Blogging. What a Trip.

At post-run drinks the other day, a friend mentioned updating his blog. Then we had a talk about writing our books, about how hard it is to nail the ending, and about how, much, goddamn, TIME you put into something like a novel with no guarantee of that time paying off for you in any tangible way, no guarantee that that book will ever reach an audience other than yourself.

Okay, now I’m depressed about writing again.

But blogging as a topic of conversation in a run space, the runniest of my run spaces, got me a little inspired and thinking that maybe, with a little tending, this blog could be more than a relic of a less active time in my life.

I feel like blogging has an uneasy space in today’s options for communication and self-promotion. If I am looking for attention, for example, I will make a facebook post. This will get me immediate feedback in the form of comments and likes, and will be seen by more people than blog content that requires time to click through to a different website and read a whole post. The immediate feedback feels nice. What a thing to want, though. Feedback. Attention. “Attention-seeker” is a very negative thing to call someone, and if anyone is being bratty, or acting up, or behaving in a way that is over-the-top and destructive to those around them, they are commonly dismissed with the phrase, “Oh, they’re just looking for attention.” So even on Facebook I feel a lot of pressure not to post too much, or too loudly. It can be hard to tell where the line is between sharing and bragging. I often feel annoyed by the relentless positivity of posts that are meant to inspire, often by public figures who have turned their online presence into a brand. I try not to trust this annoyance because perhaps I am cynical or jealous—but I also try to hit a more subdued note, and to not post about accomplishments more than once or twice a week. And yet… I spike my hair up and dye it Rock’n Roll Red (words from the Manic Panic bottle, not mine). I want to be seen.

So blog posts don’t get seen in the instant way a Facebook post would. What’s the point of a blog, then? Is it a diary? My actual diary, for which I use the more sophisticated term journal, is for writing in when I’m mad about boys. I have a series of physical notebooks on predominantly this topic going back to the year 2000. A blog makes a crappy diary because I’m not exactly going to blog publicly about every detail of my life. Sometimes I wish I could—I sure have some witty things to say about it—but I place too much value on my own privacy and the privacy of others to ever use a blog post the way I use my journal.

Maybe a blog is just to have a consistent online presence in a world where things like that matter, or could matter depending on what decisions you make and paths you take. A blog is a place on the internet to hang your hat, ready to mobilize on that future date when you sell your novel or launch your public career as a motivational speaker (Ha!). Or, smaller scale, maybe it’s just to practice saying a few things. To practice writing them down, and to try growing less afraid to share the parts of yourself that are shareable, just in case your sharing might give a moment of pleasure or connection to someone else. Maybe?

This isn’t a big “The Blog is Back” announcement. The future is uncertain and priorities are constantly shifting. But I wanted a to write a post and then I kept wanting to write it, to the point that I’ve actually drafted this on a public library computer while waiting for my replacement laptop charger to arrive in the mail. So maybe I’ll keep wanting to write blog posts. I’m guessing I’ll want to write posts about running, which is why I’ve redesigned the website to feature running in the tagline and header (photo credit Craig Dilger—you can’t see it in the mobile version but yes the tiny runner on the breakwall is me). This might be a temporary redesign—maybe I’ll write another blog post soon about how all my tech is breaking down and it’s making digital art difficult. Maybe not. The future is uncertain. This is a blog post. The end.

Twenty-Six Things

1.) Sometimes, writing blogs and communicating with people is really hard.

2.) As more time passes [without a blog post, an email, a tweet, a wordpress comment], it only gets harder.

3.) I haven’t gone running for two weeks.

4.) I’ve also had a cold for the last two weeks.

5.) I haven’t drawn much for the last two weeks either.

6.) I have been writing… in a way. Wanderlust II is fermenting, and coming together in bits and pieces. I’ve also been doing some brainstorming on an older project.

7.) I feel terrible that I haven’t finished the Race to the 8th bonus prizes yet. Absolutely terrible.

8.) The title Race to the 8th, in the context of a silly little contest on my silly little blog, sounds insensitive and unimportant after yesterday. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

9.) Now, talking about anything else feels insensitive.

10.) But there are a few more things on my list.

11.) For instance, I am moving to Portland at the end of the month.

12.) Portland: Maine, that is.

13.) I’m looking for a job.

14.) But not hard enough—see things 3, 4, and 5. It’s been a lazy couple weeks.

