Writing more

In between all the craziness of AC2004 and BloggerCon and trying to meet a deadline at work and doing some consulting work for a friend, I’ve been thinking. Several different threads going on here:

  • Going to these conferences and having to answer the question “What do you do?” and not having an interesting answer ready was demoralizing. I do my job, and I do it well, but it’s not exactly change-the-world type stuff. I partly left physics because I wanted to have more of an impact, but I seem to have fallen, yet again, into the rut of just-getting-by. Which is frustrating. I’m not sure where to go from here. I can’t see myself as a programmer. Or a scientist or researcher really, given my generalist tendencies. Or a manager. So, um, what’s left?
  • I’m also in the throes of that mid-life crisis where I don’t feel really satisfied with anything that I’m doing. I feel like I should be doing more. More of what?
  • In response to the election last week (was it really only last week? Feels like forever ago), I’m trying to figure out how I can make a difference next time. I don’t really feel that working at the local level is a worthwhile endeavor. I love my representative, Barbara Lee, and my senators, Boxer and Feinstein, are pretty good as well. And there are loads of people in the Bay Area who are motivated to volunteer and help out with local causes. So that doesn’t seem right. What I think I want to do is help figure out the message, and come up with better ways of conveying it. Something like working at the Rockridge Institute would be ideal, but I don’t have the experience to get in someplace like that. So where do I start?

So all of these different threads are running around in my head. And the thing that I think ties them together is this blog. I want to write more. Writing essays on here is one of the few things that I do right now that’s satisfying when I finish it. And I feel like I’ve become better at expressing my thoughts because I’m writing more. And I hope that if I can continue to get better, I can eventually help out with some of the issues associated with message in the liberal movement. It’s all sorts of hubris, but, what the heck. As Miles Vorkosigan once quipped, “Aim high. You might not hit what you’re aiming for, but at least you won’t shoot your foot off.”

We’ll see if I can carry through on writing more. Part of the reason I’m writing this entry and declaring it publicly (publically? Neither one looks right, but Merriam-Webster says both are valid) is to help give myself the willpower to carry through. It’s not like I’m suffering for a lack of ideas. In the little notebook where I’ve been trying to jot down ideas for this blog when I think of them, I have a backlog of about 15-20 ideas. I just need the kick-in-the-pants to sit down in front of the computer, even when I’m not feeling motivated, and pick one out and start working on it, instead of flopping down on the couch and watching TV or re-reading a favorite sci-fi novel. We’ll see what happens. You can mock me lots in a month when I haven’t done anything.

I also want to look into more venues for writing. Possibly submitting some of my pieces (with judicious editing) to various online sites. If people know of sites that might be appropriate for opinion pieces of the type that I do, please let me know. I don’t even really know what I’m looking for. Perhaps something like PopPolitics, which I found in a random google search for something related to politics. Plus commentary fora like that would be a good place to work on expressing myself more concisely.

In a semi-related thought, I’m thinking of getting a laptop so I can finally join the wireless age, and so that I can write from anywhere. In particular, while traveling (or possibly, on my couch). We’ll see if I actually pursue that. Right now, although I adore and lust after the PowerBook, I’m probably going to get a Windows laptop so that I can use it for work if I need to. Something like an IBM thinkpad or an HP zt3000. Any advice that people have is welcome.

On another semi-related note, I’m thinking of putting together a salon (intellectual, not hair) at some point. Mostly an excuse to get together with some friends and have a good conversation. Maybe the last week of November, first week of December? Heck, it could even be during Thanksgiving weekend if people were going to be around. If you’d have interest in something like that, let me know. Or maybe I’ll just throw a party instead :).

And now, since there’s no time like the present, I’m going to go write one of those backlogged posts that’s been hanging around the back of my brain for months.

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