Tired of coding


I'm ready to post the novella that I mentioned in my first post here. I did some last editing earlier today. But before I can post it, I have to make some changes to the website, because I don't want to just copy the text into a blog post. And I can't make those changes right away because I'm tired of doing computer programming (colloquially, “coding”).

I don't know why it happened. It's not because I'd been doing a lot of it, because I can sometimes code for weeks on end without getting tired. And it's not because I was failing to make progress, because I had been making progress on my drawing program when the tiredness hit me a week and a half ago. I suppose I could make an analogy to the poet's so-called “muse” – a force of inspiration that seems to come and go at its own whim, without the poet/writer/coder/whatever being able to control it. On the other hand, I don't actually believe that there are things in this world that we can't understand.

Annoyingly enough, essentially all of my current projects require me to do some coding before they can proceed. So this is a bit of a lull in my activity. Which makes me think of the concept of “idea producers” vs. “idea consumers”1 – for example, people who write popular songs vs. people who listen to them. Obviously, each individual person sometimes produces ideas and sometimes consumes ideas, but some produce more than others, and some consume more than others.

Anyway, I described that concept so that I could say this: I've been taking a break from idea production, and consumed some ideas instead, by spending a week playing the computer role-playing game “Planescape: Torment”.

The way I see it, Planescape: Torment is more like a novel than like a video game. Computer role-playing games (CRPGs) usually have fairly simple plots, like “You're a bunch of heroes; go save the world from the Dark Lord!”. They have a bunch of dialogue, so you need to be able to read, but the main point is to do battle with foul monsters. Planescape: Torment is the opposite: You need to be able to fight monsters, but the main point is to explore the intriguing dialogue and plot of the game. I'm not going to talk about it too much, because (1) it has enough social problems that it isn't up to my standards for “recommended websites”, and (2) even if it didn't, it's not readily available (since it's a commercial, non-Free, Windows-only game). But it did make me think about a bunch of ideas, which is cool.

I suppose I could write something here about why I, as a writer, find it valuable to read other people's work, or about why exchanging stories is a good thing even when they sometimes teach problematic lessons, or about the value of cariacture and other “unrealistic” elements in writing, but I'm not sure my ideas about those things are organized enough right now. Oh well.

– Eli

  1. I got those terms from somewhere; I don't remember where. It might have been from Edward de Bono's writing. back
Approximate readability: 8.89 (2323 characters, 537 words, 27 sentences, 4.33 characters per word, 19.89 words per sentence)