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✉️ Dean's List #001

Warp-Speed Learning, Bunker Bill, Logs, Blogs, and Yin-Yang Newsletters

Michael Dean
Michael Dean
4 min read


  • Small talk:
    Happy first day of October. Sweater weather is back, baseball playoffs are coming up, we're at the brink of nuclear whoopsies, and ‘Dean’s List’ is resurrecting in full force.

  • Welcome!
    You’re here because you subscribed to one of my newsletters at some point in the past two years. It’s been a while! Today, I merged all these scattered lists into one place. I’m about to get consistent with this thing, and I’m excited to be in your inbox.

  • Brief, professional update:
    I'm pumped for another round of Write of Passage, this time as the Editor-in-Chief. Every cohort I've played a different character (student, mentor, John Madden, lead editor). This cohort, our team of 12 editors is committed to provide feedback on every draft submitted. With a cohort of 300+ students, the first few days are a frenzy. In addition to leading this effort, I’ll be analyzing student drafts to develop rubrics around our writing frameworks. We want to quantify quality. The goal isn't to grade students, but to diagnose a writer across different dimensions. Eventually, we want personalized learning tracks. If someone registers as a ‘2-4-1’ on the ‘POP scale,’ we want to match them with specific learning modules that meet them exactly where they’re at. Visual, repeated, isolated, relevant exercises lead to warp-speed learning.

  • Real talk:
    This year has been an anomaly. Both ecstatic and beautiful, but with ominous undertones. The chaos with Russia takes on a different angle when you have family there. I've debated if I should write about this situation at all. I've decided not to censor it. Some of my logs have taken dark turns in recent days. Consider these musings from a fictional character – a news-addicted, paranoid midwit, with no impulse to present an integrated and enthusiastic self. I've joked about creating a separate, paid, pseudonymous newsletter, called "Confessions from Bunker Bill" – a work of auto-fiction, written on a basement typewriter by a suburbanite gone mad. It would cover existential paranoia, life confessions, and rambling societal critiques, all channeled through my best Pessoa impression. One hand typed page per day. $100/month. Exclusive and raw. /s /maybe

  • September logs -- Here are 117 idea fragments from September. I cover writing, creativity, nuclear paranoia, my neighbor Wilbur Doyle, counter-culture literature, dreams, Fountainhead, batshit crazy takes on Christianity, the mating rituals of slugs, non-sense, notes from an airplane, baseball, algorithm pimps, virtual reality, the Velvet Underground, and DMT machine elves. I'm still finding my groove on how to publish and share these fragments. This new newsletter format is a step in the right direction (see below).

  • The Write of Passage blog -- This summer my Writing Studio project took on a new form. Instead of teaching a 4-week course, I've been working with alumni 1:1 to help shape different essays around the writing process. We cover the craft of essays, the psychological blocks of creators, the social nature of writing, and the nuances of refining your Personal Monopoly. The idea is to gather all of this writing on our website, and to feature the authors through our Write of Passage newsletter. More essays on the way.


Here are some logs from September. Let me know your reactions and questions. It will help me dig deeper.

  • Wax Sentences
    The sentences in a first draft appear rigid, but they’re actually made of wax. Editing is the heat that melts language. An editor does more than bring the flamethrower, they assure you it’s okay the house is on fire, and they point at the possessions worth carrying out.

  • Wilbur Doyle
    On the first frigid day of fall, Wilbur Doyle delivers a front-lawn sermon in his red tank top. A tremendous voice, a menacing presence, a walking flea vessel. If I had the courage, I’d pull up a third plastic chair and revel in his mystery rants, probably concerning engines and his racoons.

  • Typewriters
    I have a deep and rational desire for a typewriter. I'm fairly sure my desires aren't rooted in hipsterism, an analog-fetish, or even the pleasantry of surrounding myself with physical objects that reflect my identity. I'm a practical person. If I could, I'd upload my consciousness into my iPad. I have no nostalgia for analog, let alone my flesh suit. So why a typewriter? There's a lesson in inconvenience. It's a strict march forward. The lack of editing or backspace is a gift. A training ground for mindfulness. Instead of crafting a tinkered artifact in a word processor, it's a spontaneous performance. It forces you to be at the edge, in the front row of your consciousness, paying attention. We've missed that digital word processors maintain a high tolerance for chicken scratch. I'm not saying that editing is a sin. I'm saying that if you write with the fullness of your being in the moment, you'll have better words to edit.


  • A yin-yang newsletter:
    While I’ve been semi-consistent in writing and publishing, I’ve suffered from inconsistent distribution. In Newsletter Junkyard (May 2022), I called for unpredictable newsletters that foam at the mouth. I still dig the spirit of that post, but I haven’t lived up to it. Here’s an effort to course-correct. The strategy: Dean’s List has two opposite halves – one predictable, one unpredictable. Every Saturday, I'll send you an email that looks something like this — with links, logs, and a pulse. It’s a reliable anchor. In between that will be the chaotic force – essays and experiments whenever they emerge – on random days, at random cadences, of an unknown length and nature. We’ll see.

Let me know what you're up to,



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