15.) I’ll fill out more applications tomorrow.

16.) I read this quote somewhere yesterday:  “Tomorrow is always the busiest day of the week.”

17.) Perhaps I should fill out more applications today.

18.) Today is Brother’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Brother! He was up this weekend, and we had a party on Saturday. It was fun.

19.) The ice cream from the party is still in my freezer. I have over-indulged.

2o.) In fact, I suspect I am sabotaging myself and my energies with bad food, and I suspect I am doing it maliciously.

21.) I want to take a nap.

22.) Leftenant Weatherby finished reading Wanderlust! He sent me a positive, one might even say glowing, review.

23.) I finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

24.) It’s a pretty heavy book. Don’t read it if you’re sensitive—I would have found it really disturbing six or seven years ago.

25.) I’m going to try to draw something tonight.

26.) Thank you for reading. I hope I can provide you with more content soon.

Writing Marathon Day 8! Race to 8th Final Day! With Winners!

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Day 8! My birthday! The race is over!

(Just by the way: you all saw the photo of my birthday flowers in yesterday’s post, right? They’re really lovely.)

The Writing Day

And… I made it to the end of the manuscript. Wheeee!

Now, making it to the end doesn’t exactly mean I’m done. There’s still that bit I skipped in Chapter 11, all that tidying up in Chapter 1, that one thing to resolve in Chapter 5, and that one formatting decision to make. Still, though, I made it to the end. It’s pretty exciting. I’m going to give myself one more week to fix all of the above, and then I AM LETTING SOMEONE ELSE READ THIS SUCKER.

I have made huge amounts of progress this week. Seriously, huge. In 8 days I’ve finished chapters 9, 10, 11, and 12 (except for that one bit of 11.) I want to thank you guys so much for reading this blog and for encouraging me in this project. It means a lot. I feel very blessed this birthday.

On to the blog topics!

And the winner is…

Lady Higg! Congratulations!

If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that Lady Higg is my best friend. Tragically, she lives in Michigan, and I haven’t seen her in FOREVER (or, you know, since July). You should totally check out her beer-themed blog: Ales to Stouts. She’s been having a rough few days, so head over there and show her some love!

Lady Higg’s Entry: Since leaving college, have you found it harder to write, or less hard? Do you find that not being in a classroom everyday, surrounded by people who are creatively challenged (at least academically) a challenge as a recent graduate/author?

In some ways, college feels like a very long time ago! In general, it has been easier to write since graduation. This is because I haven’t had all those other academic pursuits sapping all my strength and focus; writing has been it. That’s sort of the tragic thing about college—you have inspiration coming at you on all sides from so many people and experiences, but then there’s so much to do to keep up with school requirements that it’s nearly impossible to make headway on personal projects. Unless you sneakily make your personal projects into school projects, which admittedly I did all the time. I do miss Writers’ Club, and the Writing Center, and I miss talking with other people who are having all the same creative and literary challenges as me, but the blogosphere fills that gap a little. In fact, the blogosphere is pretty saturated with young women trying to write their first YA book, so that creates a sense of community. Mostly I miss hanging out with the crew; Lady Higg, Leftenant Weatherby, Constable Maelstrom, Lorax, Fights With Centaurs, and all the rest, but I’ve been keeping in touch with them through the interwebs, and I hope to see some of them again soon. I feel like the writing circle is still very much alive. Also, since leaving college, I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve been able to make writing my main focus. Thanks to the generosity of my parents, I haven’t had to worry about room and board, and I’ve been working in a very part time capacity to pay for everything else. Sometimes I feel like a freeloader, but my parents are helping me out because they believe in my book, and so I’ve decided the best thing I can is take advantage of this opportunity and make as much progress toward my dream as possible.

Thanks for your entry, Lady Higg! You’ll be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT: I only have two entries left in my entry box. And, so, I’ve decided that EVERYONE WINS!

Bonus Winner #1:

Taozi. Congratulations, Taozi! Everyone, make sure you visit her blog: Taozi Tree Yoga

TAOZI’s entry: Ingredients found in a “The Wanderlust Salad”:

“Diets” often entail cutting out food. It is more beneficial mentally to bring more INTO it instead. Obviously, bringing the RIGHT stuff. What do the ingredients look like for “The Wanderlust Salad”. We have all heard of “The Waldorf” “The Cobb” and “The Caesar”. Now its time to get creative and put together a colorful, delicious, and INTERESTING “Wanderlust Salad”. Bon A-petite!

