Update: There’s a new edition of Managing Humans.
Woke up writing this morning, which is a big deal because I’ve hated writing for two months. See, Rands and I wrote a book. And yes, I said Rands and I because after 30+ chapters of writing, rewriting, and editing, it’s absolutely clear to me what part of my head is this clever, witty, bitter Rands-guy. He’s got a voice, a style. He likes alliteration, there are words he favors, and there is subject matter he can write about.
He’s essential to my writing and there is no way I could write a book without him.
The question has always been, “If I ever write a book, what to do about Rands?” Weblog readers are used to strange names adorning the pieces of writing. I said it four years ago and it’s still true: “weblogs are net people”, and through our writing, we create strange versions of ourselves to share with whoever stumbles across our virtual doorsteps. It’s liberating. You can accentuate whatever part of yourself that you want AND YOU CAN FUCKING TYPE IN ALL CAPS PEOPLE.
Rands works here in the weblog, but does Rands work when you pick the book up in your local bookstore?
There’s a mystique to publishing a book. Perhaps the only universal knowledge regarding publishing a book is “it’s hard”. I can now confirm that “yes, it’s hard”. It’s hard not only because the writing is hard; it’s hard because of the sheer volume of the writing; it’s hard because you must stare at your words over and over again. That clever turn of phrase you love in chapter 12? You’ll hate it by the time the copy editing starts.
As I started the writing and rewriting process, I nearly killed Rands. “It’s a book. No one is going to get the all caps on the printed page. And he swears. A lot.” It was time to tame the words, tidy the thoughts, and remove fictional characters from a book about the serious topic of managing people.
It took one rewrite of one chapter to figure out that removing Rands from the work was removing most of what made the content interesting, memorable, and fun. Rands stayed, so did all the swearing. Apress talked me out of ALL CAPS, but ALL CAPS really does look like crap on the printed page. The rest is all there… and a lot more.
Rands also made for a great preface, part of which reads:
The icing on this semi-fictional cake is Rands. This is the name I began using in the mid-90s for my virtual presence; when I began weblogging about management, the name stuck. Think of Rands as your semi-fictional guide walking you through the fake stories of the fake people that have had incredibly relevant (yet fake) experiences.
Rands has a bit of attitude, but, then again, so do I.
There is more to be said about the book writing process. Based on the questions I’ve gotten so far, it’s clear that what most people consider to be the hard parts are not. It’s a game of endurance where you force feed yourself your own writing for longer than you can stand, and when you’re done, it’s a blessing that it takes someone else a relatively long time to publish the physical book.
When you’re done, you can hold your words in your hands, and yeah, I highly recommend that experience. It will remind you what it’s like to wake up in the morning… writing.