NaNo 2017 Recap and Life Update

Some days, I dream I’ll be able to become the kind of blogger that takes just fifteen minutes or so to slap a post together and get it posted. I often enjoy that type of blog, because I often feel like I get to know the author better that way somehow—but I haven’t tended to be a good blogger over the last while. Sigh.

HOWEVER, now that NaNoWriMo is officially eight days over, I feel like my brain is starting to return! Hurray!

NaNo was so fun to do this year. After I won in 2013, I really wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to participate again, because I anticipated life getting busier (maybe I was planning on getting married at sixteen; who knows? I can’t remember!). Anyway, even though I did no prep whatsoever for NaNo this year (a BIG no-no in my book!), I was thrilled to be able to participate.

Beach Outing

And even better, I somehow finished. Don’t ask me how that happened; but it did, and I’m thankful!

Since winning NaNo, I’ve focused on a bunch of different things, but the most exciting has been working on the website redesign. Due to several Black Friday sales shared by a blogger I follow, I was able to both purchase the themes I needed to start the redesign, as well as buy website hosting! That was thoroughly exciting, after waiting several months for enough funds to become available.

And, of course, it’s always thrilling to be playing with code and website colors, fonts, and designs again. That’s one part of blogging that I thoroughly enjoy, so it makes my little heart happy to be able to work on it again.

NaNo 2017 Winner Badge

However, life isn’t all fun and games—today, for example, I need to get some book reviews uploaded to the LRD website. I stopped uploading through the month of November, partly due to the lack of available reviews, and partly due to my (ahem) writing at the time. Near the beginning of the month, I decided getting into creative writing would trump working on reviews for the time being. But now that we are into December, it’s high time to tackle that project again.

Then, when that’s done, maybe I can start working on the complex problem with category presentation on the redesign, or perhaps get started on a sewing project I’ve been gazing longingly at for the past week or so.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to dream up a way to get blog posts written and posted easier. Because I do love blogging; I just tend to get to feeling a little stifled at times by the things I “must” do before I can get a post up.

What have you been working on lately?

Website Building and the Vine

Ever since—well, almost before Learning Resource Directory was launched, I’ve been wanting to change to a different name. I knew I wanted something shorter, easier to type, and catchier, but laid that aside to let my subconscious mull over it while I got more important things, like the website launching and more book reviews written, done.

Just a few months ago, I finally came across the perfect name. And although I’m not (quite) ready to share that with you yet, suffice to say I’m thrilled to finally have a name I love!

I bought the domain name several months ago, but didn’t have time to do any more then, as I wanted to research hosting (Gretchen Louise’s tips have been extremely helpful in that area!). I eventually decided to do in-between hosting on Bluehost, where I’m currently hosting this website. I’m not planning to stay here long-term due to a plethora of problems I’ve had, but for now I’ve got another year on the contract I’m on and I may as well use it.

Website Building and the Vine

This past week, I’ve transferred the domain to Bluehost, and am now getting into the exciting phase of deciding on a theme and how to put it together, what I’d like for a logo, how I want the reviews to show up (static, like I have now, or more of a blog layout?), etc., etc.

For someone who’s been through all this designing and tweaking multiple times before, for multiple websites, this is where all the magic (and a lot of the “Oops! I broke it. Now what did I do wrong…?) happens. Next job is to contact someone who designs themes, who has done one particular theme I’ve got my eye on, and ask if she does 30-day money back guarantees in the off chance it doesn’t end up being the right theme for what I need.

And as I sit here, pondering the work I have ahead of copying and pasting, and messing up and trying again and maybe—just maybe—getting it right the first time around for some things, I can’t help but think of that passage in John 15 where Jesus speaks of the vine and the branches. He’s the trunk, the roots, where all the nutrients and plant strength comes from. If that gets cut off, the vines and branches can wither in just a few hours.

Just like a new domain name on a new host—it has potential to do a lot, and if fed the right bits of code and has the correct files that are all interconnected properly, it works well and delivers the information to those who need or want it.

But if just one part of the coding is wrong—even one character off, it’s broken.

Like what mysteriously happened last night when somehow the connection between the two major parts of the website and this blog got disconnected, and they went down. Turned out all I needed was a few bits of text—a database name and a username, and perhaps a password—put in the right places, and we were live again (don’t ask me how they were wrong in the first place, but anyway—it’s obviously fixed now, if you can read this!).

Sometimes, it seems to take daily checking to make sure this website is up and running like it should, no pages showing funny gobbeldy-guck or not showing up at all.

And I have to think how important it is to keep going back to the trunk, the Word, to make sure everything’s still lined up right. No character misplaced, no essential file accidentally deleted. It often takes daily refreshing—both the browser tab kind, and the prayer and reading kind.

But it’s all worth it. Because, in the end, if we are still being fed through the trunk, getting the nutrients we need, we can thrive and grow and through that growth be a blessing to others.

Keep your eyes and heart on Jesus!

What have you been doing lately? Have you ever worked on putting a website together?