Writing fiction is for people who were too lazy when they were kids to learn how to code

HackerBeen futzing around with my website today, changing around some of the pages, switching up the front page, etc. I finally fixed that thing with my Top Posts sidebar on the right, where all the links would take you into the Wayback Machine. I made it so the blog now has a static front page (since it’s my author site as well as my blog). I created some new sections, including one for people who want to hire me to do some writing for them. (You should check it out! The copy is laughably bombastic, but I don’t care. I apologize for nothing).

I also decided that I didn’t like the way a few things in my site looked: most notably block quotes and bulleted lists. So I went into the CSS, and I learned how to make them look different! Since half of you are computer programmers, you’re probably like, duh, of course you did–CSS is simple. Well whatever guys, I’ve never programmed a line of CSS in my life, so I’m excited that after a mere hour and a half of work, I got everything looking alright.

Coding is really absorbing. People in this area are always talking down about tech workers, but I will have none of that. Programming seems way better than most jobs, because it’s actually possible to love the act of programming. I mean, coding is absorbing in the way that’s unlike everything else in life, except playing music or sports or computer games.

In a way, it’s surprising that I’m not a computer programmer! When I was a kid, I was very interested in it: I bought all kinds of books that purported to teach you how to code Java in thirty days or C++ in thirty days or all that sort of stuff. Of course I never stuck with it. I don’t even think I ever built a program. But by god I spent hours reading those books!

Ultimately I was too much of a dreamer. I wanted to make huge, epic computer games, and it was difficult for me to see the pathway from coding “Hello World” in Java to making the things that I wanted.

Writing is easier. When you write, you have exactly the same tools on hand that Tolstoy or Tolkien had. You can start on page one and spin the most complicated world that you can imagine.

But I think it’s that very freedom which renders it less absorbing than programming. When you’re working with code, there’s a finite list of things that you can do next. You’re trying to solve a problem, and you’re trying to solve it well. Writing isn’t like that. It’s not about solving problems, it’s about thinking up new ones.

Oh well, in another life I’d be living eight miles to the west of here and earning $150,000 a year.

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