I’ve been around software a large part of my life. I started taking classes in computer programming in 1979, and began writing code for real in 1982. Most of what I’ve written has ended up on IBM boxes, though I have dabbled in web based applications, including one that took the better part of a year to write because I ended up slinging about fifteen thousand lines of code before it was all over.
Even today I’m coding. That’s my day job: playing code monkey for the State of Pennsylvania. As it is said, it pays the bills, though after thirty years of it I’m ready for something else. That’s one of the reasons why I write, because I’d like to be able to work on my projects full-time and not have to spend nine to ten hours a day engaged in endeavors that hold very little interest for me. I also write because I love to tell tales, but I would love it were it to become my full-time job.
Because I’ve found myself so connected to software for so long, I find dealing with it to be somewhat intuitive. Most writing software seems to follow a pattern for me, and once I get the basics down the more difficult stuff tends to come once I’ve had time to play with things. I’ll find something that looks interesting and mess around, get a feel for what I can do, and if it works for me I’ll keep it. If not, I file the information away just in case it is something I can use later. Most of what’s in a program really falls under a 40/60 rule: about forty percent of the stuff in a program is gonna be your go-to stuff, and the other sixty percent is there if you find a reason to use it.
Yesterday’s post received a lot of attention. Probably because of the pretty picture I included with all kinds of time lines and talk of history, but I have received a bit of feedback about the things I’ve done and what I’ve used to get there. I’ve written about software a bit in the past, and most of the time the responses I’ve gotten are great. Sure, I’ve gotten a few, “I never plan anything, ur a hack,” comments, but I tend to laugh at those these days, because who needs that negative energy?
Since I have time, I thought I’d spend a few days talking about my process: how I set things up, how I get things plotted out, how I try to tie things together to make my story coherent, what I do with the software I use. I’ve done a little of this from time-to-time, but this would be with a little, or lot, more detail. And since I’m intimately tied into my current work in progress, it’ll make a good test bed for discussion.
The hope is that someone will see something that I do, and imagine how it might work for them. As I told someone last night–someone who was like, “Most writers say they just write”–what I do works for me; what you do will work for you. That doesn’t mean you might not see something that looks like it might work for you and use it, however, so why not throw that out there?
It’s always worth throwing things out there and seeing what happens.