Monday, September 26, 2011

Drabble Day - Train

Here is a little writing challenge I've decided to participate. It comes from a friend and you can read the post and even participate!

Here is my drabble about the word "train". It's the first idea that came over:

I am finally leaving. I feel relieved and lighter. The stress is gone and I can now focus on my dreams and objectives. I am free of that city and its people oppressing me. I was never home there. They never accepted who I am; no matter how many of them have tried to help me. But they never really wanted to help me. They all tried to change me. To fix me and make me as perfect and well-mannered like them. That train is pulling me free from them. Free from their judgment over dead bodies I left there.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Self Inflicted Fear of Editing

I’ve always been afraid of editing since I started to write many years ago. I first started to write small texts with the rule that I could not rewrite a single word. I would start to write, and keep every word in the same order and I would not allow myself to erase a single letter. Plus, the text had to fit perfectly on the page of my note book. No more. No less.

Today, I would be very frustrated and confused to write such text but the fear of editing is still there. As I started to allow myself to write longer texts, I would still not edit them. Then I would allow myself to erase a word and write a better one, but only while I was writing the text; never after it was finished. I am still proud of those short texts. Maybe they are not the best of all time, but for me they are the beginning of a long journey and the basics of my writings. It all started with them.
Unfortunately, since I never really edit a text, I am now facing a problem: I have stories I would like to publish and I know they need to be polished. I was able to write them with all the pieces I wanted to put in them but they need care now. They are raw stories, containing savage actions or moments people would not understand because they are not in my head to see all the connections and actions that led to these moments. 

The longer the stories are, the hardest they are to edit. I bet I would be able to edit my small texts quite fast. Faster than the editing I have to do now. When I look to my stories, all I see are high mountains. In a way it reminds me of the first text I wrote in my personal note book. It took me time and courage to do it. To finally put my pen on the page and fill it. One single page. Then I would dare to write a second page weeks, even only months later. Because I was fighting fear. I was actually putting on paper my own thoughts. Even if they were never published to the whole world, there was now a trace of them in a book and it would now be possible for someone to read them. 

Yes, of course these people would need to get their hands on that book and it is not likely to happen without my permission but still, it was now out of my mind. With time, these texts grew to short stories and before I knew it my imagination was throwing novel at me and I would be writing them as quick as I could. 

My first NaNoWriMo was, I believe, the true kick-off; even if I had started a few months before on my first novel. Unfortunately, that story is not finished, not even retyped on a computer and far from being edited. I preferred to continue writing and explore the ideas my imagination was so joyfully presenting to me. I learned to build a whole novel around a single scene. Ideas would just appear to fill the blank pages.

As time past, I see knew books on the market and I wonder if my own stories would go on these shelves or on any eReader. I imagine myself invited to speak about a story and I would be able to share about the thoughts behind a particular scene. If people would be interested to read more of my stories. 

It pushed me to speak about these stories and watch how people were reacting and I felt exhilarated. It gave me hope that they would be interesting at least to a few people. I then found the courage to edit parts of these stories. A chapter or two. Just enough to send to a restricted list of people and have their feedback. It felt good, but then I was facing again with the mountains. They were worth the effort but I haven't master that fear yet. I now feel my own pressure about editing and I know I can't wait forever and just write other mountains. I don't want to be lost under unfinished and rough stories. 

What is that fear that blocks me? I conquered the fear of writing words, why is it so hard to make them nice and representative of my imagination? 
  • Do I fear the power of my own imagination? Yes, I know the extent the imagination can have and the power it has over me and people. Is it enough to stop me? Not anymore, since I conquered that fear by writing words.
  • Do I fear the feedback from readers? A bit, but I know I can't bewitch everybody and make them love my words. I am sure there are people somewhere that would love them and share them or they will learn to like what I write like other authors did and are doing now.
  • Do I fear editing would destroy the essence I was trying to put in the text when I was writing it? Yes, that is a part of the equation. Editing could do just that, but not editing can prevent the essence to be properly shared. So that is not a reason not to edit.
  • Do I fear the amount of work? That is something seriously consider. Since I am involved in my job and I have other passions, it is preventing me to put enough time in a project like this. 
  • Do I fear to never have the time to finish this? No, I now know more than one working methods to organize my time and focus on the right task. Just apply them.
  • Do I fear I have no clue how to edit? Bingo. I have never really done it for a long story and I fear I don't know how to do that! What are the steps? Am I doing them in the right order? What will happen if I forget one; will I be able to fix my text? How can I tell editing would be done?
I read on the subject and I got a few good tips but like many things in life, I don't believe there is a recipe to edit a text. This reminds me a many Agile methods and people still looking for step by step walk-through to apply them and get their full benefits. 

