It’s time for the periodic plugpost, in which I plug things. This post is a little different than most, so for context:
Getting exposure as a new writer or someone with a new product is really important. The story of “this was a good blog with promise, but never got lucky enough to get any readers” is incredibly common and I watch blogs fail for that reason constantly.
The internet hates any attempts you might make to promote your work. If you write a great article about naked mole rats and post it to a subreddit about that very thing so people can see it, r/nakedmolerats mods will unleash the fires of hell on you, burning your life to the ground and ensuring you never feel love again.
When you see successful art posts on reddit, they always say “my friend did this…” or “this guy does…”. This is a lie. Those posts are by the creator. They are trying to circumvent the hatred the internet has for new creators; you are seeing the people who are successful at this.
Because the internet hates self-promotion, the bulk of the stuff you see is a product of journalist, academic, or other types of incest - basically, the easiest way to get famous is to get boosted by another famous person.
Most of the rest of what you see is people (like me) who got really lucky and got boosted by some big names early on (Tyler Cowen, Scott Alexander). But for most people this is a chicken/egg trap - unless you have unusual fortune, you can’t be seen by those guys until you have readers who share your stuff and you can’t get readers until they share you.
This linkstorm differs from most because I will promote anyone who asks, up to a really, really liberal cut-off line of “Counterproductive to my aims or actively hostile to my religion”. When I say liberal, I mean it - Carlos will confirm I don’t agree with him about a single damn thing but we are still mostly friendly and I’ve promoted his shit.
This means you can come to me to promote your shit and I eventually will. Do this. I’m glad to help.
I’m also doing updates on my personal situation but these are boring and thus are at the bottom of the article so I don’t use up your attention span before you click on all the submissions.
Here’s the links, in rough order of when they were submitted to me:
Things I’m promoting
You know that thing where you go on ChatGPT and say “write me a short story about a naked molerat rising against capitalism, only to be cut down in his prime”? You do this because you are bored and wish you had a random-content-dispenser. but ChatGPT isn’t a good writer - you want something that more reliably gives you interesting stuff to read.
This site is curated in a way I don’t understand, but it works: There’s a “random article” button that, should you push it, gives you a random high-quality interesting article. It’s neat!
William Collen’s RUINS Art Blog
I sometimes talk to my wife about the hypothetical subset of “reading Christians” - the subset of Christians who read a lot of heady articles and books. I bemoan the fact that I can’t reach these people, becuase if there was a great way to tell them I exist en masse I’d be a gajillionaire.
William Collen’s RUINS has a similar problem - he writes a pretty good blog on art appreciation, which is already a niche, from the perspective of a religious person, which makes it even nichier. But it’s good! It deserves to be read! This is a good example of something that’s hard to promote but deserves to exist - go read it.
I know the guy who writes this one, in the sense that he’s an internet person I know that I’ve met in real life. He’s a nice guy, and he knows a bunch of shit I don’t. So take this article about the mess surrounding the election of 1800 or this one about stories that fail becuase they are told through the wrong lens. Both are good, both deal with subjects I don’t know much about.
One thing I’ll say here is that Evan can write - he has really good voice. This is I think one of the more important elements of someone who writes to teach you about topics you aren’t already expert in - you have to get through the article to learn, and you need a writer who is a good enough to keep you engaged until you do. Evan does.
It’s been a while since I’ve thought about trekkies, in the sense that trekkies mostly got swallowed up by greater nerd culture and it’s now rare to see something that’s explicitely about all things Star Trek. And you want that sometimes! You want to just bask in this weird show that’s existed since the beginning of time, and nothing else. You want a guy who notices “tribble” license plates out in the wild and tells you about them. You want someone who is reading 100% of the Star Trek content and dishing you out the particularly delicious tidbits.
This is that.
James Harris’ Stiff Upper Quip
There’s a bunch of people I know because they are writers at a similar stage, and I know James from various writing forums/co-ops I’m in. He’s a nice guy, he’s always been nice to me, and he’s british; despite the implications of the last on improper fork usage, I’m eager to promote his stuff.
Stiff Upper Quip is politics-and-culture as written by a wry comedian. He’s got voice, he talks about art, and he talks about life. This is another one where the fact that he’s pretty good drives the appeal - when someone writes about a variety of things, they have to be better at writing to keep you. James tends to keep people who find him.
