I do a lot of writing for someone who isn’t a writer. Most of it is stream-of-consciousness-type writing, and not super-thought out. As if that needed to be explained. A lot of opinion and blather, in other words. I don’t write to build an audience, or else I’d employ a strategy to do so. One that involves writing more coherent, longer, well-researched and cited articles. The fact is, I write a lot so that when I’m dead and buried, my daughter will have the opportunity, if desired, to see what her dad thought about topics and how I think. For entertainment purposes only.
But if I’m going to be writing all over the place about all sorts of things, which is my current shotgun way of doing things, vs. a focused, large website with it all organized in one place, I’ve learned I’d better plan on not sleeping for the rest of my life. Also for SEO reasons that isn’t ideal either. Managing a massive website can be a huge pain too. Big hosting bills, lots of tables and data and media and at certain scales there have to be special considerations. When it goes down, it’s a royal pain, too. I’ve worked on, built and managed some websites with significant traffic and been able to glean a few things about scaling sites. And it just makes no sense to spread my efforts around. They aren’t necessarily “thin” because of that – I still try to plop something down that’s readable – it takes up multiples of my time that I could be using for endlessly more useful and/or valuable endeavors. Just making the quality better would be a good start. I can crank out a 1000 word post like this in under 45 minutes, but I’m usually not happy with the links, media, citations, and other value-added activities. I mean, just look at this post. Sadly, I just really don’t have the time for more, and writing in a manner resembling writing a book brings me to my solution, and the title of this rambling piece.
I think what may serve her better is a book. I’ve published a book before, so I know what it entails. I’m not talking about going for a Pulitzer or outwriting Tolkien; just a record of what’s what in our family with some choice anecdotes and hopefully some decent writing so she doesn’t think her old dad’s a moron.
The best way I currently know of writing a book, and I wish it had existed when I wrote my last one, is GitBook. It’s a super-easy and super-intuitive editor that relies on Git. But you don’t have to know Git to use it, which is nice because Git is hard to learn. Real hard. I started writing one about a year ago, and every now and then toss a few paragraphs in there, but that’s a terrible way to write and edit. An outline is the first step. A challenge when writing long pieces is keeping material straight, especially if you’re editing it as well. Did you already write about that topic earlier somewhere? Have you used that phrase too many times? Why does a passage seem redundant? When you have a few hundred pages of scribble, life gets hard.
Medium has been a great place to write but my confidence in its longevity is plummeting. Writing there is so nice though it’s hard not to find yourself pecking away. Unfortunately, @Ev, the founder is making a bunch of bonehead decisions and not being very innovative. Or using resources that are. He’s having to fire lots of employees, in fact. Plus, I need to export my content from there anyway instead of adding to it. Even though I have 9 (NINE!) or so publications there. Insane, I know; that’s the point of this post. And I also have a bunch of others dedicated to my hobbies (addcss.com, fontypython.com) and business (webdesignpop.com) and goofiness (superhuge.fail, abig.fish) and so on. Professional bloggers don’t spend as much time messing with blogs as I do. It’s inefficient. I also started ceceliamusgrove.com for my little girl, which of course requires upkeep. It’ll be SEO gold by the time she needs the URL though. I just wish it weren’t so long, but it’s not bad for SEO. Although Google says exact-match domains don’t matter Wink wink.
My WordPress blogs are awesome in their own ways, but I’m eventually going to have to decide a winner between musgrove.blog, mmusgrove.com or musgrove.red. And shelving michaelmusgrove.wordpress.com, as much as I like the design. I don’t think I even own my own content there, and WordPress advertises on the blog in exchange for giving them free content. I mean, a free subdomain with .wordpress in the TLD and limited customization. I mean a free place to write. These days, that’s a huge commodity. The .blog domain is a premium TLD($30), licensed by who else but Matt at WordPress Central, for no actual reason, so I’m tempted to drop it. mmusgrove.com is cool, but I’m afraid people will miss the extra “m” and I’d prefer to just have “musgrove” in the domain, since that’s what my friends call me. So I’m tempted to keep musgrove.red, although it’s brand-new and has no SEO juice. And the “red” part makes no sense other than being my favorite color. I had michaelmusgrove.com since 2008 but the registrar and host, HostMonster, wouldn’t let me transfer it after battling them for years(don’t ask), so I let it expire and some guy in China bought it up. That was up for 8 years until I just bagged it all and moved to mmusgrove.com and started over entirely. That’s a bigger pain in that I have that URL all across the web as my website address, which leads to God knows what now. I have no (huge) problems wiping writing and photos/ graphic design assets from the face of the Earth. Which is good as much as I accidentally do it. I just consider everything I make temporary. That may be part of the problem too.
I really like this site though and the fact it’s unspoiled. It runs fast, I like the theme, and it’s lean and mean. So we might have a winner here. Each site I set up reflects the cumulative knowledge of setting up all the sites before it, so this one is as nice & tight as they get.