This morning, I came across Serdar Yegulalp‘s blog entry where he writes about writing. He tells a story about two of his friends and while I think we could be better friends, I doubt he’s writing about me, even though the story he tells could have been about me.
Lately, I’ve been seeing myself more as a writer than as a computer programmer. I’ve had a passing desire to sit down and write books about AOLserver, but I’ve always had a problem starting. For a long time, I’ve told myself, “I’m a programmer, not a writer,” but I began to realize that programmers are writers. But, me? Lately, I’ve had trouble writing anything. To borrow Serdar’s analogy, I’ve been suffering a drought. The rain just wouldn’t come.
Recently, I asked friends for suggestions on books to read for someone who wants to write but is struggling, and Bill Kocik suggested a book by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. I bought myself a copy and now I flip through and read a few pages of that book daily–I just wish I’d known about that book 15 years ago. As infrequently as I post new blog entries, what little increase in frequency there has been lately, I owe to Natalie’s book.
After all this, is programming really like writing, though? What if, like me, you’re a writer without a story to tell? Sometimes, I wonder if there is a great masterpiece trapped inside of me, struggling to get out–a great program, say–or if I truly am as empty and shallow as I feel. I have a hard time deciding which is worse: to die, never freeing that great work from within me, or never having it inside me in the first place.