My Foray Into Blogging Polyamory: Substack

Writers write. We write compulsively on whatever is available. Stone tablets, parchment, bathroom walls, prison walls, diaries, notebooks, napkins, post-its—you get the picture. The advent of the internet brought something new to write on in the form of online diaries, which were also called weblogs. In 1999 this guy named Peter Merholz jokingly divided the word “weblog” into “we blog” and soon after, “blog” became the term we used and “blogging” became the verb that described writing a blog. In the early aughts popular blogging platforms included Live Journal and Blogger. The first incarnation of this blog lived at, which I think was Blogger.

Moving into the second decade of the 21st century, blogging platforms fell out of fashion, probably because people were occupied with composing Facebook statuses and tweets on Twitter. In 2012 a site called Medium came along as a place for writers to write. It experimented with monetization in the form of a monthly access fee which theoretically trickled down to writers based on their readership. As a result the writing got more and more click-bait-y and the experience (as reader and writer) wasn’t satisfying.

Enter Substack. It’s a platform that allows writers to create their own newsletters, and hosts a website where the letters are archived. Journalists and people with specific knowledge and skills can publish topical “columns” that people can subscribe to. For other writers it’s basically a blog, except its primary distribution is a “newsletter.” So it’s a newsletter with a blog attached instead of a blog with a newsletter attached, like, say, THIS ONE.

Having this one, I don’t really need a Substack newsletter. It’s redundant.

Except I want one. I want a Substack newsletter with blog attached. It’s a little embarrassing, but I do.

I’ve been asking myself why? Is it because Substack is newer and shinier? Am I enamored by the brand— like the Guess jeans I wanted back in the 7th grade? Is it because the cool kids have them, like George Saunders and Heather Cox Richardson?

And a voice in my head (which, though it is my own, it can sound disturbingly like my mom), asks, What’s going to make this “newsletter with a blog” so different from your “blog with a newsletter” that you already have? I’ve put off launching a Substack for more than a year while trying to answer this question in a way that will satisfy the voice. This is what I’ve come up with:

Ways my Substack Newsletter / Blog Is Going To Be Different From This Blog / Newsletter

  1. NAME

This blog, which lives on my site, is just called “Blog.” It doesn’t have a name— writing this, I realize I’m the the worst blog-parent ever, who’s had a kid for over a decade that I’ve never bothered to name.

The newsletter, in contrast, has name. It’s called Brought to You by the Letter W.

  1. THEME

This blog doesn’t have a unifying theme. Is it about writing? Is it about cancer? Is it about imposter syndrome, fashion faux pas, social anxiety or weird insects in our house? Answer: Yes. In writing as in career and life I’ve got problems committing to a niche.

But Brought to You by the Letter W does have a unifying theme. Every topic I write about there will relate —even if that relationship is extremely tangential— to a word beginning with the letter “W.” Like Writing, Wellness, and the mystical Woo, and Work, Whimsy, Wisdom, Water, Witticisms as well as questions that start with with words What or Why.

(Is this a bullshit theme created to let me continue to write about anything I want? Absolutely. But weirdly, it already feels constricting, like a waistband that’s a little too tight.)


This poor nameless, themeless blog has no set publication schedule. As you know, you might receive nothing for months only to have a two day period your inbox gets pelted by a deluge of posts that leads you to wonder if I’m having a manic episode.

Brought to You by the Letter W will be predictable, publishing Weekly, on Wednesdays.


This, I think is one of the main reasons the Substack feels a little shinier. WordPress (the home of this blog) doesn’t yet offer audio narration, but:

Substack lets me to record each post so that folks can listen instead of reading. I’m a reader at heart, but with so much content out there, there’s a lot to be said for plowing through some of it while doing dishes or getting my steps in.

  1. ETHOS

For a number of years, this blog has been a “sneaky blog” — like a beach that’s technically open to the public, but only if you already knows it exists and are willing to walk through what feels like someone’s private yard to get there. It’s given me a sense of safety. Even if I veer into personal topics, it doesn’t feel too vulnerable. It’s not like a real social media platform.

Substack is more like a real social media platform. It talks a lot about building audience and community. It plants big “subscribe” buttons in one’s posts. When I choose Substack, I am basically saying, I hope some readers find me. I hope they like me. I hope I like them back. All of which feels weird and vulnerable— like joining a dating app.

