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Writing Hangups

I'm realizing that one of the main reasons I have several unfinished posts is, as I'm midway through a post, I start thinking about who will read it, and I try to cater to them. I quickly find this to be an impossible task. The best case scenario is, a plurality might like it and the majority won't. Case in point, some of you will be happy that the word "plurality" is a link to Wikipedia, but a good number of you will think it patronizing of me to do so. Yet others may think that it was a dick move to even go there, where I could've simply said "relative majority". Must be a wanker trying to signal his intelligence. The truth is, your interpretation says more about you than me. But it is also true that the fact that I cared about your interpretation says a lot about me. And I say 'cared' in the sense that Mitch Hedberg did when he said "I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used too."

It took me a long time, but I now recognize this as perfectionism, at least to some degree, which isn't good for any kind of productivity.

Striking a balance in how much I explain myself is an art. It is a skill I'd like to develop.

I've now concluded that it's best not to care about managing perceptions and trying to preempt misunderstandings if my goal is to write more. And it is. But why write more? While I can psychoanalyze myself until I pass out from the hypnotic effect of my own navel, it is clear that I enjoy it, and that is reason enough.

If I really think about it, not that many people read what I write. So it should be easy to not care. At least in theory. But the people who do read it are varied. Indians and Americans have different contexts and disparate cultural vocabulary. Programmers and non-programmers have completely different expectations of level of detail and what they'd consider to be obvious fluff. My audience, little as it is, is not homogeneous. The expectations are wildly different even within the subgroups. Instead of lamenting this, I hope to embrace it.

In a way, it is not much different than the complexity introduced by the need to support various kinds of browsers, operating sytems, and mobile device sizes in the software I create. But source code can be tediously detailed, unlike other forms of writing.

I loved Thomas Hardy's novels as a kid. Though his stories were tragic, it had the opposite reaction in me than what you'd expect in an impressionable child. I found his writing beautiful, but I rejected his worldview of "life sucks and then you die", especially in The Mayor of Casterbridge. I bring it up as an example of another hesitation I have. Critics were vicious and Hardy stopped writing because of them. It is a loss to us all that he didn't continue writing. This is just a thought that popped into my head and I wrote it as an example of how caring about opinions of others can be clearly a net negative. But looks like I've internalized a lot of internet criticisms over the years. I immediately heard the snide remark I could expect for that: "Hah! You think you're Hardy?". I did get such comments when I used to have commenting enabled on my blog, so I'm not just making it all up out of some anxiety. Clearly all I meant to say was, a thicker skin is great for productivity. But if I do have a thick skin, then I'd have just left it at that, instead of wringing my hands about how it can be twisted against me.

But if I were try to preempt all those snarks by explaining at length, it becomes a painful read. So I'm writing this post as a catch-all to get them out of the way. In a way, it is a productivity hack. While I learn to develop actual thick skin, stike a balance in explaining myself, and not caring too much about perception, I can just link to this post.

I think it will free me up to say just what I want to say.