Just Shelley Writing

I’ll Never Write for the New Yorker

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I started writing when I was five years old. I wrote everything: articles, stories, fairy tales, even a musical when I was 12 that my school kindly let me produce and present.

Writing is as much a part of me as breathing, laughter, and hope. My spelling is not always accurate or my grammar all that proper (I’ve heard both kindly referred to as ‘creative’), but my passion for writing remains as strong today as it was years ago.

I’m one of the lucky few that actually makes a living from writing, though not always consistently, and usually having to be supplemented by outside endeavors. Professionally, I write books and articles on computer technology and the Internet. Privately, I write articles on space and math and history and ship wrecks and giant squid and travel and art .

All of my work might be considered informative at times, or passionate, biting, silly, maybe even witty — but none of it can be referred to as “art”. I’ve been called an author and a writer, but never an artist.

That’s not to say I’m not pleased and proud of my work, especially when I receive emails from people who have been helped by my books, or who have enjoyed my articles. However,in the back of my mind I’ve had a secret dream for years. I wanted my writing to be considered art. I wanted people to point to me and my work and say “There’s an artist”.

And I’ve always wanted to write for the New Yorker.

Now, granted, there are other magazines more prestigous or more lucrative than the New Yorker. However, my golden fleece, my dragon to be seduced is this magazine, no other.

I have this scenario carefully constructed in my mind — me sending off an article of great worth that some editor recognizes as a diamond in the rough (creative grammar and spelling aside) and worth inclusion within the magazine’s august covers. I would receive a letter back in the mail telling me my article would be included in an issue to be published at such and such date.

I imagined myself calling my brother and telling him that I was going to be published in the New Yorker. Or better yet, calling my father — he’s never understood my work with computers. Now he could finally say to his friends “My daughter writes for the New Yorker”. He may not like what I write, but he’ll at least understand it.

And some morning a year or so later I would get a call: the article I wrote for the New Yorker has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize!

Sunshine would reign in the midst of Alaska in the dead of winter and butterflies would circle an eagle’s head, singing hosannas to the universe!

In my rather long and involved scenario, not long after winning the Prize I would be asked to give readings (computer book authors are never asked to give readings), and a publisher would contract with me to write a novel. The Novel. The one that someone someday would force children in High School to read because It’s Good For Them and a work of Great Literature.

What a lovely, lovely dream.

Unfortunately, dragons have a habit of resisting seduction, and sometimes the fleece is tarnished.

This week I had a strong moment of self realization, and I knew for a fact that I would never be the type of writer that writes for the New Yorker.

I’ll never write the great American novel. I’ll never be picked by Oprah as a book of the month. My work will not earn for me a Pulitzer, and my books will never be used as a lesson in Great Literature in some school somewhere.

It’s funny, but once self realization strikes all our unreasonable dreams stand out, harshly, black against white. You start to look at what you say you want to do, or have dreamed of doing, and realize that some of it just isn’t going to happen.

These are the things I’ll never do:

  • I’ll never climb Mount Everest
  • I’ll never drive a race car
  • I’ll never sail around the world in a single person sailboat
  • I’ll never be the chairman of a major corporation
  • I’ll never be the inventor of cold fusion (physics, not software; and not the software either, come to think of it)
  • I’ll never walk on the moon
  • I’ll never be a professional photographer
  • I’ll never be 21 again
  • And I’ll never write for the New Yorker

No matter the dream, these things aren’t for me.

Life and luck and skill and strength give each of us a unique platform from which to stand to achieve our own great works. If we spend all of our lives trying to jump to platforms that don’t suit us, then we’ll never have a chance to create something unique. If you want to call this “realizing our limitations”, fine. I prefer to call it “realizing our strengths”.

And writing for the New Yorker is not one of my strengths. I’ll never write that way. That’s not me. Good or bad. That’s just not me.

When such a strong self-realization hits, you lose your breath, you lose your blinders, you sit down hard, and the Universe does an infinitely intangible waltz with your head.

Once the disorientation clears, you begin to realize how weighed down you are by your own unrealistic hopes and expectations. After you drop the baggage of things that don’t fit, you can start taking joy in the things that are right for you, regardless of the effort to reach them.

These are the things I will do:

  • I will hike hills and mountains throughout the world, and walk in deserts far
  • I will drive a convertable someday. And a Humbee
  • I’ll learn how to sail
  • I’ll take pride in not being a chairman of a major corporation, especially Enron
  • I will have great fun with technology
  • I will look at the moon and the planets and the stars through my telescope and dream of humanity’s ultimate conquest of space
  • I’ll enjoy my photos for themselves, and appreciate those taken by ones more skilled than I
  • I’ll never be 21 again. Thank god

And every day I don’t write for the New Yorker, I’ll write about what I feel, and think, and know, and see, and taste, and touch, and love.