Cade Stuart’s Letters on our World
Cade writes about politics, psychology, and economics. That’s a big net, so it’s important that he’s good at picking out interesting topics. I think if you like this you will probably like him, and I think that piece is pretty dang good.
Jonah Davids: I can’t remember if I’m promoting him as a person or his Substack
Here we have a failure of my memory: the link I saved for Jonah was for his twitter, not his Substack. And I can’t remember which I’m promoting, so here’s both:
Jonah seems to be a perfectly reasonably person and I think he’s nice. He’s also a political analyst and says interesting things about that.
Jonah has a Substack, linked above. In which he only has a few pieces, because it’s really really hard to keep your writing going if nobody is reading and it’s really really hard to get initial readers.
I read what he does have there and it’s good. Go read his stuff, and if you have room in your reading calendar, subscribe. This is a good chance for you, as a reader, to encourage potential work.
John Carter’s Postcards From Barsoom
Apologies to John, but I’m using him as an example: There’s some sort of controversy around John I haven’t looked into. So there’s a possibility someone might later come to me and go “Hey, RC, did you know John did unpopular thing X?”. I want to make really clear that this isn’t something I particularly care about for the purposes of these kinds of posts. I’m not doing that kind of parsing here.
Weird caveat aside, John writes well about stuff like masculinity and Canada. I know, I know; why are all the writers who write about masculinity from Canada? I don’t know either. It’s tru, deau.
Jay is a writer who I know from the internet, and I like him a lot. He’s been a consistent booster of my stuff, thinks I’m a better writer than I am, and has always been nice to me. His blog is good, and Chuck Palahnuik thinks he’s a good writer despite not having been all that great after Choke.
Right now Jay is on a vacation of sorts - like all writers, it’s sort of “something something work jobs something” problems for him. He’s filling his blog with a bunch of pretty good guest posts, and he has a full archive of good work to pick through.
One of those guest posts is me, going up this Sunday I think. But I’m not sure! I can’t remember things! The only way to get around my quasi-disability to recall particulars is to subscribe to Jay’s blog!
Mark writes about history stuff. I know less about Mark’s writing than most stuff here; Jay Rollins likes him AFAIK. I’m going to be honest this is the part of the linkspost where I’m starting to get tired; depression is a hell of a thing.
That said, here’s a line from this article I really liked, because it agrees with me:
The problem as I see it is when people confuse this story-editing process with an unearthing of the Actual, or even of the Truth. That is something human beings simply cannot do. It’s a lie we tell ourselves about our capabilities.
Or worse, it’s a lie that others tell us, in order to gain power over our minds and lives.
And that line is within an article that I suspect I broadly disagree with, which means an interesting thing: It’s a guy who is thinking, and touching on some of the same points as me with some of the same mental processing methods, but who is coming to different conclusions. I like that; that’s the kind of stuff I look for.
This is of pretty niche interest, Scott Britton runs a Substack about growing a Substack, which seems to be itself growing pretty fast and doing pretty well. If you are a creator looking to drive your growth more proactively, it’s worth a read.
Also niche, this one is about using digital tools to create content. This is more-not-less relevant than when they sent me the link initially.
Pete’s two newsletters: This is bullshit and so can you, Psychology Onions
Imagine someone sent me two blogs instead of one - would I link to both? I would. But I’m also getting really tired, so I’m mostly pointing you towards Psychology Onions, because that’s the one that stuck with me more after an initial viewing.
I think that’s because it’s a person with a mental illness talking about the mental illness, which I’m overall into - I think people who are depressed, have OCD, etc. should be able to mention those things and talk to audiences who also suffer from similar ailments without it being a big thing.
Scott is a GM who has done DnD games for me before
Sometimes you want to play DnD, and you need a DM to make that happen, and you don’t know how to find one so you can be in a regular internet game. You want someone who is pretty good and knows how internet-tools for DM stuff work, and who doesn’t suck.
Scott has DMed games for me before in which I had a very good time, and he uses internet tools well. I endorse his services. The way I think this works is he has X amount of games he’s running at any given time, and if there’s an open seat you pay to take it and just start playing.
OK, so, no job yet. And I’ve found the questions about this are split into two groups. the first is the more emotional/supportive focus of questions like “hey, buddy - how you holding up?”. The second is “give me the nuts and bolts of your situation, what’s going on mechanically”.
