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Incremental

Self-publishing is a strange beast. It's an indulgement, but a laborious one; it's self-serving, but only if it also serves an audience. And it is a conceit, to judge your own words, or art, and deem them worthy of others' attention.

My conceit seems to have grown. I'm not sure how I feel about that, actually, though I know I'm grateful for the various, too-generous praises this site has received at times. (I'm surprised each time, too — though I suppose that's also a way of saying I can never get enough.) But in any case my thoughts about what I'm doing with this site have changed a little, too.

When I first created the site I wrote something on the about page (something understated, no doubt, trying not to be self-righteous) about striving to only say something if it was interesting somehow, independent of who said it. (Which rules out most casual autobiography, by the way, which would be pure tedium had it happened to just anyone, and not its author.) That same aspiration also partially inspired the chosen name for this website — the idea that it's not where these thoughts come from that matters.

(This is another riddle, of course: On the one hand it's a worthy thing to attempt, to create things that will stand more or less on their own; but on the other it's more than a little presumptuous to think you might ever succeed. My hope, I guess, is that I've sometimes come relatively close.)

However, it's very much in the spirit of this website to try various things out. And furthermore at this particular moment I somehow find myself too distracted, my thoughts too scattered, and my attention too occupied elsewhere to very easily produce very much in the way of complete thoughts, of the sort that I typically attempt to publish on this particular page of this site (and which I am still working on, just even less successfully than usual). And so I am going to permit myself, for the time being at least, to slouch somewhat toward the indulgent side of self-publishing, and away, a little, from the laborious. And I'm going to do it on a page I'm calling Incremental.

Incremental will be a place for pieces of things, things that aren't really much of anything in and of themselves. If I'm lucky I'll realize that some of them fit together, and that there's something worth saying about them (in which case I'll attempt that here). But I'm not going to worry about that (at least, not too much); all I'm really going to try and do is keep writing things down, and not think about whether it's conceited to publish them. And see how it all works itself out — what it all adds up to. I don't even know what kinds of things I'll end up throwing into the mix; hopefully, all sorts of stuff. (I confess I've always been tempted to try my hand at vapid commentary, for instance — you know, that mildly witty, generally contentless form of unsupported opinion-stating that, when done "well," is often wildly popular because it's so easy to understand (and which this last sentence is an example of, heh heh).) And I don't know how long the experiment will last before it burns itself out. But I hope it'll be fun.


Postscript: Over a year ago, apparently after midnight, I wrote but did not publish a short, whimsical rant — an odd blend of candor and self-mockery — on the conceit of self-publishing. I didn't publish it (until now), though, because it was too self-indulgent, even for my wee-hours sensibility. (I was probably afraid people might take it seriously, too.) That I should have been up at 2 a.m. to write about how publishing is a conceit (and even saved what I'd written into the publishing tool that supports this site), and yet not published it, is actually interesting, I think: Writing here is a conceit, yes, but evidently that's not all it is; I don't, apparently, write it just for me. Now I'm going to push that a little, yes, and it's not completely comfortable, but I think I can live with that. At least, I guess I'll find out.

June 3, 2003 1:28 PM

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Copyright ©2001-2003 Matt Pfeffer

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