Django book status

Tags: book, django

High time for an update on my upcoming ‘Solid Django’ book. Short summary: not so much progress as I wanted; I’ve got 1/3 of the text in; I’ve got a co-author; looking good.

Slower

Boy, those pragmatic programmers sure focus on quality. That’s why their books are so good and that’s why I bought quite a number of them. But it also means the author has to put in a lot of effort, together with the editor, to get it up to the desired level of quality. And that took much more time than I expected.

My writing, as here on this weblog, is not too shabby. My English is pretty good for a non-native speaker. But some errors do creep in. And my prose is just a tad on the verbose side, to put it mildly. It needs “tightening” and “focusing” and “clearing out unnecessary sentences” :-)

All in all, the rewriting and editing takes a whole lot of time. And having to finish fixing up the house after we moved in last summer sure doesn’t help. And sometimes a work project takes preference.

1/3 done

I got my first three chapters (and an additional smaller one) done. “Done” means there’s still editorial work to be done, but the text as such is done and the structure is mostly OK.

And these three chapters are the big chapters at the start of the book. All in all, when I print out the book, I’m at 100 pages or so (including empty pages for the remaining chapters): quite a hefty package already. I printed it out for colleages and their unanymous reaction was “wow, that’s a lot of text”. That felt good.

And I know how many details I left out in those pages. How much I still have to cover in later chapters. So those pages are filled with good explanation and focused content.

Co-author

New on board: Harry Heckel! He doesn’t have any Django background, but he has enough technical knowledge not to make a mess of my content :-) And he’s got much more writing experience than I have. And he’s a native English speaker.

We’ve been working together for a few weeks now and I sure love it. He’s very good at tightening up what I wrote, to make it more focused and precise. To weed out unneeded rambling.

When Harry is done reviewing and changing a chapter, I don’t even bother putting my original next to it. I just read his version. It reads just like what I would have written and most of it probably is. But there are subtle fixes and sometimes I spot a sentence that he removed. Almost always, the change is for the better. It is funny to read text that you yourself wrote, but that has been fixed up by someone else, and thinking “hey, did I really write this good a text”? It sure still sounds like my own voice, but improved.

For me, Harry takes a lot of worry out of my book writing. I can concentrate on getting the right content in, knowing that Harry will take care of any structure mistakes and textual errors. And he saves me a massive amount of time.

Looking good

All in all: I’m happy. Bringing Harry on board brought the speed back. I’ve got a solid amount of work behind me. Still a lot of work to do, but we’ll get there!

And the most important is that I’m happy with the content I’ve got in the book right now. This will be a good book for Django, something that will help beginners get up to speed with Django and that will help everyone else get the a lot out of all that Django is offering. Now I just need to finish it :-)

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About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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