Jason Shen quoted me on his website -
I’ve got some sets of names I’d name my sons as they’re born. They’re unconventional names – Cosimo Marshall or Aurelius Marshall if the boy’s mother was Italian, Zhuge Marshall if he was Chinese. The boy will likely get teased.
That’s fine, tease back.
But son, as soon as someone puts their hands on you, they’ve crossed a line. Fuck them up. It’s the only thing these vicious freaks understand. They’re wild animals. They make violence on you, you need to show them that you’re the stronger, bigger animal. When someone attacks you maliciously for no reason, you need to impose your will on them.
-Sebastian Marshall – Blogger, Strategist
And you know what it feels like? It's really, really strange.
Well, first, let me say thanks to Jason and recommend his site to you. He's an extremely cool, smart, and friendly person who has shared some good iPhone app recommendations with me, and we've swapped a few interesting emails in the past.
If you're new to his site, you might consider checking out his "Rejection Therapy" series -
Actually, his whole site - jasonshen.com - is interesting, if you started with whatever's new and rapidly skimmed, I'm sure you'd find a post that fascinates you pretty quickly.
As for getting quoted? Man, it's weird. You know why? Because moods and thoughts gradually shift over time. When writing the, "Son..." post, that's like 99th percentile assertiveness Sebastian. Oh, don't get me wrong. I fully agree with everything I wrote and I stand by all of it. But there's probably only one day out of every three months that I'd put it quite like that.
The rest of the time, I read what I wrote and go, "Huh. Did I write that? Yeah, that's my writing. It's true and I believe in it, fully, but whoa, that was a pretty aggressive way of putting it." The rest of the time, I'd have probably been more neutral and diplomatic.
Y'know, it wasn't a carefully refined, carefully edited piece shaped over many months. That was raw thought and reaction to reading about a guy talking about being bullied as a kid, and my general outrage at the "love the bullies" misinformation idiocy that's pervasive today.
But still, 99 days out of 100, I probably wouldn't put it quite like that. So it's weird. I have some chicken, rice, and vegetables for dinner. I have a coffee because I'm going to stay up late, I read some "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" by Eliezer Yudkowsky, and then I go through my inbox and see myself quoted in a Google Alert.
And I'm like - "Whoa. I wrote that?" Well, yes, I did. Huh. I'm half proud of myself (wow, I really said it like it is there, no fluff or sugarcoating) and half surprised.
Have you ever written a journal entry when you were really up or really down, then read it later? It's like, "Huh, this is my handwriting, and yeah, I can see how I'd be thinking/feeling that, but in a way it's... weird..."
I think is actually a potential problem for new bloggers or people who go on TV for the first time, and things like that. You write something in a peak state (excitement, assertiveness, confidence) or otherwise altered (inspired, intoxicated, angry, maximum optimism, whatever) and then other people want to discuss it with more normalized you.
I could see myself on a TV interview getting asked, "So, Mr. Marshall, you think a bullied kid should fuck the bully up, do you?" And I think my first response would be, "Uhhhh, ummmm...."
Now, if you caught top 1% assertiveness Sebastian, he'd take that ball and run with it pretty easily. But the rest of the time, it's kind of surreal thinking about max-assertiveness me and reading what max-assertiveness me writes. Or max-optimism me, or max-creative me, or max-inspired, or whatever. The rest of the time, normal ol' Sebastian's feet are held to the fire for what max-state-whatever Sebastian said.
I don't know what the answer to this is. Learn to think faster, think on my feet, I suppose. I've heard that many people, once they get famous, go through "media training" to kind of decently non-answer their way through questions when they don't have a great answer to.
There's many upsides to doing creative work, but this is a strange thing you should be ready for. You, at maximum inspiration or righteous indignation or creativity or whatever, are going to say and do things. Then normal you are going to get asked about them or quoted on it.
It's flattering, in a sense. But it's also strange and scary. It's probably something you should anticipate and prepare for if you're doing creative work of some sort. Flattering and cool in a way. But also very strange.
The sad thing is that if you give your child a unique name and they grow up in America, they will be at a disadvantage their entire life. Numerous researchers have studied the affect of the name on children, and giving your child a special or unique name will put them at a disadvantage.
Ah, good comment, but I actually meant it almost the opposite way. I’d say 99th percentile assertiveness is the more correct version, it’s the normal me that has to catch up and step his game up.
