Wow. Writing can be a royal pain in the posterior. Not that I am that terribly caught off guard, as I've written smaller things before. But working on THE BOOK is a far sight removed from writing proposals for TPC, or articles for TPJ. Even the paper I gave at the SCM workshop of ICSE-17 was a major effort of research, revision and rewriting. But this is the first time I've faced a task of this scope and scale. And I've found it to be overwhelming at times, even a touch frightening on those nights that the words seem determined to stay beyond my reach.
Much of my initial struggle has been fairly typical, though. I've had to wrestle with learning the tools that the publisher needs me to use, in order to produce files they can readily review and integrate. I'm quite impressed with StarOffice as a word processor. I think I could have gotten away with writing it directly in DocBook SGML, but I'm just happy to not be stuck using M$ Word. Most of my teething problems with the wp are cleared up, though I still occassionally hit an Emacs key like Ctrl-E expecting it to do some line-movement, only to do something silly like center-justify the whole freakin' paragraph.
Still, what I expected to be the most difficult chapter I chose to do first, and I consider it complete (pending tech editing, of course). The chapter I'm currently working on is moving faster, and is more enjoyable. I've arranged my plan so that the further I go, the more code I write as a part of the current chapter. This way, I don't get all the really-fun bits out of the way only to discover some "boring" background material still waiting to be written. I still have to see about the parts of the book one tends to not remember to outline-- introduction, acknowledgements, etc. It would suck to think I was finally finished, and then find two more mini-chapters that I haven't even given thought to.
Wow. Writing can be a royal pain in the posterior. And yet I'm enjoying it. Make of that what you will, I suppose.