On Writing, Tech, and Other Loquacities

The collected works of Lana Brindley: writer, speaker, blogger


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30 Things I Have Learned So Far

This blog turned three a couple of days ago. This auspicious occasion is usually marked by the precipitous drop into the crazy novel-writing month of November (see the NaNoWriMo website if you’re not sure what I’m talking about). This November, however, the only crazy writing will be the penning of assignments, and the ordinary crazy writing of work-as-usual. Yes, this year (and probably next year) uni comes first, and NaNoWriMo gets knocked back a peg on my list of things to do. Let’s aim for for a big 2012 comeback, huh?

Anyway, I would still like to celebrate the fact that this blog is three, and that in a few days I will hit the big three-oh. To do so, here are thirty things that I’ve learned so far:

30. Tea is good.
29. Raising a child is hard work and involves being spewed on a lot.
28. When a child gives you a sleepy hug, it is worth every bit of hard work (and vomit).
27. Work can be fun if you have the right kind of job.
26. The best way to learn about stuff is to either write it down, or tell someone else about it.
25. There are stupid people in the world, but for the most part they’re harmless.
24. There are really smart people in the world, but not all of them are harmless.
23. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between extreme genius and extreme stupidity.
22. Being involved with people that have passion helps incite you to be passionate too.
21. Teaching is more educational than learning.
20. Teaching can also be heaps of fun.
19. Learning is fun too. It is also addictive.
18. Going to uni once or twice is expected. Going back for a third go is just crazy.
17. Friends are important, but you only need a couple of really good ones.
16. It’s OK to say no to all sorts of things.
15. It’s OK to say yes sometimes as well.
14. You can be a good person, without having to help every bleeding heart.
13. You need to pick and choose who deserves to have slices of your time. Tell everyone else to go jump.
12. Love is about more than just sex.
11. Sex is about more than just love.
10. It’s OK to leave the party early if that’s what you want to do.
9. The only person who can control your health and fitness is you. No one is going to do this for you.
8. Life throws curveballs. Sometimes the only thing you can do is duck and run.
7. When you stumble, you are still in charge. Pick yourself up and carry on as best you can.
6. It doesn’t matter what you do, some people will still shit on you. Those people are not friends.
5. Writing is therapy.
4. Tea is therapy too. Did I mention tea already?
3. Don’t be afraid of massage. It’s several kinds of awesome.
2. Bikes are several kinds of awesome too.
1. Don’t ever be afraid to stand up and shout like you know what you’re talking about. Confidence can go a long way.

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The beast within

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.

Gloria Steinem

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming up again. And so, like many other writers (both professional and aspiring), I’ll be setting aside the thirty days of November to pump out 50,000 words of a novel, or about 1,600 words a day. This is in addition to the thousands of words I pump out every month as part of my role as a technical writer, of course. The question here is, what on earth makes someone who writes all day for a living, want to go home and write all night as well? It sounds like a Dr Suess story: “Oh I say, we write all day. Write, write, we write all night”. The really peculiar thing is that I’m not alone in this endeavour. There are many tech writers out there moonlighting as novelists every November. Don’t try to take a tech writer out to dinner in November, unless you’re willing to have them with their laptop out at the table … taptaptaptappitytap

nanowrimo


I suspect writers are born, not made. That’s not to say that good writers are rare, I actually suspect that they’re quite ubiquitous. Many of them never actually become writers. They become all manner of other things – butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers – but that drive to write exists within them still. They might write a private journal, be secretly working on a novel, submit letters to the editor, write lengthy letters to their friends, submit stories to a website, or keep a blog.  Or just wish they had the time.

All of this means that, as a writer, when you meet another in the street, you see that gleam in their eyes. There’s a passion, an excitement, a certain joie de vivre that they only truly experience when they are head down and writing. Have you ever wandered down the street, completely lost in thought trying to work out a plot twist, a character development, a particularly witty piece of dialogue, only to realise that you’re grinning your head off, looking like a loon? Then you’re a writer. And here’s my advice to you: don’t fight it.

I have a stack of manuscripts in my desk drawer. Will I ever submit them to a publisher? No. Will I ever give them the edits and re-writes they really need? No. Will I ever look at them again? Probably not. So why bother creating them in the first place? Because I need to write. There is a living thing inside me that is only satiated when there are words flowing through me. What happens to those words afterwards is entirely irrelevant. I think them up, I write them down, I make sure I like the way they sound, and then I let them live on without me.

So if you share my passion, why not join me in November? And if just one month a year of crazy writing isn’t nearly enough, why not apply for a job?

Cross-posted to http://fossdocs.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/the-beast-within“>Foss Docs

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