Writing progress

I have spent the past week improving my knowledge of the modern writing process.  There are many new tools out there (besides the latest copy of Microsoft Word) to help the prospective young writer.

My new favorite is a program called Scrivener by the folks at Literature and Latte.  Scrivener is a multipurpose tool for helping writers organize and reorganize their manuscripts.  It can present the writer’s ideas in a variety of ways – from a virtual cork board to an indented outline.  It provides specialized areas for holding your research work, your character biographies, and information on key scenes (How was the room laid out?  Put in a sketch!)  It formats the documents in a number of different ways from PDF to Kindle mobi files.  Very useful.

Scrivener was originally created for the Mac, but recently made the jump to Windows.  It is a fun package for the beginning writer and I recommend it heartily.

Of course, a major part of the entire writing gig is getting it published.  A trip to the library and bookstore turned up several recent popular books in the areas I am interested in writing, as well as copies of the most recent market guides.

Like most readers I have my personal favorites, authors whose work I wish I could emulate.  That said, what I like to read is not usually what reaches the bestseller lists.  So, being a bit pragmatic on the subject, I looked at what those authors offer their readers, that the books I remember fondly do not..

<sigh> Now I have several new favorite authors.  Styles change, and the public’s taste alters with the passage of the years, but a good story is a good story.  So, I have some hope that the stories I would like to tell will find a favorable audience, although I will have to alter my current writing style a bit to accommodate modern tastes.

Technology has stepped up to help out on the storage front.  Being able to place your work in progress in the cloud means that you can work on it from a variety of locations.  As one who likes to meander a bit when I think, this is useful.

Finally we have the possibility of publishing electronically.  The ability to skip the whole paper publishing route has some appeal, especially to the green side of me.  However, I must honestly admit I still like the feel of a book in my hand over a Kindle or a Nook.  I have become increasingly fond of reading on my iTouch though, and I expect the next generation of readers may think our obsession with the printed word as criminally damaging to the environment.  Perhaps we will learn to use bamboo to make paper.  I personally have never seen a more sustainable crop candidate, but that’s a topic for another post.

So that’s it for this piece.  I have transferred a number of my older stories and outlines to the cloud.  I have selected my tools for writing and set them up.  I have studied the current publishing process.

It is, in a word, progress.

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The Myth of the “Wealth Creators”

I have been listening a lot to the Republican ads going on about how we need to reduce spending and direct more of our tax dollars to the “Wealth Creators” who will then act to stimulate our economy.

The fact is, we tried that under President George Bush at the start of the financial meltdown.  President Bush gave a great deal of our tax money to some of the wealthiest business owners, in an effort to stimulate the economy, to preserve jobs and get our stalled economy going.

His strategy failed – miserably.

Why? Because, in an uncertain economy, those wealthy individuals did exactly what any smart business person should do – they kept the money to invest later.  In an interview with Robert Reich on NPR, he explained that of the billions that President Bush gave to the wealthy to stimulate the economy they kept 80% of it.  Of the 20% they did spend most went to bonuses to top employees – most likely to keep them from jumping ship if they got a better offer, or to fulfill contractual bonuses that were earned before the economy tanked and had to be paid in the following quarter.

Why did they keep the money and not invest it?  Simple. There was no market for their goods.  Giving money to a wealthy business person means he can make more products, but if there is no one to buy those products all he is doing is lowering the value of the ones he has already made and is currently trying to sell.  By creating a surplus in the market he is damaging his already fragile business.  No reasonable business person would do that. Instead they hoard the money, planning to use it when the economy has turned around and there is increased demand for their products.

On the other hand, when President Obama tried to stimulate the economy he targeted Americans with low and middle income for the money.  He tried to put even more money into the bottom of the economy but was blocked by a House of Representatives whose mandate was to prevent him from doing anything, at any cost.

So what happened with the billions that President Obama put into the economy?  Well the stock market is now close to 13,000.  Higher than before the economic collapse.  The unemployment rate started to go up but has slowed as a great deal of what the President wanted to accomplish was blocked by Congress.

President Obama correctly judged that the way to stimulate an economy is to put the money into the lower and middle classes.  Why?  Because they have to spend it.  They do not have the resources to set the money aside.  Again, according to the same NPR report, over 80% of the money given to the lower and middle income families was reinvested in the economy.  As a result there was more demand for goods, and businesses increased production to fill that new demand.

And what happened to George Bush’s solution?  When President Bush tried to stop the downward plunge of the stock market from 11,000 it plummeted to about 9000.

So, what is the lesson we can take from these examples?  While the national economy might seem a huge and massively complex system, it still operates according to some pretty fundamental rules which are easy to follow.

The first thing is that the Republican idea of “Wealth Creators” and “Job Creators” is hogwash.  The only thing that will make businesses increase production and higher more workers is increased demand for their products.  Giving them money and tax breaks will not help the economy, and there is a lot of evidence that it actually hurts it.

So, if you want to stimulate the economy, if you want to make the country more competitive, if you want to get people back to work, you must direct your resources to the lower and middle income areas.  You must put money into the hands of the people who will spend it.  You must put money into basic services, like food stamps, medical assistance, child care.  You must invest in infrastructure that creates jobs but more importantly makes it easier for lower and middle income people to get to and from work.  This frees dollars for the poor and middle classes which they will spend on items to make themselves and their children more upwardly mobile.  You need to increase the size of the middle class in order to fix the economy because the middle class buys the goods which drive innovation and increase demand.

Bottom line: President Bush and the Republican Tea Party Activists got their economics wrong.  President Obama got it right, but has not been allowed to go far enough by a stonewalling House..

Food for thought in the upcoming elections.

7 – 11 Seems like a lucky day for a change…

Well, I have spent a lot of time analyzing what went wrong with the Kickstarter.  I did most things right, a few things wrong and a couple things just did not go my way at all.  That said, it was a great learning experience.  I’m sure I will try it again.

But for now I need to move onto other things.

I have been promising myself for the past several years that a number of things I wanted to write would get done, “just as soon as I finish this next project.”  Well, the next project didn’t happen and after the Post Mortem on Oncolos I realized that I owe it to myself to finish some of the writing projects that I have been putting off.

So, beginning today those projects are being pushed to the front of the list.  I plan on blogging about my progress as I go.  In fact, since I intend to spend a lot more time on honing my writing overall, expect to see more posts on this site as well.

I’ll still be teaching dance, which is currently putting food on the table, and I’ll certainly keep working on making games, but they will progress at a slower pace.

Deb and I went to a Chinese restaurant recently and my fortune cookie read, “Begin a new project and see it through to the finish.”

Sounds like a plan.