Learning Gutenberg over a beer

So this, apparently, is Gutenberg. It’s time to learn something new in WordPress world. I can’t say I’m excited, but at least it will keep me out of trouble for a little while. An ice-cold Dale’s Pale Ale will be my companion for now so don’t been surprised if my typing deteriorates as we go along.

hot air ballloon
Caption goes here, something about balloons.

Everything in this new Gutenberg editor is a block, or goes in a block. My first challenge is/was to insert an image aligned right, with text wrapped around it. As you can see, I managed to figure that out. It took a couple of tries, but now that I know how to do it I’m feeling pretty good about it. (Any reason we can’t celebrate even the smallest of achievements?)

My first mistake was inserting the image on the page before I did anything else – I guess I was just being contrary, because who would do that, right? – and then trying to drag the picture into place after I added some text. There may be a way to do that, but now I see that it’s simpler to create some text and then position my cursor at the beginning of a paragraph (or somewhere else in the text) and then find insert before or insert after on the More options menu that magically appears when I move my cursor. It’s the little box with a vertical row of three dots. I imagine there’s an actual term for that but don’t really care in this context of just typing stuff to fill up space.

Each paragraph is a block on its own, as I see now after paying attention to what happens when you hit the Enter key.

Nobody I know uses drop caps, but I can see how the ability to drop a cap now and then might be worthwhile. Getting it to stay dropped takes a little experimenting, or at least it did for me. Who would have guessed that you don’t really see the effect until you move along to the next paragraph/block?

Even headings are in their own blocks.

There’s a special block for inserting quoted material, too. Nifty.

Copyright 2018 B.J. Smith

The beer can is empty now so I’m going to wrap this up. Maybe another time I’ll tell you about how I learned to set lead type by hand and printed a small book of poetry. Or maybe not. I think of that whenever I see or hear Gutenberg’s name. Same thing happens whenever I’m in Guttenberg. even though it has an extra t.

Bonus beer fact

The best place in the world to drink Dale’s Pale Ale is the Tasty Weasel, which is just a short bicycle ride from where I’m sitting right now. It don’t git no fresher.

Cheers,

B.J.

The case of the cat and the bicycle

A good editor is like a good detective. Both take note of the obvious, and both notice the things that slip by others.

Here are two examples to think about.

One

Some guy tweeted this the other day:

Two

The same guy put a bicycle in the header of his new Twitter page.

Go ahead. Take a look. Be curious.

Why a cat and why a bicycle?

A casual reader or distracted digital passerby might not ask why. It’s just a cat and just a bicycle. An experienced editor, like a good detective, wonders about the choices and the writer’s or the suspect’s reasoning.

Are the cat and the bicycle just eye-catching visuals or is there some deeper significance? Were the selections deliberate or careless?

Why those images?

In this case, a reader familiar with the writer’s work might recall the fate and symbolism of a yellow-eyed cat. The reader might also begin to wonder if the bicycle foreshadows something not yet revealed.

A skilled detective might begin to poke around.

What do you think?

B.J.

Writing is therapy

Media preview

Critical word for writers and editors: Why?

As an editor, I like to know that writers use their words deliberately.

If I know that the writer picked her words intentionally rather than carelessly, I can do a better job of editing.

question-mark-2123969_1280Many sentences that I encounter employ words in a way that my high school English teachers would have considered incorrect, ungrammatical or even immoral (I’m not kidding).

A stickler by nature and training, I revise or suggest improvements to stuff that other people write. More and more frequently, I ask a question that other editors and writers might find useful: Why?

Why did you choose present tense rather than past?

Why did you spell “colour” that way?

Why can’t I find a verb in what you’re trying to pass off as a sentence?

Did you really mean “their pronouns” or should it be “my pronouns”?

Present tense might be the preferred style, depending on the context. “Colour” may or may not be a typo. The missing verb? A quirk, maybe, or a simple mistake.

Pronouns are more complicated than you might think, as I’ve learned in recent years. My pronouns, for example: he/his/him. Few of my readers need to know that, but the concept of gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive language can be critical in some writing and conversation.

“Why?” can help the writer improve. The answers can be surprising and even educational, for writer and editor.

Takeaways

  • Writers: Choose your words carefully.
  • Editors: Ask why.

Creating content vs. writing with intent

Creating content is a fuzzy, buzzy phrase that means writing and editing stuff.

backlit keyboardThat stuff might take any number of forms, including news, entertainment, commentary, analysis, scientific papers, technical instructions, training, even clickbait.

Some stuff is still delivered on paper, with ink. Much is delivered digitally in some form: text, video, audio or some combination of those.

Creating content is so easy that we’re awash in the stuff. Just look around.

The more rare good content is different, and the best of that is created with intent.

Creating content with intent is akin to what I call writing with intent. Writing with intent — with a solid grasp of your purpose for writing and disseminating your work — inevitably improves the end result.

Whether your purpose is to inform, instruct, train, sell products, sway votes, incite a riot, make people laugh, or just get clicks, be able to state that purpose clearly before you write a word.

You can’t meet an objective if you can’t articulate it.

Keep his gun: Shooting the computer was just stupid

It’s hard to not laugh about the Colorado Springs man who shot his computer in an alley a few days ago, but let me apply the wet blanket.

Sure, computers can be frustrating. We joke about throwing them out a window, taking a baseball bat to them, even shooting them.

Browning 9mm
Wikimedia image

But actually taking one out to an alley in town and letting the bullets fly?

That’s one kind of guy who should not be allowed to own a firearm — one who proudly and openly demonstrated a dangerous lack of responsibility and good judgment, and says he has no regrets.

Don’t give the gun back.

P.S. To the headline writers and others who so gleefully wrote about the guy who “killed” the computer: Save that word for when actual lives are taken by such idiocy.

The guys’ revealing view of cycling people to know

When you publish a list of people to know in an industry and those people are all male, the list may reveal more about yourself than you intended.

Puncture
Puncture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m assuming there was no editor to ask some important questions. The result makes a person wonder if the writer and publishers:

  1. Really believe the only people worth knowing are male.
  2. Did not know there are females worth knowing in the industry.
  3. Even considered the possibility that some women have an impact.
  4. Were just too lazy or didn’t care enough to do a thorough job.

None of those possible reasons for the males-only list reflects well on the guys at Element.ly. On a positive note, they did show the good judgment to publish this two days later: