Change is afoot

Many things are about to change for the better in my writing and work, or are in the process of changing. Although I can’t share details publicly just yet, it is a good time for a reinvention of my online ‘brand’, if you can stomach the word.

First, this website, its role and design.

  • Online, I effectively have two identities: writer and editor. These identities started out in separate websites before I decided to bring them both together on this site a few years ago, largely to make things simpler for me to manage. However, both sides to my work have grown a great deal over the last year, and are on the cusp of growing again (this is where those exciting developments come in that I can’t quite talk about yet). It no longer makes sense for them to coexist on one site.
  • Therefore, it’s time for this website to change. In future, it will cover only Alex the writer and associated topics (backpacking, the outdoors, my public speaking etc). In practice readers will notice little difference, but my biography page has been revised and in time I’ll be completely removing the editorial section. The blog’s focus and content will not change.
  • I have a bad habit of tinkering with my site design, and regulars will have seen a number of different looks come and go over the last few years. However, in light of these big changes afoot in my life and work, I think further design tweaks are more than justified.
  • The last major change was in late 2017 when I created my own WordPress theme more or less from scratch. The old look served me well, but the WordPress Gutenberg editor has come on a long way since then, and it’s now possible to do many things natively that I had to implement hacky workarounds for before.
  • I am using a bog-standard installation of the Chaplin theme by Anders Norén. It does everything I need and is very customisable. All layout is now handled either natively in Gutenberg or with the Stackable plugin.
  • This is a lower priority, but eventually I’ll be bringing my photographic galleries back to this site. Why? I’ve left Instagram, and would still like somewhere to share my photos.

What about Alex the editor?

  • For months now, I’ve been working on a relaunch of pinnacleeditorial.co.uk. This will be a completely self-contained website for my editorial work, significantly expanded and thoroughly modern, with its own blog and portfolio and client testimonials.
  • Work on the redesign has been slow thanks to yet another busy year (not to mention big chunks of time spent offline and wandering in the hills). However, I’ll soon be back in charge of my own schedule again, and that means time to spend on my own priorities. I’ve resumed work on the Pinnacle Editorial relaunch and expect the site to go live within the next few weeks.
  • The look is going to be very much in line with the look I’m using on this website. Here’s a preview of the front page:
That tagline isn’t hyperbole – I really do have a solid track record of producing bestsellers in the outdoor non-fiction genre

On the social networks where I remain nominally active, you’ll notice a new profile picture. Since 2017 I’d been using a headshot of me near the end of the Jotunheimstien, but it had long outlived its relevance. Instead, I’m now using this image captured by my brother James on the Cape Wrath Trail in February 2019. I think it better represents my current focus, and it feels far more like the current me than a cheerful bloke trotting along a trail with nothing of deeper significance to say. A lot has changed for me since then – it’s no exaggeration to say that I feel like a different person altogether. The death of a parent radically altered my perspective on many things.

What about that tagline, ‘look up and see the stars’? It’s as simple as it sounds, really – or maybe there’s a bit more to it. My focus has subtly shifted towards writing about attention and online culture in an outdoors context, and part of my message is that only by letting the silence in can we know who we really are.

Look up from your phone, stop curating and optimising and filtering, and watch the stars for an hour – like you did when you were a child, before it all got complicated. Maybe you’ll discover something, or maybe you’ll remember something, but you’ll be you for once, not a node in a machine doing the machine’s will. It’s a message that’s as uncomfortable for me to express as it no doubt is for you to read. It cannot be said without a degree of hypocrisy, and it is of course more complicated than that – the nuances are many, and connectivity has advantages too. But for all that, I believe it’s a message whose time has come. Our humanity depends on it. Perhaps it’s no stretch to say that all of nature depends on it.

That’s about it for now. I can’t wait to share details of these exciting changes I’ve alluded to.

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