Check out my new look
No. 13: Embracing my full self with a new format, including an excerpt from my journal
Unless this is the first time you’re reading my newsletter (if so, nice to meet you!), then you’ll notice this issue looks quite a bit different.
It was no secret that the “10 things I wanted to share” format I’d been using was stolen from Austin Kleon’s excellent weekly newsletter. When I started out, I needed the format to find some direction and get used to writing newsletters. But for a while now I’ve craved something more flexible and more *me*.
So welcome to the rebranded newsletter: John’s Journal.
You might also notice that I’ve dropped “J.W. Stammers” for my full name: John Wesley Stammers.1
WHY? For several reasons:
Whilst I think J.W. Stammers is a perfectly good pen name for a fiction author and poet, I’ve never felt as comfortable with it outside of those contexts. As someone who writes online and wants to try freelance writing, the pen name doesn’t feel like a good fit.
I now associate J.W. Stammers with juvenilia and a different period of my life. I was a different person and a different writer. I’m now going through a phase of discovery and embracing my full self. Thus, using my full name feels appropriate.
Calling the newsletter “John’s Journal” whilst not explicitly using the name John felt weird to me.
Aside from thinking J.W. Stammers was cool, the initial reason for creating a pen name is that there is already a John Stammers who publishes poetry. So at least the “Wesley” still makes my name stand out.
As this is a re-introduction to the newsletter, I have recycled some old content for this issue. But there’s plenty of new stuff, too!
Also, not every issue will look exactly the same. I crave novelty and flexibility, so I may add new sections or leave some out in future issues. What I hope this means is that you’ll get an idea of what to expect, but I’ll also surprise you from time to time.
✍️ WRITING REPORT
The blog has been rebranded as my “online journal.” My hope is to use this space more frequently, particularly for less structured writing. I’ve created a page for curated entries, which I hope will make navigating the site easier.
There’s a lot more to come, so watch this space.
I’m also going to try and post more writing on my new Instagram account: @jwsjournal.
📓 JOURNAL EXCERPT
Sometimes I like to copy out quotes into my daily journal, such as this passage from Anna Quindlen about the power of writing by hand:
Something written by hand brings a singular human presence that the typewriter or the computer cannot confer. There’s plenty of good writing done that way, but when you simply glance at the page, it could be the work of anyone. But when you’ve written something by hand, the only person who could have done it is you. It’s unmistakable you wrote this, touched it, laid hands and eyes upon it. Something written by hand is a piece of your personality on paper. Typed words are not a fair swap for handwriting, for what is, in a way, a little relic of you. Why do we even know the name John Hancock, among all the signatories of the Declaration of Independence? Because he signed in handwriting so florid that it has become a catchphrase for signing your name.
Daily journaling has certainly made me fall in love with writing by hand. I’m even gradually learning to forgive my messy handwriting.
Since reading this essay from Quindlen, I’ve considered investing in yet another journal specifically to draft fiction — a FiJo, if you will. This has become an even greater consideration after reading this interview with Alexander Chee on how he writes a novel.
👉 POINTING YOUR WAY
A list of things I want to share:
📚 Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry is still my favourite read of the year so far, and I can’t stop mentioning it to people. It helped me reconsider what a bad drawing is and enjoy drawing even if I am bad at it. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in drawing, whatever your ability. I’d also recommend her Instagram, where she posts her own wonderful drawings and occasionally shares the work of her students.
📝 The best thing I’ve read about singledom and loneliness recently that I wish more people would read: “Young, fun and... alone? The problems with the ‘single positivity movement.’”
📝 Centrists have been at the centre of my ire lately (pun intended). Why? Here are a few related articles: Tom Blackburn argues that centrists don’t really care about democracy; Emmanuel Macron may have won the French election, but Aurelien Mondon explains that whilst Macron’s opponent Le Pen lost, the far-right didn’t; and Oliver Eagleton answers the question: “Why can’t Starmer just be like Blair?”
🎙️ The Kill James Bond podcast was my favourite thing back in January. I’ve enjoyed every episode I’ve heard so far, despite not having watched most Bond movies. I also recently revisited their bonus episode on Cars 2, which was my entry point into the podcast and a hilarious 81 minutes of listening.
📝 Thanks to 404 Ink’s monthly newsletter, I was pointed towards this: “The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less.” An apt read after recently finishing my re-read of Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists — one of my favourite books of 2020 — who also argues for a shorter workweek.
📝 I do love posts that are just a collection of things. For example, Lucy Bellwood’s collection of small things. She also regularly shares brain food and writes about her brain troubles. I also liked how Mic Wright dislodged his drafts folder by sharing the ideas that never turned into newsletters, which was the inspiration behind my “15 things I could blog about but currently don’t.” Other examples: reflections from Wesley Aptekar-Cassels and some random thoughts from Zei Squirrel.
📚🛒 Pluto Press has a sale until 12th May: 50% off all books!2 Pluto Press is a lefty indie publisher I adore. They published Amelia Horgan’s Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism, which made it onto my list of favourite books of 2021. I decided to break my rule about not buying books this year3 and purchased The Universal Journalist and Small is Necessary: Shared Living on a Shared Planet.
🐦 TWITTER THOUGHTS
🤷♂️ STRAY LINKS
This one was probably a lot longer than most future issues will be. Thanks so much for sticking with me until the end!
If you haven’t yet subscribed then you can do so below. If you know someone who would enjoy this content then I’d love it if you shared it with them.
That’s all from me for now. I look forward to speaking to you again in two weeks’ time.
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share then I’d love to hear them. And you can do so by leaving a comment below.
Until next time!
John Wesley Stammers
P.S. ← This P.S. is a hyperlink with an easter egg. It’s one of three in this newsletter. 👀
Unless my memory has failed me, this is the first time I’ve published my full name publicly on the web.
This is not an ad.
My justification for this is that these books are primarily for research purposes.