’ve written these before. Usually I explain what I thought writing would be, and then what it actually is. Generally it’s some mechanical nutbaggery, something that doesn’t bring understanding or joy or excitement to others (and myself).
Thursday was posting day for another Dog Ear piece, one about Government Labs. It was just a fun piece, something I whipped out in the moment when I noticed the thoughts I had over that phrase and how worn out it’s becoming. Just a fun little thing. I’d had it prepped a few days early. It should be no problem to get it set up in my site (adding it to the Dog Ear contents section) and posting it on Facebook (once to my general site, and then a share over to the Early ReTyrement site).
The devil was in the details, of course, chortling and sawing on his golden fiddle.
First, Facebook – can there be a more inconsistent social media site? Some days spellcheck runs. Some days it doesn’t. I’ll type something and think, “That doesn’t look right”, and have to post it over to Word and spellcheck it there. But my real problem is with presentation. I don’t like the general link (without an image) nor the “Manuscript” image (which comes from the top of my site) for my postings. I like the letters I use to start off every piece – like the “I” in the upper corner of this one. However, Facebook is a bit problematic with this. To get it to work requires a magic spell I developed. First, I cut&paste to my profile page. The link never works there. But then, without saving, I jump to Home to access the general feed. Here I repeat the paste process and usually the link will now show with the nice icon. If that doesn’t work, sometimes a second round of pasting into my profile and then pasting into the general feed will work.
Look, I’m a coder and know how whacky this sounds. But I also know that software usually has hacks that you can exploit, and something about the order I attempt to post permits the Facebook link creator to get it right.
Well, Thursday, it wasn’t getting it right.
I tried it this way and that but FB wasn’t buying it. Finally I just had to go with a lame no-icon post, which I know makes it less noticeable in the visually-driven world of idle clickthroughs.
Yet in the process of doing all this, I happened to jump down to my book listings (where you go if you click on the link to my works on the bottom of my posts (the >>>THIS IS HOW MY LINK TO MY BOOKS LOOKS! JUST LIKE I SAID EARLIER<<< bit)). And inside that, I realized that all of my Amazon links, the ones to Early Retyrement, to Fire and Bronze, to Don’t Jettison Medicine, weren’t working. They were generic orange boxes that took you to Amazon but not my specific products. Amazon problem? Waited an hour. Nope, still broken. Maybe a new firewall change here at work? Asked a retired (not ReTyred) friend at home to try. He saw it too. When I got home, still sweaty from my bike commute, I took a look on my trusted, true home computer. Still broken.
After my shower (and some sudsy thinking) I dug around for how one provides product links (it’s been years since I set this up). It isn’t easy – Amazon hides it pretty deep. There is way to get the HTML coding which you can put into your web’s source (see, I told you I was a coder but this certainly doesn’t have much to do about writing). It took about an hour or so (and a support call to Amazon) before I finally figured it out. This time, at least, I was smart enough to bookmark it. Anyway, picked up a link and posted it at the bottom of my inert product page. Checked it in the browser and there it was. So clearly something in the Amazon links had changed. Used to work, and now it didn’t. Now, it was a simple matter of digging into my HTML source and carefully (as carefully as a demolitions expert tinkering around a UXB) removing the old HTML lines and replacing them with new ones. For each replacement, I’d save and check. Eventually I got the formatting back the way I liked it. So yes, that page all of you ignore? It’s all fully functional again.
And that was just one day in the life of a writer.
Now I know why people seek literary fame. It’s not because you’ll touch souls or make hearts fly. And it’s not for all that money. Or the women. It’s about being successful enough to keep a webmaster on call. Man, I’d rather someone else root around in the HTML guts of my site. I just want to write!