I think there is only one way to edit my stories: just start and build on what I will discover.

It is a new and unknown journey. It could end in a total lost of confidence on my writing skills and abandon all hope of ever publish, at least, one novel. But waiting at the base of a mountain can only certify me that I will always live in the shadow of my stories. If I ever want to share the magnificent view at the top, I have to climb it and face all these magical creatures, plot twists, character's emotions, difficult scenes and problems to solve. There is no other way up to fully appreciate and feel the pride at the top. I have to climb like a human with the tools of my imagination and like anything else I have accomplished in life; I will get better at it by doing it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Air climatisé VS Valeur ajoutée

 "Bonjour, c'est pour confirmer que nous avons l'autorisation d'entrer dans votre condo pour installer votre air climatisé."
"Diantre ! Enfin ! Depuis le temps que je l'attends depuis mon arrivée à la fin juin. Juste à temps pour la fin des chaleurs d'été. Merci !"

C'est effectivement la demande que j'ai eu aujourd'hui, mais pas tout à fait la réponse que j'ai donnée. Quoiqu'au fond de moi c'est exactement ce que je pensais. C'est un retard qui pour moi est totalement inacceptable et ce climatiseur aurait été plus qu'utile lorsqu'il a fait 40C avec humidex. Malheureusement, je n'ai pas pu l'avoir et je vais devoir en profiter uniquement que l'été prochain.

Cette situation m'amène à penser à un point soit : la valeur client ajoutée, business value, ROI, etc.
C'est simple: pour moi, cet air climatisé avait de la valeur pour les mois de juillet et août. Oh combien aurais-je été content et aurait abusé de cet outil qui aurait comblé un besoin imminent. En septembre, ce besoin n'est plus tout à fait d'actualité et l'importance en est moindre.
Qu'en est-il de nos clients avec qui nous développons des solutions ? Eux aussi ont des besoins de ce genre et doivent constamment se river le nez à des listes de priorités, des projets prioritaires au leur, des processus d'approbation et autres délais qui font en sorte que leur valeur ajoutée s'en voit diminuer; voir carrément annihiler.

Je me suis donc retrouvé dans la peau d'un de ces clients qui ne comprend pas à quel point son besoin n'a pas été compris outre "Installez-moi ça!". Cette valeur ajoutée est en effet le point le plus important dans tout le projet. À la base c'est le "pourquoi",  de cette demande, son essence, sa raison d'être ou son "scope". Les requis de cette demande ne sont pas reliés "installer l'unité de climatisation", mais bien à cette valeur qui est de me rafraîchir au moment où j'en ai besoin. En tant que client, je suis prêt à payer pour obtenir ce produit pourvu que je puisse en bénéficier (ROI) dans le moment où je peux en tirer le maximum.

C'est comme si les bonbons d'Halloween étaient disponibles en magasin en novembre ou bien les sapins de Noël en février. On est bien content de les avoir, mais vont-ils se vendre ? Probablement pas autant que les prévisions pour octobre et décembre. Cette valeur ajoutée se doit d'être identifiée lors des projets, que ce soit informatique ou non, et doit être communiquée à tous les acteurs nécessaires pour la réalisation. Si, par exemple, un client à la possibilité de faire comprendre cette valeur ajoutée à son analyste d'affaires, mais que cette compréhension ne se rend pas jusqu'à l'équipe de développement et jusqu'au membre qui code le morceau nécessaire, comment peut-on espérer livrer cette valeur ajoutée et en tirer son plein potentiel ?

