Monday, June 14, 2010

If It Ain't Broke...

What I'm reading: The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames.

If you haven't checked in over the weekend, you might not have seen my new blog design yet. I'm going to call it a work in progress, because I haven't figured out how to interpret the "simple" directions provided by Blogger. It's been trial and error more than anything else. My knowledge of HTML consists of being able to put words in italics, bold, or underline them. And I know how to link text to a web URL. That's about it. So when the instructions say, "find this line of code in your template and insert this piece of code, I feel like I'm in Kindergarten. Or worse, because I actually knew most of what they taught us in Kindergarten before I got there. It's more like how I felt in calculus.


I dropped that course second semester, which might not bode well for me getting the blog to behave.

One feature that disappeared was the "keep reading" link. Since I know this created problems for slow-loading browser days, when I saw that Blogger claimed it had a quick and easy (so it said) 'jump link', I … jumped on it. But to use it, you had to change to their new editor. Cringe. New? The old one worked fine most of the time. But I gave it a shot.

Three hours later, after following directions and meeting no success, I perused messages on the help forums, and … the 'fix' seemed to be that the code Blogger inserts when you click that 'jump' link is WRONG. You'd think they'd read the forums themselves and fix it, wouldn't you? Right now, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and I've not been able to see what's different.

Also, I haven't figured out how to do an 'unjump' using their system. So, if you want to collapse the post, you have to hit the back arrow on your browser. Not only that, but it didn't undo the old code, and I don't exactly have time to go back through hundreds of posts and manually change them.

I'm also not sure how uploading pictures will work with the new editor. I might cut back on my illustrations for a while until I figure it out.

Apologies if this creates problems. But my posts tend to be on the long side, and I do like my readers to be able to see the beginnings of at least a week's worth of posts so they can select the ones that look interesting. If you have comments (or answers), I'd love to hear them.

And what does this have to do with writing? Well, I've just finished "final" edits on my manuscript. I'll get it again in galleys, and then in the printed ARC this publisher sends, but the bottom line is they don't want authors to 'fix' things that aren't broken once the book moves down the pipeline. The publisher thought it was good enough to pay for. Then the editor looks at it for repairs. There might be some renovation, some rewriting, but when you turn it back in, you have to resist playing with it.

Maybe you think that stuffed dog should have been a teddy bear, because there's a symbolic connection to another scene in the book. Or maybe the heroine should have been a waitress, not a receptionist, before she met the hero. Or what about that ice cream scene? Did it really add anything?

Hands off. You're not going to please every reader, and the ones you gain by making a dog into a teddy bear will probably balance out those who prefer the dog. Remember, they don't have a crystal ball, and they can't know all the decisions you made for each detail of the book. They see the end product.

If your manuscript is on its way to becoming a book, it's not broken. Go start the next one.

Tomorrow, my guest is Kerrie Flanagan, freelance writer and the Director of Northern Colorado Writers. She's going to be reflecting on simpler times.

19 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

I wish I could help, but when I did my blog makeover earlier in the spring, I almost broke the universe. Well, probably not, but it felt like a near thing. I still can't get some gadgets & links to work properly. Sigh. Good luck & sorry I'm no help!

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - thanks. One of my neighbors used to say, "What you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabout." I think that's the deal here. Or, as we say in the states, "you win some, you lose some"

Suzanne said...

Ouch. Great (and timely) post. Just finished my editor's last round of revisions and had a couple of days before deadline so I've been tempted to go in and start tinkering. Your post was a good reminder of why this isn't really a good idea.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I'm with Suzanne. Sometimes I'm too much of a perfectionist. You can over-edit and loose some of the intuitive spontaneity of your work.

Terry Odell said...

Suzanne - well, glad my 'misfortune' helped you!

Jacqueline -- totally agree. You have to know when you're not making it better, only making it different.

Carol Kilgore said...

I've been tinkering with my blog this weekend, too. Still not done. Good advice to move on once a manuscript is sold.

Terry Odell said...

Carol - tinkering is what got me into trouble! Whoever designed the interface didn't take the dweeb factor into account. I can't find the right settings to change the font color on the comments. Why isn't there a tab that says "comments"? Grrrr.

Celia Yeary said...

I have read you need to have nerves of steel and understand the riddle of the big bang theory to understand HTML. Me? I decided life is too short to spend it on fooling with it. However, I love my blog (blogspot) and really like fiddling with it--only if I don't need to do HTML. I added a page to mine last week, and the instructions I found on the net all dealt with HTML--yes, this was for blogspot, adding a page--but I said, nope. Not gonna do it. Then I went to the edit place on mine and found "add a page"--I clicked, and added and the title appears at the top of the main page. I told my "friends" group about it, and some of them did it in five minutes.
Your blog? I like it--but then I likd the other one. Personally, I like to read something that's already on the page, but I understand why you're doing it your way. (I just finished sketching out a blogpost titled "Confessions of a Blog Junkie.") I love blogs. Celia

Terry Odell said...

Celia, thanks for your comment. I was thinking about that 'add a page' bit. Maybe I'll try it next. I hope clicking that one 'keep reading' link isn't too much of a bother. It's a trade-off, like everything else.
What bugs me is that blogspot says you don't need to know HTML, but then their options don't do what you need, and when you try to fix it, you have to start messing with code. I don't understand a bit of it; I pray that I copy and paste things in the right places. Sometimes I do, but if I don't, I'm helpless.

Mary Ricksen said...

I feel even worse about this stuff. If my DH didn't help me, I'd have a big mess.
I don't think my brain can manage computer teck stuff.

Caroline Clemmons said...

If my Dh and daughter didn't help me, I'd have to forget blogging and websites. You're brave, Terry, and the new look is nice.

Debra St. John said...

It's always so nice to get another round of edits over and done with. One step closer to the final product!

jean hart stewart said...

Terry, interesting you'd call yourself a dweep. Tain't true, you got your persona mixed with mine. Jean

Terry Odell said...

Mary, Carolone - I rely on the hubster for a lot, but he doesn't blog, so he doesn't know this stuff.

Debra -- yep, but it'll be nearly a year before the book hits the shelves. Lots of time to remind myself it's all out of my hands.

Jean- I don't think so. Everything I do is strictly trial and error. Mostly error.

Kerrie said...

Good luck with the tweaking of the blog. I recently redecorated mine and I spent way too many hours working on it, but was happy with what I finally ended up with. I am not a novel writer (I write short nonfiction and fiction) but I think when it comes to any kind of writing, there is a time you just have to let it go and move on to the next project.

Terry Stonecrop said...

I tried the "keep reading" thing once and it screwed up so much I discarded it. Nice feature, if you can get it to work.

Your new look looks good.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Terry,
I am afraid my blogging expertise is very minimal, pitiful if I was to be brutally honest.
You seem to be doing just fine
Regards

Margaret

Kathy said...

Nice "new" blog lol. I think I over edited my winning entry before I submitted it to Harlequin but hey live and learn I figured it out a bit late but maybe soemday I will have another chance to submit something to somebody.

Kathy said...

I might even manage to type without so many typos that was supposed to be someday* not soemday* I do that a lot though. I'm a typo queen, everybody that knows me says that. :-P