7. Unsettled

In trying to ward off that unsettled feeling brought about by this extended lockdown, I make big changes to the way I publish my creative and technical content

7. Unsettled

There was a riot in Melbourne yesterday, or at least that’s how a Canadian friend on Twitter described it to me when she reached out and asked if I was okay. I’m fine. The scene played out 20 km from my house, and I like most of the city’s five million residents, I stayed within our 5 km radius and enjoyed a walk under a clear sky and the pleasant winter sun.

Describing yesterday’s shambles as a riot is something of a stretch. Australians don’t riot, we’re too laid back for that — the last official riot in Australia, or at least the last one worthy of a Wikipedia entry, was the 2005 Cronulla Race Riots.

Really, it was merely a protest that turned ugly as a motley connection of conspiracy theorists, antivaxers, QAnon cultists, and those whose businesses have gone to the wall clashed with police. Once the pepper spray settled, 6 cops were hospitalised and a million dollars worth of fines were issued to the self-styled freedom fighters. It remains to be seen if this protest has become of super-spreader event, which would naturally extend the lockdown against which they are protesting.

Delta’s got to us; it’s cracked the walls of Fortress Australia. Every week the restrictions get tighter, last week we shut public playgrounds and enforced a curfew, this week we shut down childcare and kindergartens. As the weeks and months drag on, we’ve become fatigued and unsettled, waiting until we reach the promised land where 80% of the country is fully vaccinated. That’s still months away, and even then I’m starting to have my doubts.

Sorry, 😞 I really hoped I wouldn’t have to talk about the lockdown again.

Folding in the codex

I tweaked my website last week, and in doing so, I made the decision to fold my codex directly into Ghost. If you pardon a slight technical aside, my previous codex was built with a static-site generator (MkDocs) and hosted within a directory on my server. I then bypassed that directory in Apache’s proxy settings, so that Ghost would not intercept calls to chrisrosser.net/codex.

It worked from a technical standpoint, but the solution was hacky. The theme created a distinct visual separation, which I initially liked but soon grew annoyed with. Worst of all, it necessitated a different publishing workflow. Ghost is a database-driven content management system (like WordPress), whereas MkDocs is a static site generator that uses flat markdown files.

By folding the codex into Ghost, I lose some customisation features, but I gain the ability to write, manage and publish my codex articles alongside my stories and blog. That convenience, I think, trumps MkDocs’ customisation power. Speaking of convenience, it also opens up the possibility of my doing all my world-building in Ulysses.

I’m still working on the changes, but you can find the new section in the same place as the old one.

Writing update

With the lockdown taking its toll, you can forgive me for admitting I’ve not really felt like writing. A big part of it though is down to my indecision about what I should do with my current book — i.e., carve off what I’ve written as a novella, or keep going with the redraft of the full-length novel.

Meanwhile, the muse has tapped me on the shoulder, and I’m considering writing a serialised story on the D&D one-shot I wrote for my son’s aborted 10th birthday party. This is set in my fledgling Alashiya world, and honestly, the idea of a writing holiday on a project I don’t take too seriously is very appealing. If I do this, I’ll release it free to all my members (free and premium) in incremental updates.

Shout if that’s something you’d like to read!

A new home for technical writing

I’ve decided from now on I’ll be publishing my technical writing content directly to Medium — even if that technical content is about creative writing. I’ve agonised over this decision, but I think it’s better for me, and you, if I separate my concerns. With my site’s new design, I made a conscious effort to put my creative endeavours (books, stories, world-building) front and centre. The technical articles I’ve written now seem jarring in a site that’s ostensibly that of a fantasy author.

Medium has a massive audience, and a big chunk of that audience is looking for technical content. And despite my reservations about using a platform I don’t own, I can’t deny the results I’ve been seeing since I started taking the platform seriously.

By separating concerns, I no longer feel constrained about what I publish. I’ve parked lots of technical articles because they didn’t feel right for ChrisRosser.net. Similarly, I’ve mostly avoided writing book reviews, interviewing authors, or commenting about speculative fiction in general because that seemed out of place in a technical blog. Wearing two hats on the same head is uncomfortable.

This is a big move for me, so I’d be very keen to hear your thoughts. Is it the right move by you, or do you think I’m an idiot for separating out my most popular content and handing it off to a platform I don’t own?