Write with Calmness

Recently, I’ve been writing on WordPress using the Jetpack application installed on my cell phone and tablet, deprived of a real keyboard and downsized to essentials, but able to pull out the tool and continue playing around with a post throughout the day, adding, subtracting, dividing, etc., on the go (to the extent I ever am on the go these days, where go might look very much like stop). Writing is a disappearing act.

The laptop, my usual tool for developing and publishing posts, as get up and go as the laptop is, is not as flexible and doesn’t travel as easily as the phone or tablet (for one thing, the laptop batteries are down to a trickle, and it must be left plugged in to work). I thought the recent posts from the cell and tablet were displaying wysiwyg (what you see is what you get), but a couple of faithful readers let me know not so. Yesterday’s post, for example, a short poem titled “A Bout,” apparently appeared on their reading devices in a pale white font on a fog colored background, difficult, but not quite impossible, to read. By Jove, I thought, that format (if that’s what it’s called) accurately describes the theme of the poem, but it was unintentional. And the pale white font on fog colored paper was an improvement – posts previous to that one had not appeared at all, those same readers had informed me; under the title, on their devices, the post was blank.

I assumed the problem was user error, and set out to discover how I’d messed things up so, and in the process found (under a three dot dropdown menu at the far top right of the WordPress screen) “Options,” one of which is labeled “Distraction free: write with calmness.” In other words, we have a choice: write, and consider yourself a writer, or fall down the convoluted rabbit hole of blocks, styles, editor this and that, and things Jetpack related – a dichotomy that is of course distorted, unfair, and entirely inaccurate. Well, maybe not entirely. Like the guitarist who trades in the acoustic classical guitar for an electric guitar and a panel of guitar pedals, the writer who incorporates a full spectrum of technological gimmicks or tools, as opposed, say, to simply using pencil on paper – um, one senses a loss of calmness. And yes, I know I just split an infinitive, but I do so in perfect calmness. It’s impossible to split an infinitive in Latin, which is where the absurd rule comes from, but this isn’t Latin class. Well, maybe that last bit is not so calm, after all.

And the point of writing is to becalm. If you find writing does not invite calmness, you may not be actually writing, but are engaged in some other method of spending time – not to say any one way has more value than another. Writing usually has some purpose, which is to say occasion, argument, intended audience, none of which would seem to invite calmness. Still, the act of writing, if one is to find the sweet spot, is a path toward calmness, invites calmness – because once under way, all else falls off. One becomes, indeed, free from distraction.

Swā, this post is being written on the laptop, as an experiment to see if the problems don’t correct themselves on the readers’ devices, thus isolating the cause to Jetpack on the cell and tablet. Let me know in comments below, if you’d like, what you see, or don’t see. But remain clam. I mean, calm.

Changing Fonts

Sometimes, mornings, sitting at the laptop, waiting for the groundwater to rise, words to develop, appear, as in a photographer’s darkroom bath, I play around backstage in the blog with fonts and settings and such as are available via the WordPress setup. The urge comes similar to that of wanting to move the furniture around in one’s pad, or rearrange the Picasso or Matisse paintings dotting the walls. Or move the plants around. I would tell you all how this is done (i.e. changing fonts), but I don’t want to be responsible for anyone crashing their blog and watching nine years of exceptional poetry or original street pics washed down the drain. And I’m not an expert, just an experimenter.

Anyway, you perspicacious readers with good eyes for this sort of thing might have noticed a number of changing fonts experiments this morning here at the The Coming of the Toads. And, effective with this post, I’ve switched the entire blog to new fonts: Playfair Display for the Heading Font and Fira Sans for the Base Font.

Other fonts I played around with this morning include EB Garamond, which I thought elegant but too light and tight, and Space Mono / Roboto, which I found fun and modern in a way one might be nostalgic for comics from the 1950’s. I thought Bodoni Moda interesting. But in the end, for now, anyway, I settled on changing sitewide to the Playfair Display and Fira Sans fonts. These are available via Global Styles in WordPress – at least in this, the “Seedlet” theme, they are available.

While my primary concern when it comes to choosing fonts is to find something simply easy on the eyes, I want the type to attract the reader without calling too much attention to itself. At the same time, I find the historical background of font development interesting. For example, looking up Fira typeface in Wiki, I found this:

“With the name Fira, Mozilla wanted to communicate the concepts of fire, light and joy but in a language agnostic way (sic) to signal the project’s global nature.”


Joy! And not only that, but I found that Fira Sans is used by the governments of both New Zealand and Iceland – their “font of choice,” according to the Wiki page I consulted. Ok, ok – if it’s good enough for them…

Again, I’m not an expert, of much of anything, let alone fonts, but if one is to spend as much time as I do writing, typing, blogging, “publishing” (as it were), drawing, cartooning, doodling, it seems inevitable one’s interests will or might or should include typeface and type design. There you have it.

Display font derives from sign making, text typically larger than the text found in the body of what’s printed. It seems most display fonts were originally hand drawn. Of Playfair Display, I found that it’s a font created by one Claus Eggers Sørensen. Who knew?

One consideration choosing fonts and in fact doing anything on the blog these days, is the fact that readers are using all kinds of devices – desktops, laptops, tablets, phones – to access and read blog posts. So you want something that will lend itself to a variety of formats and devices. What you see is not always what you get.

The Coming of the Toads blog, which dates posts at least monthly from 2007, and which began as a kind of addendum to adjunct activity, has gone through a number of changes in “theme” (template) design over the years. (Has anyone noticed?) Currently, the blog uses a “minimalist” design open to the WordPress block formatting. This seems for now a good fit for the drift to ever more poetry posting I’ve been lately most interested in doing.