Back to Basics

Flash General

Flashforward 2008 Speaker Slam

Last night, at the stroke of midnight (I kid you not), I finished the very last exercise for the very last chapter on my plate for a new book for friends of ED.  When I lifted my hands from the keyboard, I was beaming.  Why?  Because it’s been a long time since I’ve had a normal work week.  This is all about to change, and wowzers, am I looking forward to it!

The main reason I’m happy is that I’m about to get more time with my family—time where I’m not bleary-eyed and half asleep.  ;)   Another part of my happiness, though, honestly, is that I’m about to get more time to spend on this blog, on forums, and on tardy email replies.  I’ve added a special folder to Outlook just for blog comments.  I really do read every single question, and I do my best to answer them.  If you’re still waiting to hear from me, please keep hangin’ on!  I’ve been behind on replies for months (that Outlook folder has 62 items as I write this) … but that’s about to change too. 

My wife and I use a special phrase to support each other during challenging times.  We call it “back to basics,” which generally means some combination of “keep your chin up,” “I’m on your team,” and “let’s simplify this.”  Sometimes projects get stacked so thick, it’s hard to see the end of the tunnel (like balancing books with regular client work).  During times like that, it can be tough to keep trudging, but I’m glad I pulled through to last night.

Having a garden in our back yard helps, believe it or not.  Plants grow so slowly, I’ve been able to draw parallels (and encouragement!) just by looking out the window.  Suddenly—where there was seemingly nothing only a week ago—we have dozens of eggplants and tomatoes!  I’ve been able to make ratatouille twice already with partially homegrown ingredients.

I had a teaser preview, nearly a month ago, of the excitement I’m feeling right now.  That’s what the picture shows at the top of this post (thanks for the photo, Amy!).  I was in San Francisco for the Flashforward 2008 conference.  They tried a new thing this year:  the Speaker Slam (20 speakers, two minutes apiece), and I was one of the speakers.  It’s tough to say anything meaningful in two minutes flat, but I did my best, and the audience was enthusiastic.  If I can piece together the gist of what I said, I’ll put that in a future post—it was about reading the Flash help docs (no surprise, right?).  ;)   The micro time span definitely meant I had to bring it back to basics.  It felt good.

In some capacity or another—researching, writing, preparing sample files, proofreading—I’ve been working on this new friends of ED book, and another for O’Reilly, since February.  During that time, I spent one month per book of fulltime writing, usually 12-hour days.  The rest was evening work, at least four hours a day.

Averaged out, that’s still less time than I spent on Foundation Flash CS3 for Designers last year, so I’m happy with that.  :)   I didn’t work on weekends, either.  That’s an improvement!  Even so, it feels good to be done.

Friends keep asking me, “How do you do it?”  The honest answer is, this time, “I very nearly didn’t make it!”  Two books in one year was a lot to chew.  But I’m happy with my chapters (these were all co-author projects).  Details coming soon, including some free excerpts.  [Follow up: Three excerpts from The ActionScript 3.0 Quick Reference Guide are now listed in "Sent to the Printer!  The ActionScript 3.0 Quick Reference Guide".]

After I take a few weeks to get my bearings, and ramp up to speed on my usual client work, you’ll see more of me on this blog again.

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