Thursday, September 10, 2009
Thursday Thoughts - Passing, Parrish, and Process
This guy truly represents how I feel at the moment. I've been struggling over the last month or so with a technical writing assignment, and I turned it in yesterday for grading. This is part of my Capstone for college, and I've chosen a hypothetical scenario involving setting up a network in a dentist's office. Why? Well, it shows my ability to handle multiple aspects of being a network engineer (since I'm working on an IT degree) and includes an environment demanding security protocols and confidentiality requirements. The technical writing assignment is a proposal of how I would take on a project like this.
To say technical writing is not my forte is an understatement of great proportions. I did manage to get passing scores on all the sections, but it wasn't anything exemplary. But as my college calculus teacher once told me (math is another subject I don't do well at), "D means Degree". It isn't beautiful, but it got the job done. Incidentally, I've got to thank Davin, who reminded me that technical writing doesn't have to be just a bunch of fluff. Your advice helped me more than you know, so thank you.
Yesterday I took the day off to celebrate my success on the paper, and the guy in the picture is me. I'm just about through the wall surrounding college, whereby I will then be a graduate. Time to plunge into part two of my capstone - a five page essay on an IT trend (I've chosen spam blocking appliances). Here's hoping it goes as smoothly.
You may be asking yourself why I'm pursing a degree in IT when this is a writer's blog? Well, I started my college education a long time before I realized I wanted to be a writer. Switching now would just waste a ton of money, and I haven't seen any consensus on whether having an English Lit degree would make me a better writer anyway. So since I only have two papers and a test between me and graduation, I'll just finish it up.
A while back I did a review of the book Offworld, and I've managed to wrangle an interview with the author Robin Parrish as well. I had not experienced his writing prior to picking up Offworld, but I can easily say I'm a fan now. I'll have the interview posted here very soon. If you haven't had a chance to pick up Offworld however, I highly recommend it. It's a good read from a very talented writer.
Lastly, I'd like to talk about writing process. Each of us approach our writing in a different way, and I enjoy finding out how writers get from conception of an idea to execution of the novel. For me, I usually start with an idea about a character. I am not a big picture person, so stories I write start as a person or a specific scene. For example, I might think about a man in his 40's, working in a factory building lawnmower engines. He's a bit overweight, because he doesn't get enough exercise. His horseshoe of dark hair is shaved close so he doesn't have to comb it. He prefers jeans and flannel shirts, because he can't stand the cold. His wife passed away unexpectedly, and he has no children. The armchair and television occupy his time, and at the moment he is just moving through life because he doesn't believe in suicide.
From here, I would pose questions and come up with the what, when, where, and how. Since I'm a confirmed "write by the seat of my pants" writer, sometimes I answer these questions and sometimes not. I am trying to improve, of course. I do see the usefulness of fleshing things out more rather than writing blindly. I'm sure however, that at least a good portion of my writing will be unscripted.
What is your process? Do you envision an entire story from the beginning or do you start with a small nugget of gold?