I’ve been on pins and needles the past couple of days.
As I said in my last post, I’ve been given the opportunity to write a book on a topic that is near and dear to me (yeah, I’m still being a little cagey because it’s not a done deal, but it’s looking very likely at this point). What helped me talk myself off the edge? Actually, I didn’t, a friend and compatriot did.
To give just a little more back story, I was sent a proposal for a book that ranges in scope from complete beginners to domain experts and everything in between. It’s a title about a technology that I have used in the past, but I felt less than expert at it (and in many ways, less than expert is putting it kindly). However, I was also reminded that I had vivid memories of the frustrations that other people feel when they try to learn something new.
Often we start with trivial projects that we skim through because we feel way too silly actually doing them. They’re so obvious after all. The problem often makes itself manifest after that gentle introduction. Now we’re expected to have fairly deep domain knowledge and a more than passing understanding of what we are working with. It’s like we were introduced gently and with great care to A, B and C… and then we pick back up again with K, O, Q and S. What happened with everything in between?!
The challenge is that we have a lack of context in general and a lack of personal context in particular. Some books get this balance right, while others miss it entirely. Having gone through the process of “Learn Ruby the Hard Way”, I feel like I have had a really good model on how to do it where a natural progression can be shown and developed that is direct and terse where necessary, and also verbose and focused where also necessary. It also makes the point that to get it, you have to do it, and do it often, and do it in different contexts.
Still, I had that nagging feeling… what if I can’t answer the tougher questions. What if I am limited my my own Peter Principle? How can I overcome that? The answer came as an email from a friend and collaborator. He excitedly emailed me and said “Hey, I know this is out of the blue, but how would you like to write a book?!” In his forward was the exact same proposal that I had received. I already know that the level of domain knowledge in this case for my friend is very high,and with that, my prayers were answered. Between us, we think we can do this justice.
And that’s exactly what we proposed, that the two of us work on it together… and the reply back so far is a “yes”. Note, this is very early in the process, and it’s possible that any number of things could prevent this from happening, but I’m choosing not to dwell on that. Instead, I’m going to roll up my sleeves, work with my collaborator, and see if we can hit this one out of the park. Anyway, I can’t wait to tell you what we have up our sleeves, but until we have something notated and signed, y’all are just going to have to wait :).