Posts tagged with “software developer”

Creative Path Series I: Al Zacklen

Tuesday, 20 July, 2010

The Meerkat Creative Path series kicks off with writer, drawer, designer Al Zacklen. Al is the designer of the Meerkat logo and our ‘go to’ guy for website questions.


I am a 30-something software developer who would prefer to spend his time writing and drawing, often both at the same time. With a full-time and very demanding job it is difficult to make these more than hobbies, but I’d like to change that as soon as possible.

I have a very new blog at, and I will soon be putting examples of my writing here. You can see one of my drawings in the header of the website you’re currently reading.

1. How long have you been writing? How did you get started with it?

I’ve been writing ever since I was old enough to browse through the vast collection of books my parents had collected. In particular my dad had a fascinating selection of old sci-fi which inspired me to think up many bizarre stories and kept me speculating ever since.

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

Right now it’s a hobby, but …

3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

I do struggle, but I have recently been focusing more seriously on making time. I have set up a blog for myself and I will be putting the first few chapters of a story I am working on there – this is my way of prodding myself to work on completing it, since other people will be able to read it and give feedback. It’s not easy to write in the evenings after a work day, but once I get going it’s a lot of fun.

4. If this is your full time job, how did you achieve this?

It isn’t, but I am lucky enough to be in a position to make it a serious part of my working day very soon.

5. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

Luckily for me I haven’t had anyone telling me I shouldn’t give up my current day job. As for negative criticism… if it’s valid, I’m happy to listen. You can’t please everyone all of the time, so I believe one can choose what one wishes to take to heart. It’s still your work, after all.

6. What would your dream project be?

I’ve already begun. I’ve wanted to complete a full-length novel for a long time and I am now working hard to get there. Keep an eye on my blog for a preview.

7. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

For fun, I submitted a short story for the 2003 ITSF competition, which got me a place in the top five. That boosted my confidence somewhat.

8. What does creativity mean to you?

Building something awesome when you didn’t know you knew how.

9. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

For anyone who is just starting on a creative path, whether it is your first novel, first drawing or first software application: Don’t be shy about showing other people what you’re working on. I have learned a lot from others, whether I liked what they told me or not – particularly how to take criticism without taking it personally.