Shout Out

One of my favorite authors is John Scalzi. If you have never read anything by him, you have missed out. You can check him out on amazon, or at his blog Whatever. The first of his books I read was Old Man’s War. I have read many of the other titles he has graced us with, and have yet to find one I disliked.

I mention this because my inspiration for writing this blog comes from some things he has espoused. He is a long time writer, and has done writing in many different arenas. His blog is kind of about whatever strikes his fancy at that time, but he writes essentially every day. He believes that is the method for becoming a skilled writer. He is not alone in that view. I know Stephen King also shares that idea. Write all the time and you will gain skill at writing.

I agree with the sentiment. I have done many things in my life (as noted in my bio), and I find that conscious practice in almost any endeavor is bound to increase skill. I have found this to be true in martial arts. I have found this to be true in programming. I have found this to be true in playing guitar. My Chinese teacher (that is, the teacher who attempted to teach me some Mandarin) said that what we do ten minutes a day defines who we are and what we can do.

My own writing bears this out for me as well. I have written, really, over a long period of time. I have written in many different ways: proposals, stories for games, explanations to customers, etc. As a programmer, I type a lot, so that has improved the physical skills. And in the other writing I have done, the more I do, the easier it is to get my thoughts to silicon (since this isn’t really paper).

Writing Into The Fire was actually not as difficult for me as some first time authors have expressed it was for them. I spent about an hour on Saturday and and hour on Sunday from January through June or July, and, lo and behold, the first draft was finished! The polishing was more effort in certain ways, but I also had help on some of that (from some great editors). In all, I have found the process enjoyable, and have enjoyed crafting and telling a story. There were times when I could not type fast enough to get the ideas down. And I was surprised at times by things the characters did, or by elements in their back-story that I had not plotted out consciously, but that seemed to explain some of the motivations I had built for them.

None of these things are unique. I have heard other authors express most of them. That is why this post is titled Shout Out. It expresses a little of who I am, but something about the people who inspire me as well. I believe we all owe much of what we are, are able to do, and the ideas we come up with, to the inspirations of others.

So thanks Mr. Scalzi.

Infinite Monkeys

You might note that I use the image of a monkey for my picture on this site (and maybe in other places, too!). Probably seems a little peculiar. Or affected. Or just bizarre.

But it comes from a theory (and I use the term loosely). The proper name, as far as I can tell, is the Infinite Monkey Theorem. You can get a better description (as well as the math behind it) on Wikipedia, but, essentially it states that an infinite number of monkeys, typing on an infinite number of typewriters, for an infinite amount of time will, eventually, produce the entire works of William Shakespeare. There have even been amusing short stories about this (I read one, if I recall correctly, in Analog a number of years ago).

This idea amused me, and I think of myself, sometimes, as a monkey pounding out words (or, more often, code). It gives me hope that, given enough time, I might be able to produce something worthy.

Even though I am just one monkey and don’t own a typewriter.