Il faut impérativement que cette valeur ajoutée soit communiquée, et comprise, par les différents intervenants. Ne serait-ce que pour avoir l'opportunité de négocier ce qui peut être livré en fonction de ce qui peut offrir le plus de valeur possible tout en considérant les différents facteurs qui pourraient empêcher la livraison complète. Je n'ai sûrement pas besoin d'énumérer ce qui peut retarder un projet; la liste en serait trop longue, malheureusement.

Cette valeur ajoutée est au coeur de plusieurs pratiques et si on se concentre à rendre possible cette valeur, nous comprenons l'essence de ces pratiques et on ne voit plus seulement des "buzz words" comme Agile, Lean, Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, Test-Driven-Development (TDD), Acceptance-Test-Driven-Development (ATDD), Behaviour-Driven-Development (BDD), etc.

L'un des points communs à tous ces pratiques/méthodes/outils est de justement livrer au client un maximum de valeur ajoutée.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Launching | Lancement

Today is the offical launch of!

This is a very happy day for me since I have finally decided to have my own domain name and I am very proud to share it with the world. It's still new and all shiny. There are still pieces that will take form over the weeks and of course I will be publishing content.
As mentionned in the About page, this blog is a mix of the different passions and values that I have: Writing, Reading, Tea, Agile and Aïkido. I'll take great care to tag each post to facilitate your navigation through my thoughts. Feel free to comment, I will be more than happy to answer you.

Aujourd'hui est le lancement officiel de !

C'est un jour très heureux pour moi puisque j'ai finalement décidé d'avoir mon propre nom de domaine et je suis très fier de le partager avec le monde entier. C'est encore tout nouveau et brillant. Il y a encore des morceaux qui prendront forme au cours des semaines et bien sûr je publierai du contenu.
Comme mentionné dans la page À propos, ce blogue est un mélange des différentes passions et valeurs que j'ai : Écriture, Thé, Agile et l'Aïkido. Je vais prendre grand soin d’étiqueter chaque billet afin de faciliter votre navigation à travers mes pensées. N'hésitez pas à commenter, je serai plus qu'heureux de vous répondre.

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's over! (For now!)

Yes! It's over! I did it again to write 50 000 words (50 025 to be exact) in a month and this time was during Camp Nanowrimo, the newest tool from The Office of Letters and Light.

I am happy it is over because writing in August was not like in November. It was harder and keeping the pace was difficult. In fact, I think I was on target only one day during the whole month. Which is not the way I usually perform during NaNoWriMo. Looking at my stats was mainly a source of deception and stress so I used to look at it less and less. I mainly looked at the date I was going to end if I would continue at this pace. It kept me forgetting to give me time to write.

This month was harder because at work it was a vacation time, so I needed to replace people, I had to work over night, I had to attend meetings for the Communauté Agile que Québec, I had aikido trainings, the hot sun was calling me outside, I had many many many unplanned things that kept me away from my keyboard. Usually, I don't have all that during November. At least, not that much. Is it a good thing to write during August? Totally! It woke me up and remembered me that I needed to write and use my imagination. It was a very good training for November and not to forget: I wrote a novel! 50 025 is a pretty good novel and I managed to write my whole story and I am missing only a few holes here and there. Editing is going to be fun, I have a good feeling about it!

One other thing, I managed to write down another draft. That means my imagination will relax a bit about this story since it has been written. Of course, my imagination is already thinking for a sequel (!) but I don't plan to write it before editing the first part.

This brings me to what I will do until November arrives:

  • Decide how I will approach editing. This is still new and I need a plan that will evolve as I am learning.

  • Resume editing Débordement Imaginaire. Yep, I will structure my leprechauns and polish that story (around 100K words by now)

  • Find my novel idea for November. I'll open my plot bunny note-book.

  • Brainwash people to do NaNoWrimo. Already 3 during August!

  • Read a bit. I still have a lot of stuff I want to read.

I like writing!