Wednesday, July 20, 2011


One of the wanking questions writers get asked, usually by other writers, is "Why do you write?"

Then, comes a number of answers. All wanking.

"I write, because I am compelled to write." Said Neil Gaiman, at one point or another, to an interviewer who believes that abstract questions with no real definite answers are cool and whatever.

"I write for money," said the pained cynic, who can sometimes be me.

"I write, so that other people can see how cool and smart I am," go the unsaid momentarily truthful quip from some people who have never really written.

I sit now with a bunch of documents open before me, trying vaguely to remember why I write. If I had wanted serious money, I believe another vocation such as a pimp or a programmer would have been more lucrative.

I was a good coder once, you know. My system was sent to Portugal, for a convention. But I never went to present my paper.

"I don't want to be a programmer," I told my lecturer. "I want to write. And get rich writing."

Ah, to be young and foolish again.

Most people don't even recognise or realise what it takes. What writing takes. It is not your life's blood or your immortal soul. You do not die every night as you write, as performers die every night on stage. That's all bullshit, man.

I've always held this notion, that writers are never and will never be appreciated. Most of them don't and never will.

Who weeps for the writer who thought of the assignments in the workbook? Who spares a thought for the man or woman who wrote the tale of 'Si Belanga' in the BM Standard Six textbook?

Ah, pathos.

Self pity.


I'll tell you how I saw Computer Science, though.

Programming, to me, was and is a means to speak to machines. In my youth, I was infuriated by humans, as humans don't work like machines. I can't push humans to dedicate hours of their lives to render a 3D object like I did my old computer. Humans are untrustworthy and constantly afraid. Always blaming others, scared of being blamed.

So I thought I would speak to machines instead.

I was very good at it, I remember. It used to be that I could learn a new computer language in a matter of weeks. It's all the same, really. Write this, write that. fetch this, fetch that. Do this while this is true. here's what you do in case of this or this or this.

Take your instructions from this file. Hide the elegant code by translating them into primitive html. Or simply hide everything in a labyrinth of nested functions. Create, store, delete.

Using these simple commands, you can construct almost anything. You can communicate anything to a computer.

When I moved to writing, which was, I must admit, something I was compelled to do, I saw the whole thing as programming, but for humans.

Remember this? That? Feel this. Think about that. Imagine that.

All things, in the end, are data. Information. And all we can hope to do, is communicate with that data.

Tell this to any asshole, though, and they'd just say that writing is like taking a shit. You just sit down and your butthole ejects shit. No thought. No emotion. No communication. Perhaps a bit of grandstanding and posturing.

And then they ask me, why their works are shallow. It was not something others tell them, but something they feel themselves, deep in their souls.

I don't have an answer. I do not presume that my works are NOT themselves shallow.

I write on, because I am compelled to.