Justin Tadlock

Realizing a dream: Writing a WordPress book

This is a story (the short version) of my personal journey to becoming an author. Thank you to everyone in the WordPress community that has helped make this happen by allowing me to be a part of the community over the last few years.

The early years

As I was growing up in smalltown Alabama, I always wanted to be a writer. From about the time I could hold a crayon, I was writing something. Writing on the walls. The kitchen table. Occasionally, on paper. From what my parents tell me, I could do this quite well at about the age of 3.

During my pre-teen years, I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and write songs, so music and lyrics were my first introduction to how beautiful language could be.

Eventually, I outgrew my songwriting phase. Be glad I did. The world certainly doesn’t need any more boy-band pop songs. I figured I could offer something of a little more substance to the world.

High school

In high school, I had the most wonderful English teacher. She was one of those teachers that understood that literacy is not just about basic reading and writing skills. Literature. Technology. Music. Film. Those are the things that matter. Don’t get me wrong. We still had to do the boring high school English class stuff. But, she opened my mind to the world outside of the small town I was living in.

At some point during my senior year I realized that I wanted to write. I mean really write. It was the first time I’d ever put “write a book” on my list of life goals.

College

I graduated from Auburn University in 2007 with a B.A. in English and a concentration in creative writing and journalism.

When I began college, I didn’t plan on having a degree in English. I was in software engineering. Then I was in hotel and restaurant management. Then I was in software engineering again. Like many other college students, I bounced around majors a few times. It was tough finding something that was both enjoyable and challenging.

Despite protests from friends and a few from my family, I decided to take the plunge and declare myself as an English major. What I found was something that I loved. How could anyone not love reading 20+ books a semester? I had the time of my life exploring ethnographic studies, novels, and even the Bible as literature.

Each professor impacted my life in some way. Each class allowed me to explore other cultures. Each friend I got to know, helped shape me.

By the time I graduated, I had narrowed my list of life goals down to a few things. At the top of that list: Write something that has an impact on someone’s life.

At some point during college, I also started learning HTML, CSS, PHP, and WordPress.

After college

Harsh realization that life is not all roses and peaches.

…Time spent wandering the globe…

I moved back to Alabama last year because I wanted to get back to my roots. I wanted to engulf myself in the white-trash, trailer-park, tobacco-chewing culture that I hadn’t been a part of in so long.

The plan: Observe the culture. Write.

I could give you at least 100 reasons why I haven’t finished a novel yet, but I won’t. There’s no point in trying to justify losing sight of my goal.

I also spent some more time playing around with WordPress during this phase of my life. I suppose that time could’ve been spent working on the great Southern American novel.

An opportunity

A few months ago, I received an email about collaborating on a WordPress plugin development book for Wrox, a company devoted to publishing books “by programmers for programmers.”

At first, I was a bit hesitant to take on any extra WordPress projects. It also meant that I wouldn’t be able to apply for teaching jobs this school year, which was one of my goals for 2010. And, it wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I put “write a book” on my list of life goals.

However, it was an opportunity to write about something I’m passionate about.

The book

We have a great team of WordPress minds melding for what will be an awesome WordPress plugin development book. Brad Williams, Ozh Richard, and I are the writers. We’ve also picked up Andrew Nacin as our WordPress technical editor.

As a sidenote to this: I’m convinced that Andrew is actually a super-advanced robot that has been programmed to do nothing other than write awesome WordPress code. And, I’m happy to have him on the team.

I don’t want to get into too many technical details about the book yet. I do want to say that it will be a great resource for professional plugin development. We will put everything we have into making this the best book on creating plugins available for WordPress.

For me, this book announcement is mostly about sharing my personal journey to this point. I am thankful that Wrox, Brad, and Ozh are giving me an opportunity to realize one of my lifelong dreams. And, I hope that all my readers will come along on this journey with me (and buy the book when it’s published in March).

Also, check out theses posts by Brad and Ozh: