At the end of last year, I pondered chucking out the newsletter entirely, but as the busyness of starting a new year and stress of new responsibilities gave way to some reminiscing (and talking), I thought it best to try and formulate the main reasons and take a closer look.
The least important reason, is that compiling it was getting boring and annoying. It required working against some of the features of first Tinyletter, then Mailchimp and my own brain tracking what I’m up to over the course of a month.
After thinking it over, I finally ditched Mailchimp in favour of Buttondown. The big idea is that I can more easily build my dispatch. It’s 1 simple file written in Markdown, with full control of where the images are stored.
I’m also moving all the dispatches to my own website to keep the archive in 1 place if I ever decide to move again.
Since I was making this change anyway, I redesigned the letter to match some of my recent projects and interests. I’m also still thinking of a way to make it physical (like a zine) but I’m not sure how to automate that yet (same for building the archive, that’s by hand at the moment).
The biggest issue I have with maintaining a newsletter though (which I have broached in these dispatches before), is that there exists a duality between wanting to share my own creative projects/thoughts, and the constant, uncomfortable realization that it goes hand in hand with a form of exhibitionism. I’m a person, which entails having thoughts, opinions and ego. In creating these dispatches from my point of view (rather than as, I dunno, some company sending out spam marketing) every month, I’m working through personal thought and processes when doing anything. And while it’s not entirely the same as a Livejournal (remember those?), I do have a lot more of my ‘self’ in these texts than I have separate, finished ‘creations’. There is this need to process thoughts and creations in writing (as well as sometimes visual media, like comics) and for whatever reason, that doesn’t quite work if there’s no ‘sharing’ component to it. This seems to be a common thread with people operating from a compulsion to make things. Not that I want to compare myself to artists living of their work (or trying to), it’s just something I’ve glanced from interviews.
This also reaches into subjects like why some people don’t do well with self-promotion, how social media turned everyone in a ‘content creator’, why some webcomic creators just quit, … but that’s stuff for another day.
The compulsion to create seems to go hand in hand (for me anyway) with a need to process (and remember) things through creative acts, of which writing a newsletter is a neat and compact form. It’s simultaneously a creative project (just like modding gameboys, making a game, writing and drawing comics, painting, …) and external memory.
Sharing it publicly (even if it’s mainly friends or acquaintances), feels a bit exhibitionist (uncomfortable as well as egocentric) but also makes it so I can (mentally) mark some thoughts or projects as having reached a milestone and let part of it go to do something else (or built on it).