Put Music, Magic, and Irish Mythology in a large bowl. These three ingredients make the base of the salad. Next, add a healthy serving of pretty young men, using the Vanya and Taniel varieties. Throw in a handful each of goblins, wolves, swamps, and battlefields. Add some horses, if you have any, and if you’ve got an airplane sitting in the back of the pantry go ahead and toss that in too. Garnish with classic rock, friendship, and adventure. Toss well, and enjoy!

Thanks for your fun question, Taozi! You’ll be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

Bonus Winner #2:

Cora. Congratulations, Cora!

Cora is a friend from the magical realm called The Writing Center, where I used to work. We also got to hang out for a weekend in Maine this summer. 🙂

Cora’s Entry: Write about the legend of the Writing Centaur, how it began and those who made it flourish.

The Writing Centaur is an eternal being. He had no beginning; he has always been. It is true, however, that he didn’t always reveal his presence to those who trespassed on his realm, those mortal children who spent a mere year or two fighting against illiteracy, plagiarism, and misused semi-colons in the Writing Trenches of Northern Michigan University. I believe it was when Leftenant Weatherby ascended to the Writing Throne (have worked his way up through the ranks by becoming a member of the Red-headed Writers Cabal, questing to various writing conferences, and otherwise currying favor with the almighty Z) that the Centaur first revealed himself to the students of his domain. The Centaur knew that here was a monarch worthy of himself, and from that day onward the writing soldiers had to guard their backs, for they knew now that the Centaur was watching. It should be noted that, while the Centaur is a majestic and magical being, he is not safe, and he is a dangerous creature to live with. It was when Leftenant Weatherby was succeeded by Fights With Centaurs that the battles became truly serious; Fights With Centaurs earned her name when she forced the Centaur back Beyond The Door. For the rest of that year, while Fights With Centaurs crafted zombie-escape plans and dealt with the politics of the Writing Court, we of the Writing Trenches heard the ominous beating of the hooves against the door in the back of the room. The Centaur will always knock, and he will always punish those in his domain who fail to respect the Writing Ways.

Thanks for your question, Cora! I miss the Center, and the Centaur. I hope someone is keeping him in line these days. You will be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

And that’s it! I declare the Race to the 8th Marathon officially over. Now it’s off to eat some birthday shrimp (with sugar-free frozen yogurt for dessert!)

-Grace out

Writing Marathon Day 5, and Tonight’s Contest Winner

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So this is a writing marathon. A RACE to the 8th. This implies running through the remaining editorial tasks as quickly as possible, and finishing by Friday. This is a great idea and all, but sometimes the writing won’t run. Sometimes it plods. Sometimes it lurches. Sometimes it limps. Sometimes it crawls. Sometimes it lies on the ground and flails its way forward like an out-of-water fish. And if you try to make an out-of-water fish get up and sprint, it’s only going to lie there in a confused puddle, make some gurgling noises, and stop even the flailing that was moving it forward, however little at a time. So you have to accept the out-of-water fish-ness of your writing, because only by flailing along for a little while will you start crawling again (and limping, and lurching, and plodding), and, if you’re very very lucky, running.

The Writing Day

If you haven’t guessed from that intro, today was sort of an out-of-water-fish flailing day for the writing. Taking that into account, I actually did very well. I rewrote the whole intro to Chapter 11, and completely integrated that new scene with the existing scenes, and began tackling some of the new scenes. I’m about a third of the way through the chapter, and with only three days left… Well, I might not actually make it to the end of the book. I’m still so much closer than I was before.

Also, tomorrow may be an issue. I have a harp lesson tomorrow afternoon (which I am SO under-practiced for!) and then choir practice at night, and possible band practice after that. That’s a lot of chunks out of the writing day. I will absolutely do my best, but don’t be surprised if the blog gets posted later than usual.

Anyway. Let’s draw a winner.

And the winner is…

Ruthanne. Congratulations, Aunt Ruthanne!

