalizando WordPress 1.5
Personalizando WordPress 1.5 (Photo credit: juanpol)

One of the reasons I first fell in love with the WordPress platform, after Journalspace folded and my experiments with Blogger failed to give me hope, was that WordPress, like GMail, saves as you go. Usually whatever you are composing, even if  you had a computer glitch on your end, you will find a fairly recent copy in your drafts folder. This is a godsend for a klutz like me. No more having to remember half-way through an inspired text to stop writing, highlight, select all and copy. No more writing the post out in MS Notepad before copying it over to the text window. Just uninterrupted writing in my Zen spot, in “the zone.”

But zen this happened, and my editing window zoned out. I admit, the compose window was open far too long. If WordPress was thinking of taking a dump this would have been a good time to ask me to knock before entering, or at least enter my username and password again to log back in. But no, it just let me go on as if all was well after a day of being away from the screen. My first clue that something was amiss was when it failed to let me upload a photo, multiple times. Having experienced this error before I thought the best thing would be to save this draft, log out and try this again. You heard that right, “save draft.” I clicked on that. I did.

WordPress Security
WordPress Security (Photo credit: Nikolay Bachiyski)

What appeared on my screen was not a warning that my entire post would be utterly deleted if I pressed the next button. It was more like, and I cannot recall exactly so I am paraphrasing, “Failure to save draft. Are you sure you want to do this?”  Listen I am a member of Garrison Keillor’s Society of English Majors. I am not a technician, though I had considered a masters in Rhetoric, Technical and Professional Writing.  And if I had actually become a technical writer I would have tried to develop computer error messages that are less likely to cause creative writers such a linguistic dilemma.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Do what? Save the draft that you say just failed to save? Why yes! Of course I want to do that; that’s why I just hit the button “Save Draft,” you stupid tech notification, you! But as my slightly addled-4:00AM-un-caffeinated brain was catching up to the potential danger, my angry index finger stabbed the left click and depressed the “YES” button. Inwardly there was a distinct howling “Nooooooooooo!” echoing through my skull. Too late. It was gone. All of it. Not even a draft saved. Not even available by clicking the back button on my browser. Even my concerned boyfriend could find no help in the tech support forums.

Honestly I should have known better than to leave the editing window open for so long. That and the fact that they were doing “upgrades,” which really amounted only to reorganizing the Zemanta source information and re-positioning it to the top of the interface window, a cosmetic update at best. Still, I should have known better. Bizarre errors always lead to bizarre outcomes, and if I learned anything in the first hours of the new year it was to go back to at least the spirit, if not the cave-man-methods of saving my work and not depending on technology to have a “most recent draft” available in case of emergency.

English: en.wikipedia error message
Wikipedia error message

But if I could suggest to WordPress techies a rewording of this error it would be, at minimum, “Failure to save draft. Clicking Yes will Permanently Erase this Post.” Or better yet, for us late night writers, “Don’t be stupid. You’ve had this window open for 24 hours while we are doing New Year’s updates. You have been logged out, so you will need to save your work (select and copy at least) and log back in. Don’t click yes unless you want us to totally dump your New Year’s post and have us completely piss you off and leave you crying at your laptop, praying for a miracle that will never come.”

My Updates

Yes, WordPress ate my homework. And I felt so totally demoralized and uninspired that it has taken me nearly two weeks to open an editing window again. Of course there was also a flu-cold-like thingy, an intestinal bug and some kind of allergic reaction that turned me into a boiling, hot to the touch lobster, but it’s more fun to blame technology for my absence.

I have however taken some time this week to fiddle with a new theme and give the Dad Poet a bit of a face-lift, hopefully making some functionality upgrades here as well. Something more than just cosmetics, thank you. Of course the final work is yet to be done when I leave behind the vestiges of this winter look.

I put the narcissistic stuff (stats) down at the bottom of the page, as well as the WordPress log-in info, and added a touch of contact info in case that’s not easy through the Gravatar link. I tried to cut back a bit of the extra stuff on the right there while still keeping the community and conversations active, not to mention highlighting what’s available for those who wish to join in the discussion or dig into past posts, both via the top category menu and right sidebar links. The search window is now at the very top.

Most importantly, I am hoping that this new layout increases readability. Most of it seems much easier on my eyes than the more techie-cute itheme2 theme of last year. Please feel free to give me feedback in the comments.

A Quick Review of 2013

And I mean really quick. Who knows what could happen in the next three minutes with this text window (though I have clicked copy and save by now)! Plus, you’ve already seen scores of those end-of-year reports, so you do not need to know how many times you could fill the Sydney Opera house with my blog viewers. It’s old hat by now.

So I’ll just mention a few highlights that made me smile.

