What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Getting in through the back door. Every time I hear one of the Democratic primary candidates wax philosophical about one of their wealth redistribution schemes by confiding to the camera that “it’s a tax on Wall Street,” I look around and wonder how many people really believe that. My reading on their collective plans is that this chimera of making the “big banks and hedge fund managers” pay is ultimately a tax on every working person who has a retirement account. Your 401k, 403b, IRA, or TSP can’t help but be taxed under these plans, because at heart these accounts are nothing more than fractional shares that get traded on a regular basis to keep the fund balanced… and these funds are the definition of big players in the financial market. The Democratic candidates know they’re going to have to tap into huge sources of capital for their plans. I just wish they had the stones to admit that getting it done is going to require levying this backdoor tax on every man and woman in America who’s bothered to make an effort to save for retirement and not just the guy in charge of running the fund.

2. When you can’t even half ass the work. I worked on three things today. Simultaneously. All were a priority of effort… at least to someone. What that really means, of course, is each of them got exactly the level of effort and attention you’d think they got. Instead of half assed efforts, the very best they could hope for was being third assed. It’s a hell of a way to run a railroad. You’d think after 17 years I’d have started to get use to the idea that most days good enough just has to be good enough. Then again some days don’t even rise to that paltry standard.

3. Facebook memories. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to disable Facebook Memories, because every morning I open the damned app I’m met with the picture of a bulldog doing something alternately ridiculous or endearing. Jorah has done quite a lot in the last six months to patch up the sucking chest wound Winston left behind, but those pictures every morning still catch me directly in the feels. Despite the myriad of issues, vet bills, and costs, I don’t think I’ll ever really get to a place where I don’t miss such a good dog.

Letting go…

So, because it’s the thing that’s preoccupied the bulk of this long weekend, it seems that I can’t quite get my mind off the impending availability of Retribution. We’re in that interminable stretch where the retail giants are doing their thing. I have absolutely no control over how that process works itself out… and since a writer, at least an independent, has absolute control over every other step of the process, I’m finding this moment of “letting go” an absolute agony.

I’m not lunatic enough to think this little offering of mine is going to sell a million copies or really change the world in any appreciable way. It’s one small story out of hundreds (thousands?) that gets self published online every day of the year. The only difference is that this one is mine. That doesn’t make a lick of difference to the world, of course, but it makes all the difference in the world to me. That’s not surprising since this story has been living completely in my head for the last six months. I never really thought of myself as the “creative type,” at least until I sat down at the keyboard and realized creativity isn’t just paint on canvas or chisels and stone. I’ve heard that kind of self-discovery is a good thing.

For the first time so far in 2014 I’m sitting here without an active project in front of me demanding time and attention. Being “done” is a good feeling. It’s a happy place. It’s fulfilling in a way that’s rather hard to articulate. It’s also full of a gut wrenching fear that about whether what you’ve done is good enough; whether it’s going to pass muster with the dozen or so family and friends who you might be able to convince to give it a read.

So there’s your Sunday morning sample of what it’s like being inside my head. When you add that to the daily requirements of dealing with an unrelenting tide of stupid people, I’d say it leaves little doubt about why I end every day completely exhausted.

Skipping today…

As many of you have noticed based on the number of posts that showed up on Facebook, today is my birthday… the 35th of its name. Sigh. Let’s not get into that.

Instead of a new rant, feel free to browse around my thoughts on this occasion in 2012, 20102007… I think they should pretty well cover everything from gratitude to denial. In case you’re wondering why there was no Official Birthday Post in 2011, I seem to recall being busy that day driving back to Maryland from Tennessee so the best I would have been able to manage after falling out of the truck would have been maniacally mashing my fingers against the keys before falling asleep sitting up. As for 2009, I have no idea what happened there… and 2008, yeah, that one is still in the archive. I’m sure it’s a barn burner, but we’ll get to it in time.

I hope you’ll forgive the obvious laziness of this post, but after all, it’s my birthday and I’ll do what I want.

When is good enough good enough?

One of the hardest things, especially when it comes to writing, is deciding when something is good to go. In the print world, once the type is set, format, and layout is done, it’s really, really done because somewhere you have a warehouse rack filled with printed, final products. Find a mistake in one of them and it’s tough shit until (if) you get around to printing a second run. The ebook is a different animal. Even though it’s published and available for purchase, you can change it innumerable times by simply uploading a new file to your retailers. I’m afraid the tendency there is to make editing an ongoing process and never let the book “just be.”

I think I’m getting closing in on that territory now. I’m happy-ish with the formatting and layout, happy-ish with the cover, and happy-ish, with the content. There’s a lot of –ish in there. Mostly because I’m not complete satisfied. I’ll probably never be completely satisfied, though, so at a point sooner rather than later, I’m going to have to give it up, hit the “publish” button and turn this little project loose on an unsuspecting world. Wanting to get it all exactly right on your first go around is probably excessive, but hey, that’s just part of my charm, no?

If nothing unexpected crops up, I expect that’s going to happen in the next week to ten days. I’ve been secretly shooting for an Ides of March publication date, but for several reasons (mostly involving my need to continue working at my day job), that goal is all but out of reach. With that said, I’m still finding the occasional error that needs fixing, but the period of wholesale changes and rewriting seems to be at an end. Hopefully those of you planning on picking up an early copy will also feel up to sending in some constructive feedback once you’ve had a chance to see what I’ve been up to for the last eighteen months. I think you’re all in for a treat.

Getting finished-ish

Today was one of those days when all you can do when it’s over is sit back, shake your head, and wonder if it all really happened or if you’re mind finally slipped of the tracks and made it all up. I have a nervous feeling that the alarm is going to go off at 5:00 tomorrow morning and prove that it was the former. If you’ve never spent three days putting together a three inch binder literally jammed to overflowing with facts, figures, and the administrative minutia of an expedition that apparently rivals the exploits of Marco Polo, well, let’s just say that it’s not something I recommend… If for no other reason than because no matter how many times you tell people you’re not adding anything after a specific time, someone is going to hand you a shit ton of things to add well after what was supposed to be last call. It’s even better when you’ve already proclaimed the product “finished” and still have bits of it dibbling in in drips and drabs.

Facts being the obnoxious things that they are, at some point you’re going to have to accept that when you’re working against the clock, eventually the clock is going to win. Sometimes that means you get a 50% solution, other times it’s 90%. If you’re some combination of both lucky and good, you might hit 100% from time to time. More often, you should be happy to land somewhere in the sweet spot between 75-85%. Hit that and you’re doing twice as good as the best power hitters in professional baseball. As soon as you realize that sometimes good enough really is good enough you’re life gets a whole lot easier. The real kicker is trying to convince everyone around you to buy into the idea at the same time. Good luck with that.