Words From Rob

Thoughts about writing, tech, and life

Category: Writing

Ebbing and Flowing

I wonder if Ebbing and Flowing best describes my writing consistency. As I look at what I’ve written over the past few months, and then look back over a longer period of time, I definitely see some ebbs and some flows. Each time I start writing again, I have a lot of ideas and a lot of output. In those times, the ideas greatly outnumber the output. I guess that’s a good thing, as I always have a long list of ideas to come back to.

But then, after a while, my writing recedes into the background of my life. Sometimes it’s easy for me to see why: I take a trip that interrupts my regular writing schedule or something time-consuming is happening in my life that pulls me away from writing. But at other times, it’s less clear. I just stop writing. I rarely stop thinking about writing, but I just don’t do it regularly.

We recently returned from a three week trip, which interrupted my writing. Since returning I just haven’t gotten back into my daily writing routine. Well, here I am again, trying to get back on track.

It’s Been Quiet Around Here

My last post was almost a month ago! When I started this blog and re-focused my energy on writing, I told myself that I’d write almost every day. I also thought I’d post here frequently. I guess I didn’t take travel and vacation into account.

The past three weeks my wife and I have been traveling. When we left, I thought I would continue to write and post as we went along. I mis-judged just how busy I would be, and how much time and energy I would devote to writing. To be fair to myself, I actually did write a bit while I was traveling. I just didn’t post anything here. I wrote down some ideas for posts related to the trip, and I journaled a few times. But, I had hoped to post some real-time travel observations, as well as take some down time to write. Oh well, lesson learned and expectations set for the next trip.

Now that I’m back, I’ll be posting more regularly. And, I do have some travel posts to write, in addition to the typical, and maybe not-so-typical, ramblings. See you soon.

Getting Ready vs Getting Started

About a month ago I started my new blog. I set up the site, picked a theme, posted a welcome message, and wrote down several ideas for upcoming posts. It felt as if I was getting started.

But, as I sit here today, writing this post, it’s clear that I was really just getting ready. More than a month has gone by, with little output from me. Oh, I’ve saved off a few more post ideas and read through some of the notes I took for one of my novels. But, I have not really started writing. Why?

There are many reasons I could use: I’m busy with other things, I’m not sure where my novel should go, my site isn’t exactly what I want, or maybe, I don’t feel like it. But I think the real reason is that there’s been some kind of wall in my way. A wall of fear perhaps. A wall telling me that if I put my thoughts “out there” then people might actually read them. And if they read them, they might not like them. And if they don’t like them, well then what’s the point?

Yesterday I decided that I’d climb the wall. For me, mornings are the best time for writing. So after breakfast I came upstairs, to the room where my desk is located, and I finished a post that I wrote a couple weeks ago. And, here it is, morning again, and here I am, writing, again.

It’s good to really get started, now that I’m done getting ready.

A Change of Focus

If you read the about me page, you’ll know that I spent my career in the technology industry. I started as a programmer and ended up in engineering management at a pretty senior level. I’ve always been very passionate about technology.

After I retired from Microsoft, the first type of project I wanted to get into was programming. My career had taken me pretty far from my roots as a programmer. It had been so long since I actually wrote code and I really wanted to jump back in. So I started learning about the Apple developer platforms, languages, and tools. I was hooked again!

To me, programming has always been a very creative endeavor. You start with a blank canvas and create something new. Of course, it can be complicated and frustrating. But, that’s part of the draw for me. It requires you to always be learning. And each new problem that comes up can usually be solved in myriad ways. That’s where a lot of the creativity comes in and solving those problems is very rewarding.

I’ve spent the past two years working on a couple of apps while adjusting to retired life. I’ve fit coding in between moving to a new state, lots of travel, setting up a new house, and exploring our new town and the surrounding area. All-in-all it has been a good start to retired life.

When I started these projects, I had two objectives: learn a lot and put a finished app into the App Store. I accomplished one of those goals: I learned much more than I thought I would. I have not, though, finished an app. I’m quite confident that I could finish and list an app, but I’ve come to the realization that I lack the desire to continue right now.

Here’s the thing. I’ve grown weary of being so deeply immersed in technology–immersed in the way one needs to be in order to write code, or for that matter, to manage a large engineering team working on a large project. I’ve spent the last thirty years of my life so immersed. I’m just tired of it.

I still love using technology. And while these app projects were a great way to kick off my retirement, I’m ready to move on to a different item on my “what will I do when I retire” list: writing.

For many years I’ve dabbled in writing: journaling, blogging (I’ve had many starts and stops), and novels. I have several novels started, waiting for me to return. When I’ve been working on those projects, especially the novels, I felt so alive. This was a new form of creativity, similar to programming in some ways and very different in others. The telling of a story, one that was emerging as I wrote, was exhilarating.

So, going forward I’m going to focus on writing, both working on a novel as well as blogging (hence this site!).

This change is kind of scary for me. Deep involvement in technology has been a core part of my life for as long as I can remember: from programmer and tinkerer, to technical program management, and then to large engineering team management. In some ways, stepping away from that deep involvement feels as if I’m losing a part of myself. I worry that a big part of my identity is going away. At the same time, I see a new door opening and something interesting on the other side.

Someone I greatly admire recently told me:

Your identity is something you get to choose, as often as you like.

That is a great way to look at this. I’m choosing to be a writer. Just typing that sentence is thrilling. I am choosing. It’s going to be an exciting journey.

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