The Hobby Writer

I’ve got something of a fascination with writing. It’s not that I want to become a writer, although the idea is rather tempting, I’m just curious about the process that writers go through from an idea or concept through to the final published article or book.

The fascination with writing started in secondary school. For an assignment we had to submit a short story on anything we wanted. I wrote about my first experience with a death in the family that happened just a few years before I started secondary school. After submitting the story I didn’t think anything else of it until the day we got our assignments back. There were a few red pen marks where I had bad grammar or spelling mistakes but other than that I received a “very good” on my assignment. After class the teacher asked me to stay back for a minute. He congratulated me on the honesty of my story and the re-telling of the moment in my life.

A couple of years later and during the build up to my exams we had to submit a short story. At the time I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy books, so I decided to try and pull the two genres together into a single story. Unfortunately it sounded too much like a series of books that was already out, but I decided to run with it any and see what I could do. I received a favourable grade for my story but I was marked down for my short story being unoriginal.

It was few years from then until I started a mind mapping blog called MindMapSwitch. It was my first attempt at writing and while the blog was a moderate success, it did get me more hooked on writing. It was during this time that I bought Stephen King’s On Writing book as well as a few ebooks on writing.

Today, I’m still writing as often as I can, but the idea of being a writer is something that seems so far away. A number of people I follow on Twitter have made the jump to being full-time writers or are on their way. They’re publishing as often as they can and they are clearly happy with the change to being a full-time writer.

Despite writing on my blog now for over two years, I still don’t identify myself as a writer. I do write yes but it’s more on a hobby basis. I write for myself when I can and that’s it. I have ideas for books that I would one day like to write but the prospect of even putting out a short book on a particular topic seems so out of my reach. For now I’m fine with having an interest in writing. As long as I’m on the fringe of writing, it will be something I’ll always appreciate.

Fat Tyre Friday - English Cycles 29er

In a slight change to the running broadcast of Fixie Friday, I’m now going to alternate Fixie Friday with a new category, Fat Tyre Friday.

Say hi to the first post for Fat Tyre Friday, an English Cycles 29er. Stunning paint job on this I think you’ll agree.

Photograph: Side shot of a English Cycles 29er bike

via Cycle EXIF

Be Future-safe

A very nice reminder of why I choose to host my own blog rather than opting for a service like Medium.

Some Recommend Reading ...

Growing Up Too Fast?

I was watching Ethan this morning as he was playing with a friend on the Playstation. A session of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was in full play and the boys we’re chatting about new video games, golf, going back to school as well as planning their next zombie assault. It got me thinking how different things are for kids today when it comes to media and whether that change is causing kids to mentally age faster.

The biggest difference I see is the prescence of media now. Everywhere we go, we have instant access to the latest news and headlines, trending topics and sometimes things that are just too horrifying to believe have happened.

I remember being the same age as Ethan and growing up in Canada. We had a record player, tape deck and a television. That was the extent of our media devices in the house. Most days my parents would get their fill of news from newspapers that they bought on a daily basis, but I never read those. I don’t remember ever watching the news on television but I always watched cartoons like Spiderman and shows like Knightrider and the ice hockey was always on at night. I just don’t remember the news at all.

Compare this with Ethan who has his own iPhone and a Playstation. He gets his fill of news from the BBC Newsround website which is news for younger kids. It’s good because it explains what’s happening in the world without complicating the story. They report most of the events that are in the news and explain why it’s happening. We tend not to watch the news on television unless it’s something serious but that’s thankfully not happened for a while. If we are watching and Ethan sees it, we explain as best we can why it’s happening.

As for exposing him to other media, we certainly draw the line on movies and games. Me and Jen use our own judgement when it comes to these but games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are out until he’s older. The same goes for movies. There’s ratings on them for a reason.

Most of us have probably played some kind of war based game as kids but when we did we drew on our knowledge from television and movies that we had seen. When we were kids and running about shooting each other we used our experiences from movies to feed our imagination. That has changed and the advancement of technology means that movies and games now have a better sense of realism. Whether it ages your kids mentally though is difficult to measure but I always like to err on the side of caution.

Controlling and curating the media that our kids consume doesn’t mean they won’t grow up fast, after all I’m sure he’s getting an education in the school playground. It just means we’re slowing down the rate at which they grow mentally and that’s not a bad thing. There’s plenty of time to experience what the world has to offer but as a kid you get more from using your own imagination. And I rather see that for as long as I can before they experience the reality of the world.

Another New Coding Font

No sooner do I get settled with Monoid when I hear of another coding font. This time it’s the code-generated Iosevka.

Stop Hurting the Web

From time to time friends ask me what they should use if they want to start blogging, and for a while I was considering adding Medium to my list of suggestions, especially for non-technical writers. But I can’t support this kind of anti-web architecture.

I want to like Medium but it’s fast becoming just another walled garden.

Need a Boost?

Execupundit has you covered.

It can be difficult to predict the popularity of topics. Supervision may become a mainstay subject since new supervisors are always in the pipeline and even the senior ones need refreshers. I've had people in class who last attended a workshop on supervision around 30 years ago. Many, of course, were never formally trained. One day they were told, "Congratulations! You're a supervisor."

That's why it is not rare to hear a senior supervisor exclaim, "I wish I'd had this class when I started in this job."

Monoid - Open Source Coding Font

Hello Atom!

About a year ago I made the jump to Vim. Having finally mastered enough of the keystrokes to muster through a single coding session, I made it my default text editor for programming. In the last couple of months though I’ve been using Atom for most of my programming. The reason for the move? Just for a change. Atom does have a number of niceties that encouraged the switch.

Good Looking

Vim is simple and productive but let’s be honest, it’s not exactly an eye-opener as development tools go. Sure you can cut and splice code like a keyboard armed ninja, but its look begins to get a little dull when you’re using the same development environment for most days of the week.

Atom, like Sublime Text is it’s own application and doesn’t run within your terminal. The plus side to this is that it isn’t restricted in the way the user-interface can give feedback to me through elements like auto-complete suggestions and notifications.

Atom is easier on the eye and maybe that’s a cop-out reason for making a change in your development tools, but my eyes start to strain staring at a two-pane terminal session for most of the day. Maybe it’s an age thing, but coding with Atom is much easier on the eyes than writing code within my terminal app.

Keyboard Friendly

Atom, just like every other development tool on the planet has a list of keyboard shortcuts that eliminate the need for a mouse. Not only that but there are some keyboard shortcuts from Vim that I can take with me to Atom. Also, like Sublime Text it includes a command palette to allow you to lookup and select the right command for the job.

Atom is keyboard friendly but more importantly for me, it’s familiar in that most of the keyboard shortcuts I use are either from Vim or similar to shortcuts that I previously used in Sublime Text.

Switching to Atom wasn’t prompted by it being a more productive editor, its growing community of packages or the fact that it’s made by Github. The reason for the switch was just for a change. Sure I’m just as productive with Atom as I was with Vim or Sublime Text but sometimes you just need a change of tools to keep things interesting. A simple change like this can stir things up for the next few months or even years. At least until they perfect a text editor in the browser.