Re: Breaking Up The Monolith: coming at last
Posted: Nov 14, 2010 6:12 AM
> I have written and published quite a few books and have
> never had a publisher ask me for a preface first.
Given the protracted nature of the birth of this book - 5 years+; interrupted early on by the preparation of XSTL - it's quite conceivable that I have misunderstood this to some degree. I'm going to check my emails over the coming days ...
Probably the problem is more that I've traditionally conflated my preface being as Scott has stressed again recently "about the book, not what the book's about" with "what the book's about": they've tended to be more a Preface+Intro/Prologue. (The first version of the "Preface" that you saw, James, was just such a mix; the newer version is more in line with what it should be.)
I do remember that with IC++ my editor had to demand radical rewrites of the Preface, which later became separated as a Preface proper and a Prologue. When I did XSTL he complemented me on having done it right. Now I look back on it, I wonder why I stuffed the Monolith one so much; perhaps it's because I started this book before XSTL.
For me, perhaps because I seem to see things a little differently (either that, or I'm just bad at research and referencing), I need to have a substantial Prologue/Introduction (in Monolith it's going to be Intro) in order to set up both the style and the axioms of the book. This has not helped me in writing smaller books in the past, although I can't imagine how doing it differently wouldn't result in even bigger books. (With Monolith I'm determined to be <350 pages; time will tell.)
> The preface is certainly not the first thing I would
> write, but I do know that different authors have different
> styles. As an author, you grab on to anything that works
> and go with it.
Now that I've done it, I'm glad I have. But next time - not that I ever want to write another "deep" book (famous last words?) - I will do it quite differently.
> And, remember: good writing is very anti-Lean. It is all
> about rework — Craft of Revision and all of that.
Experience painfully attests. :-)
> authors pen a discovery draft before writing the
> deliverable. (I used to teach English composition, and
> this technique was central to most composition pedagogy of
> the time.) This preface might very well be the author's
> discovery draft.
Agreed. And, yes, probably.
> I suspect, and hope, that we will see
> this preface re-written a dozen times during the book's
Already had 14 versions ...
> I can only encourage Matt to not become overly
> attached to the current version.
> After all, an author
> should learn at least as much as his or her constituency
> does through the process of writing and publication. That
> process stands behind all great written works — including
Exactly. (And well put!)
While writing I end up asking myself every imaginable question about the subject matter. This usually results in my learning consciously and fully that which either (i) I happened along, partially, during practical work and/or (ii) things that I subconsciously "knew", imprecisely and without a traceable path of propositions.
I probably sound pretentious putting it thusly, but I do feel much afinity with artists - music, poetry, etc. - who suggest that they never feel to have created, but merely recorded something they tuned in on. For my part, I know my subconscious is a brilliant software designer, but I am merely a decent programmer who struggles along trying to precisely capture and codify what my silly subconscious concocts (while asleep, driving in the car, or, more usually, on my long morning bike rides).