Essays are about clearly communicating big ideas to strangers. This is where structure is important. Good structure results in clarity. I think of structure as a series of overlapping and invisible "pattern languages." Yikes. Pattern language? It means that by repeating ourselves in intentional and sneaky ways, we can etch ideas into our reader's memory. It takes a lot of time to craft something great, and I'll admit some of my essays here are still first drafts. That being said, these essays contain the ideas I want to return to and clarify over time.
Story-based writing works out a different part of my brain. When you have a linear plot to work from, you can forget about structure and focus on "voice." It's fun experimenting with placemaking, the sound of words, and run-on sentences. The Center of Mount Shasta is a new project of mine, and this piece expands on why I'm excited about fiction. If you want to read some VR trip reports (true stories), you can check out Crashing Facebook Connect or The Raccoon Coders of Neos.
My goal at the beginning of this year was to build a "mosaic" of ideas. By publishing something small, almost everyday, larger trends will emerge over time. It's less about quality or length, and more about capturing the range of things I think about. Tags connect all the bricks together. A note could be a link with a 50-word reaction, a 1,000 word mini-essay, an email, a note to self, or a stream of consciousness rant.
Miro is an online whiteboard that lets me quickly map out ideas spatially. It's the main tool I use in The Writing Studio to give visual feedback. I use Miro to outline ideas, capture online courses, give presentations, and design systems.
Here's the start of a series where I reverse-engineer great writing. It embodies the spirit of "practice analytically, perform intuitively." The goal is to internalize these lessons and then create from them without having to think. In Hunter's Breakfast Myth, I spend 2,000 words looking at a 500 word HTS excerpt. Sometimes, I'll isolate the area of focus, like the patterns in Virginia Woolf's run-on sentences. I'm also looking to "reverse-outline" essays to see what we can learn about structure. If you send me writing you like, I'll deconstruct it.
This is a whacky one. I use Playform.io to collaborate with an AI. Basically, I draw some lines and render it through a neural network. In a few seconds, it shoots back a dozen variations. Based on what I see, I then revise my linework and re-render. It's an iterative process with feedback between an AI and my subconscious. Now that I have a library of images, I'm starting to do the same thing with AI-Text generation. I'll go back and forth with GPT-3 to discover phrases and shape delirious stories.