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Book Thief

I am a mighty builder. I make mountains out of mole hills. That’s how I treat problems in my life. The unknown. The inconvenient. The wastes of time. The points where failure has occurred somewhere and I need to correct it.

Recently, I returned two books to my local library. I dropped them off in a stack on the return counter as I have countless times before. The library staff collected and checked in one book. The other book escaped.

Once I realized what had happened, via an email from the library. I went in to take care of it in person. Unfortunately, I went on July 4th holiday (Independence Day) and found a closed library. Which made sense, I was off work for the holiday as well, why did I think the library would be open?

So I couldn’t take care of it. Then I forgot about it for a few days. Until I went to look up another book to see if it was available. The website reminded me I had a book overdue.

Filled with anxiety, I was ready to explain and re-explain what happened. Ready with dates and times and the titles of both books. And it was all for nothing.

I spoke to a woman and explained what happened. She cleared the book from my account and went about her day. She sounded hurried and busy. She was short but polite on the phone, and resolved my issue (and my anxiety) quickly and professionally.

I had worried about this exchange. I thought I wouldn’t be able to prove I did not have the book it would haunt me. I imagines building up a huge overdue fee as the days turned into weeks. And the weeks into months. Eventually having to give up all use of the public library after being branded a book thief.

After the fact, my wife told me this probably happens everyday and they’re used to it. Books get misplaced. Scanners malfunction. Computer systems have bugs. And I’m sure some percentage of books do walk away.

But I will not bear the brand of a book thief. A Bad Patron. I did my part. Something else didn’t happen as it should have. It’s not a big deal. It’s a small issue to fix. But those small issues loom large in my brain.

Live reading of 1984

In January of 2015 the DC Public Library held an event titled Orwellian America. Included a reading of 1984 in its entirety and streamed across YouTube. Those videos are no longer available.

I was reminded of this event today when I saw a similar event today.

The Orwell Foundation and UCL Festival of Culture are delighted to announce a live, start-to-finish reading of Nineteen Eighty-Four in Senate House, University of London. For the first time in the UK, hear Nineteen Eighty-Four read by a host of actors, writers, journalists and members of the public over the course of a single day in the centre of London. This unique event, part of the UCL Festival of Culture 2017, is free and open to the public.

Unlike the DC event, London’s event is available in its 11 hour entirety. (I’ve skipped the first 11 minutes, 15 seconds as they are silent.) I’ve read this book many times and look forward to listening to it again.

Books are hard

Writing a book is hard. Putting words together and having another set of professional eyes fix them is painful.

My book is a collection of essays and it was covered in red once I got it back from the editor. And I’m thankful it was. I know I don’t write perfectly. I have no clue what to do with semi colons. Commas confound me. I spell well but my grammar is a mess.

My little book had gone from Markdown file to Word Document to Scrivener file. Now it’s a book. I can see it on my Kindle. I can send it to friends to get their reaction.

It’s Real.

I learned how to make a book. How to write it. How to get it edited. Made those edits. How to format it. Now it’s real.

Now I’m learning how to sell it. How to price it. How to tell people about it. How to let is loose into the world. It’s all a great experiment.

A terrifying experiment. It’s the first time in years I’ve made a thing that I’ve put out into the world. It’s not a blog post. The living beast that slowly gets bigger and longer with the passing of time.

A book is a thing. Even if it gets updated or expanded upon. It’s still a snapshot of time. When those words existed in that order in a finite way.

And it’s almost done. Beyond the Reboot will be out soon once I made the last changes based on feedback I got from my wonderful friends who were gracious enough to look at it and tell me what I had long gone blind to.

Beyond the Reboot is about being a better technician. It won’t tell you what tools to use or how to fix problems. Those are skills that are easy to learn and have already been covered to death elsewhere.

Beyond the Reboot is a book about the human side of technical support. It remembers the Customer in Customer Service. It’s a reminder that we’re all here to serve the people behind the machines. The machines are coming for our jobs. We don’t need to give them any help. We need to help people.

And I think this little book will. And I hope you do too.

It’s available today.

Shipwrecked

I read one book. Now I’m trapped.

I finished a story. I got all three parts. Completed. Finished.

But it was merely a glimpse. An introduction. The tattered edge of a map waving invitingly in the breeze.

Beckoning me. Begging me. Calling me to it. Demanding I dig deeper.

Deeper I went. There is another book. A sequel. Well reviewed and available.

It fills the gaps in the first story. It was less a sequel as the rest of the story.

The completion of a tale only half told.

I was excited. And conflicted.

I had other worlds to visit. I tried to dive in. Dangling my toe into their literary waters.

I swam in them. Forcing myself into the crashing waves and chilly depths.

But each time I regretted leaving my first world. It has stuck with me. Demanding my attention. Begging to show me more.

Hiking its skirt up and showing some leg. Legs that went on forever. There were even more books. An entire universe to explore.

A huge world I was merely a tourist in. I had stumbled in unknowingly.

It has me and it won’t let me go. I need to know more. I must visit. I must move there.

I must return to the world I know only vaguely. Armed with more questions than answers, I tip toe closer to its Siren’s song.

I am taken. Shipwrecked. With no hope of escape. Unless I learn all I can. And to do that…

I must read.

NanOMGWriMo

Ambition

I am starting an ambitious plan this month. I am going to get the book that’s been in my head out and into a form for people to read and enjoy.

Technical Support is Customer Service

I’ve been working a series of customer service and technical support jobs for nearly a decade. I’ve come to realize they are the same. I am passionate about customer service and treating people right.

Technical Support has long been about supporting technology first and people second. I want to turn that idea on its ear. Technical Support is more about supporting the people using technology than the technology itself. Technology is merely a tool to accomplish a task.

Planning

I’ve planned and thought and read. Trying to give form to this idea inside my brain. And all of a sudden, it became November. And with November, comes NanoWriMo.

I am going to write my book this month. I am going to take the collection of thoughts and experienced inside my head and put them into words. Then turn those words into a book after the month ends.

It has begun and I have written the first 2,000 words towards explaining why I care so much about customer service in technical support and how other people can learn from my near decade of experience in support companies and government agencies big and small.

Metamorphosis

As the month started and I signed up for NanoWriMo I had no idea how I was going to write 50,000 words on customer service. I care about it a lot and I have some good ideas around making people better at it. But I had no idea how I would fill those virtual pages.

Until it hit me.

Becoming a Well-Rounded Technician

The idea was bigger than simple tech support or customer service. The idea I had in my head all along was about becoming a better technician and all the parts that go into the job.

So the book was born. Becoming a Well-Rounded Technician is my working title and terrible name but it’s what I’ve titled this adventure.

I’ve got 2,000 words down and another 48,000 to go to complete NanoWriMo successfully and by that time, have enough of my ideas fleshed out I can organize them and put them into a book.

I am excited. I am scared. This is going to be great fun and a huge challenge.

The longest thing I ever recall writing was a 20 page story in a creative writing class in 8th grade.

Wish me luck. The adventure has begun and I’ve leapt in with both feet. If you want to follow along, this is my NanoWriMo page and if you’re writing too, let me know, I could use some buddies.

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