Rendered Fat Content


Rudolph Ruzicka:
Lowell House, Harvard University (c. 1931-32)

"My world, like yours, thrives on such intentions."

I maintain and manage a massively parallel publishing system consisting of many disparate parts conceptually connected but otherwise distant from and invisible to each other. I serve as the sole integrating factor, for only I know where the bodies have been buried because I was the one who buried every one. Using this system resembles serial graverobbing, in which my skills must approach master status. The resulting operation stretches the formal definition of system, as all integrated systems must. It was never designed and shows it. Nor has it ever been documented. Instead, it operates via a complex code of local knowledge and rumor. Some pieces barely serve their purpose, but its sole user knows of no better components or, at least, none cheaper. It includes nothing designed or marketed by Microsoft®, for our operator finds their products fundamentally unusable. This means that my publishing system most emphatically does not include MS-Word®, which, as near as I can tell, exists for the sole purpose of rendering writing, and so Publishing, fundamentally impossible.

This story, as every story I've written in this and every other series, simultaneously exists on several supposedly parallel planes.
I originate each story in a system called RapidWeaver®, which was never intended to serve as a word processor, yet that's primarily how I use it. It features the sparest imaginable writing function with few bells and fewer whistles. Its primary benefit might be that I do not need to translate its contents to publish them; this application serves as my blog engine. It holds each story and illustration in serial order, appropriately dated and time stamped, with hot links to each illustration's source information. RapidWeaver's the heart of my Publishing operation. It's been ailing lately, perhaps because I use it for purposes beyond what it was designed to perform. I've been waiting for tech support to get back to me. I suspect that they will be surprised but probably not delighted to learn that their humble blog engine has been serving in a position far above and beyond its design purpose. Every massively parallel system features subsystems like this!

I introduce my stories on social media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, and SubStack.  Each must contain parallel links to take a reader to the same place within this vast domain. I try to drive each reader back to my source copy so that I might notice their passing by. Otherwise, my appreciations might not prove timely enough to serve any purpose. I started using SubStack because my blog was experiencing service problems. When my blog updates crapped out, I'd resort to publishing on Facebook, the riskiest business. Past postings are difficult to access and might prove functionally impossible to compile into actual manuscripts. I maintain my blog copies even when It's not correctly updating my online accessible files. Timing updates proves challenging since the linking remains manual. I copy and paste my fool head off and, even then, sometimes manage to produce only tangles. Once a source manifests, it becomes a permanent existence and never changes. I have articles dating back to 2006 that still retain the same web address and always will.

The final piece of this puzzle centers around some actual publishing software: Scrivener®. There, I compile each story as a chapter within an overarching outline, these to compile into manuscript form. This system formats pages, numbers them, and produces output that looks like a finished manuscript. It was not designed to handle illustrations, though it does allow them to be included, just not edited or finely placed on a page. That requires some other software as yet unidentified. Scrivener® serves as a parallel database to my blog engine's, as each chapter within every manuscript matches an entry in my now massive blog Masterfile, all multiple gigabits of it. The manuscripts I build later, after first Publishing a story to my blog and announcing it to the world via social media. Sometime later, I will copy and paste the social media introduction and the body of its associated story, and its illustration into Scrivener® to later compile into an almost final and finished form. Once compiled, I can print the stories either on paper or just on Google Docs, where they're ironically displayed in MS-Word® form without Word® ever having touched any of it.

Much of my Publishing work involves taking care of this machinery. It exists between my twelve-inch M1 MacAir, my server, and nowhere else. I continually back up my M1 because it's the sole integrating factor holding the whole system together. However, if I disappeared, this ecosystem would be rendered inaccessible, which might be for the better. I am now engaged in what feels like a massive clean-up effort intended to bring all these pieces into a final parallel condition so that every story exists in every form, from blog to final manuscript. This series will be my twenty-fourth. I might be almost a third of the way through creating the manuscripts, which requires mind-numbing copying and pasting hours. Like all massively parallel systems, mine's parallel only in intention. It includes grand notions which might never actually manifest. My world, like yours, thrives on such intentions.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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