I'm starting a newsletter. I'm starting...a newsletter? I'm...starting a...newsletter.
I’ve mentally drafted more responses to that question than I care to admit, trying to explain myself, why I’m doing this, why I’m throwing a newsletter out into the world like this. The tones of those responses have ranged from self-pitying to self-aggrandizing, selfish to selfless. Well. Selflessish.
I’ve been talking to myself a lot. Which is a problem. The problem? Probably.
Once upon a time I was a blogger and I blogged a lot, talking at the Internet about books, and then I blogged less, and then I stopped. Years disappeared. And then a couple weeks ago I realized I’d been posting photos of the books I’d been reading on Instagram without ever actually saying anything about them and I thought maybe I should, like, do that, again? Get some of the thoughts out of my head? Maybe?
Aside from wanting to share the precious gift of a heavily edited version of my internal monologue with the world, I’ve also been missing writing as an activity, lately. Which is this other thing, a different issue, one that probably explains how I can so easily turn a simple status report e-mail for my day job into a multi-POV quest narrative. It’s probably time to find a healthier outlet for that energy, I’m guessing.
I’m told I read a lot of books. I do. I know. More than many people, at least. Not as many as some others. Fewer than some of you, perhaps. More than average, though, at the least.
Any time someone has asked me how I read as many books as I do, I’ve stumbled through something about how it’s just kind of what I do, how I don’t watch much television, how I’m a nerd. Which is all true, sure, but the last couple years, the answer’s become simplified, as I’ve caught myself staring into the headlights that came out of the darkness of early 2020. Want to read more books? Survive a global catastrophe, and survive it again, and keep surviving it, and read through it like it’s the last thing left you can control for yourself.
Everyone deals with stress one way or another. For me, aside from literally trying to run away from—why, yes, running has been going well, thanks for asking—I’ve gone from needing to read, to, like, needing to read. I think my read count has increased the last couple years because when things started going sideways I smacked head-first into the wall of my early-pandemic panic attack and about all I could do at the end of the day was fall half-asleep to Claire making gourmet Pop Tarts on the Bon Appetit YouTube channel. (Dated reference.) When I eventually realized the world wasn’t about to immediately end, and I started to come back to myself, reading regained priority status. It had been missing. I needed it back.
While I’m not a fast reader, I am consistent, and here we are, two years later, and I’ve read about a hundred books. Which has been great. Now I’m hoping this newsletter blog-reboot helps me fill in the missing parts, the thinking and the talking and the writing part.
If not, I guess there's Book Tok?
By the way, I don’t really say the part about surviving a global catastrophe out loud. I try not to be too much fun at parties. I might get invited back. Which would cut into my reading time. The horror.
So! Hey! Thanks for indulging my ego trip. The plan is vague, the hopes are mild, the coffee is strong. When I’m not talking about books about elves and spaceships and laser-swords I’ll probably be talking about books about people doing dull-ass normal people stuff like living and laughing and loving, or whatever. Feel free to politely look the other way when I’m on the wrong side of that fence. I’ll make sure to say hi to the other residents of your junk mail folder for you.
Just learning about Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks? Wondering what the name’s about? That’s a great question. Really great question.
My initial…issue? newsletter? missive? electronic mail post? what do the kids call these things?…was going to be 500 words. I’m at about 1100 right now. That’s, like, a really good score, right?
A non-exhaustive list of other reasons why I might be starting this newsletter:
I keep threatening to leave social media for good. If I ever do, I want to make sure I have a way to take all the good people with me. Congratulations to you, good person.
I could do it as a blog, but last I checked, I’d moved my blog to a web platform I’d built from the ground up, which is a huge distraction, because instead of actually writing anything for it, I just wind up playing with all the tooling behind it for days on end. So I’m totally cutting out technological distraction from my writing process.
In November I downloaded Scrivener thinking I’d take a stab at doing NaNoWriMo and then I wrote about 39 words and didn’t look back. So now I’ve got Scrivener on my laptop and I felt like this was a good excuse play with it some more. Does this contradict the previous reason? Am I thinking about scripting a custom processor to clean up the HTML compile mode shoots out? Sure?
I’m low-key considering doing some kind of interview series, mostly so that I can gain followers and influence, which I can then translate into the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit down for an hour long conversation with Kazuo Ishiguro. At which point I will instead just stare at him. Wide-eyed. Until I die.
Mind if I talk about movies, a little bit, now and then? I actually do watch those! Like, my wife and I, we’ve been tearing through a stack of Criterion releases, the last couple months. It’s been swell. Ever hear of this Richard Linklater guy? I think he’s got potential!
Feel free to reply if you’ve got something to say. I think that works, I don’t know yet. Of course if I say something really dumb, be sure to forward this to all of your friends, and make fun of me, and tell them to subscribe, so they can see all the dumb stuff I say in the future.