“I guess there’s something about newsletters that bugs me, and I can’t put my finger on it,” writes Robin Rendle and asks the big question: why publishing on the web is still so hard that people want to publish newsletters. You want to read it, because the presentation is fantastic!
A few weeks ago, I wandered and wondered among the redwoods, hoping that their magnificence and their silence would allow me space to think about some things that have been on my mind. One of these has been my newsletter — specifically, its ambiguous nature and what I should do about it.
I have struggled with completing my writing on a preset schedule, shoehorning it into a preset format, and delivering it via email at a regular time. I have never been very good at thinking and writing with too many guardrails. Sometimes, words happen. Ideas form. And dots connect. And I start writing. But sometimes they don’t, and I don’t care to force it.
I have often lamented that the “why” of blogging got overtaken by the “what” and the “how,” with the tools and format becoming the primary focus. Ironically I made the same mistake with my newsletter. I don’t work for a publication, so I don’t have a deadline. I no longer have anything to sell. In short, I write, because I am. My walk among the trees reminded me that writing is how I process my thoughts about the past and the future in the current moment.
A newsletter is just a way to get some of that writing from those moments when the dots connect from my computer to your inbox in order to spare you the trouble of coming to my website, subscribe to my RSS feed, or checking out my Twitter account. And that is all it needs to be.
So, starting today, when you subscribe to my newsletter, that’s all you are signing up for —and rather than trying to dress it up, I hope you will find that it is enough. (You are still welcome to visit my blog or subscribe to the RSS, but you don’t have to.) Obviously, I won’t share everything I write. Out of respect for your time and attention, here’s what you can expect:
- What lands in your inbox will typically be focused on technology and the science behind it. By marrying technology and humanism, I will try to offer my understanding of our present and future.
- You’ll never know exactly what’s coming. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavor.”
- I will try to keep things short. If I write a long essay or publish an extended interview, I won’t email you the whole thing. I will send a synopsis, and if it grabs your interest, you can always check out the rest on my blog. Or better yet, read it in in Pocket, Instapaper, or any reader of your choice.
- You are invited and encouraged to respond. If you are taking the time to read and mull over my thoughts, I am happy to do the same for you.
I don’t have anything to sell — my reward for writing and sharing is your time and attention. If I find that you have not read the last dozen emails sent to your inbox, I will assume you are not keen on what I have to say. You will automatically be unsubscribed. I am not interested in building the biggest community — only one that is thoughtful and engaged.
If all this makes sense to you, then there is nothing you need to do right now. You will keep receiving my writings as you currently do. But if this does not sound like the newsletter experience you signed up for, then I’ll understand if you click that “unsubscribe” button. We can think of it as the digital equivalent of a farewell hug.
Either way, I highly recommend a walkout in the woods. For clear thinking, I find there’s nothing better.
May 31, 2021, San Francisco.
Every photo tells a story. And there is a story behind every image. As a writer, I found myself restricted by the social platforms when it came to telling that story.
I believe we all deserve more than a blink of an eye for our work. The web allows me to share higher quality images and gives you a chance to view them on a screen bigger than our phones.
I wanted to unshackle from the silver cage of social media, and that is why I started a small newsletter — to share my creative work.
I also sometimes share links to the work of other photographers, articles worth reading, and soon short chats with fellow photographers whose work I admire.
I hope you can join me on my journey and sign-up for this occasional newsletter.
Given that I have been writing three decades, including eighteen-plus years a blogger, I am hardly surprised that I am repeatedly asked: how should I write? And my answer is always the same — write like a human. We are getting buried under freeze-dried news reports and hot takes that make supermarket baloney feel like a … Continue reading Write like a human
The not-so chill history of the Hawaiian shirt. As someone who has been known to wear these shirts, I say with confidence that this is an excellent read. The amazing hunt for a multi-million-dollar stolen car is a perfect end-of-summer whodunit. The Californication of America’s restaurants is not a good thing. It is just too … Continue reading What to read this weekend