Reflections on Writing Things Online, and Plans for 2022 for ideas.imagery.story
Using the calendar year as an excuse to think about why I do what I do & what I should've changed anyway.
A Reflection on a Variety of Online Contexts
Last summer, I created this Substack and began my combined plan of writing non-fiction posts for it and consolidating fiction that I'd already written. (Oh, and creating "Juxtapositions," paired quotes that in some way have something to do with each-other.)
Creating and sharing all this content filled me with unexpectedly-strong fear and excitement. After slaving over an article for 6 hours or more, finally clicking "publish" was both thrilling and scary.
Because of the internet. I remember The Internet That Was, and the thrill of chatting cheerfully with random strangers about random things. That environment (or, rather, those environments!) made it fun to open up, but in a sort of chaotic, unfocused sort of way.
And I remember The Social Media We Had For Awhile, from it's early thrills of re-connecting with people faraway to its later painful, burned-out, cynicism-validating stages. My time spent there made me more cautious about what words I let fall into cyberspace.
And I remember--and still experience--The Joy of Online Forums. Time spent on online forums made me carefully consider which thoughts and stories of mine seemed most relatable, which arguments I thought would be convincing to someone who didn't by-default share my view, and what language and analogies could amuse and hopefully un-confuse. And also observe and "synch up with" a group vibe! (Here’s the day I won the internet, as declared by one friend in that community. There is both a whole lotta me, and a whole lotta group vibe in that post! Also, someone else’s post—the second in that thread—is one my kids and I reference on a quite regular basis.)
The internet makes the act of creating and publishing content both thrilling and scary: Any random stranger could, in theory, find what I have to say—for good or for ill. In a Substack ecosystem, though, I mostly won’t know how my words affect people. (Very different from those spontaneous small-scale chats in the early internet days!) If someone doesn’t like what they see here, they’ll move on. (Very different from either social media or an online forum!) Unless I really anger and offend someone. (And friends of mine have recently been pointing out to me that I most likely won’t.)
Writing is also thrilling and scary because of me. I remember reading about a guy who said that when he was an undergrad, he spent some of his time just writing on topics he was interested in, “to figure out what he thought about those subjects.” This both surprised me, and seemed like a great idea! It took me years to really get started. (Not counting online forum posts! Which, actually should count…) It turns out… it’s incredibly helpful for me! I’m rather amazed at how much I learn when trying to write about a topic.
The Part Where I Actually Look Back on Last Year’s Substack Writing:
Here’s one thing that was unexpectedly satisfying:
I get into my writing so much that when I go to sleep, my mind continues to “crank away” at it, trying to solve the problems I have. How do I know I’m doing this? Upon waking, I find that I am dreaming about things to do for the piece. Like, sometimes I make progress. (This really helps balance the fact that my baseline for writing speed is very very slow.)
Here are three things that were unexpectedly difficult:
Choosing and including pictures for this! I’ve decided I really love pictures; they make a piece complete, but… Wow. It all takes time.
Starting up again anytime I stop for a “1-week break”!
Making decisions—even the “Juxtapositions” take me an awfully long time to put together, though I thought it would be this simple thing I’d throw out there. It’s the decision-making that’s the bottleneck.
Some Changes I’m Making in 2022:
Shorter posts until summer.
More consistency in posting weekly.
A new story—this one, one that I finished. (Though working on the old story really helped me get re-started on it and not give up!)
What online contexts do you participate in? (Give as little or as much description as you liiike!)
Do you read comments of random internet people in places
where you post where you don’t even post?
Suggestions for me for this Substack?
[Edit: Meant to put the word “don’t” in two lines up; it’s always great when you say exactly the opposite of what you meant to say!]