Sunday, April 10, 2011

Parallel Progress

Right, so I like writing my blog posts in the coffee shop now. I prefer writing down here in general really, it's strange. You would think that a nice quiet apartment would be perfect for writing in, no distractions and the fridge only a few paces distance away.

The coffee shop is awful in comparison, surely. People go there to chat endlessly about the stupidest thing, aided by the wonderful power of caffeine and those coffee machines are not the stealthiest devices ever devised. Outside there is the constant buzz of traffic, there's an old man facing me eating loudly. How the hell does this work?

And yet, I tune out everything. The people, the pop music they pump in. Instead of distracting me they feed the simian part of my brain so my higher self can get on with the matter of writing. It's amazing that it works but it does.

But let's not just write about that, as fascinating as I find it right now. Let's write about life. That's what a blog is supposed to be about, it's supposed to track a persons feelings about a particular subject. This particular blog is focused on writing, so here are my current feelings about that.

I've been writing a long time now, when did I start seriously, on my first novel? It was during my internship with Avaya as a software engineer that I first scribbled together the concepts and that I read the book that inspired me to start. So that was a nicely round figure of five years ago. That's longer than I've been professionally software engineering, so why am I making a killing doing that and I haven't made a cent off my writing yet?

Well, of course I had a degree in software and a burning need to succeed. It was something that I had to do, that some people told me that I couldn't. There were people that needed to be proved wrong. In writing I've never had that, funnily enough. People have always liked my writing, of course I've written pieces that people didn't like but my craft has rarely been questioned beyond one or two points that I have worked on.

Of course it is not fair to compare the two, the fact of the matter is that there is a shortage of software engineers and an abundance of people who can write. To some extent everybody is a writer, how many of us are coders? There are no adverts on monster for fantasy writers or people with a vision for the next big novel. There isn't the structure in place.

But still, I write. Just for the hell of it I suppose, just because I love it. I am developing so much, identifying things in my writing that I haven't before. In a way I am seeing it develope parallel to Software skills, both grow the more I do it and so I find myself becoming this dual threat, which is great. Software is this immediate thing, you can tell instantly whether the thing you have made works or not. It is logical in that there is right and wrong but most of all it is fun because it gets so stupidly complicated for the littlest reasons.

So far I am running two years for a single novel, so it is two years until I can finally see if something works or not but out of that emerges patterns and themes. Ideas beyond the writing that can emerge from a rewrite. A process is emerging gradually from my work, far slower than from software but that is to be expected.

What makes a great Software Engineer is both experience and the intelligence to learn from that experience. It is the ability to try something, fail and then know exactly where you went wrong. It is exactly the same, I feel, for writing. Have vision and be willing to fail and you will develope your art. A hacker can make anything work and while there is a hacker in all of us we must aspire to more.

We must aspire to make something great. Something that can inspire others to walk the same road as we have done and see the things that we have seen.

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