I'm still finishing up two books that I'll mention today. Most non-technical books I read straight through, anything technical/learning based tends to be start and stop effort as I absorb it.
First up is Follow The Story by James Stewart is about how to write non-fiction by a well published non-fiction writer. It's interesting to hear his perspective on what makes a good story - for the front page of the Wall Street Journal for example and he's starting to go into how he builds the story once he has the idea. Some of it stuff I don't need yet like how to sell a story idea to an editor. Different stuff than technical writing, or at least it seems so at this point. If you haven't read Stewart he writes a column for Smart Money magazine that I enjoy, and has published a few other books including Disney War (interesting read as well). It's not the end all book for me on writing, I'll have to read more about how to get to where I think I want go, but it has given me some insight into what's possible and what was worth the price of the book.
Writing a book is on my list of things I want to do, but I want to make sure I have the skill and experience to do a really good job when I do it. I write a lot, and I'd say well enough to be usable, but not reaching to elegant. Should it? Don't know yet! It's natural to consider writing a technical book, but I'm really interested in non-fiction outside of that, both historical and business related. At some point I'd like to try my hand at fiction, but that seems like a harder task and not as immediately interesting. Part of my challenge on the book project is I want to write solo. Team books make sense for many reasons in the technical space, but I want to do something that is uniquely me (and editor) even if it's harder to do that way.
Anyway, back to books. The second book is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and I have to say I read part of it at Chipotle during lunch...alone, just for the fun of it! It's a networking book, and networking is one of many areas where I know I need to build skills and change some long held negative views about some aspects of networking. He's definitely a power networker, and I'm not sure that is what I want/need to be, but even with that qualification parts of it are good. One chapter is on how to achieve more networking at a conference (more on this in a separate post next week) was interesting,talking about his approach he calls the 'deep bump' to meet someone quickly and with enough depth that you can follow up later. Part of what I like about this book is he believes in being genuine, not just building a contact list in case he needs it, but being proactive about assisting his network. Again, I've spotted some ideas I like and a couple that so far I don't, I'm going to finish reading it, wait a bit, and then read again, I think once I've had time to consider some of it re-reading may let me internalize it more than the first time.
I mentioned above my negative views about networking; I think a lot of them stem from dealing with a lot of people that are bad networkers and want me to follow their style...and it just doesn't fit. More importantly, I'm not sure how successful they are based on the effort they put into it, a network is only useful if you can leverage it somehow, directly or indirectly. I'm still gathering my thoughts on networking, but I'd enjoy any input you have about what you do that works or doesn't work.