The tl;dr version:
Beginning March 4, 2017 I’m going to stop all online publishing to my websites and social media accounts. No blog posts, no tweets, no status updates. I expect this to last at least a year. In that time, I will be writing. My goal for that writing is to become a book. This will be a book unlike any other I have produced before. As such, the number of copies will be limited.
This newsletter, being email, will be my primary means of communication with the folks “out there” (that’s you). I will continue to share updates, thoughts, and missives here along with information about the project and how you can pre-order the finished product.
Recently, I shared this on Rhoneisms and Twitter:
What did we use to do with all of these thoughts? Before we had a place to immediately share them?
It’s a question that’s really been gnawing at me lately. Because I honestly don’t remember. The tools make it so very easy to broadcast even the silliest and most fleeting of thoughts immediately. I’ve adopted the sense of extreme urgency I feel (perhaps wrongly, I admit) the tools demand from me. That everyone needs to know “What’s Happening?” in my head right this second. I’ve also convinced myself that, if I don’t show up and keep hitting publish, the people that really do care about my work and words will stop caring and move on. I think that’s a problem.
You see, I’ll be 50 years old this year. I began writing many years before the Internet existed. I was in my later twenties before technology provided the means to share my writing with anyone I didn’t already know. For the first half of my life, the act of self-publishing involved a typewriter and a copier machine at the least. It involved folding and stapling and sharing by hand. Because of this, the layout, options, and possibilities were nearly endless. I remember this.
What I don’t remember is what it felt like to write things with the only possible audience being, well, me. I don’t remember what not having anyone to share my work with was like. I still have a lot of my work from that time. It is mostly as technically awful and emotionally fraught as one would expect a young writer to be but, it reads different. The voice is different. There’s a freedom in the words that comes from having the time and space to not have to impress anyone. One of knowing that no one may ever read those words am that I have all the time I wish to put them aside for a while, revisit them, reconsider them, and make them better.
I miss that.
I believe I can get that feeling back again. It will take what some may see as a radical step. It will be difficult, for sure. It will require me to step not just outside my comfort zone but back into a former one for an extended period of time. In that time, I not only hope the freedom and solitude allows me to produce work even better than what it has been thus far, but also to publish a book that is as much artifact as expression. I want to produce a relatively small number of these objects but with extremely high quality. So, I’m going to make the time, space, and freedom to do that.
I’m still thinking through a lot of the finer details but I’ll keep you in the loop here as needed.
An aside: I chose the date March 4th for a reason; it’s my wife’s favorite date on the calendar. She likes the idea that it is also a command — “March forth!” — and therefore feels it’s an auspicious day to start meaningful projects. Perhaps something to keep in mind for big things you’ve put off and are looking to launch with such verve and good fortune.