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Personal essays

Shipping - Essay from Newsletter 38

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I’m presenting at our local CocoaHeads tonight.

Nothing big - just a quick intro to Combine.

I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be demo-ing code that I’ve written for my book and drawing some diagrams.

For the first time in a long time I’ll be doing it live.

The thing about live is, when it’s done, it’s done.

This year I’ve done a lot of prepared videos. They’re never done.

Stuff you don’t see

Maggie and I have been watching “The Queens Gambit” at night.

She’s seen it already. She’s watched some of the episodes many times.

I’m too slow for her.

I don’t like to binge watch a series.

I’ll watch an episode and then hit the remote.

“What?” Maggie says.

“I’m done. I’ll watch another one tomorrow.”

She doesn’t understand that at all.

If I’m enjoying a series, I want it to last.

I used to love Three Musketeer bars but one day ate too many of the little “fun size” ones. Now I can’t eat them any more.

I don’t want that to happen with a series I like.

I don’t mind if Maggie watches more. I’m happy to leave the room. But I’m pacing myself.

Even pacing myself, there’s so much I miss.

Todd Vaziri tweeted a scene from the second episode where the main character enters a drug store and the shot is such that it feels like you are entering from the street. It’s one of those effects that I didn’t even notice and yet when examined it is clearly unnatural and manufactured to draw us in. Amazing.


Creating even the everyday presentations that I make becomes so much harder if I pre-record them.

Like the scene described above, I include little touches that direct the viewers eyes at the code I’m talking about.

Little touches they likely never notice but that add hours to my preparation.

I probably have two-hundred edits in the audio for even a ten minute presentation.

Edits no-one notices but that matter to me.

I envy my colleagues who sit and code live while narrating and then clean it up and ship it.

It’s just not what I do.

And so I tinker long past the point of diminishing returns.

Ship it

I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from Javier Grillo-Marxuach about writing and creativity. He recently put his finger right on the key:

“it will never be as good as it was in your head. knowing when to stop is a much greater part of what we call ‘creativity’ than many are willing to admit.”

I fuss with my books until I come to hate them. Every one of them.

They begin life with so much potential and then I have to express this perfect thing that’s in my head so that it makes sense when you read it.

At some point it’s as close as I can get it.

I should be proud but I’m always disappointed.

It wasn’t what I imagined.

That’s a big part of what I get from this newsletter. I sit down each Tuesday and write. At the end of the hour I ship it.

This was the year I was going to start shipping video tutorials. (So was last year and the year before that and …)

Next year I will treat it like this newsletter and ship what I have each week. I’m going to try to launch it by the beginning of February.

After I ship this book.

One of my words for 2021 will be “Stop”. It has meant different things for me at different times. Next year it will be the “stop” as Javier means it.

It will mean that it’s time to ship.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 38. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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