The death of The Letter.
Knowing when to retire The Letter.
Its been 2 months since I started writing my weekly letters. Its time to retire them in their current form. To get to how I reached this conclusion, it makes sense to revisit the very first edition of “The Letter” where I outlined the reasons for why I started this weekly “newsletter” in the first place.
I want to reinforce what I learn, on a weekly basis. This letter will be a form of reinforcement.
I wanted to write as a means of reinforcing my learnings. The Letter started exactly as that and, until recently, fulfilled that purpose completely and thoroughly. Today, my way of reinforcing my learnings has grown beyond The Letter. The Letter can be credited as a electric starter motor to my ancient combustion engine. The engine seems to be roaring now, and The Letter can rest till my engine dies again.
It creates some motivation to be consistent in learning new things. I found that I avoided longer books, since it would prevent me from doing my one book post/week schedule. Here, I can write about longer books, and thus be motivated to pick up longer texts (Like Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid )
Starting last quarter, I decided to rekindle my reading habit. The last time I read a book before 2020, was in 2018. That’s a 2+ year stretch of literary barreness. I knew it was high time that I picked up a book, and finish it cover to cover. I had to get the ball rolling. To achieve this, I promised myself that I would read one book everyweek. What this meant was that I had to choose books in a manner that afforded me the assurance of their completion in one week. This translated to an average word count of 120,000 words. What this also translated to, was that my reading habits were dictated by some arbitrary rules, and not solely my interests. This was fine when the motivation to read was finishing the book, like it was for the first four weeks or so. But now, after over 30 books, I don’t care for the numbers. I have finally started reading in earnestness. I don’t need to write about a book every week for me to be motivated to pursue it.
My old mindest viewed knowledge from a book-wise hierarchy. But, I have now realised that the atomic unit of knowledge isn’t really a book, its an idea. A book consists of many ideas, and these ideas intermingling give rise to newer ideas. A book is a great proxy for being exposed to ideas, but I must not get bogged down by the limitations of my proxy. I have decided to write lesser about books themselves, and keep my writing idea centric. This would be a theme in my thoughts section moving forward.
I want to improve my writing, and I feel somewhere along the way, I may just become better at it.
Well, retiring The Letter doens’t mean I am going to retire writing. The Letter forced me to write every week - becuase I needed to. I promised a weekly letter. Now, I sometimes even find myself wanting to write more than once every week. I want to be able to write weekly, fortnightly or even many times a week. The Letter, initallly a strong vehicle for creating a routine, is now restraining. Its purpose has been fulfilled in this regard.
I like creating stuff. Stuff can be anything - food, code, art. This letter is going to be my weekly stuff. The stuff I can count on myself to do in a predictable manner. The stuff that can’t hide behind guise of needing inspiration.
I don’t need inspiration to write any more. I don’t even need a scheduled newsletter anymore.
The Letter is going to be retired in its current form. This means from now on, the articles in the “thoughts” section will be articles based on the ideas that I am exposed to. I am still going to probably end up sticking to my “VC Chic” 1 niche, but it will not be limited to it. Its hard to describe what I want to write about. I want to write about the joy of making handmade noodles, the character building nature of doing C development in a terminal, and the silly mathematical proxies I use to quantify the human condition. In short, I don’t want to limit myself by topics. I want to be a generalist.
Maybe somtime in the future, I may start an acutal newsletter under “The Letter” moniker, but that would only be a compilation of my writing for the week, delivered to an inbox. It would be a convenience for my as yet non-existent audience.
I want to end “The Letter” with one of my favourite quotes, a standard that I aspire to in terms of my writing, work and ideas:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
For the uninitiated, this is the phrase I coined in the first edition of The Letter. So, what, you may ask, is VC Chic? Since I coined the term, I get to define it. Its a very vague category of things that usually resonate with the VC kind. Things like startups, new technology, the sciences, big ideas. Paint a picture with these as a seed: Sapiens, Blockchain, Series A, Deep-tech, Leverage, Mindfulness, Compounding. Your are visualing VC-chic. ↩