While Uncle Remus’ stories of Brer Fox, Brer Rabbit, and Brer Bear have fallen out of fashion, the Tar Baby incident illustrates my sentiments about this blog since the start of 2015. In this tale, Brer Rabbit allows himself to be trapped by a Tar Baby — a figure that Brer Fox has fashioned out of tar and posed in the road, knowing that the sociable Brer Rabbit will attempt to strike up a conversation with the Tar Baby. When the Tar Baby fails to respond, Brer Rabbit eventually gets frustrated and strikes the Tar Baby — only to find himself caught in the sticky tar. Of course the wily Brer Rabbit outwits his captor by manipulating Brer Fox into tossing him in the briar patch, but, for a time, Brer Rabbit is entangled with the ooey-gooey figure of tar, unable to extricate himself.
I took a break over the holidays — partly to enjoy time with my college kids and working son, partly to celebrate Christmas, partly to visit with extended family. On returning from a week at the beach, where we shared a very large house with other family members, I had amassed quite a few photos and was mentally planning a couple of posts. I still hadn’t figured out how to juggle time spent on my blog with time spent on my daily responsibilities, but the creative wheels were beginning to spin. Then I read an article in The Daily Post recommending that I “optimize” my photos before posting them, and — wham! Just like Brer Rabbit, I was entangled in a mental mess, unsure how to proceed.
The reasons for “optimizing” images — which, as best I can tell, means to resize them — were good ones: smaller photo files load more quickly and take up less space. All well and good, but I began to feel as if I had plunged a foot into a murky bog. Here was another process to factor into the time it takes to put together a blog post, and I already had difficulty justifying the time spent on my blog(s). At the very least, it would take at least five minutes per photo to resize and save it; for a post with ten photos, that’s nearly an extra hour. And I’d have to be careful to save the resized photo as a new file, so that I didn’t lose my original high-res file. I might even need to install a new program on my over-loaded computer.
Guess how many blog posts I wrote after reading that article? Zero. On my other site, which is more abstract in orientation, I found that, even with one foot bogged down in the mire of indecision, I could still write Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday posts. But here on sappy as a tree, where I wanted to write a couple of posts with many photos, I was stuck.
I had plenty of time to think about blog posts yesterday as I drove my daughter to an out-of-town audition: she had been up past midnight the night before at a homeschool formal, so she needed to sleep in the car. I could have listened to music or an audiobook, but I decided to keep things quiet. I muted the GPS, kept an eye out for cops, and planned blog post after blog post.
Up to now, I had felt proud of myself for not accumulating many unpublished drafts in my Dashboard; for this site, there are only three unpublished drafts: no guts, no glory, right? But I realized something as I drove down the road: I’ve been drafting posts all along, but, mostly, they never get out of my head and onto WordPress. Now, with the weighty issue of image optimization dragging me down, I was less likely than ever to transform my latest ideas into posts.
It’s not that I have to optimize images, you understand, but I’ve been on the readers’ side, waiting for the images to upload. I can see that this is the way of the future, and, for this post, I will experiment with resizing my images before I upload them to the library. Or I could just beg Brer Fox to throw me in the briar patch?