And that will be enough.

Just Shelley

For Hire

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

For hire:

Edgy, quick tempered, slightly manic technology architect/writer. Known to disagree with people on occasion. Can be somewhat opinionated.

Likes music. Orange.

For particulars, enquire within.


UDDI is not the approach

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Thanks to TX Meryl, I found this article describing web services in clear, comprehensible terms.

I like the article, but UDDI is NOT the approach to take for web services discovery. Not! Not! Not! Not!

Create a beautiful distributed technology, and then capture it and constrain it by a centralized discovery service operated by big companies. I don’t care if UDDI can be mirrored — that’s not the point!

Think about the technology Google uses to find all the information that we’ve become dependent on. Think about how well the company processes it and packages it and delivers it. I can find anything on the web, thanks to Google.

This exact same type of functionality can be used to discover web services if we implement a few (few, mind you) common specifications. We Don’t Need UDDI. The web of discovery will work for web services as it works for weblogging as it works for Google.

I will continue to beat you about the head on this issue until you ultimately bow to my superior knowledge on this subject 😉

JavaScript Web

Programming the web

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Dave is still talking about web versus C programming language. He mentions that scripting is what holds the web together.

Dave, someone has to write the base. You can’t create full applications with Javascript, without something taking the script and translating it into machine understandable bits. And that translation is accomplished through programming languages such as C.

As with proprietary and open source code, scripting and programming with a language such as C are not exclusive – they’re complimentary.

Now, if you’re saying that providing scripting capability gives people who aren’t programmers a chance to have a control over their content, I agree 100%. This is a win/win for both the scripting users and the professional developers — the former has more control over their environment, the latter can focus on the larger and more complex tasks we thrive on. And, yes, we have this increased flexibility due to the web … and to browsers that are enablers.

Perhaps Dave and I do agree on this issue but say things — or read things — differently.


Orange is the new blog

Recovered from the Wayback Machine, orange color and all.

I like my new weblog color. Orange. Burnt orange to be exact. Bitter-sweet.

The color suits because I’ve found weblogging to be both bitter as well as sweet, luckily more of the latter than the former. But you can’t taste the sweet without the bitter, and sometimes a little of the downside creeps in to keep things in balance. Yin and Yang. Bitter and Sweet.

In my comments this morning I found a note from someone who says I lack credibility because in the last week I’ve pulled three postings regarding Dave Winer. The person has a point. We’ve tweaked Dave on this, and here I am doing the same thing.

I don’t particularly care that the person making the comment, “D” as he styles himself, doesn’t return. My readers must, at a minimum have a sense of humor. However, for those lonely few that remain, you are owed an explanation.

I pulled one posting to put into my technology experimental weblog because it had to do purely with technology, and I’m using this Alter Ego weblog for pure technology from this point. You can still see it there. It’s very civil, no burn, no rants and raves. I should have left a forwarding blurb — and the concept of that sounds both interesting and twisted.

I pulled a posting earlier in the week because it made reference to a posting Dave had also pulled, which was the result of an earlier posting I made which Dave took exception to. Did you follow that? You have to be able to follow some twisted threads within weblogging. It’s a requirement.

I pulled this posting for two reasons:

One reason is because it was flamebait and I’ve just not been in a mood to deal with flames this week. Yes, I can burn and bite with the best of them; but not all the time, and not this week.

The second reason was irony. I soundlessly pull a posting whose content was about Dave soundlessly pulling a posting. Try putting that on your scales and see if you don’t get jello. Call it weblogging’s first performance art and title it “Silence of the Postings”.

Finally, I pulled yesterday’s posting about the whole ugly Winerlog/Dave Winer thing. I was concerned that Winerlog was killed summarily, only to find out it was a web server performance thing. (And folks, if you haven’t noticed by now, all the web sites have lousy preformance — the server is maxed out.)

However, I didn’t pull the posting because I later found out Winerlog wasn’t killed out of hand (though this evetually happened last night). I pulled the posting because the whole thing seems so tawdry. And unnecessary. As Rogi pointed out so well in the comments — let Winerlog go to a new home and Userland reclaim their server space. End of story. I pulled the posting because I just didn’t want to waste more space on this issue.

But I am wasting blogspace today because D was right, I am lacking credibility for pulling the postings without note or notice, at least for two of them. And though we kiss the elusive D good-bye, I do care that those of you that remain are given an explanation. Whether you want it or not.

One last related note — Dave, no matter how ugly Winerlog gets, at least give him one week on your server to allow him to re-direct to his new weblog. And Winerlog, can’t you shut up one moment, long enough to get moved?

(Rogi, I hope you don’t mind me showing your comments out of context; I have the old comments, but not the old posting.)