Sunday, January 01, 2012

My drafts are a continuum

I don't know if I finished the first draft of my novel. At the beginning of last year I said I was going to, but I don't know. That's because I'm no longer sure what should count as a first draft. The zeroth draft was clear. I had a beginning and an ending, but the middle lacked some chunks. Now all the parts are in place, and in the right order. Finding the right order was nontrivial. Maybe normal writers write a story in a linear fashion, as it develops in time, but that's not me. I write chunks and scenes, and wrack my brain about how to make them fit together. Which one should come before another one? The story can be told in any of the million ways.

I can't help but see stories from a software engineering perspective, not something that develops in time, but as a modular structure that occupies (mental) space. The logical way the modules fit together may not necessarily be the temporal way.

I finally worked out the order in which to string the scenes together. But I also determined I need more scenes with certain characters, because they are more instrumental to the story than I thought before. So can I really say I have Draft 1, or is still Draft 0.5? Or perhaps novel drafts should not be versioned like software releases?

I also have several short (or "short") stories I am working on, all but the newest one completed, and in various states of rewriting. One of them underwent five rewrites -- five completely different variations on the same theme with the same characters, converging on the same finale -- and this is still not the end. I need to figure out how to make the final version shorter. Might I be overthinking this just a tad?

That's the state of my writing for 2011. As far as my programming goes (and I can only speak of spare time projects, not anything I do at work), I'll spare the gentle reader an account of all false starts and stops on my coding endeavors throughout the year. It suffices to say that for the last month I've been trying to get an application I wrote to work on a Windows-hosted website. It is supposed to automate certain tasks on which I spend a lot of time, so it is important to me. To make a long story short, I found out that there are certain incompatibilities between the development environment on my laptop, and my Windows website environment, that can make it impossible to host that application. There are a couple of ways to deal with this, and I don't know which is more viable. It can also be said that when it comes to web hosting, I have champagne tastes on beer budget.

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