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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Leaping Onto The Unseen Path

A year ago I emailed Jane Lindskold two questions about her novel Thirteen Orphans.  Along with her answers, she mentioned she was also an Agatha Christie fan, and referred me to one of her blog entries on the famous mystery author.  She told me the month and year she had posted it, so I was able to find the article in her archives.  I enjoyed it so much that I read all the others for that particular month.  But then life yanked me back to my normal duties, and I forgot my desire to explore her blog further.

Recently, I’ve been working to make my blog more interesting and easier to navigate.  I added a Blogroll (called Blogs I’m Following), and added her blog to the list.  Jane Lindskold seems to write two types of entries: 1) What’s happening in her life, and 2) A discussion with her friend Alan.  I’ve particularly enjoyed their recent comparison of the educational systems in the United States and England.  They’ve illuminated aspects mentioned in TV series like “Inspector Morse” and “Yes, Prime Minister” that I’ve always wondered about, but never got around to actually investigating.

In her email, Jane Lindskold also mentioned her desire to organize her posts by specific topics.  Of course, a published author faces more deadlines and duties than an unpublished one, and such organizing would impinge on the time she had available for blogging.

Since I began blogging, I’ve wrestled with how to focus on writing one particular type of blog post.  But I seem utterly incapable of specializing.  My initial idea to write about the Science Fiction and Fantasy literature I loved evolved into a series on Star Trek, and then into nongenre TV shows and my trip to England.  Pretty soon I was writing about spirituality, the struggles I faced in writing my novel, James Herriot, and even the ordeal of installing my microwave.

Blogging on so many topics means that readers who visit my blog for one type of post have a hard time following what interests them most.  So for a long time, I’ve wanted to develop a series of pages that readers could use to pursue posts on the subjects that most interested them.  But I didn’t know how to set them up.  I read books on blogging, the instructions from Blogger, and anything I could find on the Internet.  Nowhere did I find the subject explained in terms I could understand.  The Blogger Layout section of my blog claimed that “Pages” had been enabled, but I couldn't see them.

I’ve always belonged to the camp of “Look before you leap.”  Unfortunately, sometimes I spend so much time looking that I don’t get around to leaping.  It’s easier to focus on the tasks I can see than to leap onto the unseen path.  But one day I decided to leap in and investigate the Pages section.  If it did something weird to my blog, I’d just repair the damage as best I could.

I started with the Authors Page, and used it to link to the entries I had written on Gregory Benford’s novel Jupiter Project.  When I pressed the Publish button, an area that differentiated between Home (where my posts show up) and the Authors Page showed up on the side of my blog.  This area was another element I could position anywhere I wished, just like the Blogroll, the About Me area, and the archives.  This useful tool had waited for me, but because I couldn’t perceive how it would look and interact with the rest of my blog, I had feared to use it.  Now that I can see how Pages works, I started organizing last year’s posts onto Pages such as TV shows, Movies, and Travel.  (If you want to read the post I wrote on Thirteen Orphans, you can find it on the Authors Page, under Jane Lindskold).

I just wish I had leapt onto the Pages feature sooner, even if I couldn’t see where I was leaping.  I wonder what discoveries await me, in other areas of my life, once I decide to leap onto them as well.

Dragon Dave

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