Reader Feedback Needed: How Long is Too Long?
A quick poll for all of you.
Over the years of publishing on Legal Nomads and here on Substack, the feedback I receive via email is always interesting. As a writer, there’s a fine line between “taking feedback onboard when you craft your pieces” and “whoops, I’ve pretzeled myself into a version of myself that doesn’t feel like me.”
Years ago I gave a keynote about the science of storytelling, which included the advice that narrative is important to all writing. If you’re growing your audience as a personal brand/author/blogger, sure, you can’t ignore SEO. But writing only for the search engines, to the exclusion of sharing thoughts that make you feel most alive, means that you’ll often end up with a wide gap between your public and private-facing worlds.
For some people, that’s fine.
For others, it leads to a level of dissonance that eventually spills over into deep dissatisfaction with work.
I started blogging to keep family updated on a round-the-world adventure. As I slowly met the 12 or so other travel bloggers that existed at the time, they inspired me to think more practically about a potential business. I went about it backward to how many people move into online businesses these days. The beauty of that trajectory, though, was that I could constantly check in with myself and go, “is this true to me?” before I shared.
As my life and mobility unspooled in the last few years, I have continued to ask myself that question. Some people find sharing health journeys like mine to be too much disclosure, and I respect that. For me, it felt supportive. It narrowed the gap between my public and private worlds, and it allowed me to help raise awareness for conditions that primarily affected women and were under the radar.
After all, I’d never heard of a spinal CSF leak before I sustained one. How many other people could I help inform of this, to make sure they didn’t suffer in the same way?
I started CAE to consolidate what I have always done: a lot of reading that I love sending to people who I think will enjoy the pieces. I used to send ‘daily linkies’ (cringe) as a lawyer. I joined Twitter in 2009, where I shared those links in real time, now potentially to Mastodon. CAE was a place to share interesting reads in one spot, combined with shorter personal updates at a time where I couldn’t write longform like I wanted to. Thanks to Substack’s network and the recommendations from popular curators off Substack, it has continued to grow at a healthy clip.
I don’t have strong “is this me?”-type feelings about sharing more or less links here, so I wanted to turn to my readers to get some guidance.
Inevitably, I cut out dozens of great pieces to make the length of this newsletter manageable for everyone. Which leads me to the point of this email: is that what you want? Do you want ALL the links? Or is it already too long? I’m curious where this community nets out, so I am sending out my first ever poll to see how you feel.
I won’t be shortening to a “top 10 of the month” style either way. I’m way too long winded for that. But I do want to keep your feedback in mind as this channel continues to grow.
To that end…
Thank you for your feedback, and for reading!
And, before you go: 2-to-1 matching Giving Tuesday donations
It’s already November 21st, and I wanted to make a quick mention of this fundraising campaign since Giving Tuesday is on November 29th, this year.
GivingTuesday started in 2012 as a day to encourage people to do good, and has bloomed into a global movement where people support nonprofits, show kindness to others, and celebrate generosity.
A friend of mine, Christine, works for Spotify. This year they are matching Giving Tuesday donations 2:1 for the charities that are on their approved list when their employees donate.
The US Spinal CSF Leak Foundation is on that list. I’m now a board member (which is unpaid!), and study funding and the expenses of running the Foundation are fully reliant on donations.
I realize that costs have risen a lot, and many of your budgets are stretched. Given that this means tripling donations, though, I didn't want to omit it from this poll update.
So, if anyone is interested and has the means to join the 2:1 matching to help raise money for the Spinal CSF Leak Foundation, here’s how:
if you have a PayPal account, you can donate via this link
if you're in Canada, you can send an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
if you want to use CashApp or Venmo, I can share Christine's information because I don't have those; just send me an email to email@example.com and I will follow up there.
I have added my own contribution, and will aggregate any donations received and send the amount to Christine before the November 29th Giving Tuesday deadline, for her to make the donation and get the matching. (I'll provide screenshots, as will she, so you know we are not embezzling funds over here!)
I will be sending the next CAE, #21, in the last week of November. I hope my American readers have as good a thanksgiving weekend as possible. 🦃
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