Friday, June 21, 2013
The buck stops with me, no matter what
I do need to put my foot down on an issue and lay down the law.
I am working on the next phase of my publishing. In general this effort will comprise a “Do Ask Do Tell III” book, to update all the history since 2002 (and really some prehistoric matters), a novel (“Angel’s Brother”), a video, and some piano music capable of being performed professionally by others. The entire mix matters; this is the non-Euclidean case where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
I plan to give more details about these works soon, but I can give some needed overview now.
The non-fiction work (DADT III) in contain at least two supplements, a detailed transcript of my experience in Army Basic Combat Training in 1968, and a fiction story ("Expedition") about coal strip mining (or mountaintop removal) with some surprising personal aspects, written originally in 1981. I’m contemplating adding one more short story about another quirk in my world that I think needs attention.
Great care is needed in turning out a non-fiction book, of course. That’s partly because it hits a moving target, yet must come out at a specified point in time. Right now, I am waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on two critical cases involving same-sex marriage; incorporating whatever the Court says (which I can predict with low certainty) into the text obviously takes some time. Furthermore, other events have an effect on the “logical derivation”in what I say. For example, how is the rather sudden but ambiguous “apology” from a well-known figure in the ex-gay movement to be interpreted? None of this is easy to work into an existing document quickly and effectively.
Yet, I get calls and emails all the time, about being more aggressive in marketing older books (not very productive with policy-oriented non-fiction) and giving them new material, maybe in pieces. I have to tell callers that submitting works prematurely or in increments could violate the objectivity or integrity of the work, whatever the economic incentives.
But my process is “what it is”. To complete the non-fiction work properly, I need to circulate it through one separate proof-reader, and then probably submit it to the publishing company directly for a second edit. All that takes time.
Further more, my own content “integrity” process requires a little more research and at least one more road trip to check out certain matters.
Since I work alone, any setback in logistics (for example, utilities disruption from a storm, or even physical destruction or injury from crime) simply sets me back. Although there are some things I can do to work around some challenges, “the buck stops with me”. No insurance policy can protect you for the value of your own unfinished work. You have to take care of it yourself (see my posting May 28 on this). I am nearing 70 years old. Only I can secure my own legacy. Joining someone else's cause, particularly putting on a uniform for them and taking others' direction, will not work now. If I fail, even because of someone else’s wrong, or my own mistakes – either of these – that’s it. Perhaps one saying from Army Basic applies: “That’s the breaks.” I have to take a hint from people who succeed with their own work (there's more than one such "Timo") and stay on course, regardless of the distractions from others.
I get a lot of phone and email solicitations. I know it’s not easy for people to make a commission off me – and I know people depend on willingness of people to buy when contacted to make a living. So I may sound a little snarky in having to say this. (In fact, at an interview to be a life insurance agent in 2005, I was asked about willingness to buy from sales people!) Some of this reflects how far our society has gone with efficiency and automation. Jaron Lanier may be right – it’s cutting a lot of people out of middle-class incomes (see June 11 posting).
It’s a problem. I get maybe thirty marketing phone calls a week, and don’t have time for conversations with them. This includes appeals to donations – but it’s more efficient to set up giving with a bank and give to reputable organizations that you already know (they don’t have to be tax exempt; they can be political). But the Red Cross (the basics for disaster) and Save the Children rank high on the list.
I also get tremendous volumes of emails. I’m not talking about spam. I’m talking about proposals for interviews that seem off-track. I know what employers think now when they have 500 resumes to peruse. If they don’t get the gist of what the candidate or party offers in three seconds, it’s over. There’s just not enough time. (Perhaps there’s not enough time for background investigations on social media, either, but that’s another matter.)
A lot of people send emails about the troubles of very narrow classes of “clientele”. Some problems do seem to affect relatively few people but have broad implications for many more. The “don’t ask don’t’ tell” policy for gays in the military was a prompt example. But do the very specific issues of same-sex couples in the military now deserve the same attention? I understand the implication, but the “reach” of the issue seems not as wide.
Okay, as in “Cloud Atlas” (a great movie, I think – Movies blog, Oct. 26, 2012), yes, everything is connected. The “tight coupling” of some peoples’ issues to the rest of the world is more evident to me with some controversies or injustices than others. That’s what I look for.
What’s our single biggest issue now? Whether we really take care of our infrastructure, and our planet. If we don’t, the buck still stops with me.