I’m excited about blogging again, since WordPress has a plugin that enables blogs to federation. Please boost this post so that my blog can be discoverable in your server. It’s an #introduction and if you follow it you’ll get weekly posts from an artist who lives and works in Uganda. I #blog about my life, my writings, my films, and my travels, and I share my digital art and photography. I’m a #writer and #filmmaker though I often think of myself as a #transmedia artist. I make stuff in any media there is to tell stories, so at heart I’m a storyteller. Mostly, you’ll find me hanging out in #writingcommunity and occasionally participating in the #writing hashtag games, so #follow this blog if you are interested in the life of an #artist who works in many genres and media.
I love the fantastic, things that are out of this world, and so many of my creations are in #sff #scifi #fantasy and sometimes #horror – uhm – I hesitate to call myself a horror artist. Every time I try to make horror, it ends up a comedy. You can read about my first attempt here. I thought I was writing the most terrifying screenplay ever, with a monster ripping apart men’s bodies in her quest to win back her husband’s love. Then, my mentor at that time told me, “No, Dilman, this is not a horror. This is a romantic comedy!” Oh, I was pissed. I wondered if he had even read my script. Couldn’t he see all the gore, all that blood and all that killing?
This mentor was Steve Cohen (RIP) and he wrote the highest grossing romantic comedy of 1999, The Bachelor. Critics hated that film, getting only 8% on rotten tomatoes (ha, I like reading negative reviews of films, they are fun!) Steve also hated the film. He said Hollywood butchered his idea and he was not keen on getting my scripts to be made there. “They’ll ruin it!” He taught at Columbia University, at that time, around 2006, and I met him through Maisha Film Lab, which Mira Nair founded to give East African filmmakers a chance at mentorship from experienced Hollywood. He was a good teacher. I saw an email he wrote to Mira saying “Dilman took his mentors advice and ran away with it!” Yes, there were like three of mentors, but Steve stuck around and over a period of three or so years he helped me re-write that script, The Felistas Fable, into a romantic comedy. (You can watch the film if you send me an email.) Yes, I pride myself at being an artist who listens to mentors and critics, and I’m the biggest critic of my own works, so I re-read the story and looked at it from the mentors’ point of view and I saw what they saw.
After that experience, I thought seriously about comedy. I distinguished between different genres. That was the biggest thing I learned from Steve, to know when a story is a horror, or when it’s comedy…. Oh, am I funny? Some people think so. I’ve written a few blog posts whose comments suggest they are hilarious, and I’ll try to get out one every month to at least make you smile. You see, I’ll only have to think of it as a horror and viola, #comedy comes out. Yes, like that time I baked a cake for a girl who had her eyes on me. Pure horror!
Though, some of the funniest stories I’ve written are not fictional. They are about my travels and a clash of cultures makes the best comedy. I #travel a lot, being I’m an artist, people are always inviting me to attend this festival or that event or to present my works here or there. I’ve been to eighteen countries. I think they are eighteen, I must sit down and count properly. I travel with an open mind, and I try as much as possible to learn the languages and cultures of people I visit, and this leads to trouble. When in Nepal, my language teacher taught me a song and I didn’t know that if a person sung that song, it means they are looking for a marriage partner. It’s like putting your profile in a dating app, the old fashioned way. So I would sing it, and then get into a lot of trouble. And trouble makes comedy. I got into even hotter soup in Nigeria, after I learned pidgin English and spoke like a Nigerian because I thought it would be easy for me to blend in. You can read about the fun I had backpacking in Nigeria. Ah, yo, I was nearly jailed. Perhaps a lynch mob might have gotten to me for they thought I was a terrorist. Is that funny?
Oh, I started this as a simple introduction of my blog to the #fediverse, but my fingers develop a brain of their own when they touch the keyboard. I honestly never know where the words come from. See all this rambling? A few notes about #wordpress and the #ActivityPub plugin that enables blogs to federate. On the Free, Personal and Premium WordPress sites, go to Settings, Discussion, and enable “Enter the fediverse.” Make note of your default fediverse name, which references the blog’s domain. Like @firstname.lastname@example.org. This profile can then be shared with others so they can follow it on Mastodon and other platforms.
Since I have a hosted blog, I installed the ActivityPub plug-in, then followed prompts to set up the profile. But there was a problem. I couldn’t follow my blog. I was stuck on ‘follow requested’ yet I could not see any follow request on the wordpress dashboard. After much stressing about it, I learned it has something to do with modsec, or id rule on server end. These things are beyond my comprehension. I contacted BlueHost, who host my blog, and they made it possible for my blog to be followed. You can learn more about how to trouble shoot the ActivityPub plugin in this article, and you can read more on this mastodon thread. Well, now that I got it working I’m looking for #followers so perhaps I should use the #followfriday hashtag, or the #ff thing? You know I’m just looking for excuses to use as many #hashtags as possible.
Why am I excited about this? Simple. Readers. I blog so that people can find what I write about, and engage with it. When I wrote my first blog, perhaps around 2005, I was struggling to write. I wanted to share my experiences with others, as writing is a lonely job, especially since I was in a rural town of Uganda, where the arts as a career was not even a thing to think about. I found this website scriptologist.com for screenwriters and filmmakers, and it had a blog section. I wrote there a few thoughts, and got a lot of real engagement. Then around 2009, or was it 2010, I got onto blogger, and I got a personal domain name, and the experience was good. A lot of high engagement on my blog since there were things like blog hops and blogging communities. Then Facebook encouraged people to create profiles, and get followers, and it was okay for a while, until they started to suppress posts unless you paid to reach out to your followers. My blog readership fell drastically. I wrote into the void. It discouraged me from blogging.
I still got a bit of traffic from search engines, but they are low quality, and I honestly don’t see the point of that kind of traffic. It doesn’t lead to any meaningful engagements. Just spam. I’ve since deactivated the Yoast plugin, and RankMath, and all that, and I just write for fun. And well, now that I can share my blog directly to the fediverse, it gets me excited that I’ll have that old school engagement on my posts again, that people will read what I have written and give me a pat on the back or leave a thoughtful comment.
Ah, I must say that I’m in a blogging group called Afrobloggers, where it’s possible to share your thoughts and other bloggers read and engage, but it is a small circle, and after a while you lose the joy of strangers finding your works and saying something nice. It becomes a bit disheartening to keep writing and only the same people reading what you wrote.
That’s why I’m really crazy about this, and if you’ve read up until this point, you could perhaps help my blog become discoverable in your server by giving it a boost, and a follow. I’ll leave with a few more hashtags. Ah, I’m not sure how hashtags work yet, with this workflow, they say I should put these in the tag section of wordpress, but just in case, I’ll put them here, and also in the tags, and see what it looks like.
Oh, since you’ve read to this point, I have a small favor to ask. I regularly make science fiction short films and I’m looking for your support. It’s very difficult to make it as a filmmaker in Africa, where there is virtually no market to encourage big film investments, and so any dollar you can spare will go a long way into changing things. Please pledge on patreon.com/dilstories or you can buy me ko-fi. You only pay after I make the film, and you can stop payments at anytime. For other options, like donating via mobile money or PayPal, please go here dilmandila.com/donate