In all my years of blasphemous blogging, I’ve never made any money off of my writing “talent” – until recently.
As the figure below illustrates, I received my first bitcoin tip on November 28, 2015 (a day that will live in infamy!). The top snippet shows that someone sent 1.5 millibits of BTC to the bitcoin address in my Electrum wallet that I’ve labeled “Posted On Blog II“. The bottom snippet shows the exact bitcoin address that maps onto the text label – which you can also see in the right hand column of this page below the QR code graphic.
Since the Bitcoin blockchain is publicly visible to ALL people, 24 X 7, forever, I looked up the transaction details on Blockchain.info:
On the tip date, I published a tribute to Andreas Antonopoulos titled “The Bitcoin Ambassador“. Thus, I suspect it was Andreas himself who tipped me from his bitcoin address at 1A41uqAH2FnAE4B2bftVZPCkppztesiaZM. If the address is one of yours, then thank you Andreas. If not, then thanks to whoever did so.
As you might have concluded, I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon to vigorously pursue a latent career in writing.
Because of the nature of the subject matter, I’d estimate that it takes me three times as long to write a C++ post as compared to any other topic. Part of that writing/thinking time is burned up trying to anticipate and address questions/critiques from future readers. Thus, from now on, I’m gonna try to follow this advice more closely:
It’s tough to publicly expose your work. In fact, I think that the fear of receiving harsh criticism may be the number one reason why some creative but shy people don’t post any substantive personal content on the web at all. The web can be a mighty unfriendly world for introverts.
If you’re one of these people, but you’re itching to share with the world what you think you know or have learned, give it a try anyway. You might end up receding back into the shadows, but maybe you’ll be able to handle and overcome the adverse feelings that come with the territory. You won’t know unless you give it a go. So go ahead and scratch that itch – at least once.
Since I really enjoyed reading Scott Rosenberg’s “Dreaming In Code“, I grokked his other books. Lo and behold, I discovered that Scott also penned “Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters“. Ten seconds and $9.99 later, I was immersed in the kindle version. Not very far into the book, Scott wrote something that touched a nerve:
Writers who tell stories about themselves, their families, and friends always walk a tightrope: you fall off one side if you stop telling the truth; you fall off the other if you hurt people you care about, or use them as fodder for your career. Dishonesty to the left, selfishness to the right.
Except for occasional references to my dog Morrie, I don’t write about my family at all. I have, however, written extensively about my former and current co-workers and managers in an abstract sense.
When you write about your personal experiences working in a corporation, unless you’re a top executive whose livelihood requires that you project of an image of infallibility, you’re likely to write about the dysfunctional, Dilbertonian, situations you you constantly find yourself in.
I don’t know how many of my working mates peruse this blog, but I’m sure some of them do from time to time. If you’re one of those perusers and you suddenly find a veiled reference to yourself in one of my rants, then I’m sorry – and remember that my writing is simply an interpretation of events and behaviors, not necessarily a statement of objective fact.
I don’t know when this post will be published, but I started writing it at 6:13 AM on Saturday, May 16, 2015. I had woken up at 4:00 AM (which is usual for me) and started drafting a blog post that’s currently titled “The Stuff That’s Hard To Change“. Then, whilst in the midst of crafting that post, a partially formed idea popped into my head for another post. So I:
- pushed the first idea aside,
- executed a mental context switch, and
- started writing the second post (which is currently titled “Programs, Projects, Products“).
Whilst writing the second post, yet another idea for a third post (the one you’re currently reading) came to mind. So, yet again, I spontaneously performed a mental context switch and started writing this post. Sensing that something was amiss, I stepped back and found myself… thrashing all over the freakin’ place!
In case you’re wondering what my browser and visio tabs looked like during my maniacal, mutli-tasking, fiasco, here’s a peek into the semi-organized mess that was churning in my mind at the time:
Thankfully, I don’t enter a frenzied, ADHD, writing state that often. Because of my training as a software engineer and the meticulous thinking style required to write code, I’m usually a very focused, single-tasking, person – sometimes too focused, and oblivious to what’s happening outside of my head.
