In addition to my work as The StoryJack, I do a lot of writing — stories, essays, journals and a longer thing whose name shall not be uttered. I did my apprenticeship under Tobias Wolff and Doug Unger at Syracuse University long ago.
Right now, I’m excited about some experiments in digital publishing. Inspired by the DIY ethos among independent musicians and Kevin Kelly’s manifesto for craftspeople (1,000 True Fans), I’m exploring similar models for writers. If you’re cynical, you can dismiss it as mere self-publishing or just another flavor of a vanity press. But what really excites me is the possibility of deeper connections between writers and their audiences. I hate the word Robert Wright tosses around when describing this phenomenon — disintermediation — but that’s the point: what happens when you remove all the artifacts of the publishing industry out of the way? Is it kind of like sitting around a campfire in the woods, telling stories?
As an example, take a look at Maria Popova’s beautiful work in The Marginalian — (formerly Brain Pickings). Popova’s been running her site for 15 years, reading, noting and writing short essays on an almost-daily basis. She’s a journalist, to the extent that one does not “conflate journalism with news,” as she insisted in a discussion with Krista Tippett. In a NYT article, she predicted she would never write a book (“Why would I write something that has the shelf life of a banana?”) because the Web provides her with both an outlet and audience. And I thought, there it is. There is the literary equivalent to indy music. Maria Popova doesn’t need a publisher. She has access to a financially supportive audience, gets to write about her interests, controls her art and her output, and lives by her own rules. How great is that?
I’m planning to launch The Eggemoggin Notebooks by the end of 2022. A home for my nonfiction feuilletons, I envision it as a cross between a blog and a traditional collection of essays. It will be a work in continuous progress, as I add both new and previously published content regularly. In addition to the essays, the site will also include a collection of shorter notes the thickly linked together and to the longer essays.
This site is home to content I’m creating about using Obsidian and Blot as my almost-Integrated Writing Environment. Heavily inspired by my friend Nick Milo’s explorations in note-making for personal knowledge management (Linking Your Thinking), I’ve discovered a whole new approach to writing — one that restores joy to the process and generates new ideas and epiphanies on a daily basis.