Are any of these reasons good enough for the voice in my head? Maybe not, but as the voice says, Well, I can see you’re just going to do it anyway. (Sigh).

Which is true. I am doing it anyway. In fact, I’ve already started my Substack.

And so I think “we should talk.” The dating app metaphor is apt, because it kind of feels like I’m cheating on this blog. But I’ll reframe that to say: I’m opening up the relationship. I’m planning to have, for the moment, two blogs.

What does it all this mean for this blog?

Will I keep writing this blog? Apparently so. I spend a way too much time on this blog processing my feelings about blogging… which is not a topic that starts with the letter “W.”

Which one will be the primary relationship? I don’t know. This one still feels more intimate, the circle of readers is smaller and non-judgy. I feel a little stiff an self-conscious over on the Substack, which has (slightly) more readers already. But, with the consistency of every Wednesday, I’ll get more comfortable with it over time.

Will I crosspost between the this blog and the newsletter so that subscribers to both get redundant content? Maybeeee sometimes? What seems more likely is that I’ll be doing some stealing and reworking material back and forth. For instance, I started working on this post, and then used some of the draft in last week’s newsletter. But today’s newsletter doesn’t have any cross-over material. Down the line, I can imagine occasionally re-publishing an old post from this blog to the newsletter if I get very busy and don’t have time to write something new. I’m already finding out how quickly Wednesdays roll around each week.

Overall, I think is that the newsletter will have some incarnations and experiments. But this blog has enough history that it will probably stay what it is, which is to say, a bit sporadic and haphazard, but definitely itself.

It will remain my first-blog-love.

I’m HAPPY to Direct a Short Film!

About a month ago, I mentioned directing a short film. Sometimes plans, as they roll downhill, unravel or disintegrate. Other times they pick up speed and size until you’re running to stay ahead of them and not get flattened.

In this case, I’m happy to report it’s the latter. Happy, of course, being one of medley of emotions that also includes recurrent heart-racing panic and existential dread. For those of us with a certain temperament, this is the price for getting things that we want. As the snowball of happening—and its accompanying panic—gets bigger and bigger, it helps to keep reminding myself “This is something I want.” And it is. For years, I’ve said I’m going to direct something.

Here’s a little background and an up-to-the-moment update on how it’s going.

Back in 2020, Paul and I sent three pitches for a TV show called Creepshow, an anthology series with short episodes that are like Twilight Zone with a horror bent. One was chosen, leaving us with two fairly well outlined ideas. I decided to write out one of these and it became THREE DAYS. I was hoping to use it as a second sample for more opportunities in the horror anthology space — but when those opportunities never manifested and Paul didn’t seem interested in directing it, I started thinking more seriously about taking the plunge I’ve been talking about for so long.

I began to visualize the film taking place in a mostly furnished apartment I have access to. As the industry strikes crept into autumn, a friend with a small film equipment rental mentioned that she would donate equipment. And then in September, an out-of-town friend crashing at our place mentioned coming to LA at the end of October to produce a friend’s music video. Half-joking, I said, “want to produce my short film while you’re at it?” She said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” Her trip in LA became our de-facto shoot dates.

For almost any event, once you have dates and a location, it’s “just” a matter of filling in everything else… In five weeks, I’ve gotten more “Sure, I’ll do its” that I could have imagined… from cast members and also a DP we met at a film festival (who insisted on providing an even nicer camera and lighting package than I’d been going to get from my friend). It’s been amazing.

But as we gather more people, I feel more obligated to make my no-frills, “hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” learning experience into a good product for all the people who are being so generous. I want to ensure we make something they can be proud of, put on their sample reels and use to get other work. And I want make it a good experience… I’m terrified of being that friend who you agree to help move, only to show up and realize they aren’t done packing, there’s not enough people to share the work, and not enough boxes! I really want to have my boxes packed and in order.

We shoot in six days. As we get closer, every potential hole looks bigger. The actors are wearing their own clothes and makeup — should I have looked harder for professionals? I’m ordering bedspreads late at night like an addicted home-shopper, and each one that arrives is not quite right. Should I have sprung for a production designer? Production design is production value — what if our minimally furnished location looks shoddy? Our producer knows sound and will set the levels, but she won’t be dedicated to sound. Sound issues are the worst! There’s no assistant director, no script supervisor, no one is dedicated to continuity… am I courting disaster? Have I left myself so many producing worries that I don’t have time to cram all the “directing” prep and learning into my brain? What have I been doing for the last decade? Why have I not spent them watching videos about camera blocking and lenses and taking acting classes? Is this all a big, terrible, expensive mistake????

