Discover more from William Shunn’s Main Wish Null
The Mad Scramble for a Newsletter Title
I knew I wanted the title of my newsletter to be an anagram of my name. But which of many the possibilities would truly resonate?
I went through a long list of possibilities before settling on the title of this newsletter. “Lush Mini Lawn” was under consideration, as was “Nun Hill Swami.” Had the chips fallen differently, you might be reading “Unman His Will.” And let’s not overlook the myriad charms of “Human Will Sin.”
I have had a personal website since late 1995, but it wasn’t until 1998, if I recall correctly, that I first christened it with the self-deprecating title “Inhuman Swill.” What this and all the titles have in common is that they’re anagrams of my name, William Shunn. With “Inhuman Swill,” I was trying to make the point that a website or blog or newsletter will not offer a straightforward portrait of the person behind it, but that maybe in time, with enough pieces on the board, an engaging approximation might emerge from the enigma, from which a reasonable sense of the original can be inferred.
Why does “Main Wish Null” rise to the top this time around? What makes this particular scramble resonate?
I’ve worn a multitude of hats throughout my life—science fiction writer, reluctant missionary, ex-Mormon gadfly, web programmer, word puzzle analyst, word puzzle maker, memoirist, film critic, poet, storyteller, graphic designer, wedding reception pianist, podcaster, reading series host, book publisher, literary award nominee, literary magazine editor, marriage wrecker, comedy special crasher, international felon—but I’ve had only one main wish, which was to create a piece of writing that would live beyond my own lifetime. Considering that, after nearly four decades of effort, my single most widely read work is a self-referential guide to formatting short story submissions, it might indeed be time to face facts and declare my main wish null and void.
Perhaps, instead, “Main Wish Null” suggests modern man’s subliminal desire for oblivion. Or maybe it suggests that the hopes and expectations society plies us with are ultimately unfulfilling. Or that wishes are ineffective — or, like the empty set in mathematics, that there is nothing to a wish until it’s put into action.
I’d like that, but it’s not the truth. At the risk of no longer sounding much like Jules Winnfield explicating Ezekiel 25:17, the truth is that it’s a reminder to me to place no expectations on the outcome of any project. This is a place for me to send those odd impulses buzzing at the back of my brain without the pressure of pleasing any particular audience. This is a place for new writing and old, and maybe in the end for producing an accidental collage that will look somewhat like me if you stand way back and squint.
So, no expectations. It’ll be easier for both of us that way. ∅