Journeys of discovery are not something you start doing, but something you gradually stop doing.
Some of this might be obvious, but I wanted to go through the meta-cognitive process of writing down why I write.
For myself, when I’m feeling apprehension or lack of clarity, I try to write things down. The process of writing helps bring into focus my deep concerns.
When I write, I learn more about the subject. It takes time and focus. I start with an idea; Something I want to say or something I want respond to.
From there, I develop the idea. Sometimes, those ideas spin wildly beyond what I thought I would write about. Developing an idea might involve further research, looking for support, refutation, or contrast. I may go and track down a few terms to add to my glossary.
In the process, I might go revisit past posts. When I tag my posts, I get a list of related articles. Those are likely candidates for revisiting. All of this to further solidify and play with the idea.
Once I’ve taken the time to develop and encode the idea, I don’t have to remember what I was thinking. I have a record of it. This feeling is much the same as completing software. The software and documentation says what it does. I don’t have to remember. Instead, I can lean on my notes to remember.
When I “publish” my writing, I join and share with the mega-conversation, the conversations, writings, media, or experiences that brought about my thoughts and ideas.
Perhaps my writing is a direct or indirect response. Or maybe it’s a new thread.
In this broad world of information, I am always a bit more knowledgeable about something than someone else. By writing where I’m at and what I know, I extend an invitation for someone to learn just a bit more, and join me at my point of understanding.
And that’s important. I’ve made a few new friends by sharing an Emacs 📖 function or writing about a game license.
I’ve also raised a flag saying “Hey world, this is who I am. If you have a kindred minset, let’s talk.”
TL;DR I write to learn, teach, and grow.
I’m confident that the experience of immersion in a world made of words will survive if and only if readers continue to carve out places and times to have words with one another.
The above is the general benefit for writing. But, as I wrote this, I discovered that there’s even more going on. And the below list is certainly not an exhaustive list.
My writing involves:
By putting my ideas forward, others send in their feedback. My Discussing the Open Gaming License post helped a few people who had been looking at game content.
I ended up having some fruitful conversations, and made a new friend as we discussed even more common and shared interests.
Raising my Profile
This one’s a bit tricky, because it comes with a bit of hubris. However, as I reflect on raising my profile, I see that it’s created an opportunity to broaden the impact of my personal values.
Raising my profile is also about making connections, but in addition highlights the ability to uplift and grow.
Easily the best thing that came out of writing this was when the Firehose Project reached out to me to be a mentor. They had found my technical writing (from another blog) and github profile Yes, your Github profile is also your writing presence, but of a different bent.
And I found that I really enjoyed mentoring. My most rewarding benefit of mentoring was getting to know Arit.
Arit was my mentee; and I knew she was one that I wanted to keep in my life.
Her passion, intelligence, and desire to shape a better world was evident in our first meeting.
Since then, we’ve shifted to friends and co-mentors of each other. In that time, she founded Our Time for Tech,
A nonprofit initiative that empowers early-career & career-changing Women in Tech.
And I’ve joined Our Time for Tech as a mentor. I’ve had a chance to mentor a few more women as they move into (or re-enter) a tech career.
By raising my profile, I have helped uplift and grow with other people. I’ve made friends, colleagues, and/or collaborators who I never would’ve met were it not for my writing.
Also a bit odd, but something that’s dawned on me as I developed this post.
And anyone in the table top RPG 📖 online spheres will know that there are bad actors. I’ve expunged or deleted the handful of direct references to those folks. In some cases I’ve removed links to their products. But there’s still more to do.
It also highlights the hopeless entwinement; I have session reports and reviews for products of a publisher that I’m no longer interested in nor won’t support in the future.
At present its a lower priority to go back and update those posts to highlight my current perspective. But if I want to understand that perspective, I’ll need to write about it.
About once a week, someone reaches out to me asking if I’d be up for publishing sponsored content. They’d pay me.
Everytime, I say no. Because this is my personal space. And for those that choose to follow my writing, I don’t want to betray that relationship by ceding my platform.
There’s no editorial board for this blog. Instead these are my thoughts and ideas. And people will know who I am and what I stand for.
If I let a guest blog post through, there’s a strong implication that I support and stand by the totality of that guest post writer.
This also inter-relates with raising my profile. I’m going to write and model that Black Lives Matter and Indigenous Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter and Immigrant Lives Matter and I need it to be clear that my platform is my voice.
I use Hugo 📖 for building my site. This means I have a nice ecosystem to play around with CSS 📖 and HTML 📖 . I’ve learned more about HTML semantics by building a site to support my writing.
I’ve shared my Hugo knowledge on the Hugo subreddit.
I also use Emacs for writing blog posts. Emacs is the same tool I use for writing software and taking notes. By writing with the same tool, I can bring some of the shortcuts, tooling, or idioms from one context (e.g. blog writing) to another.
The overall effect of storytelling around the fire was to convey the big picture of the group’s existence.
A writer projects themselves into the future, providing a means for those in the future to connect with a past perspective. Perhaps my writing will carry forward into the future, and when I’m gone my descendants can find a bit of me in what I wrote. Note dear children of mine, this is not me saying that I expect you to have children. That is your decision not mine. Though a grand-puppy would be nice!
I usually release my posts under a Creative Commons license. This non-revocable license helps ease any future stewardship of my content.
And no, I’m not assuming much of anyone will squabble over the rights of my writings. However, I’m reminded of a family tradition of my ex-wife’s family.
Every other year, they gather for a reunion and have a bit of an auction. In that auction, someone always offers up an ancestors journal or journals. And the family bids on them.
They use the money raised to pay for the reunion expenses, and invariably the journals are offered up again the next time for a new steward.
That ritual helps bring cohesion to their family.
In writing, I hope to bring that as an offering to any and all descendants that I have.
As I wrote this post, it became self-evident that I’m going to write more personal things. It will certainly continue to involve games and software, but maybe more stories from my past.
When I wrote my first personal blog post in , I set out with an area of focus for writing. That area of focus remains, but I’ve expanded beyond games to share more of a picture of the complete me.