Initially, I wondered if the computer science course I'm taking would clash too much with participating in the Mark Program. I wondered if the contrasts in subject matter would be disconcerting, and if I'd have to drop the class because it'd be too hard on my writing. Happily, I've found that, though it's true that these two endeavors utilize different parts of my brain--one more objective and formulaic, the other more subjective and experimental--they are, in many ways, cohesive. They're about different types of language striving to create something out of the twenty-six letters of the Roman alphabet and, because of this, they are in some ways illustrative of each other.

To my relief, in computer science a few weeks ago our instructor mentioned offhand that trial and error is a fundamental part of the process of writing both HTML and CSS. When he said this, I sighed in my seat, feeling like a little bit less of a fraud. I'd thought, perhaps, that each of my classmates knew a secret I didn't, and that their web pages were turning out perfectly on their first go, whereas, on every homework assignment, I try and test, retry and retest, making adjustments to the web pages an infinite number of times until they appear precisely as I want them to. The process of constructing web pages is fun and meticulous, extremely satisfying to me when they eventually function as I imagine and, from time to time, frustrating when they don't and I can't figure out why. In many ways, it's a lot like, say, writing fiction.

Thanks to the process of learning HTML, I'm gaining greater clarity about the act of writing as a process of trial and error. Next time, when I'm fearful of an empty white screen or paralyzed by my desire to write something people will want to read, I'm going to try to remember that there is value in pushing one's self, and there is also value in giving one's self permission to try, even if the result isn't even in the realm of perfect. So, though there isn't an element for < novel tone="engaging" voice="honest" theme="moving">, I'm working on it--and I'm going to keep try, try, trying again.< /novel>