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Still a work in progress

I’m still a work in progress —
That’s irkingly obvious
A gift and a curse, I currently work but I’m jobless

Feel like a hot mess, but I could have a lot less
Won’t beg for change — that’s already the only constant
—Silent Knight, “Work In Progress”

Portrait of the writer with a very big drill. This was taken in the former Homestake gold mine, which now houses the Sanford Underground Research Facility, including the LUX dark matter detector. It's not relevant to the post, except to point out how busy I am these days.

Portrait of the writer with a very big drill. This was taken in the former Homestake gold mine, which now houses the Sanford Underground Research Facility, including the LUX dark matter detector. It’s not relevant to the post, except to point out how busy I am these days.

I’ve mentioned Silent Knight before on this blog: he’s an indie rapper who performs under his own name and with a great group  The Band Called FUSE. (The name of the band is clumsy, but don’t let that stop you from checking them out; try the haunting breakup song “Last Call” for a taste.) While he writes songs about a lot of topics, the ones that resonate the most with me deal with his life as a jobbing artist, trying to make a living and get his music out into the world.

The song quoted above (which samples an obscure Paul Williams track) is one that gets to me. Silent Knight describes his insecurity, but also his modest aspirations — not to be fabulously wealthy, but just to succeed, and to do it on his own terms. Like him, I don’t need caviar or a Caddy car, but I want my work to pay enough for me to get by, and not worry all the time. We may not have “jobs”, but we work long hours. He gets the life of a freelance writer, even if that’s not what he’s actually writing about.

What do most of us really want out of life, except to do what we love and (somehow) have enough food on the table and a roof over our heads?

(I’m also reminded of a passage in David Quammen’s excellent book, Song of the Dodo, in which he states his preference for Alfred Russel Wallace over the better-known Charles Darwin and Joseph Hooker:

Darwin was a more ingenious theorist, admittedly. Hooker became the preeminent botanist of his time. Wallace, much later in life, involved himself in certain crankish interests (including the Land Nationalization Society, an anti-vaccination crusade, and spiritualism) that have made it easier for historians to treat him unfairly. Still, Wallace remains the most heroically appealing, at least to my crankish taste. No doubt I’m biased by the fact that he, unlike Darwin and Hooker, was an impecunious freelancer.

This may be the only time this book is cited in the same place as a rap song.)

I’m thinking of this today because (as I often do) I’m pondering this blog and its future. Blogging is the writing I do for me: it’s not paid (and in fact costs me a little money, though hardly enough to mention), and so it has to be done when I’m not busy with other deadlines. In a sense, the blog has served its purpose well: it got me enough exposure to truly work as a writer. Professionally, I don’t “need” the blog anymore. Most of my readers are finding me elsewhere now.

But I miss the types of stories I can tell here. For that reason, I’m going to change some things around a little. First, I’m retiring the blog over at Bowler Hat Science and moving that content over here. The purpose of that blog originally was to have a complete portfolio of everything I wrote, but I have an actual portfolio page now. Moving that material here will let me blog a bit more in depth about the stories I’ve written for other publications, especially if there’s anything significant that didn’t end up in the published version. Dependent on time, I also hope to record podcasts a little more regularly, possibly in collaboration with a friend or two. (I guess with having one podcast so far, any more recordings will be more regular.)

So change is coming. As Silent Knight says, I know I’ve got a long way to go; that’s why they call it a process though.

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