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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Tuesday September 30, 2003
12:57 AM

Booooks In Spaaaaaace!

[ #14971 ]
Actually, Books in Production. Well, one. I have two more that are close, two more behind them, and a couple flapping in the breeze. I need to be cloned! Or, as the pointy-haired boss says, "work smarter, not harder."

Someone should have told Jarkko that--he busted his nut getting 5.8.1 out the door. I'll bet he's slapping his forehead now, as he lifts his face from the table where he passed out, clears a path through the empty Scotch bottles to the door, and bellows to whoever's in earshot "why the fuck didn't I just work smarter?!"

Because, obviously, it's not that easy. Some things just take a lot of time. And editing is one of those things. If a book's well-written, I still have to read every bloody word because even writing well doesn't mean it's perfect. I read like the intended audience, catching terms that might confuse them and saying "hey, that makes me ask question X--you should answer that question here."

And the badly-written ones ... that's a whole nother kettle of fish. Reordering clauses in sentences, rewriting sentences, covering a page in red and writing on the back an outline for what should have been on that page. It's really hard to do this--I always feel guilty that I haven't just rewritten the offending material, but I know that that course of action is just not sustainable. My heart's always with the author who has to try and glean from my writing what I want him or her to write.

Fortunately, my situation isn't that dire at the moment. I have one web book in production and I just need to beat a few more paragraphs out of the authors. I have a Perl book waiting for my attention, the Template Toolkit one, but I need to get the highly urgent Mac OS X book done first. The OS X book has to be timed for release with Panther--no mean feat given that even Apple doesn't know when Panther's coming out. So the authors are scrambling to finish and I'm scrambling to turn around edits on their chapters ASAP.

And none of these are crap. I fear there lurks at least crappus maximus in the next few months, but fortunately my immediate pain is caused by quantity, not quality.

In my very short-term future, it's time for something completely different. Raley turns 2 on Wednesday, and we're having a baby group party on Tuesday before the family event on Wednesday. And next Monday I fly to Sebastopol for an editors meeting. I'm really looking forward to meeting the people I work with, particularly a few of the new hires. Sarah in New York, for instance, turns out to be a Jet Li fan (HK kung fu movies, in fact) and drinks. I foresee long nights slurring Wong Fei-Hung adoration into our Guinnesses. And Lorrie, an editor I've already met, is bringing her mandolin for Irish music-making. Oh yes. Fun will be had. The question is: will we get any work done? But what a boring question.


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  • I don't think there is a "Work Smarter" solution because the madness of ego and whatever else goes into making you work for free like that is likely an affliction that has no intelligence. Thankfully, the dog only occasionally got jealous of the laptops getting all the attention.

    There are times that I think that some day, in the not terribly distant future, we're going to look back and wonder what the hell we were smoking to have burnt the prime of our lives on something so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

    • by gnat (29) on 2003.09.30 9:41 (#24578) Journal
      There are times that I think that some day, in the not terribly distant future, we're going to look back and wonder what the hell we were smoking to have burnt the prime of our lives on something so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
      Well, yes! The whole reason your contributions (and those of other people like Jarkko and you) are noteworthy are because they're exceptional--disproportionate to the norm, the commonly-accepted right amount of effort for the benefits. When you move on in your life, it's almost inevitable that you'll look back and go "boy, that was a ridiculous amount of effort."

      If it's any help, I think George Bernard Shaw's quote applies here:

      "Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."
      • I think Twain was a bit more grounded in reality :)

        "Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion."

        Progress is getting past folly in your youth.

          • Progress is getting past folly in your youth.

          Since we're in the quoting mood, I think that these lines from a nice poem ("Berryman," by W.S. Merwin, from Flower & Hand (Copper Canyon Press).) featured today on Garrison Keillor's excellent Writer's Almanac [] are appropriate:

          don't lose your arrogance yet he said
          you can do that when you're older
          lose it too soon and you may
          merely replace it with vanity

          It may be arrogant to assume, in the great scheme of things, that any progress is being made, but pleas

          • "There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it." -- Twain

            One must assume that progress is being made lest we be reminded that meaning and meaninfulness are vastly different things as we stand tired and alone holding an empty cup. I like Mr. Twain not only because he is a Missourian like myself and Give 'em Hell Harry, but also because he doesn't sugarcoat reality. I like W.S. Merwin but he's a bit too flowery for my taste and my pondering more than 3 years to the chipper for something that, in internet time, will be all but forgotten in the blink of an eye. Pity we aren't stone masons.

          • Let the old chaps be wise, and the arrogant youth accomplish great things :)

            Quoting mood continued :

            Je n'ai pas besoin de m'occuper de ce que je ferai plus tard. Je devais faire ce que je fais. Je n'ai pas besoin de découvrir quelles choses je découvrirai plus tard. Dans la nouvelle science, chaque chose vient à son tour, telle est son excellence. -- Isidore Ducasse, comte de Lautréamont, Poésies II.

            (Free translation : I don't need to care about what I will do later. I

    • That's why I don't take on many projects these days. I took on MacPerl for what I knew to be a limited time. I don't mind "busting my nut" for a short period of time, as long as I can see an end to it, and I don't do it again for a long time. Maybe I'll do something else like that someday. (I'll still get a MacPerl 5.8.x out, but that will likely be quite simple compared to 5.6.x, as it's just doing a rebuild and some testing, maybe a few patches, and I won't let it get in the way of life, rather wait u