My name is Matthew Samuel Sweet. The most fitting and legible label for me is writer. I, however, prefer to see myself via the activities that generate the most personal contentment and aliveness: breathing, reading, writing, moving, playing and speaking.
Counterpoint to the previous vague description: the three most significant links (IMO) concerning myself and my body of work.
- The Archive: containing 1300+ blog posts authored since 2015.
- The Magnificent Seven: a weekly newsletter.
- Barker and Ss: my debut novel and debut short story collection.
Extra counterpoint: some more about me, sorted (roughly) in reverse chronological order:
- I’m learning Python via a Rice University/Coursera Fundamentals of Computing specialisation. The initial aim was to enter the stack at a point close to the bleeding edge (instead of the lumpy middle) and build an agent-based simulation model that explores the dynamics of trust regeneration. That objective may have changed.
- I’m slowly writing a novella. As an activity, it’s reserved for the weekends, so ETA = sometime in the near-future.
- In July 2020—to compensate for an erratic publishing cadence— I started a weekly newsletter. It’s called The Magnificent Seven and goes out every Sunday morning. Subscribe here. Or check out The Magnificent Archive, which is a single page containing all content from previous editions.
- Also in July 2020: I began a project entitled Elements & Components of Product Management (see here and here). It’s a systematic exploration of business analysis, UI/UX, software development, project management and interfacing/integrating in the context of product management. After pulling together approximately 500 concepts, culling them and starting to expand on the survivors, I’ve paused the project. First, I no longer need it as a piece of evidence to mitigate lack of experience in a new domain. Second, I’m enjoying the structure inherent in the above Coursera course and may continue in that vein instead.
- July 2020 again; busy month. I completed Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master I certification and served a three-month stint as a co-contributor to the Yak Collective’s newsletter, Yak Talk. The former was enlightening; the latter was thoroughly enjoyable and taught me a lot about the dynamics of loose networks and the mechanics of distributed media production.
- Late-June 2020: my first short story, Stateless, was commissioned by the inimitable Sonya Mann. That catalysed a collection called Ss; read the afterword, Strength, and the post-project review.
- Early-June 2020: I released my debut novel, a two-year-plus labour of love titled Barker; check out the Prologue and the post-project review.
- My writing has featured in a few places (full list here) but one of my favourite accomplishments is my second essay for Ribbonfarm; Near-Deathness represents a compression of a few years of my thinking, a definite shift in the semantic version of my self.
- I love text-based interviews. For example; Paris Review interviews, Playboy interviews like this Alex Haley classic, even podcast transcripts like these from Tim Ferriss. So I conducted my own. There’s six in total, and I’d like to do more in the future.
- In 2016, I self-published a blog post collection called Disconnected. That collection is now epistemologically outdated and persists only because I don’t want to engage in too much self-censorship.
- I used to write daily (2015 to 2018), and then twice-weekly, about mastery, strategy and practical philosophy. Now, I write and publish with no particular schedule about no particular subject. Thus, my main body of work (1300+ posts since 2015) exists here at SwellandCut.com.
- Outdated and/or abandoned: a list of twenty-five personal “classic” books, a list of books that I re-read and an overview of a personal “commonplace book” system.
- Outside of reading, writing and working? I like to…
- Practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu (when there’s not a raging pandemic);
- Move more (see here and here) and explore different styles of movement;
- Playfight with my tiny four-legged friend;
- Infuriate my partner by eating all our food, abstaining from opinions about interior furnishings, and playing “bad” music and old podcasts loudly and on repeat.
I semi-participate on Twitter and sometimes go beyond Lurker status in the Yak Collective Discord; by far the easiest way to contact me is via email: matt at swellandcut.com. I prefer to use email for correspondence instead of capture. Feedback, ideas and questions are encouraged, appreciated and considered. Keep in mind that I operate by Crocker’s Rules:
Declaring yourself to be operating by “Crocker’s Rules” means that other people are allowed to optimize their messages for information, not for being nice to you. Crocker’s Rules means that you have accepted full responsibility for the operation of your own mind – if you’re offended, it’s your fault. Anyone is allowed to call you a moron and claim to be doing you a favor. (Which, in point of fact, they would be. One of the big problems with this culture is that everyone’s afraid to tell you you’re wrong, or they think they have to dance around it.)
The name, “Swell and Cut”, is based on a drafting process mentioned in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Tengo, the protagonist, is described as using an alternating process of adding and taking away from a manuscript, over and over, until the substance and style matches his expectations. The full excerpt:
“Once he had filled out this first block of text, Tengo’s next task was to eliminate from his bloated manuscript everything that was not strictly necessary, to remove every extra bit of fat. Subtraction was a far simpler process than addition, and it reduced the volume of his text by some thirty percent. It was a kind of mind game. He would set a certain time period for expanding the text as much as possible, then set a certain time period for reducing the text as much as possible. As he alternated tenaciously between the two processes, the swings between them gradually shrank in size, until the volume of text naturally settled down where it belonged, arriving at a point where it could neither be expanded nor reduced. He excised any hint of ego, shook off all extraneous embellishments, and sent all transparent signs of imposed logic into the back room. Tengo had a gift for such work. He was a born technician, possessing both the intense concentration of a bird sailing through the air in search of prey and the patience of a donkey hauling water, playing always by the rules of the game.”
As a process, “swell and cut” applies beautifully to writing and equally effectively to how we build our existence. A constant addition and subtraction; a never-ending attempt to balance and harmonise. Thus, I thought it a fitting name for my internet HQ.