My name is Matthew Sweet. I’m an independent creator whose primary medium is the written word. I used to write daily, and then twice-weekly, about mastery, strategy and practical philosophy. Now I write and publish with no particular schedule. I also do some editorial work for others.
I self-published my first book in 2016 and another is in progress (want to be in it?). My work has been featured on Ribbonfarm, Inc, The New York Observer, Thought Catalog, Huffington Post and The Good Men Project and has amassed a decent chunk of readership on Quora. When I’m not reading or writing, I like to practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu, weight train, cycle, and playfight with my tiny four-legged friend.
About the Site:
The virtual real estate you are now occupying is in its fifth iteration.
I first experimented with writing on a blog called “The Anonymous Professional”. “Anonymous” because I wasn’t ready to claim ownership of what I said. “Professional”? I don’t know. I was a teenager with no skills and minimal understanding of anything. That faded out.
The second iteration was a blog called “Separate Yourself”. There, I used my real name and explored some ideas that were relevant to me at the time. Mostly, it revolved around basic self-help and fundamental philosophy. Some of the posts have survived on my Medium account (see here). That too, fell into the abyss.
The third iteration was called “Phronetic”. I remember coming across the word in a Nassim Taleb book when he talked of the “phronetic wisdom” of the people of antiquity. It was also a daily blog. So, beginning on the 27th August, 2015, I started posting daily ideas and stories relating to mastery, strategy and practical philosophy. I hadn’t explicitly defined that as my subject matter, but that’s just how it turned out. It also turned out that publishing daily changed my mind, and thus my life, in ways I could not have predicted.
The fourth iteration was still on “Phronetic” but occurred when I grew up a bit. Sometime during 2017. I stopped using the second person “you” so much, reined in my ego, took myself a little less seriously and my writing and thinking a little more seriously, and just generally moved out of my moody adult stage. It’s said in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz that “A boy can be two, three, four potential people, but a man is only one. He murders the others.” At that point I decided who I wanted to be and became a murderer.
The fifth iteration is this, SwellandCut.com. The name is based on a drafting process mentioned in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Tengo, the protagonist, is described as using an alternating process of swelling and cutting, adding and taking away from a manuscript, over and over, until the substance and style matches his expectations. I christened the technique “Swell and Cut” and thought it an ideal name for my editorial projects. Then, in early 2018, I began to want to consolidate my writing and editing – all of my online activity, in fact – under a single banner.
That wasn’t all, though. In mid-2018 I made the switch from daily writing and publishing to twice-weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays). Why? Mainly for the challenge. More about that here. And most recently, I’ve abandoned any sort of publishing schedule altogether. More about that here.
Swell and Cut, as a process, applies beautifully to writing and drafting, but it applies equally effectively to how we build our existence. A constant addition and subtraction. A never-ending balancing and harmonising. Thus, I thought it a fitting name for my residence in cyberspace.
Contact, and Other Actions:
The easiest way to contact me is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is, for me, a correspondence not a capture mechanism, so I always respond. Feedback, ideas and questions are all encouraged, as well as appreciated and considered. Keep in mind that I operate by “Crocker’s Rules“, which are as follows:
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.)
I’m also active on Twitter and on the Ribbonfarm Mastodon instance, refactorcamp.org. The best way to stay up-to-date with my work is to sign up to my newsletter. For writing published here and elsewhere check out the archive. Also of note are The Commons and a few interviews I’ve conducted.