Hello! It's been awhile since I checked in about how things are going, so I wanted to take today and talk about the past, the present, and the future.
The honest truth is that I am a lot busier than I was expecting to be. When I went back to work teaching, I had access to my notes, and I was able to get things done for this newsletter after work but before I had to pick my son up from daycare. Then the IT department flicked on the whitelist and I suddenly lost access to all of the resources and workflows I had cultivated, which has been very difficult.
I originally started this newsletter back in July of 2020. It was hosted on Mailerlite, and meant to supplement a blog hosted on Wordpress. In the intervening years, the hosting options have changed significantly. I'm now hosted on Ghost, which has many more features than it had even last year.
A complicating factor is that I have a whole separate newsletter — the Obsidian Roundup – that is mostly a tech updates newsletter but also has about 700 subscribers who are to my great surprise genuinely interested in my philosophical musings on notetaking... and how productivity relates to culture, history, and society.
So, compared to 2020, I have a lot more subscribers – well over a thousand for the Iceberg, and about 7,000 for the Roundup. Neither number counts people who swing by weekly or use an RSS reader.
Many folks are following this newsletter for vastly different reasons. Some are here out of pure intellectual curiosity, because science and history are cool and the Iceberg provides a simple aggregated feed of obscure neat things related to history and science. Some are here because they do things with speculative storytelling; tabletop roleplaying game organizers, authors, and other creators who are looking for inspiration. Others are here because of my involvement in notetaking communities and curiosity about how my research relates to my methods of writing fiction. Yet more are here because they enjoy my insights on society, culture, history, and (more rarely) politics. A smaller subset are interested in the fiction itself for its own sake, and probably a handful (hi dad!) care about me personally and follow along to see what I'm up to.
How Things Are Going
It's becoming increasingly difficult to maintain two newsletters. This is partly from a "wow I signed up to write a lot" perspective because this pace is a lot harder when I can't access my notes for my most productive hours of the day – and migration to any format I can get working at the times I am able to be productive is a bigger nightmare than I can handle for the foreseeable future. But it's difficult also from a technical and logistics perspective totally aside from the writing; it means that I am maintaining and managing (and occasionally trying to get help for) two different websites – three if we're counting my landing page at eleanorkonik.com.
At the time I created the Obsidian Roundup, this sharp division made sense, because the Obsidian Roundup was only a tech updates newsletter, and I didn't expect very many people to read it. Later, when I shut down my Wordpress site, the division made sense. At the time, traffic I was getting from the tech community didn't really care about my personal projects. The occasional tech- and productivity-related article I posted on my old Wordpress blog seemed wildly off-topic for the science-and-history related speculative history research I was doing.
But realistically, for better or for worse, my online presence is not the same as it was in 2020, or even in 2021. I've given conference talks, I've won awards, I've guest lectured in online workshops, etc.
I am known for my research processes much more than the content of the research, and now that Ghost makes it possible for people to opt out of different topics that come up on the same newsletter, there's increasingly little reason for me to continue supporting two separate infrastructures when, from a persona and branding (how I hate that word!) perspective at least, the vast majority of people I share information with online are interested in different subsets of what I write about in a much messier way than the sharp and artificial distinction that currently exists.
Nothing in particular about this newsletter is going away. But I'm going to be doing some consolidation over the next few months, taking advantage of new Ghost features, and there might be some disruption as that process happens. For example, the eclectic updates will likely become a bit more ephemeral as I try to merge the research updates information in them into their "home" articles on the topics each small update is about. Mondays will not be strictly bullet-point format; I will probably start writing more longform pieces because they are, ironically, easier to write at Panera when I can't access my notetaking app.
And for logistics reasons, for the Wednesday supporters-only editions where I share fiction and longform analysis, something's got to give... mostly on the links-and-formatting front. The writing pace is fine, there – but the ability to navigate between related stories is becoming increasingly unwieldy when I am just posting them as chunks of prose followed by an afterword... with no easy ability to distinguish between, say, an individual set of stories or a series of chapters and scenes, and what amounts to what would, on any other newsletter or website, itself be a coherent longform article.
Plus, while a lot of people have been asking me about longer stories for awhile, longer stories are just harder to share in newsletter format, particularly because some chapters are difficult to cut up into small chunks and maintain a worthwhile reading experience. And realistically, I am unwilling to take on new projects like "publish novels on Amazon at a pro pace" at this time, especially since my husband and I are planning on a second kid soon and I'm in the middle of a career change.
Given all this, I am considering moving all of the prose bits of my longer fiction to an email attachment. This should make it easier to maintain a page on the website with two downloadable options to help people "catch up" – one "book" for short fiction and one "book" for long fiction, where I just append as new things get written, and link to it every edition so people can start at the beginning or easily flip between related chapters without me having to try (and fail, honestly) to keep backwards links and forwards links on the website up to date.
Before I implement anything, though, I've got some logistical things to work on, so don't worry – you'll get plenty of warning.
Note: There are a couple of affiliate links & codes scattered around, but these always come from links I was already recommending and usually I share them because they benefit you too (i.e. getting you extra time on trials).
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