Thanksgiving 2020

This has been a right 🤬 of a year, and that probably applies to most anyone else on this globe. In the US, the stress of this presidential election was extreme, and acerbated by COVID pandemic that we pretty much failed to get any sort of handle on. I’ve managed to stay tucked down and safe, but my day to day life from a year ago is completely different now. My favorite “office” coffeeshop, El Diablo, is now gone – 20 years after it started. The loss has an oversized impact on my because it was also my social hub connecting me to friends in my community. Like a lot of others, my world is currently collapsed down to a pretty tiny bubble.

The downsides of this year are undeniable and clear, but there have been a number of silver linings, and since we’re heading into Thanksgiving, it seemed a good time to reflect and celebrate the positives for the year. It doesn’t remove the horror and pain, but to me – it helps offset it.

Right as the pandemic was sweeping up, I managed to get a longer term contract gig that’s been really useful for me, working on technical writing. I’ve been programming, and managing programmers, devops, QA, and the whole software lifecycle kit for multiple decades, and one of the skills that I’ve been trying to cultivate has been communication – specifically writing. Last year around this time, I self-published what was primarily a labor of love – Using Combine – a book/reference doc combination on Apple’s Combine framework. The year before I’d published a different book through Packt, Kubernetes for Developers (A google search on that phrase now directs you to more of offline training and certifications, but there’s a book in there too!). I’d been searching for editors to work with, that really dug into the work to help me structure it – not just the fluffy top level stuff that so a number of publishers stick to.

It’s the combination of these things that ends up being what tops my give-thanks list this year. In the past eight months, I’ve had a chance to work closely with a number of truly amazing editors, helping to refine and improve my writing skills. While I’m still crappy at spotting passive voice in my own writing, the feedback I’ve gotten from Chuck, Joni, Susan, Colleen, Mary Kate, and Paul has been amazing. Everything from basic grammar (that I had just never really did well) to structure, narrative flow, complexity. Top that off with some wonderful writers, Ben, Liz, Dave, and Joanna, willing to answer the odd question or just chat about the latest garden recipes on a video call, and really these past months of contracting have been a terrific experience.

I was super fortunate to find a gig when everyone else seemed to losing them. I’m sure the troubles aren’t even close to over – there’s so much to rebuild – but it’s a bit of light against the backdrop of this year.

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

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