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February 20, 2003

So I believe I'm done. I've come to some realizations of late, which I'll lay out here simply because I feel like I owe my faithful readers an explanation. The first realization is that I am not, in my job, an independent person. What I mean is that I am an agent for one group of people, whom I represent to several other groups of people. The first group is extremely sensitive about public perceptions. They don't know I have this website, but it's only a matter of time.

The second group (or set of groups) contains a number of people whom I have thought of as friends, and many more I consider good colleagues. It is only lately that I have come to understand that there will always be a wall of separation between myself and them, however, such that I cannot be in the habit of saying simply what I think, or doing things without considering how they will be interpreted (for a great deal of interpretation goes on in my business). A number of them read my site, and they are good folks, and I suspect much of what I believe drives them crazy. I won't always have the luxury of having my words here read only by people who respect independent thought. Having a website with my name on it, given the kind of writing to which I am prone, creates a vulnerability that I cannot allow if I want to keep my job.

And that leads to a second realization: I am not a very good writer. I am good, and I am better than a lot. But those aren't the same things, are they? I am not very good, I am simply good. There is no great need in the world for what I have to say, and certainly no artistic void to be filled by my way of saying it. A few of you will be saddened to read this. Trust me, you'll get over it soon.

For the two of you who won't get over it, maybe you can take heart in my final realization, which is this: the only career I can look on without profound depression is writing. I am good at other things, apparently. I'm a helpful strategist. I'm an excellent public speaker (a skill I never get to use any more, by the way, if any of you are looking for someone for your next convention or bar mitzvah). I'm also a pretty good facilitator and organizational consultant. Some people are willing to pay me good money to do those things (well, not the speaking -- did I mention the speaking?). Relatively few people are willing to pay me to write. Get the disconnect? I want to do the one thing, but I can only make a living at the other.

But anything worth doing, someone once said, is worth doing badly. So I'll continue to write, and maybe one day it will be good enough to pay the bills. Writing unedited rants about political and social issues, or exposing very personal things about myself here, however, is no avenue to that other life. If anything, it serves to mute the deep insecurity I have about my writing, and it satiates some of my yearning to have my words read by others. These are no longer helpful things. It has become a crutch, and it increasingly prevents me from honing the craft. Couple that with the fact that I cannot afford to be a public person until I am ready to leave this line of work, and well, there you have it.

So what will happen here? What has already happened is that most of the essays about politics, economics, and social issues are gone. The site won't disappear; I want to have a place to record some of my thoughts about faith, and a word or two that crystallizes the joy my wife and children have brought me. Some of these might go away in time -- I need to think about what leverage if any they give the sorts of people I'll be working with as my job responsibilities expand. So it's not like I'm dying -- I'm just moving way across town. You'll still hear from me once in a while, but not as much. Trust me, it's for the best.

So this is the part where you leave your comments telling me you love me, and begging me not to go. You can understand, therefore, why I've disabled the comments section. I didn't write this to find out how much you really love me. I know already. I hope you know, too.

Posted by Woodlief on February 20, 2003 at 11:03 AM