53 Paul Elard Cooley

22 Aug

public static void main(String[] args){
//do something cool

What the hell is this? Um, it’s code. Well, actually it’s not really code. It’s more of a binder for all the magic that goes on inside. It’s no different from a blank piece of paper or a newly opened word processing document.

Writers often stare at a blank screen, cursor blinking, waiting for some idea to roll out of their mind and move their fingers across the keys, to give life to a character, a story, a thought. Writers may spend hours writing up outlines of what they think will happen in a story only to discover their characters misbehave or their well-thoughtout plotline has a few kinks and has to be reworked.

Software developers do much the same thing. Our “words” may not make much sense to the average person, but they are sentences composed to bring about order, logic, and give life to an idea.

In the 90s,a manager (of the asshole type) told me that we developers should be thankful we were paid at all, because some day, someone clever was going to create a computer program that wrote all the code for anyone who wanted one written. I’m sure some asshole publisher thinks one day they’ll have a machine to do what writers do as well. The two ideas are absolutely absurd.

Why? Machines are stupid. They can’t organize their thoughts. They can’t write themselves into being. They are machines. They are dependent on some symian at the controls, entering the commands, telling the story that ultimately leads to something useful being created.

Software developers work off recipes in the same manner writers work off what they’ve read. Software developers choose how they compose their programs in the same manner writers layout their plots. Writers bring their ideas to life just as software developers create useful programs for people to use.

For both endeavors, creativity is king. Every program is different. Every story is different. A writer leaves their mark on every collection of words they produce. A software developer leaves their mark on every line of code. Some are better than others, but practice, an obstinate refusal to give up, and the burning passion to become expert always yields better results.

Writers write and then readers read. Software developers write and then people use their programs. Writers edit. Software developers test and refactor. Both occupations require study, patience, and passion.

There is no boilerplate for being an artist. There is no boilerplate for life. We each are charged with making the best we can with what we have. And at some point in our lives, we are forced to stare into the abyss that is the lack of creation asking to be created.

Find the creativity in whatever your occupation. Find the artistry, the beauty, and the passion.


Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Creativity Guest Posts


5 Responses to 53 Paul Elard Cooley

  1. Laura

    August 22, 2011 at 4:46 am

    I love that line; Find the creativity in whatever your occupation. Find the artistry, the beauty, and the passion.

  2. Beth_Ailis

    August 22, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Truer words were never typed. Thanks for taking a few minutes to share your thoughts. (I think I had that same a-hole manager, he said that technical writers would be obsolete b/c the programs would output the documentation too. Hahahahaha)

  3. Ken Gainor (@sabre419)

    August 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Kudos good sir… I promise, when I figure out the artistry of second shift security works, I will credit you with the discovery. 😛

  4. Brian Rathbone

    August 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Well said. Your manager reminds me of someone I once worked for who told me my code wasn’t all that impressive since it was just a bunch of IF THEN statements. I told him I could change it all to IF NOT THEN ELSE statements, but he really didn’t get it. May your fiction compile and your code amuse!

  5. Doc Coleman

    September 9, 2011 at 10:50 am

    It would be easier to write a program to replace managers. Would probably give better results, too.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *