I suppose this is the obligatory "welcome to the inaugural edition of the muse-letter" edition. Sounds impressive doesn't it?
I had thought about calling this something weird or funny like "Strange Love: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Myself" but wasn't sure if people would get the reference, I hope so but you can't never be too sure. It might also be seen as setting too tight a scope, perhaps sounding like it was all about my battle with depression and anxiety.
I want it to be more than that so eventually opted for the simple play on words "muse-letter" - I'm absolutely terrible at naming things.
So, what's this all about?
In the past I've too often tried to be something I'm not, tried to do something that just didn't fit, leading me to abandon it and let people down. I don't want that for this. Consequently, it's not going to be about anything in particular apart from being about me.
It's a cliché but I do me better than anyone, except for my wife - she does me too well, knows how I tick and what I'm thinking even before I do, then gets frustrated while waiting for me to catch up. So you'll have to make do with the second best me or maybe I'll just ask her what to write
Why this? Why now? Especially when there have been failures before?
It happened as a bit of an accident. I had created the Daily RSS feed and, from that, the Daily Email updates and realised I could use essentially the same technique to run a (I don't want to use the n word) "newsletter" - entirely self built and self hosted within the blog, no fancy plugins (except the one I wrote to create the custom post type) and no frills. Function over form, straight to the point.
Sometimes there could be a theme to a letter, other times not, I just want to be honest and open, like a letter to a friend saying whatever's on my mind. I'll admit to not having a grand plan for this - I hope it will grow organically and decide what it wants to become and how it will supplement/complement the blog.
What I don't want it to be, hope it won't be, is a one way thing - just me writing "at" you. I heartily encourage a degree of audience participation - I know, that's scary - but I won't be dragging you up on stage, I'd just love it if you replied, had an input and maybe, together, we can set the future course. You've signed up expecting to be entertained but you're going to have to put some work in to make this the best it can be.
Sorry, not sorry as the kids say.
One thing I have decided is that each letter will include details of what I've been reading and what I've taken from it so here's the first installment:
Reality Hunger by David Shields
This is a strange one, divided into numbered sections, very much a collection of ideas about the very nature of media that initially seem separate but eventually start to come together as a cohesive whole.
Shields advocates breaking down the barriers between genre, between type and format, arguing that the strict definitions we place upon media (novel, documentary, memoir, etc.) are actually lies. So far (I'm about half way through as it can be heavy going) it's a fascinating experience to see him bounce back and forth between stories, observations, criticisms, moments of reflection and memoir, constant juxtaposition designed to through you off the scent so you're never entirely sure what you're reading.
Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich That Hanh
I'm only one chapter in to this and it's been predominantly scene-setting until now but he does introduce a handy little mantra for mindful breathing that I really need to internalise.
You don't have to have aspirations of being Buddhist to read this, we can all benefit from mindfulness and clarity in the moment. He may be one of the world's most respected Buddhist teachers but he writes in a way that everyone can understand not afraid to place his work firmly in the here and now while retaining the essence of tradition and history.
I'm really looking forward to digging deeper into this one.
I think that's it for now, I wanted to ease you (and myself) in gently and, as CJ Chilvers advises, "Get Started":
"...start with anything. It’s impossible to learn or iterate from nothing."
So this is me, starting with anything, putting an end to the procrastination and saying "to hell with the anxiety, it's going out no matter what!"
Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you.