Oh, I almost forgot, but the act of writing the previous paragraph reminded me. I squeezed in a fourth task during my 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM stint at my computer. I prototyped a C++ function that I knew I needed to use at work soon:
I actually wrote that code first, prior to entering my thrashful writing state. And, in extreme contrast to my blogging episode, I wrote the code in a series of focused, iterative, write/test/fix, feedback loops. There was no high speed context-switching involved. It’s strange how the mind works.
The mind is like a box of chocolates. Ya never know what you’re gonna get.
Someone (famous?) once said that a good strategy to employ to ensure that you get something done is to publicize what you’re going to do for all to see:
As you can see, my new found friend, multi-book author Jon M. Quigley (check out his books at Value Transformation LLC), proposed, and I accepted, a collaborative effort to write a book on the topic of product requirements. D’oh!
Why the “D’oh!”? As you might guess, there are a bazillion “requirements” books already out there in the wild. Here is just a sampling of some of those that I have access to via my safaribooksonline.com account:Of course, I haven’t read them all, but I have read both of Mr. Wiegers’s books and the Hatley/Hruschka book – all very well done. I’ve also read two great requirements books (not on the above list) by my favorite software author of all time, Mr. Gerry Weinberg: “Exploring Requirements” and “Are Your Lights On?“.
Jon and I would love to differentiate our book from the current crop – some of which are timeless classics. It’s not that we expect to eclipse the excellence of Mr. Weinberg or Mr. Wiegers, we’re looking for a niche. Perhaps a “Head First” or “Dummies” approach may satisfy our niche “requirement” :). Got any ideas?
The biggest obstacle, and it is indeed huge, in front of me is simply that:
“My ambition is handicapped by laziness” – Charles Bukowski
Every person has at least one hero whose work they admire. If you’ve glanced at my “about” page, you may have correctly assumed that one of my heroes is writer/speaker Scott Berkun. I’ve followed Scott and read all of his books since he made the scary leap long ago from a safe job at Microsoft into the unforgiving jungle of self-sufficiency.
I like Scott’s work so much because I think he’s genuine, transparent, sincere, and down-to-earth. In short, his ideas and insights are helpful to his readers. That’s why I got a kick out of this twitter exchange:
Scott’s brand new, kickstarter-funded, book is titled “The Ghost Of My Father“. It’s a radical departure from his other books in that it’s a deeply personal treatise on growing up with an absentee father. Go out and buy it, pronto!
If I ever get my lazy ass out of “blog only” mode and hunker down to write some kind of unsellable book for my own personal satisfaction, Scott will have been a huge influence on the transition.
After watching an interesting documentary on J. D. Salinger, I decided to re-read his monstrously famous book, “The Catcher In The Rye“. Stunningly, I couldn’t find any store online that sold an e-version of the book. I ended up having to buy the dead-trees version.
In an early part of the book, protagonist Holden Caulfield’s roommate, Stradlater, begs Holden to write an English composition for him:
How ’bout writing a composition for me, in English? Just don’t do it too good, is all. That sonuvabitch Hartzell thinks you’re a hot-shot in English, and he knows your my roommate. So I mean don’t stick all the commas and stuff in the right place.
Stradlater was always doing that. He wanted you to think that the only reason he was lousy at writing compositions was because he stuck all the commas in the wrong place.
I laughed my ass off when I read that passage. Ya see, I’ve been blawging for over four years now, and deciding where to place commas in the text has always been a real pain in my keester. I’m constantly finding myself being yanked out of the continuous flow of words and pausing to ask “should I put a freakin’ comma here?“. In addition, when I iterate over a post just prior to queuing it up for publication, I’m always adding, removing, and/or moving commas around. I’d estimate that 20% of my writing time is spent obsessing over comma placement. LOL!
I think that my “comma dilemma” is why I enjoy composing the dorky clipart pix for a blog post much more than concocting the comma-laced text. I find the construction, placement, movement, and connection of images on the e-canvas a more fluid and less disruptive experience.
Another text-based conundrum that I’m constantly bumping into is the annoying decision process associated with the use of the word “that“. But that, is for a future post.