Yes, Ruthanne is my aunt. She is also a 2012 NaNoWriMo winner, and one of this blog’s strongest facebook supporters. She and my cousin run a tie-dye business, to which the website is still under construction… but they have a facebook page! You can at least see some photos of their work on there, all of which is really good. Also, Ruthanne’s birthday is February 8th too! I have an older cousin (Ruthanne’s niece) who was born on February 8 as well. When I went to North Carolina this year we were actually all three in the same place for a photo op; it’s still my cover photo on facebook. 🙂

Ruthanne’s entry: I would love it if you would blog about blogging — why you decided to do it, how you set it up, how it motivates you or feeds you or plagues you with a commitment when you’re not in the mood to write — whatever it means to you. This would be of interest to me because I’m thinking of starting a blog — possibly on February 8th, when I turn 59.

I hope you do start a blog, I will be very excited to read it! For me, starting a blog was basically a necessity for my career. I want to be an author, and now-a-days, authors blog. Even if you’re going the completely traditional, send-your-manuscript to an agent route, the word is that you still need an author platform. Even with traditional publishing, a lot of promotion falls to the author, and the blog is  the most obvious way to do that, and to be present and able to interact with your fans. I was also influenced by Robin McKinley’s blog. McKinley is an incredible author whom I idolize, and then I discovered that she has a blog where she rants about life and dogs and bell-ringing and posts serialized blog fiction. She is seriously a world-class author, and if you haven’t heard of her for shame (no, not for shame, for joy! You still have all these Robin McKinley books ahead of you), and suddenly, through her blog, I felt like I knew her a little bit. Of course, Robin McKinley already had a gazillion fans when she started her blog, but reading her blog helped me begin to think of blogs as fun and worthwhile. And yes, it was a business necessity. I needed somewhere to send people for more information when I mentioned my book in a conversation, and I needed to begin building a fanbase in preparation for the book’s launch, and I needed a place to post my artwork. I’ve tried blogging before, but I had a book review blog (I’d link to you to it, but I’m a bit embarrassed about that one pro-twilight review), an art blog, and much later a writing blog. I didn’t keep up with any of them because the topics were too specific to sustain my interest. When I made this blog, though, with just my name at the top, I was free to write about anything. Since my projects vary greatly, I found this really freeing and a lot of fun. This will be my 62nd post on this blog, which seems pretty incredible. I think the reason I’ve been able to keep up with it so well is that, while writing has been a pretty big focus here, I’m free to write about anything else I find important.

As for setting it up, it’s really easy and free to set up a blog with wordpress.com. It’s also free on Blogspot, but WordPress generally looks a lot cleaner, and it’s really easy for other wordpress users to find and follow your blog (and easy for you to find theirs). It’s a really nice community in that way, although I confess at this point I’m not really sure how to reach out to readers beyond wordpress.com. I’ve purchased my own domain name, of course, because that feels more professional, and I also paid wordpress for the extra customization option, I think because some of the colors in this theme didn’t match the colors I wanted and that seemed really important at the time.

What I find most frustrating about the blog is that posting things publicly generates (in me, anyway) a desperate need for feedback. My plan is always to dash off a blog post in the morning and then write for the rest of the day, but sometimes I spend the rest of the day refreshing my email notifications every five minutes and searching for a sign that someone has read my post. This can be a real distraction for an easily distractible person! And sometimes, the posts that I think are my best posts get the least feedback, and don’t find a lot of readers. At times like these, I have to sigh and remind myself that I’m building a platform, and it’s going to take time.  For instance, I have over one hundred “followers,” and I am very grateful for every one, but that doesn’t translate to one hundred hits every time I post. Right now, I average about 20 hits on a day when I publish. People are starting to find me with some interesting search terms, though, which I think comes from the fact that I am always expanding my number of posts and topics. (By the way, detailed and easy-to-understand analytics for traffic on your blog is another good reason to choose WordPress.)

In conclusion, I really enjoy the blog. Keeping up with it has felt pretty natural; I usually enjoy writing the posts (the ones I don’t enjoy usually don’t get posted) and I do it because it’s part of the whole proces of becoming someone who gets taken seriously as a writer. This is also my second week-long blog event experience, and I’ll admit the writing a post every single night is getting really exhausting… but it’s also motivating me to work really hard on my book, and I’ve also picked up a good number of followers in the last few days (thank you all! I hope you stick around!) So I’m still trying new things, but overall it’s been really rewarding.

Thanks for your question, Ruthanne! You will be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and definitely by the end of February. And happy early birthday!

