But I've made progress. I have full drafts of 26 Items, and I have a candidate list of 25 more. Most of the candidate Items won't make the final cut, because it's looking like the book will end up with around 40 Items total. That's due to space limitations. My prior books have run up to around 90,000 words total (about 300 pages) , and that's the length limit I'm imposing on this one.I currently have about 54,000 words, so by that measure, I'm about 60% done. That's a high estimate of how much is complete, unfortunately, because feedback I've received on existing Items reveals that some require significant rework before they'll be ready to be reviewed again.
As things stand now, I'm thinking I should be done by the beginning of June. (Between now and then, writing the book is essentially my full-time job.) "Done" is a funny word, however, because it simply means I've declared my manuscript ready to publish. That's step one in a multi-step process that ultimately leads to printed and digital books. My document has to be translated from the format I use (MS Word) into its final forms (probably print PDF, digital PDF, ePub, and Kindle), and along the way it may get translated into XML as an intermediary format. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that these translations will be largely custom-made for my book, and that means they'll take time to develop and verify. I won't be doing them myself, though I'll be quite involved in making sure they produce the proper output.
I'm hoping that digital versions of the book will be available this summer, but don't press me on exactly what "summer" means. Print books will probably take a bit longer, so call my hope for availability "late summer," where neither "late" nor "summer" is well-defined.
In case you're interested in a glimpse into the process of writing this book, I've made available two versions of the Item I finished writing just today, "Declare functions
- A first draft with my comments on it. My usual approach to producing an Item is to write and edit it on-screen until it looks decent, then print it out and mark it up, and finally make the edits I've marked. I then print it again, mark it up again, and...rinse, lather, repeat. Generally, it takes about three iterations before I think I've got something ready for the next step, which is to make sure the code compiles. After fixing any simple coding errors, I forward the Item to outside reviewers for their feedback. If the code has errors that are serious enough to affect the content of the Item, I do the necessary rewrite, then fall back into the print/markup/edit loop.
- The reviewable draft, i.e., the document I've just sent to some outside reviewers for their comments. In this case, that includes you. Feel free to email me your comments and suggestions for improvement, or post them as comments on this blog post.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a word processor waiting for me...