A 52 post collection

Comics as a way of life

 •  Filed under Comics, Comic Shop, Writing

I've got big news! I'm opening a comic shop in my wife's store Mix it Up! at Lake Martin.

I'm planning to start small. We're located in a small town, and I'm just beginning to learn about the business of selling comics. The plan is to steadily build up stock based on what customers tell me they want. I'll also be able to order most anything people ask for. Our selection of new comics will grow as we learn what customers want, too.

I'm excited for the opportunity to do this. Doing something with comics has been a life-long dream of mine. I'm even planning to focus on my comics writing a little more as part of this. I have an idea going that I'll likely try to produce myself when I find an artist who likes the idea.

So it's all comics for me now, both on this site and all the social sites I'm using. I've still got my day job as a programmer, but I probably won't focus on that much online, except as it impacts the comics work.

All of that to say -- comics is a way of life now. And I'm excited about this new journey and sharing it with everyone online.

On Writing Software and Fiction

 •  Filed under Software, Onwriting, Fiction, Writing

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say. –Flannery O'Connor

I have been a writer for as long as I have been a reader. I can remember getting comics at about the age of 7 or 8, hiding out to read them behind my mom’s worn-out recliner, and then scratching out my own comic stories in a spiral notebook meant for school. I don’t remember these stories, but I’m sure they were terrible. I imagine them as stories about 7 year-old X-Men characters, likely trying to survive the whopping they would get after running away from the local YMCA.

The stories themselves might not be memorable, but I do remember kid-writer me trying to make sense of the world by writing.

Writing was a constant for me as a child and teen, so you’d think it would be obvious that I should study literature in college. The truth is that I fell into an English degree quite by accident. I had no idea what I wanted to do in life when I graduated high school. I floundered for awhile, taking a little of every kind of course, and then it dawned on me — why not major in English? I knew I liked reading and writing as much as anything else. I was certain that English was the only thing I would enjoy for the entirety of a college degree.

I fell in love with literature and that only strengthened my love for reading and writing. I wrote all the time back then — fiction, poetry, papers for class, notes in the margins of books. I think this is when I started writing in Moleskine notebooks, likely an attempt to be seen as a serious writer. It’s a bit pretentious, looking back on it, but it’s a habit that has stuck. I still enjoy writing with pen or pencil, maybe even more so these days, given the time I spend looking at a computer screen.

After college, I fell into writing software, as much by accident as the English degree I earned. I never thought I’d like working on computers, but I had a friend who insisted I try.  He was right. Now I spend hours each day writing code.

Writing code is a lot like any other writing. It’s just words at the end of the day. The effect might be quite different — to make the computer do something you want it to do — but the other qualities are pretty similar. The audience is your fellow programmer, and the idea is to put down in writing what you figured out. All writing is thinking. Like Flannery O'Connor said, you can’t really understand what you’ve worked out until you look back at it in written form.

I have been in a bit of a writing slump lately, a slump affecting all my writing, both software and fiction. Some of this is due to circumstances, both at work and in life, making it hard to write. The circumstances aren’t what paralyzed me, though. The truth is that I always live with a constant tension, a tension that appears in the form of a nagging, incessant question — am I a programmer, or am I a writer?

At face value, it’s a silly question, but when life applies pressure, pokes at you, and squeezes what you love most, a silly question can transform and begin to taunt you. It starts to say — You’re wasting your time. You’re being selfish. You’re not very good at this, anyway.

This is where my software side can hurt. In tech, you only ever do something if it’s correct or if you’re good at it. The thing is, I didn’t start writing fiction or software because I was good at it. I didn’t start because I thought I might one day be good at it. It just kind of happened, accidentally, because I enjoyed sitting down and writing.

I think I’m starting to get back to that, back to writing because I enjoy it, no other reason required. Appropriately enough, I only realize this because I just wrote it down.

Hi Neil, I am SUCH a big fan of your work and wondered if you might answer a writing question for me. I am roughly half way through my first...

 •  Filed under Writing, Neil Gaiman, Writers


I normally recommend getting to the end – even if you change your mind about something big, just keep writing your book with the new stuff in mind (and, if you want, any scenes you need to insert earlier) and then sort it all out in the next draft. If you stop and go back to the beginning, often you can get stuck in a loop. Whereas when you finish, and really look at what you’ve made, it’s easier to figure out what you have to do next.

This idea – just keeping going until you finish the draft – is the break through realization I had while working on my current book on Storybird.

I’ve done well with short stories and had yet to finish a novel. Now I’m 2 chapters from finishing my first draft of a book because I finally realized I should just write until it’s done.

I see this with experienced writers, too: They worry so much about the plot that they lose sight of the characters. They lose sight of why ...

 •  Filed under Writing, Quotes, Inspiration

I see this with experienced writers, too: They worry so much about the plot that they lose sight of the characters. They lose sight of why they are telling the story. They don’t let the characters actually speak. Characters will start to dictate the story in sometimes surprising, emotional, and funny ways. If the writers are not open to those surprises, they’re going to strangle the life, spark, or spirit out of their work. […]

Let the characters surprise you. Let them take you somewhere you’re not prepared to go. Even if it means tearing up tracks — who cares? Let the characters make you cry or laugh, or let them scare you.

Brian Michael Bendis, Words For Pictures (via comicquotations)

Software engineers should write - by Shubhro Saha

 •  Filed under Writing, Programming, Code, Language

Software engineers should write - by Shubhro Saha

The engineers I meet today cringe at the thought of writing an essay. And the writers I meet cringe at the thought of writing code.

What a shame! An engineer who writes code should also write essays.

As a software engineer with an English degree, I couldn't agree more. This math vs english kids debate is silly. It's all writing, in some form or another, and skill with one doesn't preclude skill with another. Here, here!