That's an interesting perspective - it gives your less assertive self the 'task' or maybe even 'inclination' to try and be more assertive. Sounds good - one just has to be careful not to overdo it with the emotions.
This is definitely something I've run into since I started writing. One thing that I find is that writing will actually PUT me in a peak-state. I sit down, not really knowing what I'll write, but maybe a vague topic is in my head. Then, bam, before I know it, I'm forming a case, and convincing myself of that case as I go. Then suddenly I'm like, oh hell yea that's good, and WITH A RISING CRESCENDO, I drive my point home with a sledgehammer.
It's kind of fun. I'm not sure it's good writing. But for me it's part of my creative process. I get excited about ideas, I run with them and see if they stick, I bounce them off friends. The good ones stick around, and over the course of weeks or months or years subtly morph every time I write or talk about them. Yes, the inputs of people I talk to are invaluable. But also, there's a conversation going on between excited me, and cool, rational me, and every time excited me goes off on a tear, cool rational me makes some tweaks too.
Hence how I got started with my current project. I would write letters to people that started off on commentary on a specific situation, but ended up as rants on the state of the universe. Really not fair to turn that fire-hose of enthusiasm on any one person. So these days, if I find myself writing something like that, I try to publish it for anyone who will listen.
This is also tied to my Fear of Success. For me, writing is as much of a creative process as a creative product. In software also, shipping can be hard because it's never really done. Any artist knows this feeling. The part of the fear of success is the fear that this work-in-progress will achieve some fame and notoriety, and become frozen and unable to grow. But I agree with Stefanie, these raw, unfiltered pieces are often the most powerful. By the time a thought has become sterilized and suitable for public consumption, it's often lost a lot of its unique flavor. Much like coffee beans actually.
So, yea, I feel ya man. But try not to let it censor you. Let your works stand on their own. People who understand art will let you stand on your own too. And the rest will continue to smack their lips together in a way that brings them pleasure. It's all good.
P.S. since this is basically a letter already... you totally got me hooked on UR. So, thanks, and another plug for your readers. ;)
Hmmm I know what you mean. Emotions can easily influence how we put things, and add just a little... intensity, bluntness, we would otherwise avoid. It's good to know about it, and in the heat of the moment, take a step back and think.... do I really, really want to write this? It's interesting, though, pieces that run partly on emotions are more compelling to the emotions of other people, too. The reason-giving often suffers then, though not always. I wonder if, when somebody's put his heart into some writing, it's similar to the charisma of a speaker.
Jason Shen and I have swapped a few emails, very smart and cool guy (and excellent photographer, too). Here's his feedback on "What’s reading yourself getting quoted like? Strange. Very strange." -
Liked the post on being quoted - and you'd better get used to it - it's going to keep happening to you. There are 3 ways that any work is interpreted - the way the artist intended, the way it is received by his/her audience, and the way history reflects upon it's impact. You only have control over the first.
I think that's dead on accurate, and a great way of putting it.
Getting quoted out of context or misquoted seems to bother people a lot more than normal forms of criticism... I've been thinking about this lately, and I reckon it's partially because we all want to be understood. The problem is, the more novel, new, interesting, and important your ideas are - then the less likely they are to be understood right away. And as Jason says, most of that's outside of your control.
Jason's site is here - http://www.jasonshen.com/ - I recommend it.
Last Friday night, after two years of really hard work on SETT, we sent invite codes out to the four hundred people on the SETT waiting list, offering fifty spots. Whoever managed to snag a spot could either take a free basic account or buy a premium account and get 50% off for life.
The main point of releasing these spots is to start testing SETT on a wider scale, to get more feedback, and to begin work on some really cool blog to blog features. So if no one actually paid for an account, and everyone just took free ones to mess around with, I would have been satisfied. I figured maybe one or two people might pay, and maybe things would go really well and five people would pay.
As it turns out, thirteen people bought accounts, covering all three price points that we set. More than the actual money, which I've already used to upgrade the servers, I'm personally touched that people are excited enough about SETT to pay for it. I've worked so hard on this and continue to narrowly focus on making it the best blogging platform, that it's moving to have people who share the vision.
I'm also grateful for the people who set up free accounts and have already started using them. Many of the paid and unpaid SETT customers are members of this site who are active in the community section and comments, so I have high expectations for all of their blogs. As they get settled in, import their old blogs, and write new posts, I'll be linking to some of them here. Next Monday I will link to every new SETT blog that has at least one post on it.