Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Are You Building?

One way of looking at the world is that we spend a lot of our time building stuff. I sit in meetings with computer engineers and developers who are spending their days building one part of the Internet. It's really a new version of an old task. Some people are building families, some are researching, some are creating.

We work and live in many buildings that were built by people long ago, and we're all living atop a giant construction project of knowledge, learning, truths, art, and literature that was built for us by the people who came before.

I have special fondness for people who spend their entire day building, who not only work during the day, but also spend their free time trying to build something lasting for the world.

What are you building?

Photo by Robert Thompson via Creative Commons






87 comments:

Ted Cross said...

Well, it's hard but I am trying to help build better relations between the US and other countries. That and some publishable novels.

Richard Gibson said...

I'm trying to build awareness of history and historic architecture in Butte, Montana (as a tour guide), understanding of the Chinese experience in America (at the Mai Wah museum), and understanding of America's dependency on imported everything for our daily lives (in my book).

stickynotestories said...

Other than the worlds I build in my imagination, I'm self-confidence and a sense of myself. And I'm trying to build a world of less poisons at my #dayjob by testing for them and cleaning them up.

Harriet Smart said...

I've noticed that all the people I like best in the world are people who are builders, as you describe it. They are making something out of nothing, be it writing or painting or starting businesses or gardening. My husband writes software and we've found that our creative paths run alongside eachother very nicely (I'm a novelist) And it isn't that these people are successful or not that makes them so attractive to me - it is the fact that they are trying. That's the important thing - the spark inside that makes them so vivid as people.

Munk said...

Building up speed...

Ted Fox said...

To paraphrase Seinfeld (man, I do that way too much), I'm building a repository of shallow, fairly obvious observations.

Relatively inconsequential in and of themselves, perhaps, but if they make someone laugh, mission accomplished.

Samantha G said...

I'm building an alternate universe. And the world's best cake, one layer of chocolate sponge at a time...

RobynBradley said...

Me, as a brand.

Chris Phillips said...

I like Robyn's answer. I second.

Josh said...

I write software in the morning and create fantasy worlds in the evening and on weekends, when I'm not preoccupied with my newborn child.

This building thing is a lot of effort. But it's worth it.

Gryvon said...

At work, I build parts of web pages for telcos/ISPs. Outside of work, I'm building software for convention event planning, baked goods, and fiction. ^_^

Anonymous said...

Chaos

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

What a lovely way of looking at the world!

Tsana Dolichva said...

Like many others here, the writer part of me is building worlds. The day job part of me is building up our knowledge of astrophysics.

abc said...

Such a wonderful thing to think about, and damnit if it doesn't cut right to the bone. What am I building? God, I hope something great!

I'm trying (trying) to build communities, awareness, connection, understanding, relationships, and possibilities for adolescents. I'm trying to build a life that has meaning and brings me contentedness. I'm trying to build a life of color, whimsy, magic, kindness, science, wonder, art, fellowship, and humor for my daughter.

All my life trying, but at least I am trying.

Stefanie said...

The idea of building and construction something is amazing. Especially when alot of us spend our time not building but in a state of busyness.

Anonymous said...

What are you building, Nathan?

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

I'm helping to build online communities at CNET and here on the blog, and novels on the weekends.

Karen L. Simpson said...

I'm trying to build better relations between different cultures and races through my novels and my work as historic preservationist.

Lindsey Lane said...

I'm building a teen into an adult who can launch herself in the world. She's building a mother into an adult who can let go.

mary-j-59 said...

What a great post, Nathan! As a librarian, I like to think that I am building community, knowledge, and possibly even wisdom. As a writer, I hope I am conveying a world and characters that seem true and lovable. As a human being, I, like all of us, am helping to build my own soul through my actions and interactions. I like to think that I can have a positive impact in all these roles. What can I say? I'm an optimist, I guess! But there isn't one person on this planet who isn't building something in the sense you mean.

Neat post! Will retweet - though you hardly need a push from me!

Christina Katz said...

Nice, Nathan. :)

I'm building a happy family, a writing career (have been for 12 years), and a 120K-word book.

I devote a lot of time and passion to my work and make sure that others benefit.

Sierra McConnell said...

Right now? I'm trying to build myself a way out of a very bad situation. CALL ME BACK PROFESSIONAL LEASING AGENT.

Bryce Daniels said...

