Write...or Die Trying

I used to work in a factory. Now I work in an office. Either way, my writing was dying. So now I must: Write...or Die Trying.


Input or Output

I spend a great deal of my day just absorbing information. A lot of times I don't turn around and put that knowledge into something. I just absorb it. Today was a good example.

Besides my Modern Fantasy class, in which we discussed Jospeh Campbell's mono-myth theory, how Christianity rests on a "weak" logcial premise, yada yada, I spent a goodly portion of the day trying to figure out how in the heck I had broken this program I'd written. I was trying to make it work better; improve it, so to speak. In the end, I actually accomplished my goal, but I broke several things inside it first. So I had to read and research and get more information so I could figure out why it was broken and how could I fix it.

I'm a self-taught programmer. By self-taught I mean I learn by propping something up I don't fully understand, watching it fall, changing it slightly, putting it back up again, watching it fall, changing it a little more, prop it back up again (still not fully understanding it), yada yada... They say the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result. I see.

In programming there are basically two pipes of communication: data coming in (called input) and data going out (called output, oddly enough.) My days normally consist of managing vast quantities of input, distilling it down, and producing a weensie-teensie bit of output. Programming is like that. You have to absorb so much information to produce a small thing that is then judged based on it's apparent, relative size, instead of its unwieldy actual, relative size--which doesn't compute with management, given the amount of time you said it would take and how much you said it would cost.

Writing is like that too, I'm finding out. Vast truckloads of input are being dumped into my brain every day--whether I want it or not. I have to sift through all that chaff for the wheat or the dirt for the worms. I have to manage this input or lose it. A good writer has to process so much more information than what they eventually output that the small apparent relative size of their output is often judged as not being enough; not quick enough; not "good" enough (God forbid.) But that's just part of writing. It's hours and days and years of input input input. Then a little blip. Output. Maybe there's some sort of rule someone can attach their name to that recognizes that: the larger the exponent between what the writer's input and her output, the better the fiction. The more I read and observe people the better my writing gets. I can't explain it, it just works.

Input input input input input input input input. Blip. Output.


Post a Comment

<< Home