Moving to Freedom, .Org(on)


pendulum, from wikipedia

The pendulum swings. I applied for a new job last month, a technical job, and just like that my brain started its descent to the other side, thinking about software development and how I do like mucking about with computers and code, and that perhaps this should be my focus. I love programming and making things that go.

My imagination soars with this:

The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is the lawgiver. No playwright, no stage director, no emperor, however powerful, has ever exercised such absolute authority to arrange a stage or a field of battle and to command such unswervingly dutiful actors or troops.

—Joseph Weizenbaum

The actors often don’t seem so unswervingly dutiful, but they are. The logic and the functioning of the machine are beautiful. The quote might sound grandiose, but such freedom and power in the commanding of these troops, along with the frustrations. They are far less troublesome than human beings.

And there’s the thought, oh, how nice it will be to have money. That is, by working at something that pays, rather than at… this. This writing thing. For so long I’ve imagined quitting or working part-time to really pursue this thing, and it was frightening, because I know how it is in this business.

More importantly, there is always the suspicion that this isn’t the call for me.

I’m disappointed that I don’t feel possessed by the need to write. I like writing. I love when people like what I write and I get some validation from their approval. But I’m not pulled into it by the fascination I want to feel. I know that it is work like any other, and I trusted (and still trust) that if I keep working at it, I might find that fascination more consistently.

And thus, times like the past few months, where I’ve pushed myself to write more. I enjoy it at times, and occasionally feel inspired, but still I think I’ve been “doing it wrong.” It isn’t so much that I have to write as that I desperately want to do something different than what I was doing in my old job. The writing has been driven by fear and desire as much as by love.

After submitting my resume, I felt hopeful, and adrift. Waiting for signs from elsewhere. Would they call me? In my imagination, it seemed like the perfect job for me. I quickly dropped my recent writing regimen as I considered this change in direction.

I heard back from the company, and as part of the interviewing process completed a “code challenge.” I spent a weekend writing an application to demonstrate my skills, and I loved it. I worked on it for hours at a time. One day I worked on it for nearly fourteen hours, I think, on and off from four in the morning until ten at night.

There was fascination, and the drive to make this thing, and the joy in learning and working with the pieces and making them all line up. I wanted to be a programmer, again.

This is how the pendulum swings. Writing software is also work, not always enjoyable, and at some point I expect to look at my “alternative” of writing prose more seriously, yet again. This is the nature of pendulums.

But it doesn’t have to be either/or. I’ll keep writing here, and I hope from a better place. I may not be so prolific in my posting schedule for a time, but I’ll keep writing. Maybe I can relax and stop being so desperately needy. Just write.

Posts aren’t that hard to do. So short, so transient. Anne Lamott says to write what you can see through a one inch picture frame, and that’s about right for a blog. It doesn’t have to be difficult.

Know that it is good to work. Work with love and think of liking it when you do it. It is easy and interesting. It is a privilege. There is nothing hard about it but your anxious vanity and fear of failure.

—Brenda Ueland