In my heart, however, I believe it is not. I remind myself that I have so many talented people on board helping me, and so many things that have fallen into place Catastrophizing is a waste of one’s imagination.

This is something I’m happy about. I am grateful. It’s going to be fine

Here are some images from my amazing volunteer stand-ins who patiently let me work through my storyboards yesterday!

The Good Doctor Has To Go

A few weeks ago, a filmmaker friend, E, called with an idea for a TV show. She wondered if I was interested in the concept, and maybe partnering to develop it further.

The idea revolves around a protagonist who works in a medical profession so we figured the show would be a medical drama. Neither of us is very well versed in medical dramas, so we made a list of ones we’d heard of to watch and analyze. I told E I probably wouldn’t have a lot of time before current job ended, but I’d try to squeeze in an episode here or there.

I really like the job I’m working at right now, but it’s my first foray back into production after a long time. The long days of trying to quickly assimilate lots of information, remember a lot of new people, and high social interaction is demanding. I’ve essentially given up on the idea of trying to get into the headspace to write. The hours when I’m normally half-unconsciously noodling and problem-solving a story in my head are filled with noodling and problem solving for the job.

When I am writing, I think about what I’m writing when I’m driving. If I wake up in the night, I think about how a character’s childhood impact her desire to open a dance studio before I go back to sleep.

When I wake in the night during production, I think of rehearsal plans, unsent emails, or a video I need to request.

A couple weeks ago, I came home on a Friday, not unhappy, but a brain-drained. There was no chance I was going to write, clean or socialize. I sat on the couch and thought, I guess I can make it through one episode of a medical drama.

A few years back I’d seen a scene from a show that looked interesting, called The Good Doctor. I found it on Hulu and watched the pilot.

And then I watched another episode.

Maybe I watched a third.

Paul came home from his game night amazed I was still awake.

How is it? He asked.

I said it probably wasn’t a structural model for the show my friend E and I were thinking about. In fact, our show might not even be a medical drama. But I’ll probably keep watching it, I said.

And I did.

I’ve started to think about The Good Doctor on my commute home from work, and when I wake up in the night. When I’m asleep, I have dreams that take place in hospitals, involving disturbing health conditions. Throughout the day, I’m already thinking about watching an episode of THE GOOD DOCTOR that night. When I finish too late, and it’s time to go to bed, I think, just one, it was a long day, this will be a palate cleanser. When I have an early call time, I think just one episode will take my mind off things and make me less anxious. I can’t help but notice my self-talk is the same as a friend of mine describes how she ends up having of wine in the evening that turns into more glasses wine.

In my case, the one episode turns into multiple episodes.

I’m sacrificing sleep and waking up groggy. I don’t think it’s hurting my on-the-job-performance, but I can’t say that it’s just my job that is interfering with writing and seeing friends.

At first I figured things would come to a natural end when the show ended. But it turns out there are six seasons — network seasons, not streaming. About twenty episodes each. When my production job ends next week, I’ll have about a month to do a LOT of writing, and see friends. Seventy more episodes is not going to be conducive to accomplishing these goals. But beyond these things, I can feel that my mind “hooked” like this isn’t healthy. I don’t think it’s healthy that right now, as I’m writing this post, I’m thinking about how once it’s finished, I’m going to let myself watch The Good Doctor.

So I’m plotting how I can quit The Good Doctor.

I’ve looked up the episode guide on Wikipedia and read the episode summaries for the episodes I haven’t watched yet. In the past, when I’ve seen so many the plots lined up next to each other, the obviousness of how mechanical a show is, how the storytellers keep bringing new, elements into the narrative — relatives, amnesiac ex-lovers, explosions and disasters and murders has helped me let go. Downton Abby and Grand Hotel are examples of shows I’ve given up after doing this.

But with The Good Doctor, reading ahead made me want to keep going. Which is great for a show, but not great for me. However, I have seen what I think could be an exit ramp. At the end of Season 3, a main character is going to get killed off and that a couple we’ve been waiting to get together will finally get together. It looks like a good place take a lengthy hiatus.

