I feel weird and self-conscious about making personal check-in posts on here, for a few reasons.
One is that I figure most people who subscribe to my newsletter also follow my Twitter, which seems better suited for personal updates. Another is that of all the reasons that people might subscribe to my newsletter, hearing how I’m doing isn’t likely to be at the top.
But my best pieces on here include a personal angle, and even the ones that are most focused on a particular news item are still personal in the sense that they’re my personal point of view.
When the newsletter lies fallow for long periods of time it’s generally because I’m not doing too well. I’m tired. I’m sick. I’m in pain. I feel adrift.
That’s basically been the theme of my 2021, and it’s shown in how frequently I update this.
Adding to the malaise: somewhere in the recent doldrums, something seemed to break in how Substack embedded tweets. Pasting in a URL from Twitter just produced the text of the tweet, which I suppose did the job but didn’t feel the same.
Since a lot of my newsletters were commentary on Twitter and since I was accustomed to using tweets relating to news events to provide context and grounding for my posts that were about news, the inability to embed tweets took a lot of steam out of my sails. It’s a steam-powered sailing ship, I guess? Little-known early experiment in hybrid power vehicle.
A big part of my approach to writing the newsletter has always been to bookmark tweets that spark thoughts, and then later that day or the next, peruse my recent bookmarks to see which of those thoughts seemed fruitful and timely, and then paste the relevant tweets in and build a post around them. It was a simple system and it worked well for me.
When it really worked, I was doing a post or more every weekday. When I was struggling, it gave me a starting point.
When it stopped functioning… so did I.
As I write it out like that it sounds petty and silly, that I stopped writing newsletters regularly because I couldn’t embed tweets anymore, and that’s an example of that self-consciousness I was talking about. I was coming here today because I’ve been doing slightly better and I wanted to have a moment of accountability where I acknowledged my absence and resolved that I was going to do better and just use the tools I had even if my favorite one was no longer available.
But as I grabbed a random tweet to use as an example, I found that the previous functionality seems to have been restored at some point, so, oh well, I guess. I think I will still try to learn something from this experience and try to rely less heavily on that tool so that if this platform changes or if circumstances move me to a different one, my continued work is not so dependent on something that is outside my control.
I think beyond and apart from that, the other lesson here is that not only can you not solve a problem if you’re not willing to articulate what the problem is, but sometimes taking that step is the vast majority of what you need to do. Like, it’s not always the case, but sometimes just facing a problem can be the same as overcoming it.
If I imagine that embedding tweets still didn’t work, what my plan here had been was to come and talk about what’s been happening, and describe how the change had gotten in my way, and how, having put it into words and realizing how small it sounds, I was going to pick myself up and keep going anyway.
And I think it would have worked, because the main thing getting in my way here was myself.
So that’s what’s been going on with me, and with this strange endeavor here. There will probably be more personal check-in digressions like this in the near future as I build up another full head of steam for the sails, but also good old-fashioned quality news analysis and political commentary.
Thank you, as always, for your patient support and readership.