To Write Multitudes
A brief overview of the four writing channels I maintain at the moment ⌨️
Welcome to issue #3, written in a rush this Wednesday evening because of course I wasn’t going to be diligent and finish (or, really, begin) a few days in advance.
(This is going to be a recurrent theme of the next two years, I can feel it.)
All right, so today, let’s talk about my writing history and setup. I promise I’ll write about things that aren’t writing soon. But not today.
A very short personal history
I’ve been writing for non-school and non-work reasons since, I believe, 2007. Most of the output has been fiction, a tiny amount of which has been published. Only in 2017 did I start nonfiction blogging, although that blog (in French) has failed to become a regular affair, and has flirted with fiction more than once. Until fairly recently, I also haven’t been big on posting on social media, either.
And now, in 2020: I created a new blog (in English), I started using Twitter actively, and I launched this very Substack newsletter. Meanwhile, I’m still writing the novel I began two years ago.
This is the first time I have so many channels open at once. I’m not sure how I’m managing, but I’m managing.
What’s interesting is how each of them brings its own benefits.
Noteworthy properties of some written media
Twitter takes the prize for the quickest, of course. Posting a tweet is a quick deal. A well-thought thread takes longer, something on the same magnitude as an issue of this newsletter. I have several more such threads to write
Twitter is also the most rewarding, at least in some sense. It is the easiest platform for visibility, and there are immediate feedback mechanisms—likes, retweets, and follower counts. You immediately know whether you made something good. That is almost dangerous, because it’s so addictive (and perhaps less rewarding than other media, in a deeper sense).
Now, Substack. (Don’t click the link. You’re already here. I just wanted the word color to match the others) The experiment is very young, so I don’t have much to say yet. I’ve deliberately framed it as something short and easy, in contrast to my blog, which tends to contain longer essays.
The main characteristic of this channel is its regularity. I’ve never really had frequent and recurrent deadlines for my online writing, and I want to know the effects of applying such pressure to myself. Results to be announced later!
My personal blog on Wordpress is meant to be the main home of my online work. It is exhilarating to be able to do whatever I want with it (did you know: one reason I didn’t start on Substack directly is that I wanted to have footnotes embedded directly in the text). And the pieces there are the most rewarding on an intellectual level.
Since it contains longer pieces, though, it doesn’t get updated very often. In fact, it’s the most neglected channel at the moment—I’ve set up everything to make a big, important essay on friendship, and now… it just feels like work. I’m putting it off.
I do want to publish at least one essay per month, so I should really get some writing done if I want it to be written by the end of December. I’ll do that tomorrow. Or this weekend.
Finally, my novel (link to an English translation of the first few pages, if you’re curious) is a beast of its own. It’s the only regular writing I still do in French. If you’ve ever tried writing a novel, you know it’s a completely insane thing to do. I don’t even know if it’ll ever get published! But writing an entire book is satisfying, and the rewards, potentially great. It’s the riskiest channel of all.
The first draft is 90% done, but it’s been 90% done for many months now. At least, I have found the drive to work on it again, after months of hiatus.
…which means the other four channels are suffering. It’s like reading five books at the same time: it takes forever to finish any one of them.
So I have nothing to show to you at the moment. Apologies. Next week, hopefully!
Meanwhile I remain
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