Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blame Arrington - I'm not done with the first draft yet, and I already have to change my book

As I've mentioned in passing on a few occasions, I am currently working on a book. Although the book is (purportedly) a work of fiction, it touches on some themes that I've addressed in this blog as well as my tymshft blog.

The challenge in writing any fiction book, especially in the tech sector, is that the book has to be timely when the reader looks at it. Even if the reader looks at it a year or two later, it should be somewhat timely. (It is very difficult to write a tech book that is timely one hundred years from now.)

Greater writers than I have struggled with this. Take Gene Roddenberry and the other people who were working on the original Star Trek series. They had to create an environment that was supposedly several hundred years in the future. Since they were working in the present, they had to extrapolate what the future might look like. They took concepts from then current Navy ships and used them to create the concept of a "starship," commanded by a captain. The "Federation" that figures so prominently in Star Trek is just an interplanetary version of the United Nations (in which Earth is one of the permanent members of the Federation's equivalent of a Security Council).

Now I didn't have to create a reality that was hundreds of years in the future, but I did have to create a reality that would still be relevant by the time I finally got my book out the door. This week I'm still in the middle of writing the first draft, and I expect that I'll have to go through several revision cycles until you can have the book in your hands.

While working on the first draft, I wrote a passage in which one of the characters leaves the company NLC (you have to read the book to find out what NLC stands for). So I drafted the following passage a couple of days ago. (I should clarify that the "Barack" in this story is not the current President of the United States.)

“John, for your benefit,” Henry began, “I was just telling Gretchen - I mean Barack and Gretchen - of my resignation. Today is my last day at the company - I mean at NLC.”

“So, where are you going?” John asked. Not that he knew the competitors in the market - heck, NLC didn’t even have a market yet - but it was John’s habit to ask departing employees where they were going. Usually they wouldn’t reveal this, but John figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

“I’ve accepted a position at Mashable,” Henry revealed.

“Are you a writer?” John asked.

“Sometimes,” Henry replied, “but I’ve accepted a position as Mashable’s CEO.”

“But what about-” John began to ask.

Henry interrupted John. “He left and went to TechCrunch.”

“But what about Arrington?” John asked, and then slapped his head. “Whoops, he left long ago. Maybe Ellen’s right about us old people being slow.”

“Between you and me,” Henry said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if Arrington ended up back at TechCrunch rather soon.”

As Barack snuck peeks at his comic book, Gretchen shook her head. “With Arianna at AOL?” she asked. “Not likely.”

“I can’t say any more,” Henry stated.

When I wrote the passage above a few days ago, I figured that it was relatively safe - I wrote it in a way to avoid the name of Mashable's head (whoever that may be when the book comes out), and I figured that it was pretty unlikely that Arrington would return to TechCrunch to head it up before my book came out.

Well, if you follow the news, you know that Arrington isn't the head of TechCrunch at the moment. But he is back, according to Eric Eldon and Alexia Tsotsis:

We’re excited to introduce two more columnists today.* You might have heard of them.

MG Siegler has been writing for TechCrunch since 2009, covering Apple, startups, goats, whatever else he felt like, plus serving as the resident movie critic and Android troll. He was pretty good at it all. Arguably the best. Since becoming a full-time investor with the CrunchFund a year ago, he’s continued writing for us as a columnist covering Apple. Starting today, he’ll occasionally cover other topics, too (although not his own investments, see below).

Also, founder Michael Arrington is back behind the wheel of his own WordPress account here at TechCrunch. That’s right. The lawyer/entrepreneur/investor-turned-blogger-turned-investor isn’t just doing conferences with us. Starting today, he’ll begin writing occasional pieces on tech topics. TechCrunch is like the Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like / But you can never leave!”

Perhaps I'd better rewrite that passage in my book about Arrington not being back at TechCrunch. Perhaps I can just rewrite it to emphasize that Arrington won't be heading up TechCrunch. After all, Eldon and Tsotsis said so in their post:

And no this is not part of some Machiavellian master plan for Michael and MG to regain power/use TC as a vehicle for their own investments/kill baby seals. First of all, a lot of CrunchFund investments are things we’d cover anyways, and also, Alexia and Michael barely even get along most of the time. So yeah, NOTHING SINISTER IS HAPPENING, WE PROMISE.

So we have the denials. Arrington is NOT going to head up TechCrunch.

And that statement is about as solid as a block of original shares of General Motors.

I think I'm going to have some fun rewriting that passage in the book.
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