As naive as it may sound, I am trying to build a better world for our children. How? I am working on a grassroots movement, starting in the faith communities, to get a moment of silence observed in the schools each morning. I call it "A Pause for Peace."
I understand why people would object to public prayer, but what's wrong with our kids reflecting on what it is to be human, what it means to care about each other, what it takes to think before pulling out the weapons?
Good seeds make better trees.
Okay, I could really get going here, so I better get off my stump now.

Akoss said...

I'm building the world of my next writing project. The only time I get to seriously work on it is of course after my day job. :)

wry wryter said...

It’s odd really but when I think about what I’m building I realize I’ve almost completed my project and I only have a moment left to finish.
I have built a future and it is now.
None of us are guaranteed to see our projects done, whether they are buildings, books, or brands. It is the planning and the process of the project which makes life sweet.
To meet our own end without regret and be proud of the structures we have completed is the goal.

Ms. Trite says:
Monuments of accomplishment eventually crumble.
Contrary to what ‘they’ say I’m taking ‘it’ with me.
What is ‘it’? She ain’t telling.

Laurel said...

My writing is important to me, but if my family needs me, writing must wait. I am definitely a family builder, but what I think is most remarkable about your post is that you see a family builder as a thing of value. So few do.

Sasha Barin said...

I'm building what I hope to become a way for myself and others to be more generous with each other.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to build a bridge between cultures.

Is the pic from Turkey??

Timothy Nies said...

I am building a world for the gods, you know, to return the favor :)

Anonymous said...

A stone BBQ. Seriously.

I started collecting the stones on my property two years ago and this summer I'm going for it.

As for writing, I'm just trying to meet deadlines and keep people happy.

Other Lisa said...

I'd really like to post something eloquent here, because it's a great question, but I'm too damn tired.

So, novels that say something about how the world works, in my experience. And maybe how the world might work better. But that are fun to read.

Alexis Grant said...

I love this question, because it's a round-about way of asking people about their dreams. I'm building a community around my blog/book and credibility as a journalist. But most importantly, I'm building a lifestyle, putting a whole bunch of pieces together to create the life I want to live.

P.S. Love the book trailer!

Tana Adams said...

What a beautiful sentence this is, "We work and live in many buildings that were built by people long ago, and we're all living atop a giant construction project of knowledge, learning, truths, art, and literature that was built for us by the people who came before."

You are truly an artist who sees the world through a unique lens.

I'm building entire universes in each of my four children, worlds in my novels, and great connections right here on the web.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm trying to build a story that will hopefully someday grow into a legendarium, even if it's only in my own mind.

I've already built a family that is the most wonderful thing in my life (when my kids are behaving).

My company is building ... well hopefully profits that will result in raises and bonuses for all, without taking too much advantage of the world or our customers, but I can't talk about my job online.

Christina said...

I try to build confidence and life-long learners in my students. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not. But even if I don't complete the creation of a life-long lover of learning, I at least lay down the foundation or build a little more on the foundation that is there.

I build whole universes in my fantasy and science fiction novels.

I build a virtual storage place of my random bookish thoughts in my blog.

I try to build relationships and hope with everyone I meet.

D.G. Hudson said...

Besides building worlds for my novels? Isn't it the writers/authors of today that will build the legacy for tomorrow's writers? Their work may not all be literary, but could instead be well-loved books in any genre or any level. In my own way, I hope to help build that by writing my stories.

In addition, I have a blog, 21st Century Women:
http://dghudson.blogspot.com/ in which I try to post on issues which women face in daily life: e.g., coping with children who are ill, moving, our changing times, and even dealing with the death of a family pet. I also plan to post on some issues with elder care, etc. It's still evolving.

Building awareness is something a writer can do better than others. With the gift of using words effectively, public opinion can be influenced in a good or bad way.

Interesting question, Nathan, will you tell us what you're building?

D.G. Hudson said...

Sorry Nathan, I see you answered the 'what are you building' question already!

J. T. Shea said...

Excellent metaphor, Nathan. We can all be builders. Or demolition men. My father was a builder, and I have often compared my process in planning and writing novels to his in planning and building houses. I've helped him and others build houses, walls, roads, sewers and boats.

Thanks for the great pic of the scaffolding under the Hagia Sophia's famous dome, the largest in the world for over a thousand years. Indeed we stand upon the shoulders of giants!

