Category Archives: Other Writing

Tech support update: fixed the newsletter!

newsletter stats graphic showing 30.8 open rate

I was horrified to confirm yesterday that due to a website configuration error, a huge percentage of the people who subscribed to my newsletter haven’t been getting my emails for over a year. My best guess is that at least two thirds of the emailed newsletters were ending up in spam folders!

But I’m thrilled to report that after a couple of hours of googling things like DNS, DMARC, DKIM, and CNAME, I identified the problem and found the right places to make the right tweaks — and things are working again! My latest newsletter currently has a 30.8 percent open rate, which is about triple the average open rate of all of my newsletters since May 2020, when the configuration error apparently first manifested.

I can’t help but grieve a bit over the hundreds of unopened emails that I sent during the pandemic. But I’m comforted that moving forward, I’ll be able to reach so many more folks through a mailing list that’s completely separate from social media companies. And that’s feeling more and more necessary every day, since I’m making an effort to stay away from Twitter as much as possible.

Twitter is where I’ve built most of my internet presence over the years. I’ve laughed like hell, learned a lot, made dozens of real friends, reached readers, sold books, raised many dollars for great causes, and helped pull thousands of people into various events and volunteer activities for nonprofits and political groups. All that’s tremendous! And yes, I’ll still pop in there to cheer on colleagues and causes and spread the word about my own stuff – heck, a link to this very post will be automatically cross-posted on Twitter when I hit “Publish.”

But Twitter is also a magnifier of the very worst tendencies of our culture. Its business model depends on interaction, good or bad, and like Facebook, it’s been inexcusably slow to enforce its own policies against harassment and bigotry. And even beyond the most obvious negatives, Twitter creates an expectation of unending access and observation that can be exhausting. Yes, I want to be informed and responsible and active in the world. But Twitter’s not the only place for that. Everyone’s got a different, valid position on all of this, and no doubt some day when I’m goofing around on social media, a good friend will point at this post and give me a sardonic look. But at this moment, on a personal level, I’m realizing that I’m healthier when I’m off Twitter, so off Twitter is where I’m trying to spend most of my time.

So I’m thinking about other ways to both take in information and reach out, which explains why I’m so ridiculously excited to have solved this goofy technical issue with my newsletter. And I’m deeply pleased with myself for figuring out how to edit the CSS to tweak the paragraph spacing of posts on my website to make them more readable, because here I am blogging again like it’s 1999.

If you’re reading this, you’re joining me on this retro journey, and I appreciate you so much. Thank you.

(And if you haven’t already, please do feel free to sign up for the newsletter here!)

New Patreon post about writing something for just yourself and only yourself

Posted a new article on my Patreon about the specific joy in making the time to write something just for myself and only myself. An excerpt:

…during the pandemic, I’ve found myself spinning into introspection and nostalgia. I got obsessed with finding some of the cheap Sheaffer fountain pens I loved and used every day as a kid. There wasn’t conscious intention to all this, and maybe the two things are totally separate, but I was blown away by how great it felt to hold those old pens again, to feel the specific, just-right bite of those nibs on paper, to see that ink flow and fill on the page. And at the same time, I’ve found myself writing just for myself again. 

It costs just $1 a month to sign up for my Patreon, which will let you read all the posts as soon as they’re posted instead of waiting a week or two. There’s tons of practical writing advice up there. Please do feel free to check it out!

I’ve started a Patreon for writing about writing comics!

Hey, I launched a Patreon last week! Please do check it out — it’s gonna be awesome!

If you’re interested in learning more about the practical craft of comic book writing, my Patreon is the place for you. I’ve written a number of articles and big Twitter threads about comic book writing and co-written a book called MAKE COMICS LIKE THE PROS with my frequent collaborator Fred Van Lente. But now I’m writing a whole book about the very specific things I do as a comic book writer to get the job done — and as a backer of the Patreon, you’ll see this book develop in real time, as I write it, in a series of incredibly practical posts and articles.

It’s gonna be great! Hope you come along for the ride! Thanks for your consideration and all the best!

“Thanks, Poetry” essay by Greg Pak in this month’s Poetry Magazine — featuring his high school poetry (oh no!)

Just a little stunned to have an essay in Poetry Magazine this month — which includes excerpts of my high school poetry!

The magazine has a feature called “The View from Here” in which it gets folks who aren’t generally known for their poetry to talk about the meaning of poetry in their lives. So I dug into my old high school notebooks and read through dozens of my old poems. Hoo boy! It was harrowing and fun and ultimately opened my eyes to how important poetry really has been in my development as a writer and a human being.

Read the essay online here!

About my middle school Dungeons and Dragons notebooks…

A few months ago, Michi Trota asked me if I’d be interested in writing an essay for Uncanny Magazine. I said sure and cheerfully suggested a light-hearted piece about my old Dungeons and Dragons notebooks from middle school, which I’d recently rediscovered (along with the incredibly flattering photo of 13-year-old-me above).

But when I sat down to write, I started sweating. Because digging through those old notebooks was as harrowing as it was hilarious and the essay turned into the most personal thing I’ve ever published as an adult. It’s all about adolescence and writing and worldbuilding and the Boy Scouts and biracial Asian American identity.

And centaurs. Lots of centaurs.

Read the whole thing here!