Show Your Work

In Show Your Work, Austin Kleon argues “the best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.” That’s what I’ve been doing since 2009.

One downside of Showing Your Work is when the showing of the work is the only work you do. I never set out to be a blogger (cringey moniker that it is). Not that there’s anything wrong with this site (I think it’s pretty good?), but it’s undeniably the lower-hanging fruit that I’ve been doing for 15 years while mostly not writing the books and stories I originally intended to write. We could call it productive procrastination.

Now that’s not entirely fair, because it turns out that I also like whatever this is. I like writing short, I always have—I edited a nanofiction literary journal for 14 years for heaven’s sake—and I like curating, sharing, teaching people, helping others, and yes, even being a curmudgeon when the situation calls.

Kleon quotes David Foster Wallace, who said that good nonfiction was like watching “somebody reasonably bright but also reasonably average pay far closer attention and think at far more length about all sorts of different stuff than most of us have a chance to in our daily lives.” Which is I think is both generous and true.

So, I wish more people had websites, took the time to have a position or make something to share/teach, and then put it online.

For anyone considering graduating from transient social media reactions to starting a site to show their work, this gem from Clary Shirky:

The stupidest possible creative act is still a creative act. On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments. The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.

Medicine is, on the whole, underserved in the public sphere by its physicians. And the field of radiology, which has made up a significant fraction of my writing over recent years, certainly deserves more independent perspectives online than mine and a handful of others.

Don’t be scared to start small and reduce the barrier to entry for yourself. You can curate more than you generate, as old tech writer Jeff Jarvis advised: “Do what you do best and link to the rest.” (Last year I even added a smaller post-style microblog here to encourage myself to share more.)

I’ve enjoyed writing in my little corner of the internet and have no intention of stopping.

But, maybe there will be another book soon.

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