A Writer, Developer and Poet Walk Into a Bar…

I don’t know who I am. More precisely, I know that I am (or want to be) a bunch of different things at once — and this is giving me a bit of a crisis of confidence.

Here’s what I know:

I’m a fantasy writer.

I’m a poet.

I’m interested in technology, software and design.

Here’s what I don’t know:

I’m a fantasy writer. Well, sort of, maybe. I’m really into surrealism right now, and the novel I’m writing doesn’t employ any of the ‘traditional’ fantasy tropes — it’s kind of Steampunk but there’s electricity and it’s really a soap opera set in a stately Scottish home (think: Downtown Abbey with magic).

I’m a poet. I think. I mean, I write poems every once in a while. I publish poetry more than I publish my short fiction. Does that make me a poet? Probably.

I’m interested in technology, software and design. I worked as a project manager installing medical software for three years, but I have no formal training in computer science. I’ve never taken a design course. I took an introduction to Python course and made a little choose-your-own-adventure story out of it, but that’s about it.

Here’s the situation:

I love stories.

I’m interested in building a career in either: front end web development, digital design or video games.


I have no formal education is computer science.

I have no formal education in design.

The Conflict

For a long time, these two ‘buts’ have been holding me back from pursuing a career as a developer. I felt (and still do often feel!) that without a formal education in coding and design, there is no way I can break into a career in programming. Isn’t tech for early 20-somethings who have been coding for years? Shouldn’t professional designers have taken more than one Introduction to Art class in university?

I don’t know.

But right now is the time for me to find out. As a PhD student, I have access to university resources, and as a volunteer with a digital social enterprise I have a good platform for exploration. If not now, when?


Here’s my plan for how I’m going to break into tech without years of relevant education under my belt.


Learn What’s Out there

Learn to Code

Showcase What I’ve Already Done

Learn What’s Out There


Let’s start right here, right now. I’ve subscribed to relevant tags (Art, Creativity, Design, Gaming) on Medium, sending inspiring, interesting and education articles to my inbox every morning. Even when I don’t know exactly what the article is about (I’m such a noob), I always learn something. I’ve already learned about digital product design, style guides and FreeCode Camp.

I’ve also subscribed to Code Pen’s Podcast (Code Pen Radio). Code Pen is a social development environment for front-end designers and developers.’ …

Learn to Code


… and since I’ve started FreeCodeCamp, I’m starting to better understand how things are made on Code Pen, using HTML and CSS. (Java Script is still a mystery to me). I’ve been squeezing in the odd hour before work to practice coding on FreeCodeCamp — not as much as I’d like (my coding practice has to compete with my novel) but it’s been really gratifying.

Showcase What I’ve Already Done


I already have a personal writer’s website that’ll do for now and I’ve redesigned the online shop for the social enterprise Uncovered Artistry (they sell the artisan work of domestic and sexual abuse survivors).

Hopefully one of my first coding projects will be to develop a portfolio website.

I’ve got to remember that I have years of professional and educational experience under my belt. A Masters in Creative Writing might seem useless compared to a degree in computer science, but I’ve been honing my storytelling skills for years now; without a doubt I’ll bring a unique perspective to whatever I create.


Okay, so here I go!

Please share your advice and suggestions 🙂

Note: The GIFs I use in this post are from Laura Salaberry. Check her out here.

Angie Spoto is an American fiction writer and poet. Writers who inspire her include Angela Carter, Leonora Carrington, and Ursua Le Guin. Her most recent endeavours include a lyrical essay about her Italian family, a horror fairy tale, and a novel about grief.