Why am I writing a book?
It's scary to publish things
I always wanted to write a book. I didn't want to sit down and do the hard work of writing but I always dreamed of becoming a published author. I also wanted to direct a movie, run in a marathon, create a game... many dreams!
Although I believed that I could write a book, I also thought that I don't have anything meaningful to say. Whenever a new idea popped up in my head I thought: I'm too young to have anything meaningful to say. Other times I believed that the idea is too silly. Sometimes I was blocked by the notion that similar stuff was already written. Was it impostor syndrome? Maybe lack of self-confidence?
My biggest fear was silly: I didn't want to end up becoming an author of a book like "Windows XP guide for users". I didn't want to write such a truly temporary publication. Such books are doomed to be shredded into pieces once the technology behind them becomes obsolete. It always depressed me to see the "IT books" section in a library, which is full of such literature.
In 2022 my opinion changed. Now I'm in my 30s and I know people younger than me that already died. There is an ongoing war in Ukraine, it's also a wake-up call in many aspects. Carpe Diem, we never know what might happen tomorrow. I'm a father of 2 beautiful boys, the older one always believes that I have something meaningful to say. The younger one is too young to compliment my storytelling but he's fascinated whenever I show him black and white images. That's a huge confidence boost.
It also helped that I have multiple years of experience in Software Testing. I became confident enough in the topic to feel comfortable speaking at conferences, mentoring younger folks, or even teaching at University about software testing and quality management. I consider myself a subject matter expert in the topic. I don't know everything, I'm sure there are still plenty of topics I didn't touch, didn't try, or even didn't hear about. One needs to stay humble in that regard. Nevertheless, I believe I have plenty to share with others.
Stop Starting, Start Finishing
Does the world need another book about software development? I believe yes. There are plenty of awesome materials about the topic, but most tend to look like boring textbooks. Sure it's worth reading them but it feels like hard work. The same happens with any tool I use: the documentation is an invaluable source of information but isn't it more fun to just play around with the new toy instead of learning how it works?
I love books like The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. It's fun and insightful and it taught me a few things while reading it. I'm also fond of TV series like the Silicon Valley. It's silly and absurd, yet it nicely depicts various bad practices of software development and exaggerated real-life programming stories. That's the kind of stuff I would love to write.
I strongly believe that stories are more impactful than raw information. That's why I decided to write a fictionalized book about software development. One that hopefully is entertaining (maybe even witty?) and informative at the same time. How will I do? It's for my future readers to judge.
I need an idea
I had a goal, now I needed an actual idea.
In November of 2021, I met with a friend who worked at Atlassian as a Quality Engineer. She mentioned a blog post called "Open letter from an @ignored test". I don't know Mauri, the author of the letter, but I regret that it's his only post on the site. The idea of a test that wrote a letter spoke to me. How awesome is it? If you haven't yet, go click on the link to the post and read it. Satisfaction guaranteed.
The open letter from a test reminded me of the essay called "I, Pencil" by Leonard E. Read. It was written in 1958 and it portrays how globally interdependent we are. I stumbled upon this essay thanks to a Freakonomics podcast. I loved the idea and execution of that story.
Back to my train of thought. I thought to myself: if tests and pencils can speak, why not software? How about a paper written by a Web Application, that explains how it was developed by lots of people. Great minds who contributed to creating computers, programming languages, and open-source software... you get the idea. However, I was not convinced that it would be a good story. Or even a story that I could write. Maybe you can?
Then it struck me! I need to write something like The Screwtape Letters but from the perspective of a bug. In polish, the book is translated to something like "Letters from an old devil to a young one". This is where my first working title came from: "Letters from an old bug to a young one". But wait, defects would not send... letters, right? They would send e-mails, maybe text messages? Thus I transitioned to e-mails.
Then another question pops up: if defects send e-mails, then what would be the domain they use? They wouldn't use Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo. They should have their domain. Something with a bug in the name. Thus the idea of BUGF (Bugs United Globally Foundation) was born. A foundation created by bugs, for bugs, founded to unite bugs and break software together. Now I have the idea, a working title for the book, and a domain to send e-mails from. The only thing left was to write the book...
Now I have an initial version of the first five chapters, which makes me believe I can write. I have positive reviews from a few of my friends, which makes me think others (at least some) will like it.
So should I wait for the whole book to be ready before making it public? Writing a book in the dark and then at once releasing it? It seems like the stigmatized waterfall process. It doesn't mean that waterfall isn't right for some projects! It just doesn't resonate with me.
Do you have any thoughts on the topic? Feel free to mail by at firstname.lastname@example.org