Hey, so, I'm starting a newsletter.
I've run a newsletter before. In the years before Patreon, that was my way of connecting with readers and giving special access to my works in progress. Without a lot of automation or integration between the pay model; and the actual subscription list, it took a lot of administrative maintenance that I just didn't have the time or energy for.
But I enjoyed having the newsletter. I enjoyed writing it, and knowing it was being read.
So I've been looking at things like TinyLetter and Substack since they hit the scene. One reason I never got into them, though, was that I said most of what I thought needed saying on Twitter.
The past two and a half years or so, I've been able to make a decent living for myself just being on Twitter, which is amazing, verging on miraculous. I've certainly worked for the money - put in the time, the energy, applied my expertise to explaining the political news of the day, helping people make sense of it all, and imparting advice and encouragement as I can.
The thing is, though, that my life is getting more complicated. I've come to realize it's not good for me to sit in a dark room in front of a computer screen doing nothing except engaging with the news and the public until I burn out. I'm not giving up my Twitter post, but I feel the need to branch out.
At the same time, I've been listening to the wise people i consider my colleagues in Twitter punditry give the same advice over and over again: get to know your neighbors. Get involved in your local community. Go out into the world and form the connections you're going to need, before you need them.
So, I've been doing that.
The way a lot of people use Twitter, it's very mobile. Pull out your phone, tweet, put it away. The way I work on Twitter is more involved. It works better if I have a computer with a full-sized screen and a lot of tabs open. Now, these days I have a mobile computing setup that is more mobile than most full-fledged computers and more of a full-fledged computer than most mobile devices, but the wearable heads-up display isn't a natural fit for tab-based multitasking or heavy reading..
So going out into the world means leaving my heavy Twitter presence behind, at least some of the time. But I have no desire to stop doing the kind of work I've been doing, and I can't afford to lose the income.
At the same time... I keep resolving to blog more, but I feel like in some ways the golden age of the blog has passe.d. Google Reader's gone. Remember del icio us? There are still people blogging and still people who read blogs, but more and more it feels like shouting into a vast and empty wasteland. You can keep an active audience if you manage an active community of commentators, but that's a whole other job that I don't have the skill set for.
If I were tweeting, this would be the point where I'd throw out a disclaimer that me mentioning the hurdles I see with blogging aren't an invitation to suggest solutions because I've already settled on something else I'd rather do instead. And then I'd block or mute two or three people who disregarded that, depending on how obnoxious they were. The person (usually but not always a guy) who made a joke about how they're doing that thing would definitely get blocked, though, because at the point you're acknowledging that the thing you're saying is unwanted, you can't pretend it was an honest misunderstanding, can you?
I guess there are some things I won't miss about Twitter, in a newsletter format.
Since I haven't been keeping up blogging, I have been journaling almost every day. Often thousands of words. Because it's not meant for public consumption, it's probably rawer and more honest in some areas than blogging would be. It means I'm writing every day, but not writing something that can be shared, and often it feels like I wind up journaling instead of writing fiction or working on one of my projects or doing anything
So my hope is with a less private (though not quite as public-facing as a blog) venue, I can offload some of what I would be tweeting if I were staying home and some of what I would be journaling into a newsletter.
What you're going to get is: updates on my life, observations on the world, maybe some creative writing exercises, discussion of things I'm working on... basically, the same kind of mix of stuff that happens on my Twitter, though without some of the reflexive shyness I've accumulated for certain topics (like game design and other creative pursuits) because I get sick of the drive-by reactions.
Like most things I do, I'm going to consider this both an experiment and a work in progress, basically for the entire duration. My goal is not to make a finished product or get it right, my goal is to get better at what I do, and find new ways to do it.
I've put a $5 a month price tag on the paid version of this newsletter, or $50 per year, which works out to be a bit more or a bit less than $1 a week, depending on which way you take it. If you sign up between now and October 21st, your subscription will be 20% off for as long as you have it.
The fact that you can read this post made before any other person had subscribed to this tells you that you don't need a paid subscription. You can subscribe and you'll get my day-to-day (if not likely to be quite daily, all the time) updates sent to your inbox as they go out.
What does the paid subscription get you? Well, everything, for whatever "everything" is. I might occasionally send out an update that goes only sent to paid subscribers if it's something I want to keep in a slightly more intimate circle. I may also cross-post some of the stuff I put on Patreon to the newsletter, under a paid filter... though honestly, I don't put a lot of stuff up on Patreon that is subscriber only.
I'll be honest: my model for almost twenty years of putting my work on the internet has been that I keep my stuff free to read and I invite people who want to show their appreciation for what I've created and ensure I can keep creating it to pay me, and I've counted on enough people enjoying my work for this to be profitable, and it has worked out very well for me over the years. I don't see much reason to change that now.
So there will be at least one paid-only post each month, starting in October, but I can't rightly say what will be in it. I'm figuring things out as I go, like I always do. For now I'll say: subscribe for free if you want to read what I write, subscribe for $5 if you want to keep me writing it.
Either way, I hope you'll come along with me on this journey.