This is, as is often quoted in 1980’s sitcoms, A Very Special Blogpost. For this missive is Scoops Mental Propaganda’s 100th post. Yes, today we celebrate my inane ramblings, bleary-eyed rants, and incoherent manifestos. I decided some time ago that it might be of interest to the greater world at large to show how one of these posts come together.
So, in other words, time to get meta. You are about to get a peak behind the curtain, a look under the rock, a glance beneath the hood, a…, okay you get the idea. So let us begin at the beginning.
Everything starts with an idea. Whether an upcoming event like Freedom To Read Week or The Avengers movie is gathering steam, or a personal milestone of my junior school anniversary approaches, the decision has to be made of what I want to say, if anything. This is based entirely on my own tastes, and more importantly, do I have anything to add to the discourse? My silence on the Harry Potter movies reflects my lack of reading them, much to the hate of some of my fanbase (Hello Alex, Sammi, and Tessa!). Also some posts relate very little to happenings in the real world, these are just topics of interest to my cerebral cortex. An article I read here, a comment made there, a long standing thought I want to expound on, are all sparks causing a flame. Currently over twenty ideas exist in a very long list in my blackberry. Notes for them all are constantly popping into my head, meaning anytime from shopping to exercising to reading, are moments causing inspiration to grow. These scribbles are then transfered into the computer. Each unfinished post has these notes littering the bottom, with everything from one word to entire sentence fragments proliferating.
For the example in this case, the blog post “May The Fourth Be With You This Life Day Onboard The Millennium Falcon” which is about, well, Star Wars.
So once the idea has taken root, and usually before the task of writing commences, the search for graphics is undertaken. Google Images is everyone’s friend in this instance. Star Wars and specific characters names yield all sorts of results, which is not always the case. Some topics give you zilch and cause endless headaches. Because Star Wars is owned by George Lucas, a copyright note is put onto the file. More generic graphics are found using Creative Commons in the search field. These are free images for all, and again these results vary widely in quality. All these graphics are opened once downloaded to make sure they work and not look yucky. And yes yucky is a technical term. Whenever an image is scanned, this process takes longer. From the gathering of the materials to placing them onto the scanner to the actual procedure, this part is monotonous and time consuming. In the case of Star Wars, this Google Image Search takes 10 minutes.
Next up is the arduous excitement of the actual writing. My tendency is to try to do the first draft all in one sitting, but I have broken some posts into multiple timeslots. One piece was started on the blackberry and finished on the computer, and another was done entirely on my mobile. Everyone complains and whines about seeing the cursor staring at them with mocking and laughter. I call b.s. on this notion. My great belief is to simply start typing and get the thoughts flowing and moving. Have rewriting and editing followed some time after? Yes. Have paragraphs been shuttled about and obliterated? Yes. Have beautifully crafted sentences filled with amazing thoughts disappear because they are incongruous with the theme? Yes. Welcome to the fun of the creative process. But unless you start typing something, anything, no matter how wretched, then you cannot destroy the awfulness and let the gems shine through. These are the you you want to be seen.
Some believe, like Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, of jamming everything out and fixing all mistakes on subsequent drafts. Spelling and grammar be damned on the first go through. With immense respect to these greats, my general framework is already present in my notes and my mind, so the basic necessities still infiltrate my first drafts. If a part does not work right away, I tinker abit to try and fix what bothers my sensibilities. Spelling mistakes cause my hands to dart right away to the trusty bb with its dictionary/thesaurus app. Since I am unbearably cheap, it is the best free app money can buy. Getting people’s and character’s names correct gives the Google App a workout sometimes. Early on with the blog I noticed some words popped up very frequently, so effort was put into limiting this habit. Fascinating was temporarily exiled for awhile because of this. Whenever a wall is hit, a short break to wander the house and check twitter results. For the Star Wars post, in one hour and 20 minutes I did 739 words. This is one of the lucky cases where everything just flowed out. A title is written up now as well. I always Google the title beforehand, just to make sure mine is unique. And with the Star Wars one, it certainly is.
The final copy is now complete. Cue the thankful prayers. Copying the text into the blog is next. Scoops Mental Propaganda is hosted on the WordPress platform, which was picked based on recommendations from friends. Once the text is settled, I slot the title into place. Categories are ticked off and tags entered, and with that completed, fullscreen mode is activated. This is when only the text fills your monitor. At this point, words and phrases are bolded and italicized, with much internal debate over how much and where. Graphics are uploaded and placed at strategic positions, with not all images making the final cut. With the Star Wars post, my Jar Jar love meant his inclusion was mandatory. Links to external sites and past SMP posts are then added. Hitting “Save” continually is a must for every step. Exiting fullscreen, but entering Preview mode is next. This shows the final post in all its glory. Skimming through it for any last minute glitches, design flaws, or head scratching moments, and hoping the Internet Gods will take pity on me.
If all parts are perfect for my perfectionism, scheduling is the next duty. Picking the appropriate date and time is tricky, involves advanced calculus and knowledge of arcane tax laws. Or just a good guess. Notes are made as to word length of the post and when it will premiere, all to ensure SMP has a range of entries in topics and scope. Multiple future posts are already set to go as of right now, entering into the end of June. All aspects of the WordPress parts are the cause of all grief in this enterprise. Any language of ill repute spewing forth from my orifice originates at this venture. Yes, I swear like a sailor. And WordPress deserves every syllable. Setting up Star Wars and Jar Jar takes 45 minutes. Using The Force would have cut that time in half.
WordPress launches the post as designated, and immediately sends out a tweet to @Scoopriches and on into facebook. I insert the link myself onto the SMP fb page. Book reviews are also put onto Goodreads, Indigo and LinkedIn. Comments trickle in various ways, with each post taking on a life of their own. These are monitored by me, all while…
… I work on the next post! And the next, and the next, and so on and so forth. The wonderful and fascinating world of writing needs to be constantly fed.
And looking back at 100 posts, coupled with several more in the bank, backed up by a long list of ideas which is always growing and evolving, the beast of the blank screen may be ever present but does not cause me despair.
It is with fervent hope you enjoyed the glimpse into my process. And to thank all of you for reading and enabling Scoops Mental Propaganda. Your feedback has been much appreciated and I gleefully await much more in the future. Thank You.
Now the meta is over with. Back to our shared reality.
P.S. Google logo is copyright 2012 to Google. WordPress logo is copyright 2012 to WordPress. Swearing Captain Haddock is copyright 2012 to Herge. Twitter logo is copyright 2012 to Twitter.
P.P.S. The title of this post is semi-swiped from the title of a great documentary about the Homicide television show. Great doc about a great show.