Richard Monson Haefel waves farewell to books… and describes how authors offer up their soul

Richard Monson Haefel, the author of one of the first (and best-known) books on EJB, has announced that he’s getting out of the book-writing business:

    I’ve been writing technical books (and some articles) for seven years and I’m ready to move on. Its been a lot of fun and my books have done a lot for my career, but they are a lot of work and at this point in my life they are not worth the effort.

He goes on, though, to say something that I think deserves underscoring and support, because he calls it "corny" but I think is very very true and needs to be reinforced:

    Of course this wasn’t an easy decision for me. As corny as it sounds, each book and every edition is a part of me. Think about it. An author (or at least me) spends as much as two years writing a book, not including subsequent editions. I’ve been working every year (over four editions) since 1998 on the EJB book!. There is a lot of blood sweat and well ? sweat (I’m not big on crying over work) in those books. When you buy one you get a chunk of my soul. Sorry. I warned you that this would be corny.

That’s not corny, Richard, that’s the author’s life. For those who’ve never written a book before, you have to understand the dynamics: you spend at a minimum six months (in my case, more like two years) trying desperately to figure out how to best convey the material, beating it and hammering it in various ways to make it clear, precise, accurate, and so on. You carry this thing with you everywhere you go: it’s on your laptop, at a minimum, sometimes it’s in your notebooks and your scribble notes on napkins and most of all, it’s floating there in your head, demanding attention. And then, when you finally publish them, they’re out there for the world to take potshots at. It really is a piece of you out there, and it’s terribly vulnerable because there’s nothing you can do once the book hits the shelves; somebody didn’t like the way you explained a particular concept? You can’t call it back, you can’t try to spin "what you meant" that didn’t come off correctly, you can’t edit it (unlike a web page) once it’s in dead-trees format. The best you can hope for is a second printing and the chance to fix a few errata.

Leon Uris once said, "Becoming an author is easy: just get out some paper, and open a vein." Each book becomes your baby, a little piece of you floating out there for all the world to take a whack at. And man, it’s tough the first time, like parents watching their first kid go off to kindergarten.

That’s not corny, Richard. That’s just being an author. Best of luck to you at the Burton Group.