Brief update: I'm working on longer-form writing that's more focused and deep. I've finished around a dozen pieces but haven't struck the tone I want yet. I don't know when the next iteration will come, but it's going to be terrific.
I've gotten lots of inquiries as to how I'm doing -- very well, thank you. Well, that's not 100% true. It's a difficult metamorphosis. Some days, things go exceedingly well. Others, it's frustrating. I'm studying technical materials and looking to seriously improve. There's been some results that are remarkable to me, but other days it's really tough.
My average time for writing a moderate-length piece used to be maybe 30 minutes, plus or minus 20. Now I'm up around 7 hours, plus or minus three. Lots of outlining beforehand, carefully citing facts and sources, footnoting, getting deeper points, and then editing afterwards.
Sometimes it's tough, because I'm putting a lot of work in, but I'm losing that natural free-flowing tone that I was able to strike when just writing.
The potential if I can nail this style is A+ work. But right now, I'm doing C- execution at that A+ style. The building blocks are all there, but it's slightly wooden and tough still. I think some of the core readers here will really love it, but the general public won't dig it. The stuff I'm writing is coming in at the 2500 to 7000 word range per piece, but doesn't quite move fast enough. Deep-thinking-love-to-critically-analyze people will dig it, but I can do better. I want to get that musical sense, that really grand and enjoyable tone.
I'm working at it. I don't have an ETA for when the new stuff will be rolled out, but I think the people who keep an eye on things will be very happy they did. I'm very excited for what's coming next.
Other points --
1. I'm in New York City this week. I'm pretty busy, but ping me if we ought to meet. I'll probably host a tea-time or two while in town, and would love to have more smart good people there.
2. A dose of old-school Marshall writing with “Free Holiday Inn Club Vacation”; Or, A Story About Bamboozlement as a Sales Qualifying Tool" -- that's not the new high-quality writing, that's dashed-off Marshall-doing-stuff type writing. But I think you'll laugh a little and learn something from it if you take a read of it. Do please click "Recommend" on Medium if you like it.
Ok, that's it! Comments welcome as always. Thanks for your readership.
Re: the Holiday Inn free vacation stuff...
Absolutely true on the whole "buyer qualification" thing. That's part of why Nigerian scams are still Nigerian scams instead of taking the thirty seconds to be from, like, Malaysia or something. Anybody with a lick of sense isn't going to buy in, so they need people who are basically 100% naive. Otherwise the scammers waste their time with people far too savvy to pay them.
Also: if you ever decide you want an interesting contrast, go get pitched by the *Disney* time-share people. Disney is careful to the point of paranoia with their brand image, so "Disney time-share" should sound like a contradiction in terms. It's not. Instead, you'll see them justifying their products in "make this investment, get these dividends over this time period" terms. Similar product, hugely different sales pitch. Disclaimer: my wife and I are clients of the Disney time-share program. We believe that in our case it *does* make financial sense. The sales guy also had an amazing amount of integrity - I've quoted him more than once on the Principal-Agent problem. Or as he put it, "for this to work, three people have got to be happy. You've got to be happy, I've got to be happy and Mickey's got to be happy." And then we went right back to the financial terms, because he was showing how everybody does well on the money and/or services, long-term, and the investment makes sense.
"Sometimes it's tough, because I'm putting a lot of work in, but I'm losing that natural free-flowing tone that I was able to strike when just writing."
I'm told by people much better than I am that a spontaneous tone happens on about the eighth rewrite...
It's not that, I think.
It's just that deliberate practice feels hard and it's just above the level of effort you need to get into the flow, so if you're getting better, you'll always feel un-natural.
Always impressed by your dedication to improving your craft. Looking forward to the new format. Interested in the book review, I sent you an e-mail. Won't be in NYC until Sunday, if you're still around. Cheers!
Also, the Free Holiday Inn Club Vacation post. Really entertaining. Criticism: It started out slow and I swear the first like 6 paragraphs almost word-for-word repeated themselves. Real de-ja-vu like. I was in the twilight zone for a few seconds until I realized you'd just repeated yourself and I in fact hadn't already read those exact words. Good stuff though. Write stories with points more often!
Don't sweat it man. The pain and lack of perfection is a sign that you're moving into a new area and really giving it your all to pick up new skills. You want to always be feeling like that. The fact that you're putting work out under those conditions at all is proof that you're excelling.
It's like the lights sheets. Always strive for 70%. If you're doing perfect work, you need to be doing harder work.
Glad to hear you're doing well. As always, I greatly anticipate the book! I was incredibly tempted to give it a proof-read, but I can't give something that amount of attention right now.
A side note: how's Medium treating you? It's really uh.. clean.. yeah? Clean. Sterile as fuck. I think it needs a tighter community, but I suppose every site has its issues.
Enjoy New York! I've always wanted to spend some time over there.
What's cyclothymia? It's a mild form of the docs used to call "manic-depression," but which they re-name periodically. Cyclothymics can actually function decently well, and as such often don't know they've got it. If you cycle through highs and lows, are particularly artistic, or that describes someone you love, then read this post in full and please comment with your own experience. I'm still learning, myself.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CYCLOTHYMIA
Knowing the term "Cyclothymia" would have been very helpful to me a few years ago. This essay is plain English and, if I've done a good job, might help people who associate with a cyclothymic relate better to them, and might help a cyclothymic manage themselves better and produce better.
I'm against the "medical-ization" of life. We need medical terms, but we need to be able to explain things in plain English without labeling. Labeling, by definition, drastically simplifies.
Cyclothymia is simple at its roots, simple enough for a plain discussion without medicalization. Here's how it works for me -
Studying is the kind of thing I look forward to doing all the time at night once I'm on this solid. That way I can enjoy my days and the outdoors plenty. But for now, it's tough.
I feel like I'm usually mentally between 85-90% during the day and less during the night. To study, especially boring stuff you're not interested in, you really have to be in the 95-100% range.
I'm writing a paper right now, and it's normally much easier to write than this. Same with the studying I did for a test I took Monday morning. But it is possible, so that makes me happy.