Richard, my maternal grandmother was born in Butte and emigrated to Ireland on the Lusitania, contrary to the general trend of the time. The Butte Courthouse looks fantastic on your website.

Anonymous 8:55 am, the Hagia Sophia is indeed in Turkey. It was built 1,500 years ago as a church dedicated to Holy Wisdom, personified as St. Sophia, in Constantinople, then capital of the Eastern Empire. A thousand years later the Turkish Ottoman Empire captured the city, renamed it Istanbul, and turned the church into a mosque, thereby ensuring its preservation, somewhat ironically.

BEHEMOTH, the second book in Scott Westerfeld's excellent YA Steampunk Trilogy, is set largely in Istanbul, and should both entertain and educate teenagers of all ages!

Devena said...

I guess I'm trying to build some understanding of everyone and everything around me. People and situations are so very mysterious and complex so much of the time, aren't they? Talking to people, or talking with the world through stories... it's all about trying to understand... everything:)

5pocketphilosopher said...

I'm building alternate worlds for people to get lost in, live in, and learn in. It looks a lot like the world we live in, but not nearly as mundane and as unexciting.

Erik said...

I've been thinking a lot about this lately in the terms of Consumer vs. Creator. I've been trying to consume less food, electricity, gasoline, vodka (just kidding, I still drink like a Siberian). And I've been creating more by self-pubbing my novel, starting a blog, tweeting, etc. When everything nets out, I hope to have the Creator side of the scale weighs a little more.

Chuck H. said...

I've been building a memory for my kids, grandkids and great-grands to carry into the future. I've been passing on the traditions of my ancestors and telling the stories of their exploits while creating a few of my own. I guess you could say I've been ensuring my immortality.

Oh, and a large beer gut without the aid of beer.

P. Kirby said...

A dining room. We're contracting out the slab, but the rest will be all our labor.

For the sake of family harmony as we are tired of jamming everyone into our tiny kitchen for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

And no, we're not new to DIY. We've already built a barn, two sheds and artist's workshop on the property.

Nancy Kelley said...

As a library worker, I try to build an awareness of knowledge and information. It's not enough to take patrons to the books they want; I want them to understand how to find them, and what other resources they might consider.

Jaimie said...

Right now? A fully-completed version of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That's ALL the skulltulas, baby!

That is, when I'm not writing or doing the day job. :P

Matthew Lang said...

A scarf.

No seriously. A scarf.

Grey cable knit if you must know.

Michael Offutt said...

Nathan, why do you work at CNET since you have a huge publishing contract?

Ella Schwartz said...

I'm building a legacy: something to leave behind. My legacy consists of many things, but here are some of the most important:
1. My children - they are the reason I work so hard. I am investing everything I have into them, and I hope they will do amazing things,
2. My novel - this is something I hope can be read for generations,
3. A safer world - my day job in Internet Security strives to make the Internet a safer place.

Mira said...

For some reason, I'm feeling alittle shy today - this is a question that is very close to my heart. But I'm hoping to do something that helps people in some way - there's so much pain and suffering in the world, and so much of it could be healed. I'd like to contribute and help with that.

On a different note, I have watched your book trailer several times, Nathan, it's just so fun. I keep coming back to it and watching it again. If you ever give up this social networking gig, you could undoubtedly have a highly successful career as book trailer designer. In case you're interested.

M. C. Dinh said...

I want to range further than life can ever let me go. The only way I know how to build that world beyond this one is within a novel. And as a writer, I want to share that world with others.

Mr. D said...

You call it building, I call it creating. Whatever... I create art. I create music. And I create stories in novels that at the same time are entertaining, exciting and will contribute to the betterment of society and the global community.

But during my day job, I develop the minds of young people to prepare them for a world that might not be so gentle when they're old enough to brave it alone.

Catherine said...

I'm building my sanity with Jenga blocks...

I'm really trying to build solid relationships with people on a foundation of trust and love. It's even more challenging than my sanity project.

Then there's the novels, which with all the reediting is forming slower than the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.

Ulysses said...

I love building!

1) Family.
2) Memories.
3) A career.
4) Some stories.
5) My own knowledge.
6) Happiness.
7) A castle out of lego with my daughter.
8) Faith.
9) The world's best steak sandwich.
10) Contradictions.
11) A life.
12) Neural pathways.
13) Muscle mass.
14) A genetic heritage.
15) Relationships.
16) And, of course, a Super-Destructo ray, because sometimes building stuff gets dull.

