: views from the Hill

Friday, January 14, 2005

Friday Blog Pick: Sandra Scoppettone's Writing Thoughts

I'm a writer.

I used to write software in the olden days when I was a senior software engineer par excellence. I quit my last job in 1992 and the folks who knew me hired me back as a temp, as a tech writer, writing the manuals that had never been written (by others on the project!) for the software that's still in use to this day.

(His nibs and I went to a reunion for alums for that company in a pub last week, and what an entertaining time we had.)

In the process of writing the documentation, I discovered something on the order of fifty or seventy bugs or, um, questionable pieces of code implementation. (Not mine, I swear!) My favorite was the one where someone had assigned a -1 as a tag to shut the process down, never expecting that a buffer overflow might look an awful like a -1. That bug took a while to spot.

I quit the tech writing gig when the documentation manuals were finished and graduated later in the 90s to writing non-fiction bits, eventually writing about the Web, like duh. what an obvious choice. Writing freelance never brought the money that writing tech did, which never brought the money that writing code did, but I'm happy.

Even though I'm relatively happy with my writerly efforts, my heart is really in the fiction writing, the crime writing, the writing that scares me half to death because I know what snide things I've heard others say about this person's work or that person's.

His nibs, I know, throws books across the room, books that friends of mine have written. I quake in fear that someone will throw my work across the room.

... but I need to deal with that. Someone somewhere will throw my work across the room.

I was talking with my writerly friend Trev a while back and he gave me the best definition of "writer" as any I've ever heard. We were talking about my WIP. He asked if anyone had read it. I said, "No. Not yet. It's in rewrite. There are some discordant plot points that need massaging."

Trev said, "A writer isn't a writer until that writer is read."

I always have a keen interest in knowing how other writers work. I stumbled over Sandra Scoppettone's Writing Thoughts this week and felt write (heh) at home.

This year -- this year for sure -- I'll get my crime writing into shape to be read by my gang, who are waiting anxiously to get a first peek.

This year for sure.

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