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Status Report 2009

July 7, 2010

Notable News from a Year Ago, July 7, 2009: Microsoft Money is discontinued!  Crying softly, I switch to Quicken.


Last week’s entry, before it turned into an artistic twisting of the term Independence Day, was supposed to be a slice of life — what I’m doing in these trying economic times, and how I’m doing on my personal 2009 goals.  Right-hemisphere of my brain notwithstanding, that’s what I hope to accomplish today.

How does this work?  Well, it starts with the two components of my Self-Reliance Plan.  The first part I’ve mined to the point of environmental ruin.  You know it as Writing.  The second part, which I haven’t taken much time to discuss (for reasons that will soon become painfully obvious), is the stock market.

2009 STOCK MARKET PROGRESS

So let me start with the stock market.  In a few words: It’s not going too well.  Well, no, that’s not exactly true.  The accurate analysis is that I’m not doing as well as I would like to be doing.  And if you beg for yet more honesty, over the past two months as I prepared for the NY Pitch Conference, I haven’t been fulfilling my end of the bargain.  My nightly and weekend stock market homework assignments — it’s gone by the wayside.

So, with the stock market, it’s not like I can give the old tried and true “I’ve done everything right and I’m still not being successful”.  Have you heard that before?  People, especially unemployed college graduates, use that excuse a lot.  I don’t want to fall into that trap.  My results in the stock market are fairly typical of a person who treats it as a second-tier objective.  I still lose more than I win, but there is a silver lining.  The near-crash didn’t kill me, so I can still fight.

What’s that song?  Onward Christian Solider?  Yes.  Exactly.  Only not the Christian part.

There have been glimmers of hope, brief signs of improvement.  June [‘09], in fact, has been great — the first time in a year that we had a net or zero gain for the month.  PCX continues to be a sink hole.  Made some money on MOS.  I’d have specific numbers, but I learned this month that Microsoft is discontinuing my beloved Money and have been in the rigorous (and sometimes confusing) process of transitioning over to Quicken Premier.

Painful, I tell you.  Absolutely painful.  But I need my financial program.  All you other suckers can get down with Cloud, but for as long as I possibly can, I’m keeping it all local.

So my mid-2009 appraisal of what I’ve done in the stock market: holistic improvement more than any incremental surge, with most of those gains coming in the investment arena as opposed to the trading arena.  I can say for myself that, depending on how things go with the writing over the next two months (which I’ll get to shortly), I will continue to focus the majority of my efforts on investing more than trading, on wealth preservation more than generation.  That, as I’ve come to understand over the past year, is the best and most realistic use of my time considering my schedule and obligations.  That is where I hope to see marked improvement by the end of the year.

2009 WRITING PROGRESS

And now, on to writing, which, as you know already, has been a complete success.  My main goal for 2009 was attending the NY Pitch Conference, which I did, and from which I came home with an editor’s email address.  Also this month, two of the three articles that I submitted to competition, “How to Change the World” and “The Words Not Written” placed, with the latter receiving first place on an author blog.

Instead of money (the usual qualification for me to enter a competition), I received a copy of Burn This Book, a selection of essays on censorship edited by Toni Morrison, and a one-hour consultation with the blog administrator, Anne Mini.  All-in-all, I set out in 2009 to get out of my shell and interact with other writers who are trying to do this, and I’m not going to lollygag or be cutesy on the word choice here — I knocked the ball out the park on this one.  I mean, today if you do a search for my name on Google, the link to “The Words Not Written” on Anne Mini’s blog is second behind my LinkedIn account!

Anne and I have a consultation scheduled for mid-July during which the plan is to review both manuscripts: The Inner Limit and The Twin Paradox.  By then I will have sent her the Abstracts, First 5 Pages, a 5 Page Synopsis, and a 5-6 Page Middle Scene from both novels.  She’ll read them and, based on her extensive knowledge of the publishing business, give her honest feedback on their merits and marketability, book category, and potential literary agents.  This is a service that she usually charges for, but that I’m getting free for winning her contest, and feedback (and not just any feedback, but learned feedback) is an asset more valuable when you’re starting out than all the first prize cash in the world.

It’s impossible for me say what the next steps are until I’ve had the consultation.  At this moment, I’m piecing together the synopsis for The Twin Paradox, which I should have by week’s end — but I can’t even speculate on what will be said or even how I will respond to it.  The one thing the first part of 2009 has taught me is that my internal crap-o-meter is not as off-center as I once believed.  I know when what I’m writing is good; and I know when it isn’t.  And from that vantage point, even for a novel that is two years old like The Inner Limit is, I can say that there are gems in the material that I will send Anne.  There are gems even in The Twin Paradox, which is why I was brash enough to pitch it in New York when it wasn’t even finished — because I know the concept is good and have optimal faith in my execution.  [In case you haven’t figured it out, I’ve since moved The Inner Limit in front of The Twin Paradox.  It’s where I spend most of my energy these days.]

CONCLUSION

As I’ve said before, there are so many similarities between the stock market and writing that it absolutely quells the mind, which makes my dual pursuit of both intriguing and fitting in a way that a perhaps only an artist would care about.  The truth is: I’ve been doing this writing thing for upwards of seven years, and the stock market thing for two.  Is there any wonder that I would be having more success in one area than the other?  Isn’t it good to know that, as long as I don’t quit and throw in the towel with the stock market, that success is soon to come there, too?

No, there isn’t any wonder; and yes, it is a good thing.  The difficult part, as always, is wanting to have the success when you want as opposed to when it arrives.  When it comes to writing, it’s closer.

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