This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Drawlloween Postmortem

It should be obvious to anyone following this series (so… just me) that I failed at my Drawlloween attempt. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I hate not living up to the expectations that I set for myself. On the other hand, it was a learning experience! Two key takeaways:

  • My desire to create visual art is quite sporadic. As I’ve stated before, writing is a medium that comes much more naturally to me.
  • Daily challenges are hard! (Is that self-evident? Maybe I should have known!) The difficulty seems to scale linearly with the time commitment required. I think a daily Halloween haiku would have been conquerable; a daily short story would have crashed and burned.

I’m running a D&D campaign this week, so I may use the remaining prompts as monsters for the players to encounter. It depends on how well they would jibe with the rest of my plans. We’ll see.

In conclusion, I would try another themed challenge, but I’d be more careful about tweaking it to suit my strengths and creative inclinations.

Monthly Shenanigans, February 2018

Hello again 👋

Welcome back to The Newsletter Formerly Known as Exolymph! May its cyberpunk self rest in peace. The other way you’d know me is as tech reporter Sonya Mann. At some point you signed up for this mailing list on one of my websites.

Reporting ✍️

Here are the best articles I’ve written since I last emailed you:

  • A profile of San Francisco-based Republican lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, who is representing fired Google employee James Damore. [link]
  • A takedown of self-proclaimed “cryptocurrency genius” and actual grifter James Altucher. [link]
  • “These College Startups Don’t Charge Tuition Until Grads Make $50,000 a Year” [link]
  • What it was like to eat 90% meat for two weeks. People loved this one! Presumably because it’s fun to read about crazy diet experiments. [link]

Thoughts 💅

These days I’m always asking myself, “What do you want?” It’s a hard question (although not at the level of a quarter-life crisis). Also, it’s a question that I’ve asked myself many times before.

The answer varies somewhat. Usually what I want the most is to be an independent creator, along the lines of Ben Thompson. Alternately, one of those people who churn out zombie novels for Amazon Kindle users.

I’ve read the “1,000 True Fans” essay a couple of times and it’s fueled hours and hours of daydreaming. Daydreaming is easy — the hard part is committing to a particular vision and putting in the work. I sorta did that with Exolymph… until my creative juices dried up.

To be clear, I don’t feel sorry for myself. My life is charmed in most respects. I live in an economically vibrant area with good weather, near my family. I have a committed relationship and two friendly cats. Finances are comfortable. My health is stable. I am grateful for all of these things.

Nevertheless, I’m dissatisfied. I wonder if this is pure hedonic treadmill, and I’m just predisposed to wish for greater levels of achievement no matter what. Before I got my job as a full-time reporter, that seemed like a milestone that would erase my discontent. And yet here I am!

I waffle about the practical options too. Do I want to stay in journalism, despite the perverse incentives that have remade the industry? (As much as I love the internet, it’s been terrible for news businesses.) Should I jump ship to do content marketing? I’d make more money.

On the other hand, money isn’t everything. Cliché but true.

Are you where you want to be?

Bunny and guinea pig photo by Chris Parfitt.
Photo by Chris Parfitt.

Making Stuff versus Looking at Stuff

“I guess the true problem here [is] the sharp contrast between platforms for people who make stuff and platforms for people who look at stuff. (Most of us are some blend of both, of course — all the more reason that the separation sucks.) Twitter is made for looking and sharing, so it’s used by everyone but sucks for creators; something like Flickr is made for making, so it has a lot of relevant tools but isn’t very heavily frequented. The result is that work gets clumsily cross-posted all over the place, and it’s left to individual creators to come up with their own ad-hoc rituals for disseminating new work.” — Eevee

Hourly Pay for Creative Work?

Photo by Graham Richardson.
Photo by Graham Richardson.

There’s a problem with being paid hourly for creative work. Intellectual productivity isn’t based on time, but on quality of output. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can only think really hard and really well for a couple of hours per day, and usually not longer than thirty minutes at a time.

Concentration consumes a lot of energy, and I need frequent breaks to mess around and do nothing in particular. If I billed for that time, I would feel guilty, because I’m not actually putting words to paper or whatever my client is paying me to do. But I need the breaks to recharge in between creating the work.

I asked a mentor what to do about this problem and she suggested charging a day rate instead. So I guess I should figure that out for the next gig.

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