-Grace

Tolkien Week Post 4: The Collection

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It’s stiiiiiiill Tolkien Week! And we’ve had our first contributor. 🙂

M.D. Sanchiz wrote a Tolkien Week post over at her very cool blog. Go check it out!

If you want to join the fun, here’s how: 1.) Take the Tolkien Week banner and place it at the beginning of a blog post. 2.) Link to gracemakley.com (because I made the banner and that’s good manners). 3.) Write a post about anything related to Tolkien (how did you first discover the books? What is your favorite movie interpretation? Any scenes or lines from the book that you find especially meaningful? Do you have a rad Tolkien collection you’d like to show off? Who’s your favorite Tolkien illustrator?). 4.) Let me know about your post by commenting here, and I will happily link to you as part of the Tolkien Week festivities.

My previous Tolkien Week Posts have been: The Hobbit (1977), The Return of the King (1980), and Unsung Illustrators.

The Collection

What better time than Tolkien week to celebrate all the Tolkien things I’ve managed to collect over the years? Here’s the collection. I mostly did a sweep of nearby shelves, without digging too deeply—I could have beefed it up significantly with all the movie posters, but most of them are rolled up in the closet. And yes, that is an official Glamdring replica sword, which usually hangs on a very pretty display plaque on the wall.

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Feel free to grab the Tolkien Week banner and share your own collection—or anything else you want to share about Tolkien. I’m running Tolkien week through Sunday, so you still have plenty of time.

Cheers!

Very Inspiring Blog

I have been nominated for an award! Many thanks to Ben over at Shudderingwords for the nomination. He is writer working hard on his book, and also blogging and doing the college thing at the same time. Pretty inspiring stuff!


Since it’s right after thanksgiving, I’m going to use this as an excuse to list fifteen blogs I’m thankful for. I recognize that this functions a little like a chain letter, and if anyone I’ve nominated would rather not take a whole blog post to continue the chain I won’t be in the least offended. Just know that I enjoy your blog and I hope you keep doing what you’re doing!

Below are the rules for the Very Inspiring Blog Award so please follow carefully:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

SEVEN THINGS ABOUT ME (as if this blog hasn’t been completely about me since day one…)

1. I’ve spent A LOT of time practicing my harp this week. This is still the new instrument honeymoon phase, but… I really love it. I feel like this is what all of my musical training has been leading up to. I’ve never felt this at home with a musical instrument before.

2. This was the first time I’ve been home for Thanksgiving in five years. I kept thinking it’s Christmas, since that’s usually the only holiday I’m around for.

3. I used to hate mushrooms. Then in my early teens I decided to like them, because I realized that hobbits like mushrooms. I now genuinely love the taste of mushrooms.

4. My bedroom at home (where I am currently staying) is painted a very dark, highly-saturated purple. The trim is dark grey. The paint job in general is very sloppy, which, now that I’m a sort-of professional painter, drives me crazy.

5. I collect various editions, translations, and retellings of the Beowulf epic.

6. I have a lot of verse memorized, including that three-page monstrosity from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.

7. I almost adopted a dog this week. It was a near thing. Common sense prevailed in the end, though, and no dog for me.

FIFTEEN NOMINATIONS

Chalk the Sun

Love this blog. Julie writes wonderful book reviews, and also writes elegantly about writing and life.

100 Owls

These owls are cute and majestic. Really nice art.

Ayesha Schroeder

An aspiring writer with an intelligent voice. She also posts tweets from literary agents once a week, which is a really great resource.

The Wizard’s Tower

A writer figuring out how to do it, and being honest about his struggles and triumphs.

Any Singular Woman

Dark, sexy poetry where the rhythm is always spot on.

Black Tea & Birds

Lovely short poems that are pleasing, surprising, and satisfying.

Elizabeth Creith’s Scriptorium

Someone who already has a career in the writing an editing field. The blog is following her current work on a novel called The Swan Harp. I don’t know anything about it, but it has the word “harp” in the title and I can tell Ms. Creith is an excellent writer, so I’m sold!

Homeschool Hijinks

A blog about a girl named Grace who is a home-schooled writer. As a former home-schooling writer named Grace, I find this particularly cool.

A Serendipitous Happenstance

A writer with a work in progress who writes really well about writing and health and other things. Always a pleasure to read.

Possible Truths

This blog is a personal journey; a snapshot of an intelligent person engaging with the world and asking the hard questions with an honest and unapologetic voice.

