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Pan Macmillan

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Steven Boykey Sidley on Writing, Coding and All that Jazz

Imperfect SoloSteven Boykey Sidley, author of Imperfect Solo, has written on his blog about the similarities between writing novels and writing code or playing jazz. He worked as a programmer and a videogame developer and has played the saxophone for decades.

“Having embarked on a writing career, and having published a few novels, I was struck again by the doppelganger of coding and jazz. Writing requires long periods of solitude. It requires, to a greater or lesser extent, a body of guidelines and syntax and knowledge (how to write a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a story). But above all, it requires constant and endless improvisation,” Sidley writes.

There was a time in my life when I was a programmer. Or software engineer, in more current parlance. This career in which I laboured during my young adulthood came to me via a university degree in a discipline that served an industry desperate for computer skills. I was living in California at the time, and these skills carried weight. So I was spoiled for choice, my good fortune fueled by lucky timing and external influences rather than personal design (my MSc was completed in large measure to please my father).

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