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  • Writer's picturetony

Do the Write Thing, Right Now

I found myself in a new place last week, professionally speaking.

I've mentioned that at the start of every calendar year, I think about the coming year – what I plan to do – with the notion that this might be my last work year ( One of my goals for 2024 is to write more, to get that messy pile of cyber thoughts and stories out of my head and onto (virtual) paper.

Last Thursday, I attended a virtual seminar hosted by The Writer's Center ( featuring author Jami Attenberg. At that point, I had never read any work by Jami. Still, I was intrigued by an article describing a movement she started, #1000words - a brilliantly simple motivational idea to gather and encourage a community of writers. (

So, here I was on a Zoom call with hundreds of people I assumed were professional or aspiring writers. I've never thought of myself that way. I always thought of myself as a tech/management professional who wrote things for professional reasons: to feed personnel or financial engines, share an idea or convince someone to act, record some history that I think matters, all that sort of thing. But maybe that's incorrect – most of the questions were very familiar to me - the writing process, sources of inspiration, or overcoming procrastination. Especially that last one.

One phrase Jami used struck home. When you are stuck, think of yourself as sitting "at the intersection of fear and hunger". Is your fear of failure greater than your hunger to tell your story? And what is the source of that hunger? If there was a bottom line to her remarks, it was something I know to be true. Don't overthink the process, the homework, the structure, the way it will be received. Just write. Tell the story. Then go back and "ask the characters" if they have more to say. And so I will try. Correction:

Do. Or do not. There is no try. –Master Yoda

As a teaser, and to make myself accountable, here's just a few titles or self-quotes that I will write about. (I have a backlog of dozens.) If you have any favorites, or any topics that you would like to hear an old cyber-cat talk about, please let me know!

"When nations compete, everybody cheats"

"You can't stay in the cyber defense business for decades unless you are either a hopeless optimist or a complete cynic. And both sides have plenty of data to convince themselves that their position is correct."

"Trying to improve the security of something as vast as the DoD networks by testing one system at a time is like trying to change the water level of the ocean by throwing rocks - it's too large, and too dynamic."

"Leadership is what you do when you leave the management table." 

"the role of humor in the workplace"

"If we had the will to solve this problem, we could do it on 3x5 cards."

"Security people are often better at managing their own risk than they are at helping you manage yours."

"Independence Day or Groundhog Day - Scripting Your Cyber Defense Movie"


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