I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like a very exciting topic. It probably isn’t to anyone but me. I had reorganized my content on my two websites — PolyWogg and ThePolyBlog — about two years ago after a meltdown of the servers, taking advantage of the downtime to fix some scoping and editorial decisions. At the time, I was sort of seeing myself getting more and more engaged on books, writing more reviews, and maybe engaging with more people through my little book club. But about a year ago, I started seeing some of that grouping differently. In part, it was going back to the age-old question of whether my PolyWogg site should ONLY be my formal writing (HR guide, other guides, etc.) or it should include some of my broader fun stuff. There’s no right answer to that, but I was considering trying to make it far more interactive than it was, and that wasn’t a good fit with my general personal site (The Poly Blog).
But then an initially minor incident happened last winter that escalated to having repercussions for my relationships IRL and I pulled back. I did a FB divorce from my wife — I basically unfriended all of our mutual friends, reduced my posse to basically close friends of mine and family for the most part. I’m not even friends with Andrea on FaceBook. And I withdrew from social media extensively, including shutting down my participation in the book club (PolyWogg’s Reading Challenge) that I had created. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I basically didn’t feel like I was in a safe emotional space anymore online. I felt like I was being shit on, and when I protested, I was dismissed. If I disagreed and said why, then I must be man-splaining. If I pushed back, I was a troll. I didn’t have the emotional energy to deal with that toxicity in my life. Instead, I retreated quite extensively, voting with my feet. I miss it, particularly hearing from friends about what they’re reading or broader groups of her friends and family for what they’re doing, spending time on, etc. Heck, even funny memes. But I digress.
The knock-on effect though was that with the PolyWogg Reading Challenge gone from my life, I’m not really doing any engagement on those topics anymore. I joined some other online groups, a few good ones I like to monitor, but I don’t really know anyone, and it doesn’t feel homey in any way. I see some recommendations for possible books, I guess. But I don’t get much out of it. Sooooo, without any real outlet to discuss books actively, I don’t see much point pushing my Book Reviews on the PolyWogg site that will have more interaction on it. Why bother? Instead, my approach is going to be more passive, perhaps less “open” than it was previously, I guess mainly less “public” in orientation. After I exited the book club and revamped my approach to reviews in general (more on music, TV, etc. later), I decided to just post them on my regular personal site (ThePolyBlog).
While I am sad to have lost that broader social interaction in my life, this post isn’t about a pity party, it’s about the process. I had to move my posts from PolyWogg back over to ThePolyBlog. 90% of that was easy to automate. It was a straight export and import, easy as pie. Except then I realized that for some strange reason, it was still pulling the images from the old site. The “links” didn’t update as easily as they should have. I could try and automate that, but I don’t like messing around in the system too much, it’s broken before doing that. Okay, it’s only 199 BRs. I could simply unlink the one image, relink the second, and resave. Easy peasy.
Except…that was necessarily the only issue to consider.
I also don’t really like having my raw review data from when I wrote the posts stored in an Excel file. I have never really liked it, BUT it did help me post my reviews in lots of places by allowing me to write it once and then Excel would reformat it into four other layouts so I could copy and paste to about 11 different sites. Sounds good, right? It always did. But that was when I was trying to at least lay some groundwork to drive engagement for the long-run. Now, I’m only posting to Good Reads and my own site, for the full text, and to my FB page (that anyone can join) and Twitter for links to new posts. So, why do I need to keep the Excel file?
In short, I don’t. I worry a little bit about losing the flatfile database functionality going forward, but I’ve moved the text into OneNote with a page for every author and subpages for each book review. I tried it out, I really liked the ability to have the full text ready whenever I want, all synched to my phone in One Note and resizable at will, on top of having it on my website of course.
But then my OCD side kicked in. Way back to about 1998, I used to have a small list of books that I was missing from my To Be Read pile, about 6 point narrow font, multiple columns, double-sided. It was folded up and travelled with me in my wallet. If I was in a bookstore and looking for something to read, I would pull out my list and see if I could fill some gaps in my collection. But as time went on, and the number of authors I read grew, the list became unwieldy. It grew out of date, I’d try to update part of it here or there, I’d maybe do an update of one author one day but that was as far as I got, leaving the others “open-ended” for completion.
Yet here I was updating my list of books and reviews, with a separate page for each author. Hmm…what if I put the full bibliography on each author’s page. I could list, for example, the 25 books they had written, and then when I reviewed one, I could just put the page link in that spot. An evergreen list of my TBR and REVIEWED books. The holy grail, at some points in my life.
So I did it. It added to my workload, extensively, I confess. I had to research multiple other sites to compile a good list of each author’s works, and when I was done with updating any of the transferred-over book reviews, I could paste the links too. I decided the main page should have it on the website too, not just in my OneNote file. Why not? I might as well, it would save doing it later.
It’s a huge list when finished. On my webpage, at 100% size for desktop, it is over 200 screen pages of content. I’m still playing with some navigation layout issues (separating out the letters of the alphabet a bit more clearly), but it’s basically done. And all of the 199 posts are up and running.
Now, I’m not really “done”, I never really am in a sense. I’m done “phase I” and I’m pretty happy with the progress so far. I’ve even updated my ebook collection so they’re all nicely organized. But I still have literally hundreds of book reviews pending, probably enough to keep me going until next June or so if I do one per day. And there are other authors in my collection list. I only updated the full list for those authors for whom I had at least one book review already or at least some cross-reference perhaps for a series written by multiple authors. Plus I’ll do new authors as I keep reading.
For now, I’m happy with my progress. On to actually reading a huge number of series though.