Ed Miracle said...

I am creating a vision of a technology that empowers people to advance their themselves in a positive and powerful new moral direction. Which would be vastly unpopular among the vested interests. Working title: FREEMAKER.

Kate Gallison said...

What am I building? It feels like nothing much, after all this time. It feels as if I were propping things up more than building: the church, the city of Lambertville, the family. When I'm not here anymore people may notice that stuff has fallen down, and they may say, "Well, she kept it propped up." But I don't think anyone will claim that I built it.

Mira said...

Kate,

I disagree. Maintaining something, stabilizing it, keeping it vital and healthy is powerful and essential work. Strengthening a foundation is just as important as building something new, although it is work that is often done quietly.

Anonymous said...

Self esteem .

Doug said...

What Kate and Mira said. My life has almost always been one of repairing and adapting whatever others have built, after those others have decided to go build something else.

Jen P said...

Ongoing, I hope I am building a foundation for my girls' lives, characters and their future, in which they see that we are capable of almost anything we put our minds to. And that they will contribute positively to future society.

Short-term, I am currently building awareness of the UK children's charity Whizz-Kidz, through running the London Marathon for them on Sunday (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/jenrunsforwhizzkidz), arranging a schools' creative competition (part judged by author Ali Sparkes), with the sponsorship and backing of lots of friends, local businesses, schools and supporters.

Long-term plan, building greater understanding of an ethnic minority and various European nations and a small piece of history, through my novel.

Hmm, interesting conception. I seem to like building.

Jen P said...

Oh, and I forgot, Easter bonnets. We're piecing those together in layers tomorrow. :-)

MJR said...

I'm trying to build a novel, but it frequently collapses and then I have to check the blueprint again and rewrite it. It's hard. I'm also trying to a build a community at the environmental blog I write with a friend...having more success with that than with novel-building.

Anonymous said...

Servers that fill backend farms that power such things as...blogger.com and nearly every nook and cranny of the internet. Including bits delivered to everything from the PC under your desk to the ones on you iPad. It's an invisible building block that 95% of end users know nothing about but impacts every aspect of their life.

Melissa said...

I researched my target market carefully before I began to write, so I’m building something that I already know a certain portion of female romance readers crave but cannot find. So they turn away from my genre (romance) and read horror, suspense and thrillers instead. I’m building a story for them – a love story – that entertains and moves them. I’m building characters they can relate to and grow to love. I’m building hope (and I hope it’s not false hope) that there is a Mr. Almost Perfect out there for them. ☺

Kristi Helvig said...

I'd say I'm trying to build a better world but that makes me sound like I'm running for Miss America. But I do try to make the world better by building relationships--whether it's with clients, family, friends, or readers. I'm an introverted people-person. :)

February Grace said...

I'm trying to build a future amidst a never changing array of challenges.

One small step at a time, even when at times it feels like I'm going backwards.

I miss the nonprofit stuff I used to be healthy enough for. It fed the soul as nothing else I've ever done.

~bru

February Grace said...

sheesh- 'never changing?" talk about a slip. It should have been ever changing but I realize that the constant battle is my health so it feels like it's never changing.

Yikes. *face/palm*

Carol Newman Cronin said...

A kitchen counter! Your post reminded me of my own recent one, Building a Counter to Better Writing: http://www.livewirepress.com/wordpress/index.php/2011/02/27/building-a-counter-to-better-writing/

Debra Erfert said...

I used my hands to build a new part of our house onto the old. . . I used my imagination and heart to build great memories in my children. . . I paint history onto canvas . . . I build fictional lives with only words, and I love it.

davidgaughran said...

I'm building replicas of forgotten moments in time, scrawling names in the margins of history books.

tanya said...

I can relate to Lindsay's comment about building a teen who is also building me. I am also building books—actual made-of-paper books. I build other people's books at work and my own at home. And now that I read that each e-reader has a comparable carbon footprint to 70 or more actual books, I build books without apology.

Jeff S Fischer said...

I have no idea, not even a guess, whether or not what I am building will last, and to be honest, I don't care much. I just like it, the building. But, it seems to me, Mr. Nathan, your new job is interesting for you. Life is good, ah? Thank you as always, even if I forget to say it sometimes.

