No Right to Write
“What makes you think that a network administrator can write a novel?” a friend asked me a couple years ago – well, an ex-friend. Any friend who doesn’t support your ideas isn’t a true friend, in my opinion.
It’s a good question, however. The truth is, I suppose any network administrator out there may not be able to, but this network administrator was going to do it regardless of what people said.
One day back in 2004 while riding on the train, I pulled a notebook out of my backpack and scrawled:
The old lighthouse on the small rock island stood ominous, thirty feet above the water at its base. The weathered building raised four stories tall and attached to it was a light tower which reached another forty feet above that. The house, built in 1814, was well weathered and the shingles that covered it were missing in small patches on all four sides.
It was the first thing I had composed as an adult since several short stories I had written back when I was in middle and high school. I never did write more than two paragraphs of that story, and I don’t know if I ever will complete more with it. But since I first began writing back in sixth grade, I have one hundred and sixty-three short stories sitting on my computers and in notebooks (yes, the paper type). About a third of them have yet to be finished; be it from boredom with the story or life distractions such as children, I have yet to wrap them up. I would say another third are stories that either fascinated me or interested me at one point, but I decided for one reason or another that they don’t anymore.
Finally, the latter third I love and believe most readers will enjoy as well. I have dozens more trapped within my gray matter that have yet to make it on either paper or computer, but I’m always rolling them around in my mind, trying to decide if they will be published as a short story or expanded into a book.
Creativity Begets Solution
Why am I successful as an I.T. professional and technology teacher? As I see it, it boils down to two things that not only help me as the I.T. professional but also assist in my pursuits as a writer.
- Creativity – In information technology, it’s important to be able to think outside the box. The means of achieving a goal may have dozens or even hundreds of solutions. Being able to think through several different ways for achieving those goals is critical. People don’t usually come to me because they want an answer to a problem they don’t know an answer to. They come to me because they have thought of every solution they could think of and know that somehow, I will be able to come up with a few more.
This obviously applies to writing as well. Creativity is critical with fiction (and some non-fiction) writing. Being able to dream up places, people, creatures, scenarios and settings that either never existed or have existed but you have no way of going there, requires a level of creativity.
- Relatability – Being able to relate to others is one of the critical parts of helping people with computer problems, unless you plan to be like “Nick Burns the Company Computer Guy.” Being relatable helps me teach. Trying to put myself in another’s shoes, picture what they are going through, understand their frustration – this really is key.
The same follows for writing. You can’t effectively write a character if you can’t imagine what it must be like to be that character, whether they are human, alien or animal. It’s part of the magic, getting to pretend you’re someone you aren’t.
“Dead or Alive, You’re Coming With Me…”
Ahhh, the famous words uttered by the wonderful B movie character RoboCop. So true though.
After writing for a while (as an adult), I came to the conclusion that, regardless of whether I published or didn’t publish, writing relieved stress. It let me escape from the mundane crap of my daily routine and detestable commute. Do I like taking the train into Boston every day, day in and day out? No. I hate it. In fact, I hate that I hate it, and that it hates me back most likely. Yeah, ponder that for a while.
Do I like my job in Boston? Yes. But not because of what I do. I like it because every once in while I hear “Thank you – you saved the day” or “Wow, I’m so glad you’re here – I never would have gotten that” to which I usually respond “No problem” or “You would have gotten it eventually, but I know you’re in a crunch.”
I work as a network administrator to pay the bills, put food on my children’s plate and keep a roof over our heads. I do enjoy being in Boston, but really, people…I hate the commute. There is absolutely nothing pleasant about having to leave my children every day and deal with the road-rage assholes all the way to the parking garage just to be crammed in a train that breaks down half the time full of people who don’t want to be there anyway.
So – I write. After work, I get on the train, put on my writing shoes…crazy isn’t it – that I wear different shoes for writing? Then I paint worlds that don’t exist, killers that never lived and situations that only the absurd would enter.
And I happily drag you along. So dead or alive – you’re coming right along with me!