It has been quite a while since I updated everyone on the progress of my book, Meet Clojure, and several people have asked about it over the past 2 weeks, so I think now is the time for an explanation.
As everyone knows, I’ve been working on Meet Clojure for over a year. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of that time I haven’t actually had the time to work on it. Not to say I didn’t ever get anything done. To the contrary, there are several chapters written. But in the world of book writing, there is a huge difference between a chapter being written and a chapter being finished. I am not a perfectionist, but this book is meant to be good, so I’m generally unsatisfied with everything I’ve written and will eventually need to rewrite most of it.
But what needs to be done isn’t the problem at all. The concern is what is keeping it from being done. When I got my publishing deal with No Starch was right about the time that I got a job at Geni. For a while there I was able to work just fine, have a relatively decent life on the side, keep up with personal projects, and spend enough time on the book to keep things moving along (slowly but surely).
My biggest problem is arguably my biggest asset: I try to do too many things at once. Go look at all the stuff on my Github page. I overwhelm myself before I realize I’m doing it. I have to fight with myself to figure out ways to focus on specific things for specific amounts of time and try to not neglect the other things. Refheap is an excellent example. There is so much I want to do with it but it progresses slowly because if I focused on it, other things would suffer.
Aside from all of this, I want to be able to focus on what I have to do where I work as well. If I’m stressed out, I’m not doing my coworkers any good. I wont get good code written and I wont be able to keep the standards that got me the job in the first place.
And that’s the goal behind it all: stress management. How much can I do and how often can I do it without being exhausted, stressed out, and worthless to everybody? I spent a lot of time thinking about it and a lot of time talking to close friends and trusted colleagues, and I’ve decided that, for right now, the book is too much for me to handle.
Okay, stop panicking. Calm down. Deep breaths. Let me explain myself.
There are a lot of Clojure books around. The latest one Clojure Programming by my good friend Chas Emerick is a fantastic one. I talked to my buddy (and technical reviewer) Chris Granger about this before I made any decisions, and one thing he said that helped me make the decision was: “You can contribute to the Clojure community better without the book right now.”. He is correct. Without the book, I have time to work on my various libraries and tools and help out in whatever capacity is needed. We have plenty of good books, and we’re not going to suffer any dramatic losses if mine isn’t completed right now.
I still intend to write this book
This is the most important part of this blog post. I am not under any circumstances giving up the book. I still think the book will be an important addition to the Clojure bookshelf. I simply do not have the time or energy to make it happen at the moment.
My plan is just to wait. I don’t know exactly how long, but I’m just going to wait for a crack. A point where my life is not so utterly insane. I’m going to work on my personal projects, do a great job at Geni, and spend as much spare time as possible with my mother and my aunt, because I’m likely going to be moving far, far away in the not so very distant future. These are the things that are most important to me at the moment.
The first thing I did was discuss these things with my amazing publisher, No Starch Press. I have the most amazing editor ever in Keith Fancher, and he is extremely open to what I have to say and how I feel. He was entirely sympathetic. I sent the email with the expectation that they would tell me to bugger off and write the book myself, but that’s the precise opposite of what he said. I certainly plan to pick the book back up when life allows (when I can do a good job on it), so he proposed that we set a date where we can touch base in the future. I proposed 6 months and he agreed.
So rest assured everyone, the book is going to happen. I just can’t tell you when. For the time being, I am not actively working on it. When I’m able to pick it back up again, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.