My voice sounds gravelly and my elbows are drawn into my body. The key presenter of the weeklong writing workshop is telling me that my novel needs much more work. He’s right–I know it–but it’s still hard to hear. I thank him for his time and immediately go to the bar for a glass of wine.
Writers don’t always start with the perfect novel. It takes a lot of hard work, frequently much more than we know.
Ada Lovelace was the daughter of poet Lord Bryon, but her mother wanted her to study math and science, not poetry. At a party when she was 17, Lovelace met Charles Babbage, a renowned mathematician. Babbage then invented the “Analytical Machine,” which was to calculate numbers with the aid of thousands of cogwheels.
Babbage asked Lovelace to translate an 8,000-word academic article about the Analytical Machine into French. She added 20,000 words of her own analysis in a set of notes.
Lovelace’s 1843 Notes were about two and a half times the original article. Babbage later wrote that the author of the Notes has “entered fully into almost all the very difficult and abstract questions connected with the subject.”
These Notes contained what many consider to be the first computer program. A later computer language created for the U. S. Department of Defense was called Ada after Lovelace.
She also had a greater vision than Babbage about what computers could do for us, which was not realized until the last century.
How did Lovelace become such a visionary? I can’t imagine how much extra effort in understanding math and science it took her. But I’ll bet, just like novel writing, she thought it was worth it.