Monday, June 11, 2012

An Old Dog on New Tricks

I knew that my web site was outdated years ago.  What had been cool at the turn of the millennium was looking shopworn.  Furthermore the infrastructure of my site was so arcane that I had to hire someone if I wanted to add a school visit to my schedule page.

I finally pulled it together and started looking for someone to hire.  Being a nontechno type who wanted to remain so, I couldn’t imagine anything else.  I approached people I knew.  Busy.  I asked the people I knew for people they knew.  Busy.  How could this be?  It’s a bad economy. 

Then I thought of a former MFA student who came to Lesley University to learn more about writing for kids, but was already an accomplished illustrator, photographer, animator (  Bryan graciously replied that I couldn’t hire him, but that he would mentor me through the beginning steps of building a site.  Damn, it was that old “teach a man to fish” line.  I had really just wanted to go to the fish market or, better yet, ordered my meal at a seafood restaurant. 

Wait a second, I thought.  One reason I wanted the new site was so I could be more self-sufficient.  If I knew how to build the thing, maintaining it would be a snap.  Many normal people seemed to be doing it. And I’d been blogging for a few years; I knew how to insert pictures into text, would bad could it be?

Pretty bad.  Mainly because I not only had to learn this foreign language and skill set, I had to get over my resistance and fear of doing so.  Bryan opened an empty Wordpress site for me, gave me a Skype tutorial and then it was the first day of the rest of my life.  I found something I thought I could do and did it.  Hooray.  I crept along until I came up against a wall, metaphorically speaking, with no idea of how to remove it or get around it because I had no idea why it was there.  I simply Xed out of the site—for a week.  Bryan sweetly got me back on track, but sometimes the problem of asking for explanations meant not knowing enough to understand the answers.

Here we go again, I found something else I could do and in doing so, figured out that first problem.  Happiness!  Hours went by as I slowly learned why what I designed didn’t look the same once the page was in view mode or how to line three photos up across the page.  My new skills kept growing.  Rescaling picture sizes, using Skype to get tutorials, learning enough html to do sidebars, too many colors on one page are too distracting, saturated colors make print vibrate uncomfortably against a black screen, have patience, have patience.  Writing affords you many words and choices to produce a desired result.  Html—just one—so what did I do wrong?  Obsession, then another block and shutdown once more.  For two weeks.  Again and again I’d inch my way back in.

Ultimately I guess this is how we learn most things.  If they are easy for you because you have the aptitude or temperament for them, the push/pull isn’t so painful—or noticable.

Thank you Bryan, and thank you Tim John ( who stepped in at the end to add the banners, programming, bells and whistles far beyond my pay grade.  Yes, it took an absurd amount of time to make this web site.  But maybe not so long to learn a new lesson about learning.

I proudly present to you


Vicki Cobb said...

Susan, your new website is FABULOUS! It's entertaining, informative, comprehensive and cleverly original! Congratulations on learning a new skill. I call this kind of learning the "Tear-Out-One's-Hair School of Frustrations." But it's worth it! Proficiency brings about a HUGE sense of empowerment. I'm enrolled in this "school" constantly. In the past five years I've learned iPhoto, iMovie, Garage Band, Amadeus Pro, iBooks Author, Quick Books, Flash Studio 2, Dreamweaver, and most recently iTunes Producer for Books to get our iNK iBooks packages ready to upload into the iTunes store. Oh yes, and to learn to use all these "i" programs I had to get a macbook pro having been a PC user since 1983. I'm lucky I still have a few hairs left on my head.

Susan E. Goodman said...

Thanks Vicki, obviously I feel your pain, but like you, I do feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Also glad I'm over the hump of starting. Now I can just build on what I've learned until something gets too hard again. Then I'll just shut down again for a few weeks!

Melissa Stewart said...

I love the new site, Susan. Congrats on learning something new and have a great new online presence.