E. B. White, an essayist for The New Yorker (and author of many books), once said:
"A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper."
He probably was describing me — during the last week. At the start of this month, I set myself a goal — blog 500-word pieces every day. It was an effort to become a writing fit. I hope to write for a column for a publication shortly, and I want to regain my writing skills. As you might have gathered, I didn’t hit my goals this week.
This week’s failure made me reflect on my past. When I was a professional writer (blogger, if you are pedantic), my writing was reactive, whether to some breaking news or a conversation or an interview. And on rare occasions, it would be like a finished lego set — where many bits and pieces from conversations, facts, news events, and theories would all neatly fit together. Whatever it was — being in the flow is a big part of writing steadily — one needs external input to spark internal creativity.
Another crucial difference, perhaps, is that I have different commitments on my time today than in the past. I am less singular about writing about technology (and its impact) than I used to be. While technology is still a primary lens with how I view my world (and life), I find myself spending more time on the science of technology and have found a waning interest in the business of technology. Unicorns don’t excite me. And more importantly, the world of technology has become more complex and thus needs a lot more research, understanding, and deliberation.
Since leaving the profession, I have discovered a passion for photography, and I think about it a lot. And with age, I have started to gravitate towards the “finished lego set” type of writing. And the timing of that writing has a bit of unpredictability to it. It is also an outcome of a set of random events that don’t happen as often. (Example: my essay, 40 Kilometers.)
In that sense, I am much closer to writing like Susan Sontag, who, when asked about her writing regimen, said:
I write when I have to because the pressure builds up, and I feel enough confidence that something has matured in my head and I can write it down. But once something is really underway, I don't want to do anything else.
Nevertheless, I know I have to develop a schedule to sit down and write for the remaining days of the month. Ideally, it will be first thing in the morning, long before the sun comes up and my phone starts distracting me from the words that matter. The good news is that I am an early riser.
August 7, 2021. San Francisco
TWeek That Was
Aug 2: It is not the customer’s fault the network is being deprecated. So @AmazonKindle has to step up & not be cheap. Replace old Kindles with the new ones. They will make up the costs in years of buying the new ebooks. The Verge
Aug 3: Tom Standage is an editor for The Economist and has a new book coming out on “the social history of the car, and why it’s the 1890s all over again.” Tom is a great writer and a wonderful book author. Every one of his books sits in my library. Victorian Internet was/is my favorite.
Aug 4: Here is @SpaceXStarlink by the numbers: 90k subscribers. Active in 12 countries. Half a million on the waiting list. 1700 satellites deployed. My takeaway: huge demand for rural/off-the-grid connectivity, that incumbents failed to deliver.