Saturday, August 6, 2011

Week in Review - The Stock Market, Lawrence Block, and Crispy Eggplant

This week we had an exciting economy, I went sideways on the Write-a-thon, Lawrence Block and Dean Wesley Smith posted different takes on dealing with your muse. Plus a 70's TV show, and some crispy eggplant.

Patience is a Virtue

This week I lost about $5000 in the stock market in my Roth IRA. I think that's slightly more that I've actually invested in that account. Oh Noes!

At least it would be oh noes if it weren't for the 47k+ in gains that remained in my account, in spite of the "horrible" losses. That 47k+ mostly comes from an original 2k investment about ten years ago. Two years ago, I invested another 2k or so while the market is low, but that hasn't had time to build yet.

Also, about an hour after the market plunged today, it changed its mind and soared instead.

Folks, that's what investments do. Short term, they buck and plunge and soar like an angry bronco. Long term, they pay off. Slowly, irregularly, but with certainty, at least if you do your due diligence, and invest in a balance of good stock, and remain patient. The best way to lose your money is to try to play the market short term.

Writers, especially indie writers, have a tendency to treat their books the way bad investors treat their money. They don't see their writing as an investment, but rather as a product, and they put way too much energy and worry into selling it, and "valuing" (pricing) it.

Folks, intellectual property is capital, not a perishable product, not a manufactured good, and not a commodity. When you write, you're investing. Investment is long term. The value of the asset endures, unless you mismanage it.

A good investor lets that capital mature, and concentrates on acquiring more assets, rather than fussing at the ones she's got. An investor isn't a trader or a salesman, an investor invests.

And just as investors invest, writers write. You increase your wealth, your career, your audience, by increasing your capital holdings - i.e. writing.

When I look at the world of indie publishing, I see something ironic going on: those who are most excited about making money at indie publishing waste all their time marketing rather than building assets. Those who don't care about making a living are the ones doing what they should do: writing.

We are about to enter a strange new era in literature, I think. The Rise of the Amateur. Or, since these "amateurs" are going to be making money, maybe a better phrase would be The Rise of the Hobbyist. Expect to see some posts about this from me this fall.


This weekend wraps up the Clarion Write-A-Thon. Don't forget that it's a worthy cause, and if you can afford to donate a few bucks, there is still time.

In the meantime, I'm going on for another week. I'm just shy of 24,000 words (not including today's word count) and no where near the 50k I had set as a goal. I will not make that, but I should have a decent writing week. I will probably not finish the WIP. See my comments under the "Links of the Week" for more on that. Lawrence Block had a great post this week regarding the subject.

This past week or so has been an incredibly creative time for me. (That whole boredom thing is working out nicely.) I've got so many good stories bouncing in my head, the only problem is that they're all fighting each other to get out first.

But I'm also having thoughts about my non-fiction writing. I've come to realize that I'm more of a natural at that than I ever believed I was. It's much easier for me to knock off 2000 words in a sitting of blogging, for instance. I'm wondering if I ought to make better use of that.

Book News

*I got the proofs on a fun little ebook anthology Pink Snowbunnies In Hell. Twenty flash fiction stories and a couple of poems, all from the writing prompt "Pink snowbunnies will ski in hell..." My story is called "Revenge of the Peeps" and it is a Starling and Marquette story -- the characters from the WIP which I am pretending to finish as we speak.

Look for it soon! (I'll announce with hoopla.)

*The paperback version of Have Gun, Will Play is now, at last, available for purchase from Amazon. It's even linked to the Kindle version (hoorah hoorah) but I think there are still some glitches in the listing -- including the fact that the "look inside" actually looks inside the Kindle version, not the paper one. (I suppose it doesn't matter, but it isn't laid out like a paper book, and looks funny.)

I might do a giveaway this fall. Also might sell autographed copies direct. Have to look into the logistics.

Links of the Week

Lawrence Block wrote a great post on why he gets tired of people asking him for more Bernie Rhodenbarr books. It's nice to see someone as prolific and terrific as he is state outright that he doesn't write to spec. Even if he has a book mostly done... he doesn't know if it ever will be finished until he finishes it.

Nurturing the muse is a tricky business. You've got to train yourself to be tough, and to keep up with her. You have to be careful of using the "it just isn't flowing right" as an excuse. But at the same time, if you waste time fighting with something that wants to go slower, that is purely time wasted. Write something else.

At the same time Dean Wesley Smith wrote a great post on "Practice" which takes kind of the opposite view. Except it isn't. Dean doesn't believe in writer's block, but he does believe in project block. He believes some projects do stall on you. But that doesn't mean you should stop writing. The key is to keep going with something else. (Hey, didn't I just say that in the previous paragraph?)


Didn't go to the movies this week, but I've been watching some episodes of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. The mystery plots are very puzzle oriented, very intricate, and I'm reminded once again of how Levinson and Link partly created Murder, She Wrote as an easier whodunnit, after the failure of EQ.

All the same, EQ was a wonderful show, stylish, with fun characters and situations.

You don't need to solve the crime before Ellery, and heck, I don't even always mind when they cheat a little and withhold some information. (Though I don't like it when they do that too much.) Levinson and Link worked their asses off to write that show -- making it work as a drama AND as a puzzle. And not enough people appreciated it.

But I did, and I do. A lot of golden age mysteries had intricate plots but were light on story. I so love those that did both. This is one place where I disagree with Dean Wesley Smith on the idea of fussing and rewriting. Yes, I know where he's coming form, but some books are not performances, some books are sculptures or paintings. When the structure is complete, they may be mere sketches. The work itself may need many more layers. The key is knowing when it's done... and stopping.

Tasty Food of the Week

I had to have some Sichuan food tonight, in particular a dish which is called something like "flaky puffy eggplant" in Chinese, but usually translated to "Crispy Eggplant" or in this case "Eggplant in Sweet Sauce." Sticks of eggplant coated in a light fluffy batter and deep=fried, and then tossed in a slightly sweet garlic sauce as soon as it comes out of the fryer. It was particularly good with the salty Sichuan string beans.

See you in the funny papers.

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