Writing and Me

I am not a writer. Had things progressed differently, I might have tried it. I do enjoy the writing process. One important problem is that I hate revision. I start from a theoretical perfect model, and slowly write it out, far slower than my brain, which can race ahead to new, more exciting topics, while I still need to actually write what has been planned out before.

Instead, I am a programmer. Really, the two are not very different. In programming, however, your audience is a computer, and the computer is far less forgiving of unclear communication. I'm not talking about typos or misplaced parentheses here, but in the ability of the writer to convey their ideas to the audience.

Programming generally has a very strict syntax compared to speech. Words generally have only one meaning, and if they have more than one, it is immediately obvious which one is meant in any situation. Human communication, on the other hand, has shades of meaning, imagery, and all sorts of other trickery to say the same thing in many ways. Years of programming has left my vocabulary a bit dry, opting for specific, technical jargon rather than the more general, descriptive prose.

To put it another way, if my writings were computer code, none of them would compile. But then, none of my real code does either, not on the first try. The compiler rejects a statement here or there, and when it finally runs, the output is all wrong. So I tweak the code, simplify and break down long statements, and try to say exactly what I mean. Eventually, the code compiles and runs, and does exactly what I want it to.

How does this relate to being a writer? Well, I follow mostly the same pattern in my writing. The only difference is that I do it without a compiler. I have learned long ago that self-correction is often useless for me, I tend to make the same mistakes while reading as I did writing it. My best writing comes form when I *do* have a compiler of sorts; school assignments where each revision compiles a little further with my teacher, and more meaning comes through.

Unfortunately, I do not write regularly anymore. The days of required writing are almost gone, and I have yet to find a compiler for writing which works as well as my teachers. Add to that my dislike of revision without glaring errors to fix, and my personal writing tends to throw parsing errors in anyone who isn't me.

Hopefully I'll get better at this. At the very least I hope to catch the common mistakes here.