Riffs, resistance, play

Tom made a meme and it hit me like a truck.

How to write a good blog post - Tom Critchlow (Twitter)
Here’s a quick riff about a line of inquiry that’s alive for me right now. This post poses more questions than answers, with some real texture from my own experiences.

I’m obsessed.

“…a line of inquiry that’s alive for me right now.”

This is… this is such a delicious turn of phrase my goodness. This is downright psychoactive.

“…that’s alive for me right now.”


I’ve been feeling a strange resistance related to writing for a while now.

I feel it inside me - a bezoar in my gut, a cholesterol buildup a little to the left and below my heart. A plastic tumour of overwhelm and constipated frustration all around the front of my brain. I’ll start typing, and a fever hot weighted blanket of sleepy static will fall heavy on my mind.

It has felt very hard to think.

Tom’s meme blew open something for me. I want this space to be less magazine and more scratchpad.

It was a mistake labelling this section of the website Writing. “Writing” implies essays, missives “from the desk of…”, hermetically sealed objects with a table of contents and a bibliography.

The problem is that the places that feel most alive for me right now are more fleeting.

This section wants to be called Notes: thinky, scribbly, doodley, loosey.

I’m going to try to lean into notes, versus essays.

I love the word “riff” in the way it implies the “yes, and” principle of improv, where you build on top of something that someone else put out into the world, or musical notes weaving around each other.

There’s also something electric inside the word. If matter is a gradient that spans between particle and wave, a riff feels more on the wave-y side of the spectrum. Not heavy like a book, but vibrating at a frequency like a notion / an inkling / a thought.

I’m going to try doing more riffs here and see how it feels.

Here’s more good thinking by Tom on the shape of / value of / goals of riffs.