Writing Harder

Tue Jun 23, 2015

Writing's gotten ... I dunno, harder lately.

I've got five or six pieces on the go at the moment, and it seems like they all need so much more polish that it's ridiculous. I've been dividing my time between learning Rails for work, doing some programming in Standard ML, and hitting the densest paper we've read to date in the CompSci reading group. So I guess it should really be no surprise that I've got relatively little mental energy left over for doing the follow-up dissections.

Still, it doesn't feel like the whole story.

One of those pieces I've got "on the go" is a post-mortem on a recent visual-programming project I went through. That one seems like it's getting stuck for the Yegge reason. I'm trying to find a polite way of saying something fundamentally impolite, and I'll eventually just have to settle for a bout of swearing severe enough that it leaves no possible doubt. Not sure there's much I can do about that, except maybe maximize the information other teams might extract from the aftermath, but in the meantime the piece is still causing some mental indigestion by sticking around inside my skull.

Another piece is a write-up of that ML web-server I've been mentioning. And every time I sit down to hash out "the rest of it", I can't help but feel that it's completely useless. In order to make it accessible to a general audience, I'd have to encode a lot more knowledge than I have, and it's already on the long side even just hurriedly explaining the basics. Basically, if I wanted to explain it in a way that would seem useful, I'd have to write a book. And there's already a free one out there that covers most of the same ground. It seems much harder in general to communicate knowledge about ML programs in bite-sized packages, the way you could with a Common Lisp or Ruby. Hell, it seemed easier to write about Haskell piece-wise...

One thing I could try that I haven't yet is a multi-parter. Something that follows the original Literate Programming approach of explaining successively more complicated versions of a program. Starting from a basic socket-based Hello world, and building up to something that might conceivably be used to serve some nerd's blog.

Before I get to that though, I think I need some time off. The mental equivalent of a rest-day. Enough time for my internal garbage collector to run a few cycles and reclaim some synapses.

So this is me signing off for a little while.

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