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The Wayward Rabbler Turns One
A Letter to my Readers for this Publication's First Birthday
“Every habit and capacity is supported and strengthened by the corresponding actions, that of walking by walking, that of running by running. If you want to be a good reader, read, or a good writer, write.”
- Epictetus [Discourses, 2.18.1-2]
“Even if my feeble intellect, my meagre experience in current affairs, and my weak knowledge of ancient ones render this effort of mine defective and of little use, it may at least open the way for someone who with more ability, more eloquence, and more judgement will be able to carry out this plan of mine, which, if it does not earn me praise, should at least not bring me blame.”
- Machiavelli [Discourses, Preface to Autograph Manuscript]
The Wayward Rabbler one year old! Please consider upgrading to a paid or founding subscription!
Yes, I did start this with quotes from two entirely separate texts both called Discourses; you are probably used to that sort of thing by now. On February 10th it will be one year since I published my “introduction”:
I ended with the following quote:
“And thus begins the attainment of my lifelong goal to be able to earnestly tell people they should subscribe to my newsletter.”
That, at least, I wholly achieved. Bonus, now I also tell people they should listen to my podcast. I am very happy with what I have accomplished here in the last year, and I hope you have found value in it as well.
In many ways, it is a shame that I made little use of my talent for writing for most of my adult life. This is especially true as I now try accept that reading and writing are the only things I will ever excel at, no matter how hard I try, and that the sooner I learn to live with that the happier I will be. At the same time, without my 2021 year of insanely deep study into Classics and political theory I would not have found the voice and background which makes my work so unique. Writing has also been profoundly good for me on a personal level, by making productive use of my thoughts and interest in current affairs; for example, as I mentioned, I was obsessed with the war in Syria for years and put that interest to no use. Still, it was a learning curve of sorts getting back into writing and getting used to Substack [though the editor is excellent.] I rarely share my earliest articles even when relevant, as I was still finding a style and format. Further, some are not adequately sourced and also feel more “blog-y” than I prefer. However, it was quite quick that I got into a groove, and my work has improved a great deal as time has gone on. One challenge was learning how to use Twitter and integrate it into my work; I had not used it before I needed to promote and find content for this newsletter. I have taken to it, and in some ways wish I would have used it earlier, though if I had been on Twitter through lockdowns and covid rage I would have been in quite bad standing with those people when I began to try and use it for productive purposes.
I couldn’t have known when I started writing that Russia would invade Ukraine only two weeks later. This, for the record, looks bad on Twitter, as I have an account that was registered in February of 2022. The truth is, I was not ready in terms of experience or sources to cover such a large story, and something like the Canadian Trucker Protests was much more on my level. Still, though I got some things wrong, such as saying the invasion would not happen the day before it happened, I stand by my early Ukraine coverage. This is especially true as my article calling the invasion the “End of the Post-WW2 ‘Peace’” covers important geopolitical components that remain mostly ignored, and further I explained how the media was obfuscating news with unprecedented nonsense, thus I had made readers aware of my own lack of reliable information. I did still learn much about the hazards of making predictions, which is an eternal problem when the body of your work is readily available. Since then, I have become increasingly equipped for covering important stories all over the world, and my sources are ever improving.
Where I have found that I excel is in telling stories about the world we live in. This works for me as I have an academic background in studying literature and also love creative non-fiction, while personally entirely lacking an imagination. Some of my favorite pieces have been in this vein, an example of the former being my piece on what Thucydides tells us about Ukraine, which was functionally a sort of literary criticism, and of the latter about Turkiye’s increasing independence which gave a large background of the many moves Erdogan is making. Though it can be challenging, I enjoy the way this causes me to research new topics and understand their significance to the broader world. As my readers know, I have an ideological belief in neutrality and diplomacy- unpopular concepts already but now tragically out of fashion since the war began. This give me the potential to be an important voice for sanity in an increasingly dangerous world where the systems we inherited are failing [to the extent that they ever worked.]
In writing this newsletter I have found my calling after being adrift in that regard for most of my adult life. As I said above, I am not really good at other things, beyond which I do not have the organizational skills for other self-employment, and don’t have the social or rule-following skills for normal forms of employment. I have started and failed to keep up with other projects in the past, but have done great at being consistent with this one. It was frustrating starting at essentially 0 followers; looking back it was 16 friends I got to sign up after the introduction, and I am impressed with myself for showing the resolve to produce things like my 5000 word article about NATO’s “grand strategy” which went out to but 23 recipients. I am greatly thankful for the few who helped me get started with early paid subscriptions. Now, I have reached over 300 total subscribers in time for my anniversary, which is modest, but as I don’t know the great majority of the readers, it feels like I’ve really accomplished something and have an audience. Further, I am at well over 500 Twitter followers [and a good amount of those fairly prominent people.] Neither of these are explosive growth, but show that this project is going somewhere, and that there are people who find value in it. Beyond which, I have been retweeted by multiple professional authors whom I admire, which shows that my writing is good enough for me to “make it,” it’s just a matter of finding the right audience, which is all the harder as my content is unique and does not fall into any pre-existing niche.
As you can imagine, this is all quite a lot of work. These articles are not the type of thing a person can write in a couple of hours after finishing a day of work at another job. For example, my article about the Ukraine tank farce was written in one 15 hour day. Based on average article length and the total number, it seems clear I have written over 200,000 words of mostly high-quality well-sourced content in the last year. I also spend many hours a week “beating the bushes” on the internet promoting my work and hoping larger accounts may share it. On top of that, we are now producing the podcast, which is great in that it brings my wife into the project, but is yet more time our family is devoting to The Wayward Rabbler. I have surely done all of this earning perhaps $1 an hour, which is fine for starting a new endeavor, but not sustainable as any sort of career.
You obviously know where I am going with this. I am hoping that some of my free subscribers who find my work valuable [which you must if you bother to read such long-form pieces] will consider switching to a paid or founding subscription, and that my generous initial paid subscribers will bless me with another year’s paid subscription. If this does not work for you but you would still like to support this publication financially, I have a “tip jar” at Ko-Fi where I can accept one-time donations. My home is cheap and my lifestyle is modest, so ultimately reaching 1000 paid subscriptions- an entirely realistic goal in a world of 8 billion people- would allow my family to live comfortably while I continue to produce this important content you have hopefully come to enjoy. I understand, however, that the economy is bad, and further that most people who would appreciate my thoughts are very poor [in fact, if someone studied it, there is surely an inverse relationship between liking my writing and economic success,] and regardless want to thank you for reading, and anything you can do to share my content without your loved ones stopping speaking to you. [Alternately, perhaps sharing my content is a good way to tighten up your circle, if it has become burdened by annoying normie hangers-on.] A monthly subscription is the cost of a fancy microbrew at a bar, so for only $6 you could help support my writing instead of just getting drunk and thinking about yourself [sorry, that is an irresistable reference to an old Upright Citizens Brigade sketch where they are raising money for a boy with an enormous penis he isn’t aware of.]
Thank you so much for all of your support in the first year of the The Wayward Rabbler! It has really made a difference knowing that people are enjoying my content and it is helping them navigate life in our sick, sad world. I look forward to helping to guide you through what is sure to be another insane and ironic year of human affairs.
Thank you for supporting The Wayward Rabbler! Please consider sharing this with your friends. My main content will always be free but paid subscriptions help me a huge amount. I have a tip jar at Ko-Fi where generous patrons can donate in $5 increments. Join my Telegram channel The Wayward Rabbler. My Facebook page is The Wayward Rabbler. You can see my shitposting on Twitter @WaywardRabbler.