Kilolightyear

She hasn’t updated in a while, but there’s something about this blogger’s art and sketches that I really love.

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

When I first discovered this blog, the current post was a photo of its author surrounded by goats. She is quirky and honest and the blog is fun to read. She’s also raising the money to visit her overseas lover, which is pretty romantic and cool.

Celeste DeWolfe

A real-life friend from school, and a fellow writer and blogger.

Ales to Stouts

You’ve all heard of the excellent Lady Higg? This is her blog, which granted hasn’t been updated in a while, but I find Lady Higg inspiring in general, and her blog will be awesome when she gets back to it.

Witnessing the Past: The Evolution of a Free Mind

Another friend from school, who is an excellent writer with a truly inspiring life story.

WordPress Woes

I’m happy with how this blog looks. I’m using the WordPress theme Twenty Eleven, which is fairly unobtrusive and allows me to display my artwork in the header and change the background color (I really like the white-on-green thing). The fonts are nice, and don’t draw attention to themselves. I really like the placement of the title and tagline, as well as the individual page links. Even the default links color is perfect. Someday I’d like to design an actual header image instead of just taking a cross section of my book cover, but for minimal effort I think this site looks pretty good. Here’s a screenshot for reference, in case I end up changing it for reasons I am getting to:

See, there’s just one problem. Twenty Eleven doesn’t display sidebar widgets on individual posts. Those are the things that are just to the left of the post on the main page (click “Home” if you are viewing this as an individual post and don’t know what I’m talking about). It includes things like Follow This Blog Via Email, Sign The Wanderlust Mailing List, Recent Posts, Like Wanderlust on Facebook, and Links to Other Blogs. Very important stuff, especially as part of the purpose of this blog is to promote itself and my work. Basically, I think I’m losing potential follows and likes and clicks because most of my pageviews come from links to individual posts, through Facebook and the WordPress reader. I don’t know what to do about this.

WordPress.com is very limited in theme customization, and I have only been able to keep my frustration with this in check because I found a theme that works so well for me. I want to be able to say, “Twenty Eleven! Show my sidebar on individual posts, please!” and have it be done. I should be able to figure out how to do it, through means of complicated html if necessary, and it should DO it. Unfortunately, this isn’t how wordpress.com works.

I’ve paid money to have my own domain name, but I’m still working within wordpress.com. It takes minimal effort and I get to be part of the community, but it forces me to use certain themes and doesn’t allow plugins (including the one that, if I was running wordpress software independently, would display the sidebar in Twenty Eleven). I’m frustrated because I don’t understand why I can’t make things how I want them.  If I like the way a theme displays, I should be able to change the font. If I like everything about a theme but don’t want the title centered, I should be able to left-align the title. I guess the obvious answer is to run the WordPress software myself, but I really enjoy the WordPress community. I enjoy how easy it is for the other wordpressers to follow my blog, and I love following other blogs and seeing their posts show up in my reader. It’s not something I’m willing to give up. The next answer is to just change my theme, but I spent a good hour looking yesterday and couldn’t find one I liked as much as this one for overall appearance, and it’s important to me that overall appearance doesn’t suffer. There’s one more option, and it might just let me have it all: I can buy a $30 a year Custom Design upgrade that allows me full control over Fonts, Colors, and CSS. I think (I’m not sure, but I think) that this will allow me to do things like install that plugin that will show the sidebar on individual posts in Twenty Eleven. Thirty bucks, though. With Domain registration, that’s fifty bucks a year on this blog, and what if I purchase the upgrade and still can’t figure out how to do what I want?

Here’s what I’m faced with. I can

1.) sacrifice functionality by keeping things the way they are, with no sidebar on individual posts,

2.) sacrifice aesthetics by switching to a theme I like less that displays the sidebar,

or 3.) sacrifice $30 (and the freedom of not having to think about anything technical) to purchase a custom upgrade and make everything the way I want it.

What do you think? What’s most important here? Do you have any other suggestions, or know of anything I’ve missed? I was able to add a “Follow Blog Via Email” thing at the bottom of the page that shows on individual posts, but to me that doesn’t seem like enough. Here’s a screenshot of the second-best theme I’ve found that meets my requirements. I don’t like it, it doesn’t make me as happy, but is that even a big deal for any of you readers?