First Pass

I've been thinking

It’s the first pass, my first issue, I’m making a start. Bear with me, it’s going to take a few circumambulations before the Personal Papers finds its voice.

Here goes

Tired of the lack of discourse, submerged in the near-cesspool of what’s been called “Zuckerberg’s Follies” I still try to connect with people and ideas that mean something to me. (Paradox disclosure: I have no plans to leave Facebook.) Social media seems to have overwhelmed all my communication, including my beloved old blog which still lies patiently at my feet hoping for a pat now and then. Sometimes any thought longer than a headline, a tweet and a link is beyond me.

So this is how I’m cutting through the distractions that keep our overexposed communal nervous system on high alert. It’s simple. I just write you a glimpse of what I’m thinking and feeling these days. Eliot said, “Distracted from distraction by distraction” - or something like that. (Or was that Lincoln or Einstein? I’ll google the meme…)

I dithered back and forth finding the right name, finally settling on Personal Papers, the category that archivists use for collections of misc. notes, unfinished business, grocery lists - stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else. The only other title contender was Resonant Digression, a name I’ve had in my back pocket for years - but that seems more of a distant overview, plus it has too many syllables.

Odds & sods

Some say we’re at “peak newsletter” - and I’m late to the party, so I’m even more grateful to you for signing up to help me get started. As the subscriptions came in, with them came the abyss: Not wanting to disappoint you. What can I write for people from different aspects of my life, varied communities of interest, diverse expectations? It may be too short for you or too long; too serious or too entertaining; too woo-woo, too much, too little, too earnest, too superficial. Would I find the right tone - to please you, to keep your interest, so you will like my writing, so you will like me?

Enough of that. In the good company of so many divergent minds, the only approach is to just be myself and do as I feel. I don’t want to turn off anyone by going into odd territory, but unfortunately for the faint of heart, that’s more likely the area I’ll tend to enter. I am, after all, a writer, and writing isn’t satisfying if it’s a rehash of information we already know. Exploring an unknown can be uncomfortable, messy, unresolved or odd. I’m interested in that, too.

If you…

If you find you aren't reading what you’re looking for, just skim and wait for next week’s issue. If it still isn’t your cup of tea, remember the Toni Morrison quote that’s been going around lately and write your own. I’ll subscribe! If you don’t have time to read every week, no problem: don’t open it. (I’ll never know.) If you have some topic ideas, or questions, email or DM me.

Clear the cache

Making it all personal is the only way to handle the intensity of our simultaneous media environment, what used to be called “electric living”. In the blink of an eye I scroll past starving dogs to the oldest tree in the world to an event pitch to horrific corruption to glacier meltdowns, all with high attention callouts and fear triggers (note to self: stop using gun-related metaphors like “trigger”)… what was I saying? Oh right … I’m reclaiming my own mind, fumigating for meme-viruses, clearing the cache of thought for personal expression and getting ready for the demands of these times.

It is a necessary preparation. There’s stuff I can’t see when I'm numbed by too much info and not enough meaning. I think of an instructional pamphlet from the 1920’s with the title “Mental Hygiene” on its faded green cover.

Wave the pennant

Our attention is under attack so I’m waving the pennant for Personal Papers. I’m not crouching down in the foxhole, I’m running through no-man’s land to the unknown. I’ll return with supplies. Thanks for having my back. (drat, that was another gun-related metaphor…this time with added war!)

See you next week.

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