The Horseshoe of Sucking

Sucking at something is the first step towards being kind of good at something.

I have heard variations of this saying from different people in different places. The common theme between all such occasions was that they happened while I was busy sucking at something. Despite appearing harsh on the surface, it is a surprisingly soft approach. It manages to expound both that sucking at something is to be expected, and is a necessary part of personal growth.

Although I am by no means an old hand, looking back at my previous iterations of my web log now means looking back to before I had really started writing in school or in the workplace. As I look back at “old me” for the first time as “new me,” I think it is interesting to look at the different attitudes I have had toward my own programming and writing between then and now.

At first, blind Enthusiasm

When I first started, I had no idea what best practices were. I did not really know what practices were. I did not care. The freedom of having the tools to create was and is intoxicating, and I made full use of that power.

Looking back at my oldest code, and at the various iterations of writing my web log, I can see this joyous indifference everywhere. Much like solving a puzzle, you are limited to the tools you have. Like a proof of Turing completeness, it is shocking how little you need to get started.

Then recognizing flaws

The joy of creation carries you forward to create more, research more, learn more. The process of learning more leads you to learning what is right and wrong, or at least what is “right” and “wrong.” Like learning an instrument: these are not hard-and-fast rules unless you are a beginner. You must know the rules before you can break them.

So gaining experience is also learning why my own creations are awful. My biggest regret is deleting code after I learned better ways of doing things.

Finally accepting the flaws

Acceptance is the final stage of learning. Learning not just your art, but learning learning. Recognizing that it is a love for what you do that keeps you continuing. Recognizing that it was a love for what you did that started you.

I have started another iteration of my blog. Maybe, hopefully, the final iteration. I am continuing to learn how to write and how to publish. Not starting, not finished, but finished starting, and having built a strong foundation. Now? There is still the whole house to build.