362 Days At Sea: One Year Anniversary! 🎉
Reflections on one year of writing and some updates on the future of the Lifeboat.
Next week will be one year since I published the first essay for this newsletter. It’s also a little bit more than a year of writing regularly, a year of publishing online, a year of writing in English and roughly two years of reading fiction in English.
In March 2021 I joined The Soaring Members Social Cult and started this newsletter (the same happened to many of the cult members). Since then 150 people signed up for my newsletter. It’s been a fascinating voyage and I’m grateful to all of you for being with me and encouraging me all that time. Thank you!
During that time many things happened: I was publishing every week for a few months, I picked up Twitter, I “quit” Twitter; I played with a personal website (apart from Substack), changed a few platforms; I wrote essays, movie reviews, curated links and other stuff, met many amazing people. Throughout my voyage, I tried to answer a few questions for myself: what to write, how often to publish, when to write (meaning the time of day), whether I should build an audience quicker or forget about that, what is Art and what is c*ntent for me personally, should I use a pseudonym or not, what is positive, what is toxic, what is cynical, what’s worth publishing, what my readers enjoy reading, what I enjoy writing, and many many others. Some of them are silly, some of them are traps, some of them are meaningless, some of them I answered or attempted to answer in my essays and stories, and some of them still clog my brain convolutions. But eventually all of these questions about writing online, audience, content and Art converge into two simple questions. What do I love writing? What should I do to become better at it? Then, any of the above-mentioned questions – whether it’s about Twitter, building an audience, choosing topics, schedule and other non-sense (having some discipline is good though) – pass through those two main questions like through a meat grinder. Will tweeting make me a better writer? Certainly no, but will meeting interesting people on Twitter positively contribute to that? Sereperediripidity, they say. I mean, I already met a few great people there and discovered the STSC. After all, Twitter is just a tool and it worked out well for me. Will a bigger audience make me a better writer? Unlikely so, or some would say that the opposite would happen, but perhaps, if it’s not too much (abundance corrupts souls), I’ll be able to get better feedback, more diverse opinions, and again, meet new interesting people, and so on. This already happened to me, too. I have you all, and you are great people. I can tell that with enough confidence just based on the conversations I already had.
So, all of the content creator guru mantras aren’t that bad per se if you look at them through the right lens. This right lens must be uniquely mine. I discovered it not in how-to guides, meaningless and generic writing advice articles, but in actually writing myself what I love writing, reading what I love reading, going to different places, living a meaningful life, talking to people I love talking to, including my readers and other fellow writers from the STSC and beyond.
But I digress from the main topic of today’s letter. Today I want try to define my “goals” for the next 360 days, yes, vaguely but still, I need at least some general idea of what I would love to do next and what are my aspirations. They are primarily artistic ones, focused on developing my craft regardless of whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.
I’m going to write more short stories (if you signed up for essays, please bear with me for a couple paragraphs, I’ll update you on that too). I switched to mainly fiction from writing essays in October 2021 (I can say that now, retrospectively) and already published here some short stories on Substack. David, my friend and a distinguished Soaring Twenties gentleman who edited almost all of my stories, described my fiction as “an all-access pass to the near-future bazaar of bizarre”. I love that description and now use it everywhere because I believe it’s utterly accurate. So, the short stories will continue, I don’t know what they will be, but they will likely feature weird characters in weird situations, sometimes satirical, sometimes absurd, sometimes just fantasy. If you just signed up and have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the link for you to all my short stories published here on Substack:
If you don’t know where to start, I’d recommend:
Phantomic Rabbits. It is a short story about one mysterious novelist attending his first ever podcast interview.
Mysterious Trip of Mark Markethrudder. It is a bit longer piece about one guy who travells down to hell to find ways to fight the universal entity that, in his opinion, opresses the world.
