Welcome! I’m back on the WordPress bandwagon.

Welcome to my website. Expect to see regular blog posts appearing soon. For now, check out the poetry section.

This personal website, mainly intended as an artistic portfolio to showcase my poetry, fiction, and commentary, has undergone a number of iterations over the last decade or so. In the big picture, I have now come full-circle on using WordPress. When I first decided, in 2014, to build a personal website, I chose WordPress because it was a pretty obvious choice; WordPress makes it cheap and easy to get started, and I didn’t want to have to do a lot of custom programming or maintenance. But the iconoclast in me decided that WordPress was too easy and ubiquitous. I used to be a professional web designer, and web professionals are pretty snobby about WordPress, which they (we) regard as a tool for n00bs.

I tried Drupal, and found it to be way overkill for a simple blog site. Then I tried Joomla, which mostly met my needs for several years (from about 2017 until this website). I liked that Joomla is open source, and I was under the (mostly mistaken) impression that it was more customizable and thus more suitable for us geeky types who still wanted the conveniences of a CMS. But after building several Joomla sites, I began to feel like I was banging my head against a wall. There was always something I just couldn’t quite get right about my sites. There are a billion Joomla templates out there, and 98% of them are clearly recognizable as derivative Joomla templates. After searching through dozens of them, I found a couple of templates that I liked; but to my frustration I couldn’t get the look I wanted without jumping through major hoops that felt hackish in a bad way. I remember several times spending hours and hours poring over forum posts to try to figure out why some crucial appearance element was so hard to achieve despite using ‘advanced’ template ‘frameworks’ that supposedly made every last detail easily customizable. Helix Ultimate? Bah! I’m done with you, Helix. It was finally time to recognize that it was a toxic relationship and I needed to move on.

An alternative to CMSs that I explored with some positive results was static site generators like Hugo and Jekyll. The coder in me likes that these tools are primarily command-line based. You set up a text config file for your project and chosen theme, create your content in markdown (.md), and when you’re ready to build the site you simply run

>> hugo

which parses your .md files and renders them into HTML, applying theme and template settings to generate .html files (which are small and load lightning fast). Hugo and Jekyll are blog-friendly (you can distinguish pages from posts (as in WordPress, though the jargon is a bit different), and particularly with the templating engines (Liquid for Jekyll, Jinja for Hugo) you can build robust websites with sophisticated display logic, but which ultimately still exist on the server as pure HTML and thus require no extra overhead of databases (like MySQL) or server-side logic (like PHP). Thus websites built by static site generators are blindingly fast and super-secure, since there are no extra layers of vulnerable server-side software.

All that to say that I’m a big fan of static site generators, and they have a surprisingly wide range of applications. In deciding how to build this site, I was torn between WordPress and Hugo. But ultimately I decided to build my business website (also in progress) with Hugo, and being curious and enjoying always expanding my skillset, WordPress seemed like a perfectly logical choice for guycutting.com. I’m already quite happy with my decision. Years ago I was put off of WordPress, in part, by the fact that I couldn’t find a theme which I felt was distinctive enough; every one I tried seemed to scream “WORDPRESS!” (although to be fair I was probably overly sensitive to this issue at the time).

Theme Cube Blog is clean and minimal but sleek and professional-looking. The focus for this site is the written word (poetry, fiction, essays), and I don’t need anything graphics-heavy. In fact, anything too glitzy would simply get in the way of the content I’m trying to feature. I’m more than happy with the results I’m getting from straight WordPress with the right choice of theme and plugins/widgets. WordPress is hard to beat when it comes to ease of setup – in a matter of hours, starting from scratch (admittedly with the poetry content already existing in a Google Doc), I installed WordPress on Dreamhost, chose and customized a theme, and got twenty pages of poetry and fiction content up and running, looking pretty classy if I do say so myself.