January 29th, 2008

run the fuck away

Inspiration

If you own a Mac, you need Scrivener. It's a writer's word processor that handles all the work of converting your work to manuscript format1 and allows you to manage research and the like. I'm not using it for anything academic, but I could see it being really good for that purpose too.

At any rate, on whim I downloaded the demo. So, I figured, "What the hell? I'll dust off an old story," and picked up Shooter2. Inspired by a lightning_fic, it's a weird west story about super powered weirdos. Previously it didn't really have a plot- I wrote 40 pages of meandering and florid prose, without getting bogged down in little details like having things happen.

So I don't even look at what I wrote previously. I just start all over, and start writing. I haven't written much yet, but there's a much stronger sense of direction. I know what the story is about3. I have a feel for the way events will unfold (there will be events this time!). Since Minna will be out of town next week, and I'll be bored anyway, I'm going to try and woodshed on writing it- it's my most ambitious and intriguing project.

But it isn't my only one. Of course not. I sit down and start writing, and WHAM! I start getting hit with ideas. Other little stories, mostly focusing on scuzzy people doing scuzzy things that you have to laugh at otherwise it'd make you sick.

The one that I probably won't write I'll share here. It's a love story. A forbidden love, between two military officers. Two Nazi officers that work in a concentration camp and are in charge of executions. It's a good concept, but not one that I'm all that interested in following up on. But- if anyone does, let me know. I'd be curious to see what folks do with it.

1There's a joke in there- computer generated manuscript? No? Oh, never mind.
2Working title and I really don't like it.
3Actually, I don't. But I know what some of it's about, and I know what I don't know. That is, there are big blank areas in the story, but I know their size and shape.
Megaweapon

Investment

Minna and I transfered most of our savings into a variety of mutual funds. We've both got 401Ks through work that we contribute to, but we had put together a house fund that we've decided not to use (yet). So, while we bide our time and continue to save, we want to put our money to work.

Before doing investing, I spent a decent amount of time researching the subject. It's always been the sort of thing that I dreaded. I'm a nerd, business sense is not my strong suit. I find it unpleasant and distasteful and something best left for others.

But there are benefits. Someday, I could potentially save enough that I could live off the interest. That's nothing to sneeze at- I plugged some numbers into a spreadsheet- it's amazingly doable. It sounds impossible, but when you actually look at the numbers involved, it isn't hard. Someone on my income, saving aggressively, could be a millionaire in their thirties. Saving and investing can yield some high returns.

That was enough to sell me on the idea that, "Hey, maybe I should learn how this works!" And what I learned was music to my finaciophobe's ears.

Don't do anything. Check out a few index funds and mutual funds. Throw money in them. Leave it there. Don't touch it for a long time. If you don't micromanage your investments, you can earn lots of money. At a 10% return (an entirely possible average), with compound interest and regular contributions, you can make a lot of money. People who try and bounce money around and play individual stocks tend to have very variable returns. They might make a mint one day, but they'll lose it a few days later. If you invest in funds and play the averages, you'll never see any dramatic gains- but you won't see any crushing losses either.

That's it. That's the secret to financial independence. Make money. Save money. Put it away in index funds (your bank is a good place to start with looking to invest). Keep adding to that investment. Let time and compound interest do the work. The results are amazing.