Wish me luck and strength.

And please pardon my typos, I’ve no doubt done a worse editing job than usual — because I’m impatient to watch the next episode of The Good Doctor🙄.

300 Days of Content (or, How I Let Go of My Resistance and Joined the Content Revolution)

One day in late December, I woke up and the thought popped into my head: Im going to make a little video every day for a yearstarting TODAY. I think in the back of my mind, I’d been ruminating on doing something like this, but the immediacy of the TODAY was sudden and new.

In the next five seconds, I thought Well, if I’m going to do a year, shouldn’t I wait until January 1st? But even as I thought that, I knew if I waited, at all, I would start planning it out, realize the whole thing was dumb and not do it. Better to not make it a whole year of content. What would be a better number? 300 popped into my head.

I told Paul, who was waking up next to me, my plan, along with its on-the-fly, less-than-creative name, 300 Days of Content. After grumbling that my plan was going to impact his plan to start running again (he had apparently been struck at the same moment by the impetus to start a project) he deemed it a good idea. He generally believes I could benefit from being less premeditated and precious in my creative life, and also knows I’ve been paying for an Adobe Premiere subscription for going on three years, and barely using it.

Thus 300 Days of Content project was born.

Which is ironic, because, for years, I’ve been resisting content — at least the term as we use it today.

The first time I remember clocking the word content used in the “new” way was probably about 2006. I was in Florida, immersed in my Creative Writing MFA program. Someone on my new Facebook account was talking about generating content. I felt irritated by the way she was talking, making it sound like if someone wrote a Facebook post, it was content and if someone wrote the new War and Peace, it was also be content. Here I was, investing my sweat, tears, time and money into becoming an artist, and now this yokel was reducing all my work — all of everyone’s work — down to one thing? Didn’t she know she was mis-using the word?

But it turned out that I was in the wrong. Yes, once upon a time, before the early 2000s, the word content used to refer to what a work of art or literature contained. The content of a story was the plot and the characters etc.

But with the advent of the internet, content became “any form of digital media that is created and distributed online.” In the beginning, this was mostly text-based, because that’s what online technology allowed, but as the technology evolved, so did the definition, which now include images, audio, video etc.

Nearing two decades later, we call television shows and films content. Reality shows are content. Enormous essays in magazines are long form content. Podcasts are audio content. TikTok videos are content. This blog is content. The contents of the content—its goodness, badness, worthy-of-existence-ness — is a secondary consideration to be discussed in think pieces that are also content.

2006-Barrington would have railed against this with energy and conviction.

But 2023-Barrington is tired and no longer knows anything.

Maybe insisting on evaluating and categorizing the contents of the content is old-fashioned and elitist. Maybe I’m just yucking on everybody’s yum. Though not really “everybody,” because who’s listening to me anyway? So then I’m just yukking on my own yum.

All because I don’t like a word.

The truth is, I’ve always loved making stuff. Drawing, tie-dying T-shirts, making up skits, improvising dances, writing this blog — all compulsive acts of creation, resulting in stuff. Stuff can be dumb and it doesn’t matter (at least at first). It doesn’t have to be subject to self-assigned stakes or agendas.

And isn’t content just another word for stuff?

So I’m making some stuff, and calling it 300 Days of Content.

(It’s a learning expedition, and I think I’ll eventually explore housing all 300 videos on a YouTube channel or on this website, but the fastest and easiest tool to get started was TikTok, (which then shares to Instagram) so for the moment that’s where my stuff is.)

Macroverse Panel Today

I think I’ve cryptically referred to the “digital app” company I’ve been doing a project for… To be less vague about it, I’m working with a company called Macroverse. Today, as part of a virtual Web3 Comicon event, I’ll be on a panel where Macroverse reveals it’s upcoming releases, including the series that I am writing on, called Sal Bones. You can access it as a livestream on YouTube, here, at 4:30 PM (PST) today (Sunday, October 9, 2022) or see the recorded version later.

I’m not sure how many projects are being introduced, if I’ll actually be called to say something or if I’ll mostly nod and smile. I’ve been watching several of the other events over the past couple days, and feel like I’m getting a slightly better sense of what “Web3” means, and how storytelling might evolve if it comes to pass.