  • Views on The Dad Poet more than doubled in 2013, over the previous year, with a total over 70,000 now. Not bad for an obscure niche blog by a gay dad who writes poems, rarely goes bird watching and drinks too much coffee and not enough red wine.
  • Overwhelmingly the most popular posts this year were from the February’s series of “Love Poems You Wish You Had Written.” All top five posts were from that series, the top two being the E. E. Cummings one (Yes, he does capitalize his name!) and the Walt Whitman feature, in that order. Wendy Cope and The Highway Man both put in a good showing.
  • The biggest traffic day of the year was on September 9th, one day before my birthday, when I wrote about the uses of SoundCloud and YouTube for music and Poetry. That’s also the day I posted a wonderful rendering of my voice by Hausmeister Shrynah wrapping beats around my reading of Jack Gilbert’s “A Brief for the Defense.”
  • The most talked about post of the year was a somewhat scholarly essay about my own thoughts on modern poetry, and one of my poetic heroes William Carlos Williams called “No Ideas but in Things, Poetry as Exploration.”
  • My top comment-makers? Well, I think you know who you are, and I hope you grasp just how thankful I am for your presence and support here. Let’s make for a marvelous 2014.

Plans for 2014?

  • More time off with my boys and my sweetheart.
  • More birding trips, even if it’s a day trip to the swamp, the Allenwood Preserve, or to Tussey Ridge.
  • More local poetry events, including a workshop-ish sort of thing or two.
  • More published poems in journals and e-zines

I made a good start on that last one for this year, but a few things did try to slow that down. In one of my next upcoming posts I’ll talk about the rest of “The Post that Disappeared,” what turned into a bit of an essay on why the theory of “no regrets” is not really a very sound or healthy mantra to live by, and why it is important to look back. While we should never live in the past, we should learn from it.

More on that upcoming, but for now, if you have been thinking about taking up blogging, I hope my technical difficulties related above do not dissuade you. Despite all things internet, particularly Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and now even WordPress seemingly obsessed with over-doing the “upgrades” to the point where just accidentally hovering over the wrong thing on your screen brings up interfering and distracting adds adverts and “helpful” links, WordPress is still in my opinion the best blogging platform out there. And for social networking and following other sources literary I highly recommend SoundCloud and Twitter, and hope they don’t go the way of Facebook. You know, that site all your teenage children are vacating in droves now that we are there?

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15 Replies to “A Quick and Belated Look Back”

  1. Nice new look.

    As for the glitch thing … I had it happen to me a few months ago. Part of it has to do with your browser cache … I’m trying to remember what the WP people told me. You can actually recover an auto-save from your browser too … though, it doesn’t save as often as WP, and, if you change pages, you can wipe it out, so it’s not fool proof either.

    Ultimately, I discovered that I share some responsibility (noooooo!) for saving my work.

    Glad that you’re feeling well enough to write … sounds like a rough few weeks.

    Like

    1. It was a bit of a rough start, yes. And yeah, the auto save features had me spoiled. And by the time I thought to check my browser cache I had already closed that window. Yes, I should have seen it coming. Unrecognizable errors are a sure clue to save before you click anything else.

      Glad to see your first week of classes are in. You’ll be great!

      Like

  2. We all can sympathize. My problem lately is that I will not save a word draft on my own computer, then muck with it and make it worse and worse.

    Congrats on the views. You deserve them. k.

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  3. I quoted part of this in a comment on the private blog, but it might be useful in your thinking about the YOLO lifestyle. From Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman: ‘I very much doubt whether any knowledge can be attained without labor and sorrow; and those who wish to spare their children both should not complain if they are neither wise nor virtuous. They only aimed at making them prudent, and prudence early in life is but the cautious craft of ignorant self-love.’

    I was thus prudent in early life, and now I’m hitting my teenage rebellion in my mid-thirties, when I have much more at stake than I did when I was younger. What I’m learning from my past is to take more risks. I don’t regret my own suffering; I do regret not having been more adventurous before I had kids to support.

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    1. I completely identify with that, hitting adolescence, of a sort, late and for the same reasons. As far as the profit in looking back, well it’s one of those topics that can go to the extreme. I was thinking of not posting about it because I started thinking of it in terms of a poem, but then I fear I might already have the “moral of the story” and that can ruin a poem for me. Better to explore new ground than preach a concept. And then I got to thinking of an old poem of mine that seems to say the opposite, that rivers flow downstream and not upstream, and no river ever goes back to the source, at least not without the long trip that includes clouds overhead first. But then I got to thinking that both are really true to an extent. The river is comprised of all the rain and tributaries and streams of its past as well as the story of its journey and where it is heading. We learn from looking back, as Frost’s poem about the West Running Brook, the part that hits the rock and splashes back being most like us. But a splash or a look isn’t the same as what we are prone to, getting stuck in the past, trying to live there when we can no longer be contained by those early places. Good, thoughts all of these. And a good quote. Thanks!

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