Writing vs. Coding

Developers write programs with code.

Writers write stories with words.

A good developer understands that a program is about data. Data behaves.  The program has threads and control, but a good design is about how the data behaves under certain conditions.

A good writer understands that a story is about characters. Characters behave. The story has a plot, but a good story is about how characters act and react to their worlds.

A good developer understands that code is for people, who will need to understand it in the future when it needs to be fixed, improved, or even replaced. Writing elegant code that demonstrates skill and runs efficiently is fun, but if it can’t be read, it’s just bad code.

A good writer understands that their writing is meant to be read and understood. Beautiful prose and intricate description can be rewarding to write, but if it can’t be read and enjoyed, it’s still bad writing.

There is no such thing as completely correct code. There comes a point where it’s best to release the application and walk away, at least for a while. Maybe there will be another release.

There is no such thing as a finished story. There comes a point where it’s best to press “publish” or send it to an editor (or whomever.) Maybe someday you’ll write another version of it.

Appreciating Slow Consumption

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading the Monster manga series.  (Affiliate link to volume 1.) It’s nine volumes (18 if you can find the older format) and would run around $125 to buy new.

It’s not available on Kindle or any other electronic format. At least not legally.

But my there’s a library in my local library system that has the whole set. I requested the volumes one at a time, read them, and then ordered the next. It takes close to a week to get each one, so in between, I read a few other books.

It was the opposite of how I’ve been doing things that past decade or so. I took my time, instead of getting everything at once. I read them almost like one would as they were originally released. It’s the new old Eric.

It’s the new old Eric.

Some of you might remember this book:

It’s one of my most treasured possessions. Not because of its value (not very much) because of the memories it holds.

It was announced like this:

It was available via mail order, not on the newsstand. I had to order it. (Although it does have a cover price that is higher than the mail order price, so I guess it was available on shelves somewhere.)

After seeing it advertised a few months in a row, I had to order it. Mail order was the only way to get it, and ten-yar-old Eric had to see the origins of the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Thor et al.

It does have a cover price that is higher than the mail order price, so I guess it was available on shelves somewhere, but not any of the shelves I saw in Ridgewood or Midland Park, NJ.

I filled out the form, and then my Mother intercepted the letter when she noticed it had cash in it. Then I had to convince her how important this book was, so she traded a check for my money and we mailed the order.

Three hundred years later I got the book. Well, maybe it seemed like three hundred years to ten-year-old Eric. It may have only been a few weeks.

But when I got the book it was wonderful. Sheer joy. I didn’t read this book; I devoured it. I absorbed it.

We don’t experience this kind of delayed gratification as often as we did in the past, especially not when it comes to entertainment. Overnight delivery is almost a worse-case-scenario for most things. This isn’t a bad thing. Not at all! I appreciate ordering a book or movie and being able to enjoy it in seconds.

But sometimes I feel that the wait is part of the process. It’s part of the fun. It also makes me appreciate things more. The Stoics recommend going without the luxuries in our life from time-to-time, so we appreciate them more.

Maybe just imagining it might take a week to get them is a good place to start.

Total Perspective Vortex

The Total Perspective Vortex appears in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It shows one their relevance with respect to the rest of the Universe..

When you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it there’s a tiny little speck, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says, “You are here.”

The only person to survive the Vortex interprets it as telling him that he was the most important being in the universe. It did this because of a mistake, but due to his ego, he finds the mistake perfectly logical.

I thought of this today when I was reading someone’s tweets. Because reasons.