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This inquiring mind wants to know

Aug 10, 2022

Hello everybody — I have some thoughts and a question. 

The biggest difference between writing for publication and blogging is that when I write for publication I write what I already know, while when I blog I’m trying to discover new things. (Why would someone ask me to write for publication unless they think that I really know something?) Writing for publication is summative, blogging is formative. 

I get a sense that most writers my age are in full summative mode: they’ve learned most of what they expect to know and are now sharing that knowledge with the world. Which makes sense — but I seem to be headed in the opposite direction. I seem to be more and more concerned with what I don’t know, with what I can’t yet understand, with what I hope (in whatever time remains to me) to get a grip on. I honestly don’t know whether this is a virtue or a vice. 

The second biggest difference between writing for publication and blogging is that the former brings in more money. The latter rarely brings in any money at all, but thanks to the generosity of my supporters here I do get some compensation for my exploratory activities. Pretty remarkable! Thanks, everybody! 

And yet the imbalance remains, and it’s hard for me not to think that I ought to be doing more writing for publication: it makes my employer happy, it gets a bigger audience, it’s more remunerative (which is good for my family). Am I being self-indulgent when I prefer the open-ended explorations of blogging, with its “fit audience though few,” to quote Milton? 

I trust that you see my dilemma. 

Now, I am going to be blogging just as much as ever from now to the end of the year, at the very least. But when I think of the longer term, I wonder whether I should be doing more to encourage support of this project and especially of membership. The problem is: I don’t know what that might be! 

One possibility I have been considering is a monthly AMA (Ask Me Anything) here at BMAC – enabling comments on my blog would just invite spammers and trolls, whereas this is a more controlled environment. But that’s just a vague and uncertain thought. 

So I’d love to hear what suggestions y’all have. Many of you simply can’t become members here, or even support it – and I totally get that. (I’ve recently had to cut back on my own Substack subscriptions, because those things really add up.) Because I get it, I am absolutely determined to keep my online writing open to all – and just as a reminder, that exploratory, open-ended online writing comes in three venues: 

All of these will remain open and free. But, as my buddy Austin Kleon likes to say about his newsletter, they’re “free but not cheap.” A lot of work goes into them. So: 

If you could possibly be encouraged to support, or become a member of, this project, what could I do to encourage that? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

Grace and peace to all!

UPDATE: Thanks to all for your thoughts, they really help. I'm groping towards a better understanding of what I'm trying to do with my blog and how to use this service. When I have more clarity I'll post another update.

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