Notebook #10: 2017 Review (2-3)

My 2017 review is divided into 3 posts.


#2 Online/Digital Review

Featured in Bazaar magazine, and Web updates.

If you have been visiting the website throughout the year, you would have noticed frequent (and oftentimes glaring) changes. I have been working assiduously on integrating different platforms and improving your reading experience. I strove to build a user-friendly infrastructure that assists navigation between pages and posts. The previous platforms contained scores of dead ends, and clunky organization of content.

I spent months combing through every post in the /exhibition tab, inserting hyperlinks to facilitate the movement between one article and the next. As you can see, I also added new creative material for your enjoyment.

Alongside all the structural changes, I experimented with designs and templates, not just externally (colors, featured images, fonts, etc.), but internally as well. Hence, I tested a variety of landing pages, and consistently changed formatting and organization of content.

Since I write in many genres and I am active throughout the year, my aim was to clarify and focus the material online, so that newcomers would understand the essence of my work instead of getting overwhelmed with a plethora of details. The minutiae is still available for perusal, but it requires desire on the part of new visitors. If readers want to spend hours on my website, they can now do so, as I have added various documents for exploration (publications and talks on Anglowaiti Literature, segments from my poetry notebook on Fountain of Youth, an old play in verse, snapshots from my past, and miscellanea from my writing notebook). Otherwise, newcomers get a glimpse of who I am as an artist and what I’ve accomplished thus far sans the bells and whistles.

While I worked on the website, I also integrated and unified the designs of my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and Goodreads). I invested in a mailing list, which I hope that I will update regularly next year – the plan is to communicate on a monthly basis, and to continue providing gifts and exclusive content that separates subscribers of my readers list from all my other followers.

Featured in Bazaar Magazine and High Resolution Pictures

I was thrilled to be featured in Bazaar magazine’s November issue. The feature includes an article by Bazaar Staff and a q-and-a with me.  While working on the feature, however, I realized that my website needed high resolution pictures, because the editor and I struggled right up until publication day itself with selecting images to accompany the text. I was in and out of the country, and whenever the editor called, I was away from my computer, which meant that I was away from my collection of high resolution pictures.

When I returned home, I added a variety of high resolution pictures for editors to choose from in the future, and I clearly identified their photographers. In addition to the photos section, I optimized the video and audio pages, and I updated two about me pages. In preparation for my new book, I redesigned my young adult page, and I updated the one I had made for Arabic readers.

Notebook Posts

As I mentioned earlier, I launched a new segment on my journal where I share miscellanea from my writing notebook. I’m hoping to publish more of these posts next year, if only to prevent me from playing around with web-design and coding — I realized that tinkering with my website is where I naturally end up when I start itching to procrastinate. I do feel content with this design presently and I hope to maintain it for a while.

Social Media

A pledge that I made at the start of the year, concerning logging out of my social media networks after using them, helped me to focus and work longer hours. Previously, I would break my concentration on silly notifications — a new follower, a like, a comment, and so on. This year, I plan on setting aside specific hours during the day/week for social media, instead of maintaining the habit of logging out, working, then logging back in again and wasting time; because let’s face it, five minutes always turn into half an hour or more. I would like to avoid squandering my free time, and to engage in productive pursuits, even if I’m only scribbling in my writing notebooks or learning new vocabulary. I started learning Hebrew and would like to spend more time on that instead of social media.

Having said that, I am planning to grow my online community in 2018. However, I intend to accomplish that while adhering to self-imposed boundaries which I designed in order to protect my free time (and my mood!). The intention is to become more helpful and more generous with readers and fans of my work, and to share and network consciously.

YouTube Updates

I struggled when I recorded selected poems from Fountain of Youth for the Vine Leaves holiday sale in November. It was the first time I film in my apartment, and I didn’t have equipment that facilitated the process. When I found the area that I would turn into my impromptu studio, I used the following items to record. First, I placed two coffee tables on top of one another. I then added two empty boxes, which previously contained water bottles, on top of them. And when my contraption began to shake, my cats endeavored to protect the world from the makeshift Godzilla. Despite the coffee tables and the empty boxes, however, the camera angle still came out short. I scavenged the apartment for smaller objects and discovered tissue boxes. I added a few to control the height, and placed some behind the phone to prevent it from falling. And that is the other thing. I filmed with my phone (not a professional camera), using the iPhone’s headset to record the audio. In addition to pausing and restarting the recording because the ice cream man was yelling on the street, I also had to stop when my phone buzzed (only then did I realize that I have an abominable amount of alarms set up on my phone!).

The good news is that for Christmas Dalal got me a tripod (which works on both phones and cameras), so I will, hopefully, record more YouTube videos next year. Not sure on what, but I guess we’ll find out together.

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