Sunday, April 19, 2015

$15 Minimum wage.

I won't lie. It would hurt.  I might even have to moderate hours, or work more myself.  I also admit that I have ambivalent feelings and am willing to listen to reasonable arguments.

But I think it would be a good thing.  (I can tell you that every other small business owner in town is now cursing me.)

If it is done in stages, I think it might work.

I don't want to be all NIMBY about it, but it might be better if it was applied to larger businesses -- say, any business with more than 5 employees.  But I can see how that might have unintended consequences.

I also wonder if there couldn't be a six month probation period -- but again, I can see how that would have unintended consequences.  (Firing employees every six months...)

I haven't read the article in the Bulletin yet, because I wanted this to be my own response.  But one suggestion would to have some tax breaks for smaller businesses -- under the theory that the state would collect more taxes from the employees.

I've been trying to give my own employees periodic raises -- so that, if they are still with me in a year or so, they will be either at, or close to the 15.00 an hour.  These are good, experienced employees -- and business is currently good, so I can do it.

I have to say -- I like the idea of me rewarding my employees, rather than it being mandated.

There were many times in my business when I couldn't have come close to paying those wages -- but those were also the times when I worked most of the hours myself anyway.

There are some in-between times when I held onto employees or was adding employees, where such a wage increase would be problematic.

I can tell you one thing -- I would expect more from my employees.  No just babysitting the cash-register. Frankly, employees would have to up their game.  No more hanging onto marginal employees.

And it would need to be strictly enforced.  No more competing businesses where the employees are "volunteering." As long as everyone has the same standards, it would all shake itself out.

Over time, the 15.00 would become part of the system.  There might be some fallout at first, but in the end, when everything is said and done, those that work might be better employees, and the businesses better businesses.

I don't know.

It will be hard for very small Mom and Pops.  But if Walmart and McDonald's are forced to pay those wages, it might end up coming back into the coffers of the small businesses.  Theoretically.  (It's a bit like trickle down, but probably more valid.)

Here's the thing.  I'm not totally sure about this.  I could be wrong.  And if I'm wrong, it could have disastrous consequences.  It would have to be done wisely.  My feeling is that any business starting at today's wages, given a two or three year warning, would either be viable at the end of that period or not viable.  Any business that tries to start would know what they need to do to make it.

It's very possible it would be a situation of two steps back and three steps forward.  The short-term results might look scary, but I think in the long run, it would be beneficial.  Especially if the rest of the country follows suit.

It will be interesting to see the results in Seattle and San Francisco. 

I have a feeling it wouldn't be as harmful as it might appear on the surface.  But I could be wrong.

Usually, I'd say when it doubt, leave it alone.  But the wage stagflation and wealth distribution in this country is so fucked up, I think some bold steps need to be taken.

Finally, I am saying this because my business is mature.  I've gotten over the start-up mistakes and the stupid mistakes and the bubbles and become established.

I might have had a very different response 15 years ago, and I think everyone should listen very carefully to those small businesses who are where I was at 15 years ago.  I don't want to be that guy -- I've made it, so now I'm imposing these standards on people who are still struggling to make it.

So...I am open to opposing opinions.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On equal footing (or hoofing.)

I wrote the first new Napoleon chapter.

I didn't refer to any of the previously written material, though it obviously contains some of the same events.  I was much more direct, and much more conscious of trying to create a strong character.

I think this is a much better approach.  Harder to pull off, but if I can do it, will make the book.

For one thing, I'm pretty much sticking it right out there in front:  This is the premise -- this is why I think the premise works.  The reader can decide right up front whether or not they buy the premise.

Sometimes I think events are better off not explained. That is, the explanation only makes it less believable.

So I can postulate a wild pig apocalypse (Aporkcalypse) and just ask the reader to believe it.  That worked OK for the first book, when it was an isolated valley with humans who didn't know what was coming.  (Though I was surprised by how many people seemed to think the idea unbelievable.)

It was even OK with the second book, where the Tuskers are in hiding.

But by the third book, I needed to establish why Tuskers were a danger to all humanity -- and risk that the reader doesn't buy the premise.  I started that in the second book.

So the basic idea is:  The Tuskers are super smart and are quickly learning all the human tricks, and they are breeding exponentially and infiltrating every part of the continent.  They have built The Machine, which is capable of creating such a strong EMP that it destroys everything connected to the electrical grid.  Human civilization falls apart.

Meanwhile, a zombie plague has unintentionally been loosed upon both humans and Tuskers. Also, Tuskers can control other species, adding to their numbers.

So Tuskers and humans are both struggling to survive, and are on equal footing (or hoofing.)

I don't know.  I don't see why this is any more wild or less believable than a thousand other Apocalyptic stories...

So I'm all in.  My job is to introduce all this information in an interesting way, slowly convince the reader that it could actually happen.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Looking forward to a rewrite.

Looking forward to a rewrite is very unusual for me.  I don't much like rewrites.

