Annie-Ted Complex

Ted Cgiang

Photograph by José Mandojana / The California Sunday Magazine

I’ve reached a phase where my fast-food approach to creative writing simply doesn’t work. It’s not enough to get printed. Now I’m asking editors to hold a piece because I think it could be better, which means I’m making no new submissions for a while. And that’s okay for the slow thinker and writer in me.

I am going to call this approach or state of being Annie-Ted complex:

“It makes more sense to write one big book—a novel or nonfiction narrative—than to write many stories or essays.”

Thanks for spoiling me, Usman.  When I first discovered Ted Chiang’s work and interviews many years ago, I knew his approach made sense. But it took longer than I had hoped to break out of my old habits.

For nearly a decade, I welcomed and flirted with tight deadlines whether I was in media or advertising. The deadline to produce new work would be a few hours or days. I don’t remember ever working on a single piece of writing, design, video or presentation for a week except on one pet project which eventually trended on SlideShare. That one took two-three years in the making with a considerable gap in between where I did nothing about it. And I wasn’t even planning to trend.

Understand: The most amazing thing about the SlideShare trend wasn’t views, shares or downloads. A Turkish girl said that she wanted to become a ‘content architect’ just like me someday, which meant a lot. And then when I saw the presentation translated into French, it was simply incredible!