Megan said...

I am building a family, and an identity separate from it. I am slowly transforming dependent children into independent adults.I am nourishing my creativity by writing a novel. I am growing new friendships through my blog.

M.A.Leslie said...

I am building a family, friendship, and a writing career along with the other one.
Nathan, because of you blogs, forums, and general teachings I have found a path in the writing niche.
I am glad to have been able to read anything you write and am proud to have "internet met you." Today my wife and I thanked you and others and if you are interested, check it out.
maleslie1.blogspot.com

Claude Nougat said...

Good question! And I love the pix, what is it? That wild, unfinished church in Barcelona?

Judging from the comments we are all BUSY, BUSY building (and that's FUN!)...But what about results?

Gabrielle said...

Nathan you are such an inspiration to me and strengthen my faith that good people can and do still influence the world around them.

I hope our paths cross someday (even though you're no longer an agent).

Gabrielle

wendy said...

I'm trying to build faith in the positive and reject the negative. For too long I've had too much belief in the things I don't want but manifested because of the mental energy I've put into this side of life. It's very hard but I'll never give up. I'm also building a relationship with the unseen, the Holy Trinity, which gives the greatest satisfaction this life has ever given. I'd like to spend more time building fantasy worlds for readers to explore and have great adventures in, but I have created a few new worlds with words. Whether they're worthy of visitors, yet, I'm not sure.

Thanks for building this world, Nathan, and everyone. :)

Anonymous said...

Whether we're building relationships,a career,or, something we just really feel passionate about,we should take care not to destroy it,by our own reckless actions.

Holly said...

I think everyone should take the advice of anon and build a stone BBQ. You never know when you might need a cooking method that doesn't require electricity. (If you like your coffee hot, pay attention.)

The city I live in was hit by a nasty earthquake recently, so there isn't a lot of building going on. More like unbuilding, or perhaps deconstruction might be a more articulate word. Finishing off what the earthquake started. Many of us have had to build outhouses in our gardens though...does that count?

Whatever we build, I think it's kind of important to give some thought to what will happen if it all falls down. Our "buildings" can, and do collapse, on an individual level, and on a societal one. Sometimes that means they weren't built properly in the first place, and that we need to take them apart and put them back together again. Just use a better design. With stronger foundations.
Then again, sometimes things can't be rebuilt. Or shouldn't be. Like some of my novels.

(Oops...sorry...I think that along with copious amounts of silt--or liquefaction as the geo-scientists call it--the earthquake may have also forced my philosophical leanings to the surface...I beg your forgiveness.)

I also urge you all to follow Matthew's lead and build a scarf too--you might need one to tend the BBQ if you're forced to use it outside of BBQ season...

And anon, re reckless actions, I'll second that.

Holly said...

Matthew-

Cable knit rocks. Is there a matching hat in the pipeline? Mittens, perhaps?

A.M Hudson said...

I'm building my knowledge of how to write good query letters so I can get my book published. lol. Shallow pursuit of fulfilment? Probably, but it makes me feel whole. : )

Chelsea said...

World after world after world.

J. T. Shea said...

Claude Nougat, it's the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. See my explanation above. The Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona has no dome, but lots of spires. Wild is indeed the word!

ted said...

building a road from the moon to the sun:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmldYlWvujY

Pamala Owldreamer said...

I am building a novel of speculation.A "what if" book about an evolved race of alternative humans.
Not vampires,werewolves or ghosts, but a completely new race of highly evolved humans that co-exist undetected, by ordinary humans.
With my writing,I am building a stepping stone to a new future for myself and hopefully a novel told with a new voice and a story fresh enough and interesting enough to catch and agent and/or publishers eye.
I am slowing building a following on my blog,Dream the Dream,7 followers now. Hey,I said I said it was slow.
But most important to me,I am building knowledge,ability,and confidence in myself as a writer.
Maybe someday I will even be a great writer with published books!
I am building my own dream!

Rebecca Kiel said...

A community for me and my family in our new town, a writing career, and yesterday, baking soda volcanos with the kids.

Crystal Chameleo said...

For my day job, I'm building a more successful client loyalty program by focusing on engagement with internal and external clients.
At night, I'm building a world my 17 year old protagonist struggles to escape. Lately, I've been building a social media strategy as I learn more about the publishing business and what's expected of new authors.

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