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On technical writers and their wives

January 14, 2009

Tonight, just before going to bed, I decided to browse through the technical book that arrived in the post today. As I was turning the pages, starting with the cover and progressing toward the table of contents, the dedication caught my eye:

For Lisa

There's nothing wrong with dedicating a book to the person you love*—I dedicated my book to Jelena, the love of my life—but at that point I realised this is something I've seen dozens of times before. It's a recurring pattern: a workaholic writer dedicates a book to his significant other. Sounds idyllic, until you realise that our significant others don't really care (on average; some will, but that's rare**). A dedication may be worth something if it's at the beginning of a literary masterpiece. On a technical book—let's be honest, not so much. I would dare say that the ones we love would rather spend an extra hour or two with us every day, rather than live their lives without us while we're sitting by our computers trying to meet the deadlines that we keep breaking.

(*) Please bear in mind that I don't know anything about the relationship between Lisa and the author. My blog post is not about the reality but, rather, about my perception of the reality.

(**) Ironically, it seems that Lisa actually read the manuscript of this particular book (as stated in  Acknowledgements), which means that she might have actually cared.