The State of Things…

I figured I’d pull a Chuck Wendig and do a post that’s a lot of random tidbits and thoughts rather than one coherent single idea. So, here goes:

I’ve been feeling congested the last few days but I’m pretty sure that’s more because my neighbor is home and doing some sort of work on his house that involves throwing lots of small particles of crap into the air than because I have COVID-19. But I could be wrong and I could have it. Too bad I can’t get tested and find out one way or the other…

But that’s America for you. Heaven forbid we get our hands on the scope of the issue so we can move forward in an effective manner. Far better to turn any little comment on this into a politic battle instead.

On a personal level I’m not honestly seeing much impact from this so far. My mom and stepdad were already retired and kept to themselves for the most part. My brother’s job has been considered essential so he’s still employed. I was already an anti-social misanthrope and I still get to walk my dog daily. My closest friends are in jobs that can easily be converted to work-from-home jobs. No one I know has died yet. (That I’m aware of, but most of the people I knew in NYC are people I’m no longer in touch with.) But I am at the friend-of-a-friend stage.

My author-mind is watching events and seeing some ugly worst case scenarios that could play out. I’d like those to not materialize, but so far they’re still possible. In which case America is sort of like someone exposed to lethal levels of radiation who hasn’t yet realized it. I hope I’m wrong about them, but some little part of my mind is doing the “and what then?” thinking.

I have yet to start a new book, but I am being productive re: my writing business. I realized I was making a stupid error with my print book covers and so I’ve been slowly working through fixing that which involves recreating and republishing 100+ covers. (Between Amazon print, IS paperback, and IS hard cover versions.)

In terms of sales I’ve definitely seen an increase in ebook sales and a decrease in paperback sales over the last couple weeks but I think that’s artificially created by Amazon prioritizing essential items and not shipping books. The drop in print may be lightening up in the last couple days. If so and if the ebook increase remains then I may get back to somewhere good soon, but I definitely took a hit over the last couple weeks. Some was going to happen no matter what because of seasonal demand, but I think some was definitely driven by the current situation.

I’m a person with a plan A, B, C, D, E, F, G so the current situation knocked out plans B, C, and D but I still have E, F, and G left. Not ideal, but not panic territory yet. And if I do get into panic territory I suspect about 70% of America will get there before me so I won’t be alone.

I posted on FB about how I was grateful for the fact that if I had to be impacted by a disaster it was one that allowed me to have heat, water, a stable roof over my head, a working fridge, internet, cable television, and adequate food. Really, of all the disasters that could happen (tornado, flood, blizzard, hurricane, war, etc.) this one has to be one of the best. Note I don’t call it a natural disaster because the extent of what we’re dealing with is very much man-made.

I want to rage against the people who look at our current numbers and think that proves that things were overblown and we shouldn’t have reacted so strongly but I’ve decided that some people will never understand exponential growth and delayed onset and what those mean in a situation like this so I save my energy. I just hope the experts can keep things in check as long as we need them to or the fall is going to be very very ugly.

I do also think that if America continues to mismanage this scenario that we’ll be taking significant steps towards making ourselves far less relevant on the world stage. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest of the world sort of wall us away and continue on without us because if we’re not well-managed they need to keep us locked out. But no one was willing to say that six weeks ago so they may not be willing to say it three months from now either. But the more we screw over our allies and withdraw from international groups, the more likely it becomes. (Which is maybe the goal with some parties?)

I hate that our current environment makes me feel like I’m a conspiracy theorist now. But then again, is it paranoia if it turns out to be right?

On other news…I read a book the other day that drove me up a wall because the character was forced to do things solely for the plot. And worse the character was forced to sit still long enough for the author to set the scene. Like, would you really stand there by the buffet table while all but the three major characters are slaughtered so you can describe the slaughter in detail? And then somehow manage to be at the side of one of the other major characters long enough to hear their dying words? No. In real life you’d be dead. And I’m pretty sure that after that happened you wouldn’t go and watch an event in an arena to give everyone a good feel for your new home.

I don’t think I’m alone in being more critical of the books I read these days. I had an author in a group I’m in mention that they’re holding books they read these days to a higher standard than before. But that they are also more likely to binge read a series when they do like it. I think I may be in the same place.

I have no interest in writing about nasty people right now. But that makes it tricky to write a story with conflict in it, which is what SFF always seems to demand for me. Unless I were writing a story full of adventure and wonder. But those aren’t my particular writing strengths. And so I continue on with the covers. Working on already completed work doesn’t require those decisions.

And I continue secretly hating my neighbor for whatever he’s doing that fills my house with micro levels of dust that make my chest hurt. (It looks like he may be repainting his house using a sand blaster to remove the old paint? That would do it.)

Hope you’re all well. Take care of yourselves.

Author: M.L. Humphrey

M.L. Humphrey is a former securities regulator, registered stockbroker (although only briefly), and consultant on regulatory and risk-related matters for large financial institutions with expertise in the areas of anti-money laundering regulation, mutual funds, and credit rating agencies. Since 2013 M.L. has also been a published author under a variety of pen names and across a variety of subjects and genres.

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