Getting the Red Out of My Eyes

I’m grateful to all of you who have come forward to support this blog. Because of your generosity the blog should now appear to all users completely free of distracting ads. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THAT IS NOT THE CASE!

Somewhere in a distant time, in the mid-70s, a college professor returned a piece of writing to me with more red than the original black of my submission. I suspect she meant well. Perhaps she saw in me some potential that she was trying to hone and direct and challenge and improve. Or maybe she was simply tired of crappy student submissions and was taking out on me all her suppressed rage.

It doesn’t matter. The effect was the same: I quit writing anything other than what I had to write. This blog has always been my attempt to tentatively break free from the haunting of all that red ink.

There are not many of you who read this blog, but you who do, and now you who support it, have been a great encouragement for me to get the red out of my eyes. I am grateful.

Every writer who has ever discussed the craft challenges those who write to write daily, and to do so whether the fruit of that writing is good or bad. It will frequently be bad. I don’t have the time to write daily, or to experiment, or to even write all that I would like. But I can guarantee you that what I write will frequently be bad, but that I will press on nevertheless.

Thank you.



Please know that I am still alive.

Transition will make this blog very slow for the next couple of months. I hope you are all patient with me and that I still have readers when I get back into a normal, or semi-normal, routine.


Scrivener On Sale

If you do ANY research oriented writing projects (sermons, books, whatever) and you use a Mac, I HIGHLY recommend Scrivener. I don’t have time right now to tell you how I use it or how it could be useful, but it has become for me in my sermon prep one of those how-did-I-ever-work=without-it kind of tools. I mention it now because this program is a great deal at its normal $39.95 price. But from now until New Years Day, the publisher is offering a 25% discount.

Worth every penny!

Blogging Between the Cracks

My friend Chris was a blogger before I knew the word. But she admits to not knowing how to make a post that appears later than when she writes it. My friend Dwight believes that he has evidence of my early rising by the early times on the majority of my posts. And another friend and blogger Mike commended me on my diligence in posting (and he assumed writing) daily. So, let Toto pull back the curtain on me as I reveal the smoke and mirrors which makes it LOOK like I’m doing what I’m really not.

I blog when I get a chance. Between the cracks in my schedule. Most of my posts are written three, four, or more at a time, and only made to appear as if they are produced sequentially. My guess is that readers don’t want six posts at once followed by six silent days. So, I write when I get the chance, and space the posting magically over a period of days.

In the interest of full disclosure, I sketched the idea of this post on the morning of Monday, July 20. I am typing it on Tuesday night, July 21. And since it is not date specific (unlike this or this) it is slated now to appear no sooner than July 31, ten days from now.

How’s he do that?

My happy secret is a little helper called MarsEdit. MarsEdit allows me to write drafts, date them, edit them, preview them, and post them, without ever having to actually go to the blog site itself.

Why is this helpful?

From the purely aesthetic point of view, using this software insures a consistent visual style on the blog. Though that can be accomplished through other means, with this I don’t have to think about it anymore.

This guy earns his keep as a time saver and organizer.

When I get an idea for a post, and I’m not near my computer, I scribble it down on a piece of paper and put it in a folder. When I am near the computer, or if the idea comes to me when the computer is open in front of me, I open a draft post in MarsEdit. I need not be anywhere near an internet connection at this point. I only need to open the draft window and jot a few notes down. I can go on doing what I was doing, so that I’m not interrupted in whatever the main thing is at the point.

Later, when I have the occasion to do so (often on Tuesdays when I bring my son and grandson to Chick-fil-A, like tonight) I open MarsEdit and will find a few drafts that are in need of development. Some sit for a long time. Currently there are 23 undeveloped drafts, some of which will NEVER be developed.

Though I am writing this at Chik-fil-A, it will probably be finished between innings of the upcoming Rays game. The point is, I try to not have blogging interfere with other things that I’m supposed to be doing.

Posts which demand more care, thought, and even research, may be developed in Scrivener, NovaMind, or Microsoft Word. These are topics which may require development across several posts and demand more careful preparation. (I have half dozen potential posts in that form at present.) But they will all end up passing through MarsEdit before hitting the web.

In MarsEdit I can add links, emphasis, or whatever else I want. I can also add media, but I prefer to do that on line.

Plus, and this is the real magic, I can specify the date and time of publication. I have set this post to publish on July 31, 2009, at 5:46:08 AM. That may change, but for now that is what we have set. I could just as easily set it for October 13, 2120, but I rather doubt that Somber and Dull will be in existence then.

By the way I set posts to go live early in the morning in order to great early morning readers.

When I’m generally satisfied with the post, I simply click a button which posts it to Blogger, though I’m told it works with other blogging sites as well. I can set the post to be published immediately or to be posted online as a draft.

It is from within blogger that I add pictures or video, make any necessary final edits and, if I have not set the publication time, I do that. (Chris, you select ‘post options’ at the bottom of the post editor. Pretty simple.)

That is all there is to it.

Okay, back to the Rays game.

For Geeks Only, Again

For a long time I have used Ecto as my blog writing software. It served me well though it was plain and unattractive. It allowed me to write posts when I was offline, to post them when I had the chance, and to keep track of what I had done.

I recently updated Ecto to its newest version which, as noted here, has trouble talking to Blogger. I wrote to the ‘support’ address of the publisher but received no response. They no where acknowledge the existence of this problem or indicated any intention of doing anything to fix it. Okay. Goodbye, Ecto.

I then tried a trial version of a competing offline editor, MarsEdit. It lacks a WYSISYG interface, but that has proven to be a minor difficulty. I have found it to be a useful tool for writing and keeping track of my posts regardless of whether I’m in the presence of an internet connection or not. It’s a great help in maintaining as well the illusion of daily posting!

So, last week I bit the bullet and bought the thing.

These are Mac-only programs, I believe. I’m sure there are many similar tools for the PC. I don’t know how anyone blogs without them.

Somber, Dull, and Never Satisfied

I know. You just got used to the look of the blog after my LAST template change, and here I go changing again.


I wanted something less busy than the last template.

Actually, what I REALLY wanted was to switch to WordPress with that system’s stable of really cool templates. But, to do all I wanted to do would require paying for a domain name (not bad) and a hosting service (bad).

So, hope you like the new look. It’s not quite what I want, but it’s what we’ll keep.

For a while, anyway.

UPDATE: The newish template lasted for about ten minutes. Then I went to another which lasted overnight. Now I’m back to this one, with a couple minor modifications. Looks like I’m stuck.