Welcome back to another exciting episode of, “What the hell is going on (in Tucson’s life)?”
Today we have: NaNoWriMo Post Mortem, I’ve Changed My Mind (and So Should You), and What the Hell is Going to Happen Next
NaNoWriMo Post Mortem
I WON! I WON! I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. There’s a personal competition called the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). The goal is to have written a novel in a month. The point is to prove to yourself and to the world that it is possible. For all of our excuses that prevent us from ever singing the story in our heart, somehow we persevere. It’s miraculous. When I finished, I felt like I just won the Superbowl. I was flying high for two weeks. Accomplishing that feat was an incredible confidence boost. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The only thing harder was doing it the first time.
The first time I did it, the story was heavily based on my favorite movie “The Matrix.” I wasted a lot of brain power wrestling with trying to be original and trying to be faithful. It was exhausting. This time it was totally, completely, unequivocally original in the sense that I copied everything but from different sources this time. My inspirations include: The Godfather, The Lion King, Prometheus Bound, BoJack Horseman, Who Shot Roger Rabbit, Mad Max, and many, many more. I felt free to pick and choose to suit my fancy. It was liberating and allowed the words to flow much freer.
I changed my narrative structure too. Instead of using Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, aka “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” which is 12 steps, I used Dan Harmon’s Story Circle which is 8 steps. Eighth steps is more manageable. It’s easier to contrast opposing steps (1 with 5, 2 with 6 etc.). It’s easier to define what needs to happen in order for it to flow naturally into the next step. Next year I’m going to use a 256 step story structure and see what happens.
Speaking of next year, I have to decide if I want to get this story published, or if I want to write another story. I certainly like this recent story much more than last time. It feels more gripping, cohesive, and twisty. I haven’t decided yet. In any case, I’m not going to start editing until January. I need some space and I think I need to see other people for a while.
I’ve Changed My Mind (and So Should You)
National Debt is actually no big deal. I finished the audiobook “The Ascent of Money” by Niall Ferguson which was positively marvelous. It was so enlightening and brought so much insight that I now feel like a smart person. It changed my mind about several things, but the most striking is how normal sovereign debt is. It’s nothing new. Neither is defaulting or delaying payments. It’s not the end of the country nor the end of the world.
I finished the audiobook “John Bogle’s Little Book of Investing” by John Bogle. It wasn’t as impressive as I hopped, but it did change my mind about how to invest in the stock market. For a long time I was obsessed about making money in the stock market like the pros. I read countless books and got countless conflicting answers. It was infuriating. I refused to be convinced that there is no right answer. Bogle’s answer is that the way to make money in the stock market is to work in the stock market; either as a stock broker, financial adviser, analyst, or just own the stock market. These people make money whether the stock market goes up or down. They live by the motto, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Meanwhile, the rest of us schmucks lose money as it “churns” between parties. Everybody takes a fee for every transaction and everybody wants a piece of the pie. Even if you find a winning stock, your profits will be eaten by every middleman in america.
In an overhyped, information saturated market frenzy world, It’s a refreshingly cynical view, which is why I found it so convincing. The conclusion is to just buy an index fund, which mirrors the performance of the top 500 companies. It’s low maintenance for you (you never have to sell) and it has low fees for the fund managers because there’s almost nothing to do. It’s low risk because even as individual companies bite the dust, the top 500 is automatically adjusted to only include the winners. Just set it and forget it.
Bogle happens to have an index fund, (stock ticker code is VTI), which is well vetted and has plenty of performance history. Yes, the whole book was one giant ad and I was duped not only into reading it, but also into buying his damn fund. I’m ok with it, though. He makes good points.
What the Hell is Going to Happen Next
Being singularly focused was grueling. I unsubscribed from almost all of the bloggers I normally read. I didn’t watch any youtube. I didn’t do any pleasure reading. It was great! I loved cutting out all distractions. I loved being done with something.
Ultimately my goal is to be a published author. Here’s 22 facts they DON”T want you to know about being a published author. You can’t just write words good. You also have to have a pre-existing audience. No publisher wants to take a risk on a backwoods nobody. An advance from a publisher is going to be anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 and those fat checks go to people who already have an audience. If you think getting people to watch your movie is hard, try getting them to read a damn book once in a while. Publishers are looking for people with an existing “platform”: a blog, a youtube channel, 1,039 fans on facebook. An online presence. Which means next up, I need to hire an army of monkeys to write my next book while I build my platform.