Posts Tagged writing

Posted on Programming

Google docs: formatted for reading

I never like sharing google docs with people—they’re great when you’re editing a document together, but the reading experience could certainly be better. I don’t like the default styles, and even when specifically formatting a document for reading, there’s a lot going on to distract from that experience. And there’s no dark-mode for the web.

In the past, I’ve gone so far as to design PDFs or even webpages for viewing, but keeping two instances of what is essentially the same document up-to-date is a pain. Unfortunately, one of the great joys and terrors of being a programmer is that, in most cases, when you want to, you can just make things yourself.

Which is all to say that I made a Google Doc viewer. Google docs, formatted for viewing. It automatically styles the document—we’re talking typeface, colours, line-height and text indent; titles, headings, sections, and styles for the first line and letter of each section.

It recognizes Google’s headings, titles and section breaks, but it also supports markdown style headings.

# Heading 1
## Heading 2
### Heading 3
#### Heading 4

It recognizes Google’s bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough, and it also supports some markdown styling.


And it automatically generates a table of contents (when applicable), which it to show your current position in the document.

2. Mercy is bold because that’s the section it’s currently scrolled to.

There are two progress bars along the bottom that reflect how far you are into the current section as well as the document as a whole.

And the best part is that if I change the Google document it automatically comes through to the viewer. I never have to share a raw Google doc again. I can link to instead.

Here’s a sample document—no table of contents though, since there’s only one heading in this document.

Posted on Books

A terrible novel or two

In the challenging-myself-to-do-ridiculous-things-just-to-see-if-I-can category: in 2020 I wrote a novel in a month. It was so bad. So, so bad.

But that’s okay! The point wasn’t to write a good novel.

For one and a half to three hours a day (however long it took to reach ~1700 words), and right before bedtime, I sat at my computer frantically typing. I hated every moment of it, which is how you know a challenge is truly funny. The best jokes are the ones you play on yourself.

After all that, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson. But, no. Instead I roped a bunch of friends into a shared goal for 2021: writing another bad novel, but with a twist (there wasn’t much of a twist). I would do a bit more planning and try to make it slightly less terrible. Still bad though. That was important.

I finished it on my birthday (the eighteenth of April), which meant I accomplished the first part, if maybe not the second. But in stranger news, I’ve now written two novels in six months. Which is kind of neat!

They are very, very different.

Interestingly, I found I my wordcount didn’t seem to scale linearly with time when compared against last year – a thousand words a night in about an hour. So either I’ve become faster at spewing words, or there’s some cutoff point between the two where I slow down. I’d guess the latter.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the first book, unedited and honestly just untouched from when I first clickity-clacked it out all those months ago – maybe you’ll hate it! Weirdly, I don’t. It’s bad but I don’t hate it.

“Come here, boy.” My grandfather called from the doorway, his voice rough.  A silhouette against the dawn’s light.  He was a tall, weathered man, his height barely blunted by age.

It took him two steps to reach the hearth.  Even in shadow its embers were dull against the morning light.  He took up a stick and began to poke at them, coaxing what life he could.  

I could feel the twigs and leaves under the callowskin insulating me from the cold earth. I pushed myself to my feet shivering against the cold, and shuffled over to join him at the hearth as he tossed in another log and the air was flooded with dust and ash.

He knelt before me, his hands on my shoulders and his expression stern.

“Winter’s time is ending, and you know what that means.”

I looked at him blankly, sleep still dragging on my mind.  Not yet fully alert as is the privilege of one who knows he is safe.  My grandfather pursed his lips and shook his head ever so slightly.

“The assessment is in a fortnight.” 

I felt my eyes widen.  Two weeks.  The cabin softened; my grandfather’s face was no more than a blur before me as tears welled in my eyes.

“Easy, boy.” His voice was gruff and I could picture vividly the stern look that must have taken his warbling face.  “None of that, now.”

I suppressed a sniffle and rubbed my eyes with my palms.

“That’s two weeks to ensure you’re ready.”

I nodded to him, barely listening, not sure what to think and my mind thrashing for it.  He mistook the cause of my concern and smiled at me.

“You’ll catch someone’s eye, boy, we’ll see to it.  See to your chores and we’ll do some training.”  He nodded again, this time to himself.  And with that I staggered through the still open door, and out of the cabin.  Just two weeks until my life would change forever.

Thank you for accompanying me on this generic first-person, past-tense, in a fantasy world journey. That is all.