Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writing Wednesday

On Wednesdays, I'll discuss the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and life as an author.

As I've mentioned, fiction, specifically novels, will be the primary example of making we'll explore here. The process of weaving a complex narrative that a) holds together across hundreds of pages as a coherent story and b) consistently proves entertaining is a non-trivial undertaking. At the same time, it's an accessible undertaking because most people have at least toyed with the notion of writing something themselves.

From time to time I'll draw parallels between what it takes to make a novel and what it takes to make other things.

What do you think of this proposal?

Image: Simon Howden /

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tech Tuesday and/or Teen Tuesday

Tuesday are for technology and techniques.

Tuesday are also for teens.

Those themes may seem unrelated. Let me explain.

There's an undeniable DIY* undercurrent among makers: at craft fairs I tend to spend more time thinking about how I might make something similar than considering a purchase. In order to DIY, you need to master appropriate techniques. Technology is a set of related techniques.

What about teens?

Young adulthood is the time when you learn DIY life skills. Put another way, it's the time when you begin to learn to make your own way. So there are a number of topics like living by design instead of accident, organizing and making sense of the world, and navigating the great between that are about both techniques and teens.

What do you think? Does the theme make sense or do you find it confusing?

* DIY = Do It Yourself
Image: luigi diamanti /

Monday, March 29, 2010

Making Monday

Mondays will be for discussions of the philosophy and ethics of making.

"Philosophy and ethics?" you say. "Get the rope!"*

The first bit of good new, to help you calm down, is that since the posts will all be relatively short, we'll never get into anything too technical.

The point here is to establish a common set of ideas and reference points, in small weekly doses, that will inform the other discussions.

If philosophy and ethics sound too intimidating, how about the "the values and ideas of the makers?"

What do you think? Does this theme sound interesting or off-putting?

* This is a reference to the old Pace salsa adds in which one of the cowboys hears that the cook is using a salsa made in New York City. "New York City?" says another, "Get the rope" (to hang the cook).

 Image: Bill Longshaw /

Sunday, March 28, 2010


One of the ways to manage a blog is to have themes for each day. Beginning tomorrow, I've prepared a week of posts outlining the theme for each day.

Because we're still trying to find the right framework for this endeavor, please feel free to comment on the proposed themes. That is, the posts for the coming week are more trial balloon than manifesto.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Time for Making

One of the inescapable facts of life is that it takes time to make. It takes time to make because true making flows from understanding, which comes only with patient application.

Of course, the degree of understanding required is a function of the scope of the thing to be made. That is, a small project generally requires less understanding than a large one.

So what's the practical upshot?

I got tied up, as a matter of pride, hunting for the solution to one last little problem at work and was late coming home. That meant some other necessary things took longer than I hoped. And so I nearly missed making an entry today.

I think this little episode underscores the utility of scheduling posts in advance.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Writing as Making

In my profile, I talk about composing music, words, and code; about the deep similarity I see in those activities. All of those endeavours are good ways to explore making, but in this conversation I'm going to focus on writing.

Rather like the three bears' porridge, software is too hot because there are a great many practitioners and the approach I plan to take is not sufficiently technical; music is too cold because as a largely self-taught composer I'm not well-enough versed in the conversation to have much to add; but writing is just right: it's something with which most people have some familiarity as both producers and consumers.

There are many kinds of writing. We'll focus here on long-form fiction (novels) where there's sufficient scope to make something non-trivial.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


In case it's not clear, I want to point out that the purpose of these initial posts is to practice. I'm working on the rhyme and reason of the blog in terms of static pages, range of content, links, etc.

One doesn't usually practice in public, so I beg your indulgence if some of the early material here doesn't all make sense.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Small Step Toward the Laws of Making

Per a suggestion in the comments, I've added a page that will eventually host a concise overview of the Laws of Making.

I will have a great deal more to say about making, much of which will be necessary to get to that concise overview.

Here, let me simply say that I discovered the Laws of Making while working on my first novel, Sand Castles Against the Tide. It was something that I'd understood implicitly for some time and in various ways. However, it wasn't until I undertook to write the book that I had both the context and the need to work out an explicit formulation of the laws.

That's fine, you say, but what are the Laws of Making?

They are that which sets the makers apart from the users.

What does that mean?

That one of the things we'll explore in the coming months and years.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Working on Pages

With Blogger's new static page feature, the system comes close to providing everything needed for a full web site--at least the sort of site that would work well for an author.

I'm trying to decide what pages I should include. The two obvious places to start are Home and About. In the fullness of time I'll need Events and a page for each project.

What information do you think should be front-and-center?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Paint Samples

We're trying on a new skin today.

I'm torn between the ease of selecting and switching among the pre-built skins, and the value of customization.

I want the environment to be uncluttered, simple, and elegantly understated. Consistent with the values of makers, who find truth and beauty in the thing in-and-of-itself, the setting shouldn't detract from the content; the form shouldn't overpower the substance.

What do you think about this skin? What do you recommend?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trial, aka Playing

One of the challenges when making a new blog is to take the generally available material and make it more your own.

In order to have some sense of how the text will appear, I need some text. Hence this first post.

It is not the shape of things to come; it sets no precedents. It is, instead something with which to play. But it is not a throw-away. We'll touch on the topic of play may times. For now, it is sufficient to say that growed-ups are distinguished from the livelier, younger lot, in part because of the degree to which they have forgotten how to play.

So for those of you, who like me, enjoy uncovering the very beginnings of an endeavor, you've found the first footprint on the beach. Here's where the play began.