These days I’m waking up at 6:30 am to take a cold shower, meditate, journal, indulge in self-service carnal pleasures, thrice: first, using my reflection in the mirror as a stimulator, second – my Substack metrics dashboard, third – my NFT collection, all three successfully, quite so, yeah; then I go for a walk with my Shiba dog that is also a co-founder of my startup and my business coach, drink double espresso, do my DeFi operations on the side (hop tip: gas fees are the lowest when Americans are asleep), devour 1kg steak, and schedule tweets for the day. All of this is of course false as fuck. I do wake up at 6:30 am though, but with only one purpose. I’m writing a novella. See, I can’t do it in the evenings properly. I need a cold head and a fresh mind. Working days tire me, and evenings are reserved for reading, watching films, cooking dinner, going out or just chilling. Same for weekends. If I have events in my calendar for Saturday and Sunday and it’s not a cheese market or booking in a gastropub or a board game café with friends, then probably something is utterly off, with some exceptions of course – I’m not saying I only rest and do nothing else on the weekends, it’s rather a mood and weather thing. But I digress again and turn this small update into a wall of text. So, considering all the above, the only way to finish the novella and write fiction is to do it in the morning before work. No cold showers and all that, just writing. This novella is a long-lasting passion project that we first started with my brother as a screenplay. It went through many metamorphoses and phases of suspension, neglect, rewriting, taking things out and bringing them back, but now I finally settled with my vision of the story after I decided to write it almost from scratch in prose. It’s what I love doing and want to get better at so finishing a big project seemed like a reasonable next step for my writing skills development regardless of the result (of course I don’t want it to end up being terrible). It’s more like a challenge, an attempt to write something coherent that is bigger than 5k words (if that matters, the novella is going to be approximately be 20-30k words). The rough logline is “Two debt-ridden engineers try to survive in a fantasy city full of crime (and save their friendship).” I am going to serialise it via Substack. No idea what the schedule will be but all suggestions are welcome. Wish me luck.
Next, I want to self-publish a physical book. It will be a collection of my short stories, including the novella. No dates or deadlines, the goal is to have my name on a physical book standing on my bookshelf once I have enough good material to put into it. Word-count-wise, I want short stories take more space in the book than the novella. This is also a passion project at the moment and I don’t have a goal of making it perfect (and not terrible of course). What I want is to feel the whole process and absorb every step of it. No filthy lucre or wishes to sell millions of copies, nothing like that (at the moment, haha). I just want to hold that book in my hands, even if it’s the only existing copy.
Essays and non-fiction
Apart from all fiction stuff, I’ll of course write some non-fiction, too: essays, translations, maybe something else. I proved to myself I can do it well enough and often enough and now I need to focus on quality over quantity.
Before I reveal my plans or the absense of them regarding non-fiction, I want to do a quick recap of essays I published last year and highlight some of them which you might enjoy reading if you just signed up or missed them.
Many of you signed up after finding two of my essays on HackerNews (thanks Vita).
Man against Marketing – a new kind of old storytelling narrative conflict we are all engaged in.
Watching The World Wrecking - thoughts and reflections on the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Apart from these two, here are some of my favourite essays if you missed them:
On Watching 'The Room' - My review on the experience Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece, The Room, in cinema.
Another Stitch On The Wall - recovering old memories of psychedelics experience.
On Memories - some musing on nostalgia, childhood memories, and Tame Impala.
On Names and Pseudonyms - facts and personal lessons from using different names online.
Graphomania - on obsession with writing, the vice of contemporary writing advice and how to stay genuine to yourself and Art.
Deinitely Not about the M***verse - on cyclical nature of escapism and realms of familiar and unfamiliar.
My inner cynic wants to talk - emotional rant on on positivity, negativity, optimism, pessimism, sincerity, open-mindedness.
An Omniway Of Want and Need - about difference between concepts of Want and Need, how they are used in storytelling and how we can apply the same principle in out lives
For the future essays, I still don’t have a single topic I want to explore, just like before – nothing changes in that regard, but essays will be rather occasional as my main focus for them now is quality. I will write about any things that I need to write about, that I feel I need to share, things that I think are important or at least fun, bizarre, mindmelting or obscure enough, things that demand to be written at least to get rid of thinking about them, and it must be done well so when I do next recap I include everything with no hesitation. This might include anything and can be published at absolutely random time (maybe soon). Though I do have a few vectors that appeal more to me – the near-future bazaar of bizarre, literature, art(s), and obscure knowledge. I’ll try to keep a general weaving theme of my essays more or less consistent and I want them to contribute to my fiction works somehow.
To wrap up everything, my motto stays the same, Fais ce que dois, advienne que pourra. Perhaps, I’m lucky I don’t have to think of pr*ductising this place so I can focus on becoming a better writer and write solely for my and your enjoyment.
I rarely put CTA or ask to sign up and such (apart from automatic Substack buttons), at least I definitely don’t overdo with it, but I do want my work to reach more readers, for the sake of meeting great people and having interesting discussions – plus, attention is a powerful drug – and I thought, today is a good occasion to ask you to share this newsletter with your friends, followers, family or whoever you think would fancy reading my stuff and be with us together in the same Lifeboat.
Beams of appreciation,
Until next time,