S08E05: what value my words?

So. The last one of these sparked a bit of a conversation. I discovered that an automated aggregator was wholesale copying my blog (and presumably the blogs of everyone else there) from the Web Of Weeknotes site, and it didn’t sit well with me. I reacted badly to it, and I’m grateful to folks who were patient in explaining why and how it had happened.

I’ve been struggling to write this post since. I’ve been struggling because I reacted very strongly. I find it best to look at that reaction for a little while and work out where it’s come from.

I didn’t think I was possessive about my words until this week. I write professionally. I write code and I write letters and I write speeches, and all of them are regularly critiqued and re-written. Sometimes for the better, oftentimes not – but I have nonetheless sat happily by, punched my card at the end of the day, and not thought of it again.

I write a lot on the internet. I’ve got an email sign-up box, which means people I’ve never met can read my words on their devices, wherever they are. I don’t charge for them and I don’t run ads, so I’m not even missing out on potential income.

I also know for a fact that my writing is quite good – a strong 8 out of 10, if I were to self-assess – and that it has on occasion helped other people to discover or realise or come to terms with something. That’s something to be celebrated, and insisting on keeping my words specifically where they are – when it costs me nothing but clout and ego to let them go! – indicates uncomfortably what my “even over” is.

The last thing to say is that everything I have to say is embroidery on the edge of a tapestry that has been shaped by many other hands. My autism results in me reading something like 2 or 3 times more than most people, and consequently I’ve read more good and bad writing in my 30 years than I think some people will in entire lifetimes. My autism counts beats and knows the rhythms of the right phrase. It is my skilled and invisible dance partner. It is not a skill I have long-laboured for.

And even those skills that I have long-laboured over: I earn more than I need from them. When people tell the story of Picasso doodling for five seconds on a napkin and charging $30,000 because it “took a lifetime” I think, no it didn’t. It took five seconds – or it took a village of lifetimes. Whence that napkin, Picasso? Did you make it yourself? And that coffee? And that pencil? Yeah, it took you a lifetime of learning – a lifetime you could spend learning because other people were making sure you had napkins, and pencils, and coffee. And providing blood for your art, you contemptible twat.

This might sound somewhat communist and suspicious to you, and I can offer the following response: yes.

And yet.

There is something deep down in me that rebels against someone just wholesale re-posting something I’ve written. Once upon a time I’d have seized the opportunity to get that kind of free exposure. A terrible, terrible poem I wrote to score an internship was reprinted in Private Eye with a comment that was gently scathing. I was absolutely thrilled – though as I write this, I wonder who it was in that particular PR firm who leaked it to that esteemed organ.

My first reaction was fundamentally quite wrong, I think. I didn’t start writing my weeknotes to build a brand. If people get something from my writing, that is a Good Thing. If people seek me out for more writing, that would be a Nice Thing. But I would rather what I said was out there, even over being named.

So from here on in, everything I write here is licensed under Creative Commons. Help yourself.

After all, you helped me write it in the first place.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

S08E03: Let’s talk about death

Alright, so you remember how last week – shut up, time is weird in the pandemic – last week I talked about how my organisation’s hiring rules meant I might be moving soon? It happened. I’m moving. Specifically, I’m moving to a small arm’s length body of another department to write code. I’ve got enough time, just, to close off all the things I’m doing and write good handovers for the rest.

I’ve also just finished Bojack Horseman, and it’s weighing on my mind.

So. Death, and finding meaning. Let’s go.

Content warning: I’m going to talk about death and grief in a metaphorical way. If that’s not for you right now, give it a miss.

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S08E01: These are for me, actually

Okay, so last week I said I was going to take 8 weeks off to focus on the thing I was doing. I assumed this was because I would be too busy to write about what I was learning.

Then Sam – who is wise – pointed out that I’d written a good reflective thing last week and I realised that these are for me, actually. I love you, reader. I do. You give me the endorphins I crave. But that’s not why I write these: I write them so I have somewhere to come back to and reflect on what I’ve learned.

Anyway. Here comes season 8.

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S07E16: Rapid Response!

This week I was offered an opportunity that may seem deeply boring but I’m quite excited about: developing a business case at pace from scratch. Well, scratch-ish. From itch, maybe? Anyway, it’s a great way to end the season: an exciting cliffhanger, with your hero hunched over their laptop.

I’m not really hunched. I’ve actually got a really lovely setup. But it adds drama.

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S07E15: another good week

This week I applied to a speculative position to write speeches, which is both my dream job and the thing I fear most of all in the world. You can read my application at the end.

I also pushed harder than I’ve ever pushed before to fix (in my opinion) the biggest, most boring problem in my organisation. If you’re in my organisation, you know what it is. If you’re not, it’s the lack of cats.

Finally: I had another great week at work. I completed my first automation commission, and I’m waiting to see what the ‘client’ thinks about it. I had a couple of meetings where I actually felt confident I added value, which was an exciting novelty. And I iterated my objectives, improving them, and making it clearer to myself what my next steps are for my long term goals.

Really, an absolutely fantastic week. Well done everyone.

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S07E14: a reminder of why we do this

I had a great week, and it’s reminded me of why I do what I do. Thinking about the big picture stuff, and helping other people take a step back and think about it, is such an exciting way to spend my days. Plus, I had some genuinely interesting meetings and progress is happening in certain quarters. Basically, it’s been a great week, and it’s reminded me of why I do what I do.

Not that I can tell you what I do, of course, but let me reassure you that’s it fun.

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S07E12: What happens next is up to us

This week has been hard. Really, really hard. I went into the office twice. It was everything I hate about open-plan offices. I am autistic. I find overlapping conversations distracting, distressing. I do not like these things. I don’t know if they are necessary.

I am well suited to being Head Librarian, but I am starting to worry that I’m ill-suited to being senior enough to be in the room when it happens. The social model of disability is good for reminding me that it’s not my fault, but I’m not about to fight the battle of trying to stop conversations at work.

I also got turned down for another work thing, so I need to take a break from applying for things because all these rejections are really grinding me down.

I hope this post gets cheerier. Onwards!

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