7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 222)
How is the host transfer going? Glad you asked. I’m loving the new host, but I ran into a glitch today. And it wasn’t just any glitch: it was the most exasperating, infuriating, life-ruining technical problem that has ever happened to anyone since the invention of electricity. Think I’m exaggerating? Behold:
My RSS feed was broken (for non-nerds, an RSS feed is just a way that people can read your blog posts without actually visiting your site). Since a large percentage of readers follow my site this way, it’s important that it works. So anyway, it was not working at all, and after a lot of Googling I found out what the problem was: one of the hundreds of files on my server had an extra white space in it. Just one space — like, a single click of the spacebar — would do it. All I had to do was find and remove that space, and everything would work perfectly again. But finding the space was, quite literally, like finding a needle in a haystack.
I’ll gloss over the details of my reaction to this situation, a subject to discuss in detail with my spiritual director, but let’s just say that it’s a good thing that I didn’t have access to a Blow Up World Now button this afternoon.
It eventually got fixed, but I still don’t know what did it. It just started working all of a sudden. Maybe the guys at my host did something. Or maybe God intervened directly as an act of mercy toward Dorian and Hallie, who were on the receiving end of emails from me in which I used many vivid adjectives to describe by feelings about this issue.
The Endless Summer continues here at the Fulwiler house. Between the will-to-live-crushing heat, the mosquitoes, the complete lack of shade in our back yard, and the unfathomable difficulty of getting six young children out the door to go somewhere, our situation increasingly reminds me of that family who was so lost in the Russian tundra that they didn’t know that World War II happened. I remember seeing a documentary where they talked about how these people would sit in their shack with nothing to do for months and months at a time during the winter; they were so insanely bored that they would tell one another about the dreams they had the night before for entertainment.
That’s us. We sit around the living room all day long, with only the occasional argument over video games to break up the monotony. At the end of August, anthropologists are going to break into our house and find us wild-eyed and scared of strangers, so cut off from society for so long that we use grunting noises as our primary method of communication.
Few things delight me more than discovering a book that helps me improve my writing, and so it made my day to come across Rachel Aaron’s ebook 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love (I wasn’t asked to plug it; I just found it in my wanderings on Amazon). Anyone who writes anything should read this. Whether it’s blog posts, novels, a PhD dissertation, or anything else, this book will help you get your writing done faster — in fact, the meat of her suggestions are in the first 10% of the book, so you’ll be able to implement her tips after your first read. Another interesting note is that Aaron is a published author who has written many novels, and they all get great reviews on Amazon.
I haven’t been able to hit 10,000 words in any of my writing sessions, but Aaron’s suggestions did quadruple my output with no decrease in quality. It’s only $0.99 as an ebook — go check it out!
Is it a trend for novels to have incredibly dark themes, or am I just stuck in a rut with Amazon’s recommendations engine because I don’t read very much fiction? It’s probably the latter. I bought Defending Jacob a while back, and now Amazon keeps recommending all of these books that have themes like “life is full of horrific suffering that will crush your soul, but if you try hard enough you might be able to scrape a little meaning out of it.” I spent an hour yesterday trying to find a good novel, but every time I was about to hit Add to Cart I’d notice customer reviews that revealed plot twists like babies dying, mothers dying, people being sexually assaulted, puppies being kicked, or whatever. Ugh! Maybe it’s because I have a new baby or am under a lot of stress, but I cannot deal with books like that right now.
So give me some suggestions for light reads. I mean, it doesn’t have to be a book where the characters experience one joy after the next. It doesn’t even have to have a happy ending. If there aren’t too many plotlines that involve people experience heart-shredding losses that leave them shattered reflections of their former selves, I’ll take it.
I wish I could get myself on a schedule where I ate a big lunch, had a heavy snack at around 5:30 or so, then didn’t eat again after that. Not eating late is standard advice for dieting, but I’ve found that there are other reasons to cut off food earlier rather than later — I sleep better, it’s easier to wake up, and I have more energy the next morning. And the earlier in the evening that I stop eating, the better I feel.
Interestingly, the first time I experimented with this was when our Colombian Kidsave child and her chaperone lived with us in the summer of 2009. Evidently in Colombia it’s standard practice to eat a heavy lunch and a very light dinner. I learned the hard way that this wasn’t a casual preference; they firmly believed that it was bad for your health to eat a big meal late in the evening, and wouldn’t eat much at supper even if they’d had a skimpy lunch. The more time I’ve had to experiment with this kind of eating schedule, the more I think there’s a lot of wisdom behind it.
I am really excited about the beginning of July. Not only is that when I’ll turn the book in to my publisher, but it marks the second half of the year. I’m ready to just call the first half of 2013 a loss, and look forward to an awesome rest of the year.
I don’t know why I laugh until I cry every time I see this video, “The Beach Boys without autotune.” But I do. (via Rachel Lucas)