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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

white and black cat sketch
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Aug 2: Hey  @JasonHirschhorn  how about one of your special essays about  @MTV and joining the middle age yesterday? (I want my MTV is now 40 years old. Ouch.)

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 3: Hey  @KP24  actually @JemiRodrigues is the leading run-scorer in @thehundred not @BenDuckett1  

Aug 4: From  @business newsletter today: “Zoom’s share of the video-conferencing market rose by 10% points to 76%” in Q2 from Q1. Translation: @Zoom has won the video conferencing sweepstakes

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.

Aug 6: Happy 30th birthday World Wide Web (WWW). What a wonderful gift to society (despite all the naysayers)  @timberners_lee 

Compulsion

Today Jason Hiner asked me about the startup experience for a book he is writing. One of his questions was why did you do it— for love or for money. It was never about money. Startups — or the true ones are all about love — sometimes money comes along but otherwise it is all … Continue reading Compulsion