Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

How to get yourself a writers' contract.

About a year ago I decided to create my first life plan. After reading up on Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and listening to audio recordings by Anthony Robbins and Jim Rohn, I decided that this was definitely the way to go. Why? Because my resume would give you the same impression as watching a drunken sailor getting back to his ship in a foreign harbor covered by thick fog: it was going everywhere without going anywhere. Oh, my personal goals were solid enough and I have been able to achieve my personal goals as far as volunteer work based on my religious beliefs were concerned. Professionally it was a minor disaster.

Being 38 years of age I could look back on a wide variety of jobs and experiences. In education, in welfare, in IT. With a broad and respected knowledge used for strategic planning, project development, training, coaching, research and management. But, it lacked structure and an overall direction.

One of my goals for 2006 was to write my first book, preferably on IT but I did not rule out fiction as well. I have been writing for the last three or four years and I started doing that in order to structure my dabblings in IT. I started to write for my computer users group, which has a bi-monthly magazine reaching 8.000 readers. Here and there I tried to make a small impact in the digital realm as well.

Earlier this year, the digital newsletter by HCC (www.hcc.nl), the mother organisation of my computer users group with 180.000 members, had a small advertising requesting writers for a new book on Linux. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip by and so I found myself with a group of other prospective writers in a meeting with representatives from HCC and Academic Service. They told us that there was room for two or three authors only. A beauty contest would be held to determine which three would get a contract. Beauty contest, you might ask? Don’t worry, you won’t be confronted with me in a bathing suit pleading for world peace. We all had to write an article on Linux and some applications, so they could determine our writing abilities and style. And so we did.

Now, the three of us (Jos Herni, Dennis de Leeuw and myself) will have six months to complete a book on Linux for Windows users. We got our contract and I achieved one of the goals of my life plan. The lesson: plan your succes as if it is already your own.

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