The nervous time. I was going to start this post with an anecdote about various nervous times when a simple one showed up. The nervous time between launching a program, seeing it halt, and nervously wondering if it will ever load. These are nervous times from impatiently waiting for opaque software to load or not, for sales to lead to precious positive word-of-mouth, for decades of advocacy to go beyond slogans and become results, to maybe even common sense based on facts and logic instead of whims and wishes. We live in nervous times.
One of my nervous phases I am going through is that of an author. Get and idea. Write it up. Polish it a bit. Publish it, and wait for people to read it. And then wait to find out whether they think it is good enough to tell other people, or maybe even post a positive review online. Compliments are great, especially in the nervous time between declaring the book published and the first person finishing the book. Then there’s the next nervous time waiting to learn whether they tell their friends, or buy copies as gifts, or find gracious ways to point out typos. (Both Kettle Pot Cup and Firewatcher have far fewer than I expected. Whew.)
Book sales make for an odd industry. Even an official at Random House admitted that the publishing industry is random. Years ago I learned that 95% of book sales are based on the front cover. 3.5% are from the back cover. 1% is from the first page. Only 0.5% are from the main body of the book. Sort of.
J.K. Rowling did not sell millions of copies of Harry Potter by hand-delivering every book to readers or book stores. At some point word spread about her words and her sales tsunami began. It was no longer about the cover. Her words, her story, convinced others to tell others to do something like buy the book.
I’m glad that I’m getting compliments on my books’ covers and from the first folks to read them. Thanks.
We in one of our nervous phases. Most of us know we have to do something about pollution and resource depletion. More know it every day. Decades ago folks with insights saw what was happening and had to fight to get Earth Day recognized. That was like wrapping the various worries under one cover. Decades went by as progress was made, but it has been that nervous time while we wait to learn if others are learning about the worry, the threat. It seems that the word is spreading, but did it take too long? It may be that the climate had to break before enough people understood who else to tell and what to do.
Today I wrote a typically short post (yes, I can write concisely on occasion) on one of my other blogs; PretendingNotToPanic.com (news for people who are eager and anxious about the future). Carbon emissions (aka pollution when Earth Day began) are not down, but they’re finally up by less than 1%. (Global CO2 Emissions Shrink). It has taken decades but new ways of living and the advancement and adoption of renewable energies have begun to turn the curve. That is particularly impressive considering the population increase since Earth Day. (1970)
Much of the news is whether we can hit specific reduction targets and dates – as if that means we’ll be done. Sadly, at least to me, my basic understanding of systems suggests that it can take as long to turn something around as it did to get it into the situation. That assumes everything stays the same and very little is staying the same, but that’s not always a good thing. The Industrial Revolution has been going on for about 260 years. It took a large and long time to create this mess. We have better technologies, now, but we also have ten times the population.
I’m nervous because the climate is changing, that change is accelerating in places like the Arctic, and we have a lot to learn.
I am also encouraged because we have a lot more people working on solutions, too.
That’s why I consider myself an apocaloptimist, a term that confuses spell check and that I am getting better at typing right the first time. We’re heading for something that could be apocalyptic and there will be suffering, but eventually our civilization will succeed and find a better and sustainable way to live.
But about that suffering and this blog’s primary purpose: personal finance. My software eventually loaded. I am reasonably confident that my books will sell well. (Firewatcher is about a bunch of apocaloptimists finding a new way and place to live.) I am sure that eventually our species will figure things out. But in the meantime, technology runs faster than me; word-of-mouth advertising takes months or years while folks read the books, and my bills continue to arrive; and climate change is already affecting personal finances as the economy tries to respond to refugee crises, food and supply chain interruptions, and politicians responding on timelines based on election cycles, not human generations.
These are nervous times. Times for patience while being ready to move and act. Time to review history and consider the future while feeding and being fed by this economy.
In a more immediate situation, these are nervous times where I live. Our air is unhealthy because fifty miles away are forest fires in temperate rain forests, an occurrence that represents a changing climate. As one Ranger told me years ago while I was researching Twelve Months at Barclay Lake; “Rain forests like this one rarely catch fire, but when they do we have to wait for nature to put them out.” Old growth trees are too big, there’s too much fuel, and that terrain is aggressive. They’re managing the perimeter to lessen the impact on people; but for now we nervously wait for better weather. Rain is due.
Relief is due; but for now we wait, adjust, and look forward to rebuilding after the crises.