Of writing and starting pistols
The most free I'd ever felt in writing was for a seminar series. You'd sit in and participate on guest lectures and then reflect and discuss the content.
These write-ups should be part summary [and] part reaction to the seminars.
The target page length gave an obvious and easy "win" metric whilst the content being a "reaction" meant an entirely open ended discussion. I often fell into a philosophical exploration of a specific aspect of our field as a way of entertaining myself. The stranger the questions asked, the better.
Knowing it was only ever intended to be read by a single person meant there was no pressure. It was a conversation between me and a single reader. I couldn't fail. The idea of failing in writing is an odd one and something that has only come about in recent years with the popularity of some of my own articles online. Scary how success can result in fear, no?
Sadly those pages that I wrote may well be lost but the feeling remains: exploration through writing. It's something I'd dearly love to capture again.
State of the Smerity is now filled with secrets. As of this moment it's over 4,200 entries, 500,000 words, and 3.6 million characters. I've been having a conversation with myself for nearly two years, letting only the odd paragraph or page leak out to select friends. I have been exploring my own world and perceptions through writing. How valuable can that conversation be with only a single participant though? It only goes so far without an audience.
Every word that you write is a conversation. It might only be to a single person and yet read by the entire world. It might be intended for more than a single person and only be read by that shadow voice in your head. If you're lucky, the conversation you have will echo on and become embedded. Inactive conversations can become active again, revived through rediscovery, relevance, or delayed insight. Just as every new telephone makes the telephone network more valuable, every new participant, active or passive, can bring value to a conversation. Your writing might be accidentally taking part in a conversation that has spanned millenia.
All of this requires making your writing public however. The fight to make my writing public has been persistent. I'm a perfectionist by nature and that represents a real challenge. You'll believe there's always more preparation you can do before making something public, always a chance that the starting pistol you heard wasn't meant for you, and always more steps before you feel a full shield of armour, in the form of permission and protection, enveloping you.
There's no starting pistol. There's no protection. There's no permission. Writing is perhaps the scariest thing in the world now. With a single click and a message in a bottle you could end up with your idea in front of millions. You're inviting a turbulent storm to rip apart the page of prose you've put together with the hope your idea won't take on water and sink in the process. That's a risk you have to take however.
Have you noticed any water yet?