But in this case, I think I have a chance to make the book much stronger without risking the existing material. 

Basically, I have two story lines -- the human POV characters and the Tuskers POV characters.  I interweave the two plots, but they are connected more thematically than sequentially for most of the book until they come up against each other in the final clash.

When I say Tuskers POV, I mean a character named Napoleon.

I really want to start over with him.  I have more of a character journey for him in mind now; a specific point of view.  I'd like to write him as a very distinct character. 

If I can do this, it will make the book much better.

I may get started and find myself over my head, but I'm eager to try.  I'm going to spend a fair amount of time just thinking about it, which is unusual for me -- but in this case, I have most of the book done so that overwhelming prospect is out of the way, allowing me to really bear down on this one aspect.

I really want Napoleon to come alive.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

When re-writing becomes re-doing.

Started the rewrite of Tuskers III and realized I just don't like the first three chapters of one of the story arcs -- Napoleon's.

I tried rearranging and fixing, and it was just a quagmire.

So what I'm going to do is simply rewrite them, plus bring in a fourth chapter.

Easy, right?


But really, other than those chapters, the rest of the book works and I don't want these three chapters to drag down the other 24 chapters, you know?  So better just to rethink it.

I knew they were a problem as I was writing, but carried on and finished, which I think was the right thing to do.  I'm much more clear about what these chapters need to accomplish now. 

Writing fresh material is easier sometimes than trying to fix old material.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Re-writing is too open ended.

I think I've figured out why I don't like rewriting.

It's open-ended.  It never stops.  There is always something to fix.

When I write a first draft, the book is done.  It's right there in front of me.

A re-write?  When is that finished?

I've decided that I need to treat the rewrite the same way I do the first draft.  Set a goal of how many words to work on per day, go through them one by one, and have them finished in a finite amount of time.

No matter how much I try to convince myself it's fun, it isn't.  It's work.

But it is undeniably necessary.

So I just need to buckle down and do it.  A good stiff rewrite.  Get it done.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Finished Tuskers III

Finished Tuskers III.  Such a satisfying feeling.

I finished a couple of days early.  Got on a bit of a roll the last couple of days, finished strong.

I had to change things around a lot while writing this book because I wanted the ending to be strong.  So it's very gratifying that it actually worked.  Hopefully, all this preparation will make the series climax all that much stronger too. 

I had some doubts while I was doing it.  It would have been easier just to go with what I had before.  But I knew that the ending wouldn't be as consequential as it needed to be.  Okay, but not great.  I'm not saying the ending will now be great, but I've given it a chance to be.

I'm stretching myself here -- taking some risk.  Maybe everyone will get tired of the story long before it finishes, which could be embarrassing.

But the story will exist.  It's the story in my head, and in the end, that's the most important thing to me as a writer. 

I liked the ending so much, especially since it was what I set out to do, that I think I should just go ahead and work on Tuskers IV next.  I hadn't planned on doing that, but now I'm curious to see where the story goes.

That's a good sign.

I can now also see how the book could be five books.  Because of the ending.  All the writing is preparation for the ending, which shouldn't be rushed.

A little delayed gratification.

Somehow these pigs have gotten into my head.  Especially considering I barely went into their POV in the first book, and had great trepidation about doing it in the second book.  By the third book, they've become even more important, and by the fourth book...who knows?

Plus, if I do end up at five books, you'd have to say this is my magnum opus so far.  I never expected my humble little pig story, that I wrote for fun, to take over like this.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Finishing Forgives All Two.

If I had any advice for beginning writers it would be to finish.

An unfinished book is an albatross around your neck, a stinking reminder of things left undone.  No matter how bad or good a book is, finish it! 

There is such a sense of satisfaction in finishing that it motivates you to continue writing.  You've climbed that mountain.  Doesn't matter how fast or how polished you were doing it. You're on the peak and no one can take that away from you.

You've learned you can do it.  Which means you can do it again.

It made you stronger, you learned some techniques which you can use the next time.  And when you finish the next book, that is even more true.  Finishing means you can look back on the process and analyze what you did right and what you did wrong. It wasn't wasted, no matter if you have witnesses to your achievement.  You know you did it, and that's enough.

Even if you don't think the book is good, finishing means you have something to work on.  You can try to make it better, or you can move on to the next book.  I have several books in what I call "storage":  that is, finished, but not ready for prime-time.  Someday, I'll get back to them, and fix them, and they'll be truly done.  But I had to finish them first.

Finishing the book makes you a writer.  Not finishing means you want to be a writer.  Finishing means you're serious.  Finishing is validation for all the work. 

I can't imagine putting all the work into a book, and getting halfway or two thirds of the way and not finishing.  All that work!  For nothing!

Actually, I can imagine it, because I used to do that, and yes, it was extremely dispiriting, demotivating.  Nothing like spending days and days on something with no result. Yeah, you pretty much don't want to do that again.  Your life was held at abeyance while you wrote, but you have nothing to show for it.

So, finish the book all you writers.