Some people have expressed surprise that I'm still programming. Yes I am.
I had an idea for what I wanted to do when I was 22, and I've pretty much stuck with it. I've had a few detours and setbacks. Some pretty big setbacks. But I kept going. I've always been straight about it. I guess a lot of people didn't believe me. I could tell. And it doesn't feel good, when people -- especially friends -- humor you. Sort of like "isn't it cute the old dude thinks he's a developer." One of the things that comes with age is patience, with stupidity. :-)
I am 57 and I am a programmer, the same way Martin Scorcese is 70 and is a movie director. Or Ron Howard is 59, and Rob Reiner is 66. And that's just film. It's not unusual for people who decided in their teens or twenties that they were going to be creative in a certain field to stay with it through their lives. I heard an interview recently with Austrian actor Christoph Waltz (56), that he considered at a low point in his career possibly being creative in some other area -- painting, or music -- but realized he'd have to put in another 20 years to get started, and when you get going with a career, you know how important the head-start is.
Jeff Bridges is 63.
I didn't get into programming because I saw it as a way to get wealthy, although I have made enough money to be financially independent. But there's a catch. I was financially independent when I was broke too. If you've chosen a creative path, or more likely if you're compelled by it, or obsessed, or posessed even -- well, it's not about money. It's about expression. It's about bringing change to the world, it's about being the change. This is not a cliche for me because I've always made tools that were first and foremost designed to help me express.
At 57, yes, probably most of my creative years are behind me. But the best ones are right here and now.
Why am I so productive again? Because I've hooked up with an excellent programming partner. Every day I revel at how good this guy is. He's 28. Not better than I am, and I am not better than him. We are different, and part of the difference is age. Fargo is very much a product of two generations. This is hardly unprecedented, in most creative areas it's the most common thing. Hitchcock worked with young writers and actors, editors, designers. If you want to take a long-term view of an art, you have to have cross-generational sharing. Otherwise you never get anywhere. Yet of course the prevailing wisdom in tech says there's nothing there. That's part of the reason our ship is sailing in circles. :-)
I did my work on blogging and RSS in my 40s. Before that I worked on outlining in my 20s and 30s. Programming languages and databases all throughout. But my real work has been myself. Developing a base of experience that can't come any other way other than by living a creative life.
So if you think creativity in programming is only for the very young, you're thinking about it wrong. I suspect you're probably not yourself a programmer. Yes, some arts and sports do thrive off the youth of their participants, but there's Carmelo Anthony and there's Coach Woodson. Walt Frazier and Red Holtzman. Want to be inspired? Go see Any Given Sunday. That's what I'm talking about.