Sunday, February 26, 2012

{End,Beginning} of an Era

They've been five of the most fascinating years of my life, but on Friday, March 2nd I'll swipe my badge through Google's front doors for the last time. No more will I be privy to the deep, dark secrets of the Chocolate Factory; my inbox will be free of dogfood debugging statements, stack traces in place of hot new features and thousands of auto-generated emails letting me know at 3:35am that one of my logging jobs is failing.

Even the logging failure emails, I'll miss. Being connected to the beating heart of the technological now is thrilling, and no matter how religiously I read techmeme and the Google News Technology section, that zeitgeist will no longer be a part of my life.

Which is something I'm excited about, actually. Working for a technology-platform provider, while insanely interesting, keeps one necessarily at arm's-length from specific uses of that platform, which I'm keenly interested in exploring. Google News hosts thousands, millions of articles - I've spent the last five years obsessing over them in the aggregate, and now it's time to write a few of my own. To focus on the micro rather than the macro.

So for the next few months, before Irina and I leave for Belarus, my intention is to write as much as possible, in order to exercise the muscle that I'll rely on daily while abroad. I suppose I'll start running again - building one muscle is easier if others aren't atrophying - and maybe drop a few of the Google Fifteen. I don't quite know what I'll write about, but I need as much practice at finding the story in a single blade of grass as I do at writing five paragraphs on something fascinating. By finding subjects in familiar objects, the things I habitually ignore and gloss over in my now-daily life, I hope to develop some semblance of a reportorial instinct.

Are there any tricks or techniques you know of to help build reporting and writing muscles? Please leave them in the comments, or send me an email (if you have my email address :)


Lisa said...

Do I get it right? You will enter the publishing business?

Will you join an existing media outlet or will you start your own.

With sunny regards from Germany,


Unknown said...

More of a personal project - my wife and I are moving to Belarus for a few months later this year, and I'd like to write as much as possible while I'm there.

Dan said...

Writing - get yourself in a routine, stick to it, and write even if you know that what you're writing is bad; it will get better. Don't wait around for inspiration to come, because it won't. If I could actually hold myself to these guidelines I'd be way more productive, so don't beat yourself up about stuff :D

Good luck!!