I am really not the best at process (or processing) – that was a joke – hahah.
Happy Sunday! I was talking with my writing group and they said that I should keep a record of my newsletter process so here it is sort of … the beginning.
Well I had a newsletter once before -it was about crypto. I started it maybe 6 years ago. I had a vague notion that through this newsletter I could connect with other people in crypto and become a crypto expert. And while, I did become a crypto expert, I did not have the sort of legitimacy one gets from having 1.5mm instagram followers like kim kardashian. No fancy conference invitations for me, I had to apply like everyone else…
So last year I was at the recurse center. One of the things I wanted to explore was something called ‘conscious computation’ – the application of computational models to ideas of consciousness, and the application of consciousness to computation.
I really did not get very far on this concept. I was very impressed by the work of Vilem Flusser and the relationship between medium and conceptual frameworks. I wondered what would our dreams be like to dream in code or non-linear systems instead of images.
At the start of 2020 I started working with a group of creatives and we started keeping one another accountable to our creative projects. I hoped to maybe create a body of work or writing around this concept of conscious computation. I have a vague idea of who I wanted to connect with in order for this idea to have impact within the wider culture.
Covid19 came to the USA in early January. I was actually in Bothell on a project when someone was first diagnosed with covid in the USA (in Bothell I think). I started to lose interest in this project. In the past when I would often become despondent when embarking on projects and begin to think ‘who cares?’ Who cares about this? This lead to further feelings that I was self-indulgent and doing something with little utility.
In the past 18 months or so I have radically reframed this. I no longer ask this question. I ask am I interested? And that alone is enough. Since what is better than to spend one’s time doing what one is interested in. But even my conscious complexity project no longer interested myself… I had to start again.
I started thinking about what I was really interested in and it was, as it has always been since I was a young girl, the connection between different things, areas of thought, and mediums of expression. I was interested in learning about different systems, I was interested in creating in a variety of mediums, I was interested in the scaffolding the tools, structure, and milieu of all these things.
Prompted by Nitzan, I started calling my self a systems poet.This is a term that is evocative although meaningless in a way -since I am the only (or perhaps the first) systems poet.
Back to the newsletter. Why did I want to do a newsletter now? I no longer had a project – like conscious computation, but a method and a process… I wanted to look at the boundary lands between systems. The goal was no longer to become an expert – because there is no field to become an expert in, instead my goal now with the newsletter was to connect with people who would be interested in these explorations as well.
My first newsletter was all over the place, I went really deep really fast on a myriad of concepts. I still was clinging to consciousness and computation. I knew I wanted to bring in visual references and links that might provide some inspiration and sarendipity but that was it. The feedback on this first, aborted, newsletter was that it was complex and difficult to understand (perfect for a blog post).
I regrouped and a few weeks later, I wrote my first newsletter. I was very happy with it. I accomplished a high degree of precision and fidelity that I had been struggling my whole life to achieve. I felt I was on the threshold of a new higher quality of work. Sadly my call to action link was broken and because I am using the generally excellent square space mailing app, but otherwise I was happy.
Now to write the next newsletter. This was not so easy. I would sit down to write some ideas for a few moments, and come back and feel the inspiration and momentum totally gone. I would post something to this blog, or to twitter or slack and thing ahh the newsletter, but then I had no motivation to write it.
One of the things I am also in the midst of doing, is learning to listen to myself and be in alignment with myself. This is a whole body process. So I would think, well if I dont feel like writing now, should I just honor that. My whole life has followed a few philosophical points – I have used a numbers game mentality, I have attempted to use force of will, and I thought better done than perfect.
But in the past year this has totally changed for my. Rather than trying everything under the sun, I wanted to listen to myself and only do those things that I truly wanted to do. My litmus test was how I wanted to spent my time, not what would be ‘successful.’ Then I challenged the force of will. How can I feel like ideas, thoughts, feelings, creations, come from me, rather than from some sort of way to anticipate or meet another person (can we say co-dependance), or to push something through without focusing on how it feels. Finally I am challenging the better done than perfect, and all the attendant ideology like MVP (minimum viable product). I have a desire to do things exquisitely. I have lived my life in broad strokes, and I now I am interested in the details (I still cannot spell however).
With this orientation, I was really mindful of how I was writing the newsletter, in addition to writing the newsletter. The second newsletter had trouble being birthed.
I had a conversation with one of my writing partners, Thomas, that he recorded on zoom. He had a conversation methodology and it was amazing. It was one of the most generative and energizing experiences I had in a while. I might not be able to write a newsletter, but I can have good conversations. So I started doing that (please sign up for a 1:1 conversation 🙂
There is no goal beyond this other than the sheer pleasure of it. I can see it becoming a collection of interviews or even an audio project or documentary. But for now, it just brings me pleasure.
I started working on some personal coding projects and I realized that what I now loved to program with another person. I love to code and have a ton of knowledge, both technical and just process or what I call body knowledge or pattern matching. I decided that going forward I would try and write with a partner as much as possible.
A year or so ago, a friend put me in touch with a professional coach for software developers. I took a sample session, but did not proceed further, at the moment I did not have the need. The idea and tips she gave me though I still remember. And imagine that I would improve dramatically if I worked with her. And maybe I will now. The idea that programming, like everything else, can benefit from having a coach, was mind blowing. After these revelations I started doing 1:1 code coaching sessions. I do plan on charging for this one day, or doing work study (like we code on one of my personal projects), but for now, while I am figuring it out, they are totally free. Please try it out!
While not writing my newsletter, I was doing these other things that were more process oriented and directed at what I enjoyed doing. However I still wanted to put out the newsletter. I had (and still have) in my mind a list of 5-10 people who I imagine reading my newsletter, perhaps passing it to other people, of a feedback loop within the newsletter (which is why I have a Q/A at the end), and even a feedback loop among people who I interact with (who read the newsletter, who dialogue with me, who code with me etc).
Today I scheduled my second newsletter. It comes almost a month after the first. I sat down this morning and wrote it like the first one, in one burst in google doc. I did then go back and edit it in the afternoon after comments from my writing group. I have the same good feeling I had with the last newsletter. My goal is to hopefully turn this method into a rhythm. On sunday morning write, and sunday afternoon revise.
I have goals for the newsletter, as I stated before. I want to connect with other people who are interested in these thoughts. I want those people to connect with me. I want them to connect with one another. It would be nice if these thoughts create actions either works or deeds. But internal changes are enough. If enough people undergo enough internal changes then the world will change.
I don’t have a dogma or an agenda that I want to promote, I just want fellow travelers on my journey.