Jan 4, 2014

Why I Write

While I was in China, one of the questions I got asked a lot was “Why did you write Big Data Demystified?” I talked about my own very personal experience with Big Data, how I used it to measure my progress every week when I was training for my first Ironman and how I wanted to share that with others. I talked about my desire to take everything I had learned about Big Data and put it in one place–to create a lasting work that encompassed the knowledge I had acquired so other people could share in the learnings.

But then later, while I was talking with my Dad I told him that what I really wanted to say was, “I wrote the book because I love to write!”

To his great credit, he said, “you should just say that!”

I have always enjoyed writing. In eighth grade, I took a course called Expository Writing with Mr. Stewart. I credit that class with teaching me almost everything I know about writing. One of my favorite exercises was writing a Dr. Seuss-like story. Mine was called Horace The Hippo. It was a story about a Hippo who lost everything because of his weight problem and what he did about it.

I love writing because it’s a way to clarify my thoughts. It’s a way to communicate. It’s a way to generate new ideas.

People often tell me they want to write a book but they just don’t think they can.

How do you write a book? One word at a time.

It sounds so simple, yet it can be so difficult. People ask me if I ever get writer’s block. I do get writer’s block–all the time. My solution is to write one sentence. I may throw that sentence out later, but if I can write one sentence, then I can write another and another and… before you know it there’s a whole chapter.

People also ask how long it takes to write a book. The research for Big Data Demystified took me more than nine months. That was after I had already been in technology for years and built two storage companies. So I felt like I had a very strong basis for understanding the space and I was really digging into the details. The actual writing took 10 weeks.

There is a great quote by the famous conductor Herbert von Karajan. A flutist asks him when he should come in and von Karajan says, “When you can’t stand it anymore!” That’s why I write. When there is so much content in my brain that I can’t stand it anymore–I write.


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