Introduction and Throat Clearing

Friday, January 6, 2012

I will write 39 essays in 2012, exploring my worldview, sharing my wisdom and trying to figure out the universe. I want to understand the world a little better, and I hope that publishing serious, thoughtful and worthwhile pieces to document my thinking can only improve that understanding.

I have no idea what to expect from this little adventure. It may be a rousing success. It may be an utter flop: I worry a lot that the pieces will suck, that my taste is better than my talent. I suppose I can’t control the outcome though; all I can do is maintain the discipline to see it through and the self-respect to avoid totally mailing it in.

39 sounds like a lot. But, hey, this introduction counts! One down. 38 to go.

Who am I?

I’m Jason Butler. I’m a pretty good product guy, a mediocre Rails programmer and a writer of indeterminate prowess.

I’m an ordinary, average white American male, meaning, of course, that I’ve had every possible advantage in life save being born to billionaires.

I’m a father, a husband, a stalwart, an awkward and squirming jungle gym to my increasingly large and bony children.

I’m a Masshole. I like Quarter Pounders with Cheese, even if that type of cheese isn’t allowed in my house any more. I like Denis Leary, George Carlin and Louis CK. I probably curse more than I should.

I drove a ‘72 Nova in high school. Then an ‘86 El Camino, blue. Eventually a little Audi I drove at 110 across Montana while Seattle was burning. Now, a family truckster: Toyota Avalon. I enjoy the heated seats.

I get along well with “groovy, alternative chicks.” I’m not sure that counts as a defining characteristic, but it made my 20s all sorts of interesting. I married a very sweet yet mildly uptight lawyer, making my 30s all sorts of awesome.

I’ve eaten some lunches at the cool kids’ table. More not.

Why Now?

Seems as good a time as any.

I’m 39 years old, turning 40 in a few months. At this point, I’m undeniably middle-aged. I might as well try to figure it all out now so that I can do better in the second half of life.

I have a good set of tools in place to make the actual writing and production of this project as easy as possible.

I have no excuses.

What am I going to write about?

I have a few ideas for this, mostly converging on two main genres: a) figuring out the meaning of life and how to be a better person, and b) sharing the wisdom I’ve managed to accumulate so far.

Figuring out the meaning of life might be a little ambitious.

Maybe I’m thinking more along the lines of “what are the best ways I’ve found to live my life so that I don’t go insane?” These pieces will focus on states of mind, patterns of thinking, religion and spirituality, habits, and general rules of the road. These will be a bit more introspective than I normally allow myself to be in public. That’s scary.

Sharing wisdom is more fun, and less scary. Here’s where I’ll be able to write pretty long pieces about topics that obsess me in one form or another, across technology, music, film and culture. These will be all over the map, but I hope that even if you’re not directly interested in a specific topic, you’ll be intrigued enough by my passion to spare a few minutes of your attention. I hope that I can earn that.

How am I going to do it?

One bite at a time. 39 essays over a year works out to three or four a month–roughly one a week, with a little bit of a buffer for busy workweeks or more-ambitious topics.

I’m fascinated by how news, information and wisdom travels around the world. I hope to usefully integrate some of the newer techniques and technologies, and explore the new possibilities. I may play with hypertext. I may include video and screencasts. I may translate 2,000 words into a three-minute interpretive dance. I may ask you to follow me on Twitter.

I really really really want to improve my writing, so I’m going to treat this as dedicated and purposeful practice. I’m going to make sure I devote enough time to be able to do it well, and keep the discipline to always edit what I’m writing–to publish the third draft, not the first. You’ll like that, because I subscribe to Stephen King’s motto of ”second draft equals first draft minus 10%.”

If you’re interested in following along, please subscribe to the RSS Feed or subscribe to receive emails when I publish new essays. Failing that, you can always just follow me (@jpbutler) on Twitter, where I’ll make sure to post the new links as I publish them.

I look forward to the journey. Please let me know what you think by leaving comments below or by dropping me a line (jason at this domain).

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