Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hasta La Vista, baby

But what did he say when he came back?

I think he just grunted.

I've been busy. With this. But now I'm back (perhaps not every week since there are three more chapters to write).

When I've started this Blog the idea was "blog at least once a week." Nobody will read a blog unless there's content, once a week. Just say something, have a point of view.

That's easy - once a week - easy.

Said he.

A while back I thought "I'll write another Erlang book." I feel stressed here, put upon. At the last (every) Erlang conference they say "when are you going to write another book?" - I say "soon." I approached a few publishers (the BIG ones, I won't embarrass them by saying who).

They said "no".

I said "why".

They said, "there is no market"

Chicken and egg.

Then I discovered Print-on-demand and the Lua book, I mailed Roberto Ierusalimschy, we exchanged a few emails. I thought "I'll start a publishing company." I'll be my own publisher.

I had great dreams "We'll be like Faber and Faber", I'll be T.S.Eliot we'll publish great books, beautiful books, wonderful books, books that make you make you think, with code, code that makes you cry, code that makes you think...

Cool, cool, we'll published Erlang books, Haskell books, Clean books, Prolog books, this is an art form, let's create some art, lets publish art.

He called it the "art of computer programming", remember ...

I'd found my publisher - me - great - no grovelling letters to publishers.

I wrote to the Erlang list "I'm going to write a book..." I've got a publisher.

A few days passed ...

"Hi my name is X.Y ... I'm a friend of Dave and Andy, ..., would you like to talk to them ..."

"Talk sure, no harm in talking."

I mailed Dave - I said "convince me that you can sell more books than I can sell." - come on if I give up my dreams of being T.S.Eliot then something has to give.

And so I started work. Dave said "the first thing you have to do is find a voice" - like, ummm, I've got a voice, hello.

He said "write a few chapters" we'll fix the voice.

He said "Joe you sound like you're standing on a mountain preaching, I want you to imagine you're sitting at a terminal with your friend beside you, explaining how things work."

I struggled - he re-wrote bits of my text - like "this" he wrote.

When I started I thought "who is my audience." I had in my mind the Erlang crowd. As I wrote we re-focused - it became "the Java programmer who has heard about Erlang and wonders what it is."


Sorry, Guys (Erlang Guys) this one is not for you, you know this stuff


Yesterday it happen. It clicked. I'd been feeling tense, nervous, hyper. It happens like this - ask Helen.

I wrote the otp introduction chapter. The book's in beta so this chapter was not yet written. I went into pure flow. I wrote for three hours in your time ten seconds in mine. Then the tension dropped, I felt expunged, cleansed, relaxed.

Then I read what I'd written.

In the gen_server there's a function called terminate with two arguments (terminate/2).

So I called the section "Hasta La Vista, baby."

I would never ever have written that six months ago.

I found a new voice I didn't know I had.

Thanks Dave, for helping me find a new voice.

Enjoy the book.