//05 February 2023

Why I so rarely publish anything here

This is not an apology. Rather a way to compile some thoughts on the process of “putting writing out there” when it is primarily for the author’s clarity of mind and, secondarily, as a potential spark for dialogue. Which in my case happens not as often as I’d like and I still need to figure out how to change that (been sayin’ it for years now).

It’s not that I don’t have anything I’d like to share. For context, I jot down my thoughts daily and I write a semi-distilled and “publishable” text once or twice a month, on average. This is not even a matter of habit or discipline, it’s just how my mind ticks. Still, most of the writings stay in my backlog, even though I could have easily gone through the one extra step to transform them into blog posts here. Why is that?

The reasons may be separated into “practical” and “personal” buckets. Let’s start with the practical. Sometimes, it is sheer laziness from my side to really prune the text in a manner consistent with the rest of the stuff here, or the manner I strive for, at least (which includes grammar checks I wouldn’t need in my native tongue, for example). Other times—and this is surprisingly common—I am missing a reference. By which I mean that, for every idea presented, I somehow impose it on myself to do a background check in some schools of thought: either because I am aware of what school/person needs mentioning but I don’t want to blurt it out without backup, or because I am not aware and I must (re-)discover it. The latter cases are prevalent, requiring more effort and throwing me down rabbit holes, which prevents me from simply hitting the “publish” button on the text that’s already there.

Certainly, this referencing process isn’t necessary—what I am doing here isn’t a fixed assignment and the end goal is to explore my own mind. That’s why the need to cross-check is not impeding my act of writing, as it may be the case when writing a scholarly article or a thesis. And yet, it impedes the act of publication. It would be easy to dismiss it as a bug in my head and try to ignore it in order to publish more, but of course, I need to dig deeper.

One major difficulty is the sensation I am walking on a very slim intersection of a Venn diagram here—being neither academic enough for the academics, nor casual enough for the casuals. I repeatedly find myself on this intersection and it doesn’t help that it also hosts such elite neighbourhoods as pseudosciences of all sorts, technobabble sci-fi literature and film (or their pompous and cryptic artistic analogues), not to mention online edgy teenage angst. In short, I miss the space where I can have conversations and creativity in the way I try to on this site. So I choose to disengage and let my texts simmer until one day I have the time and head space to cook them through, if ever.

Alright, the practicality of having references or footnotes is probably the main reason for my irregular posting most of the time. Going into the bucket of personal reasons, it is fair to say I lack the… audacity to publish some of my stuff—even though it might not be controversial at all, and even though I’m well aware it’s close to invisible in here. Why? The textbook answer is “fear of what the others will say”, but we already established that due to the obscurity of my website, this is unlikely to be the main driver.

*Thank you, Viki, Petar, Deyan, Kevin, and other readers throughout the years. Even the simplest “hey, I read what you wrote about X” means the world and widens that Venn intersection ever so slightly.Actually, precisely the lack of feedback* and accountability to someone else seems to make me reluctant to publish more (see the lack of space for serious-but-not-academic conversations above). Because obviously, just writing it down serves me, while sharing it implies/assumes it may serve someone else. As the adage goes, one is brave only in the face of fear. Therefore, as I have no one to fear here, I can’t really be brave, either.

There is a kill-with-a-single-blow to all this and, as always, it is “stop overthinking it”. Indeed, it is perfectly valid to say that instead of all this rumination right now, I could have just posted the damn things. But there’s a reason why I still wrote (and decided to publish) this particular exercise in futility. I believe there is value in making others privy to at least some parts of your inner workings. Especially in times when curating your image is everything. Perhaps a more succinct (and cringy) way of putting it would be “dare to suck”. So I must dare it more often. Why? Well, Vonnegut knows:

“People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order, so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.”

Similarly, I should keep with my intellectual diary of sorts, even if from the outside it seems I’m just going through the motions, even if from the outside I am not novel enough, or simple enough. And I should keep publishing it here, so that one day, when genius inevitably strikes and I write my opus magnum that I’d share with the world, the world could come here and sigh with relief. “See? She’s not that smart after all”.

Update: After writing about this, I stumbled upon Andy Matuschak’s working notes. Specifically the one titled Work with the garage door up resonated with my thoughts here. Definitely worth checking it out, as well as how the notes themselves function—nifty!