Because of that, I’m answering in two ways:
I am mildly depressed. This sounds bad until you realize, hey, that guy is almost always kind of depressed - it’s sort of a chronic ailment I manage at all times. Once that’s taken into account, I’m honestly pretty up-beat compared to the withered husk of a man I assumed I’d be if this ever happened.
Dozens and dozens of people have been really nice to me through this and it’s helped a lot. I was driving along with my 12-year-old a week or so ago, and he said “You know, there’s a lot of people in the world who just got fired, but most of them don’t have thousands of people they can tell about it. That’s an advantage”. And it’s really true - not just in a practical sense, but in a “feeling supported” sense.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments - I’ve been down to curb-level a few times since the firing. But I’m doing OK overall.
The worst part of this was that last week I got pretty sick. It wouldn’t have been a big deal except I often get sick without much in the way of symptoms besides pretty extreme fatigue/energy loss; I didn’t really realize I was sick until Sunday, after about 4-5 days of having a lot of trouble getting up off the couch and chalking it up to depression. I’m feeling much better now! I’ve written a bunch of posts and stuff!
I think the ideal version of near-future events in my head is something like “I get a job that covers most of my income needs, and maybe fill in the gaps with some freelance”. Here’s how that’s going:
I was reasonably close (first interview went well) to a job with a reader app company the other day, but it didn’t end up going anywhere. This came about because a person who knows me and knows the company made the connection - I have several people trying to do similar things, with the normal conflicts between what I can actually do, what I want to get paid, etc. in play.
The “find a job that’s just like your old job” bit is a little harder right now because most companies that hire someone who does the exact thing I do (outward-facing casual language explanations of complex things) are broke right now; most would rather have copy that’s a little worse (cheap freelance) than a full human making decent money.
I have some freelance offers that will fill up part of the gap, but I’ve been treating them poorly in terms of getting the work out fast. Today/tomorrow are dedicated to doing a lot of work to get them all up to date as fast as I can and generally stopping being shitty.
And that’s pretty much it. Ideally a job that’s like 80% writing and 20% random tasks a smart layman can figure out would fall from the sky tomorrow at the pay-rate I’m used to, but I am going to have to be pretty proactive to get even close to that in a way I haven’t been so far.
Mostly I just need to get my shit together, do the freelance work I’m supposed to do, spend a mandatory 10 hours a day either writing or looking for work, and stop treating people who are trying to help me poorly.
That’s pretty much everything.
Send me more stuff to link
Hey, some of you are out there saying something like this:
I want to contact RC to get him to plug my stuff, but I’ve heard of him before so this will probably cause undefined problems, or he just won’t do it.
What you should be doing is saying this:
RC has said he will post my stuff, and is a relatively average suburban father who is 40 pounds overweight and who, I have heard, talks too much. I am not intimidated to send him my stuff to plug, because his cardio is (probably) not that great.
If you have anything you want plugged, let me know. There’s a very good chance I’ll do so. I don’t do these posts all the time, but I plugged literally everything anyone sent me (I think. If I missed you, it’s not because I rejected it. Send it again.).
I’m glad to help, but you need to ask.
If someone stopped being my friend because of this pun I’d understand.
This footnote is only really relevant if you are very, very rich. There’s a subset of people where I often think “oh, it would be nice if a very very rich person just… supported a large portion of their work, like how patrons used to be”. Jay is one of the ones I think about for this - like, he’s a writer. He does writing stuff for money. You could probably fund his entire career for less than you spend on cars.
This is broadly true for anyone who is hyper-rich who reads my stuff, but there’s a lot of writers out there who could do more and better work if they were actually able to make it their work; the majority of them are fitting in what writing they can around making enough money to survive. For the low low price of like a million dollars a year, you could fund like 10-20 of these guys.
It’s weird to me that this doesn’t happen more often, particularly on the political right - the left has a lot of machine built up to promote and maintain commentator talent, and the right just basically ignores that potential. Thus the left beats the ever-loving shit out of the right in the public discourse; it’s right that they do so, because they are the ones willing to pay for it.
Two things: mild depression can feel so much like getting sick. Why don’t more people point that out? Also, the talking too much. I get it; I married an introvert, and my extreme extrovertness has been mellowed by that, mothering seven children, and having good introvert friends. It’s a funny fact that introverts can word dump with the best; they just do it with one person, where extroverts dump with twenty or two hundred. Talkers of the world unite. 🙂
I appreciate the plug! It surprised me that you enjoyed that specific article as it’s my most dense, but I’m glad you did!