3 June, 2001
Website Testing Ground

If you are reading this, you have stumbled across my website testing ground, or the powers-that-be have finally updated the DNS for my domain name. In which case, this isn't the testing ground anymore. It is the live site. As you can see, I figured that switching hosting services would be a great time to do a total make-over of my site. As you can see, it still needs a lot of work.

Yes, I know my javascript doesn't work with Netscape 4.77. The buttons still work. They just don't light-up. Interestingly enough, if you perform a right-click refresh on the menu frame, the javascript works until you click a button. Mac users could try an option-click refresh; although, I don't know if there is such a thing or even know how my site reacts to a Mac.

This website is about 98% XHTML v1.0 complacent.

18 June, 2001
On the Website Redesign

To answer a question that nobody has asked, I figured that changing web-hosting services was an excellent opportunity to redesign my website. The previous site design was going on three years old. My old Internet service provider decided that it was too good for the likes of private citizens. They only wanted to deal with business accounts, and I am definitely too much the small fry to fit into that description. This year alone, Stormsdream has lost almost three hundred dollars. It just goes to show that if you have absolutely no business sense (like me) but want to make money off your work then (whatever you do) don't go into self-publishing. Why I went into self-publishing is a subject I shall leave for a future rant (I mean, journal entry). The short answer is that I went off my nut.

Anyway, my old site design had been nagging at me of late. It was a site of whimsy with fanciful names for the different pages and just about every single page had a different menu layout. Hard to navigate, I know, but I just did not want to admit it. I had even given the subdirectories fanciful titles like echoes and canvas and anarchy. Anyway, being thrown out by my old ISP was the perfect catalyst. It was time to redesign

The two things I knew I wanted to do with the site redesign were (1) simplify the menu options, making it easier to find stuff and (2) place a consistent menu on each page. There would be no more fiction archive or audio library or even publishing empire. There would be BOOKS and MUSIC and POETRY and some such stuff. Nor had I planned on making a framed site, being somewhat wary of frames myself. The menu would be a banner to stretch across the top and bottom of each page.

I tested a couple different menu design options even going so far as to play with JavaScript buttons, which was something else I had not intended to do. I was going to have a very simple menu based on text. The JavaScript buttons were just a lark. They were never intended to be part of the final design. In the end, they just looked too cool not to use.

I threw the whole thing together, and it nagged at me. There was something wrong. The menu overpowered the title graphic, which was a very cool graphic. It was created quite by accident while pushing buttons in Adobe PhotoShop. There were even a couple of days where I couldn't figure out how I had created the effect. The JavaScript buttons overpowering the title graphic left me with a bit of a problem. The main component of my website is text. It is all of these short stories and poems and assorted whatnot. I knew I wanted the site to be optimized for an 800 by 600 pixel screen, which meant that screen width was at a premium. I wanted to give over as much width as possible to text. I thought that meant the menu had to go across the top. The whole thing nagged at me, but I figured I could live with it.

I showed the site redesign to a web designer friend of mine, and she tore it a new asshole. She hated the menu across the top because it stole away from the cool title graphic, and she said that the JavaScript buttons were really gaudy. I moped for a while. When I was done moaning and bellyaching and feeling sorry for myself, I redesigned the buttons and stuck them down the left-hand margin, discovering something really interesting. There was more than enough room left over for text. Silly me.

The site redesign goes beyond simply changing the layout and getting rid of all the whimsical titles. The autobiography page is gone. The archived news page is gone. Fiction and poetry have been segregated, making it much easier to find the poetry. The spoken stories have been separated from the music. There is currently only one spoken story because Woodsorrow only existed in Realaudio format, and I only want to support the MP3 format. I will get around to doing a new recording of Woodsorrow. I just don't know when. Most of the pictures are gone. Some of which were just out of date. Kat and Jason just celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary. What was I thinking with pictures from their wedding still on my website? I hope they can forgive me.

The scariest and most ambitious change to my website is replacing the old news archive with a journal. Let me say at the outset that I am not a big fan of journals. I never understood them and never got into them. If I was going to write, I was going to write the story or the poem or the music. Why waste time scribbling shit down in a journal? I never understood.

The journal is my most daring experiment to date. The plan is to document the process of rewriting the prequel to The Magic Flute. On a semi-regular basis, I intend to write soliloquies such as this about my progress on the work. The first such meandering muck-a-luck of words shall probably be on the topic of why I published the sequel before the first book. The short answer is, of course, that the first book sucks greasy shit through a tube. This can be seen most obviously in the fact that I changed the name of the book every single time I looked at it. The sequel on the other hand was always and forever The Magic Flute.

All I will say for now is that the current working title of the prequel is Of Wraths and Wraiths.

24 June, 2001
On Rewriting the Prequel to The Magic Flute

The first step in rewriting the prequel to The Magic Flute is to re-read The Magic Flute. This serves two purposes. I need to reacquaint myself with the cast and the settings. There are details and personality quirks that I am sure I have forgotten, and it is not just such things as knowing that somebody prefers their martinis shaken and not stirred. I need to know them better than they know themselves. I will also be paying attention to how much they reference the prequel. There is one plot detail in the prequel I want to change that I can't remember if they talk about in The Magic Flute.

Calling this journal the most challenging and ambitious thing I have ever attempted seems a bit much. Even as I wrote that sentence in the last journal entry, I wondered why I was going to let such an egotistically bloated sentence survive a cursory edit.

The journal is going to be challenging for a very simple reason. I'm not going to mention a single plot detail, which is much harder than it sounds when you are talking about the process of writing a book. It isn't as if I have conceptual art or drawings to hand about. All I've got are thoughts and words on paper. Most of those chicken scratches have to do directly with the plot or ramifications of the story.

I can't go into detail about that. My paranoia won't let me. If I talk story or plot, what is to stop some strange bugger from writing their own story and claiming that I copied off him? It would be even worse if people sent me advice on plot points and suddenly thought they were collaborators or some such non-sense. Next thing I know, I've got people hanging from the rafters who think they deserve co-author credit. The only thing I can do to protect myself—aside from not doing a journal—is to delete any email that starts to look like plot or story advice. If it comes to it, I will install email filters at the server level so that I never even see the offending messages.

After finishing my review of The Magic Flute, I will not be re-reading the prequel before rewriting it. This is to be a full rewrite and not simply a revision. I shall be giving the story a good and serious thrashing. All that shall remain is the plot and the basic outline of many of the scenes. It shall not be as if I took an old rug that I strung-up for dusting and beat the unmerciful crap out of it. Rather, I shall weave a new rug from the fabric.

I started work on the prequel when I was fifteen years old. It has gone through very many revisions and changes, but I had always sought to keep the unruly youth of the work intact. I have a warts-and-all approach to writing and simply tweaking the story was my approach to revising it. Something would be changed here. Something changed there. Scenes could be added, revised or removed, but the basic work endured.

This time, it all goes. What remains is the core of the idea. It is still a quest story. They go somewhere. They find something, learning something of themselves. They bring it back to show and tell. Everybody lives happily ever after except we know they don't because you've already read the sequel.

This is as close to plot details as I want to get.

copyright © 2001 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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