Friday, March 8, 2013

Kind of Random

Lately I've been reading The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb and found it to be rather interesting. My brother gave it to me for Christmas and, as I steadily plow through it, I find myself sort of flip flopping in confidence.

I think one of the things that we authors feel the pull of in our careers is the power of circumstance.  Really, anything we do is subject to the will of an unruly mass. If something happens, whether good or bad it's a stroke of God's good graces if you make it. A lot of the book suggests that our minds are genetically conditioned to build and design mental constructs and pathways in our brains to simplify the world in it's magnitude of information. It's nothing I haven't heard before, strangely. There's all the right statistical words and psychology terms that kindle memories of my uneventful High School career, but Taleb's point goes beyond that of a simple framing issue or confirmation bias.

He's out, to out order.

One of the most interesting conversations I have gleaned thus far in the book was a conversation he had between a friend from some nondescript ivy league institution about employment. Essentially the anecdote goes, "A friend of mine told me to only look for jobs with scalelable income." What his friend means by this is that it is ideal to have a job where you are earning an income based off of something being produced that is duplicated and not produced. For instance, if you write a book, you only write the book once. After it's completed you send it off to the publisher, and the publisher prints it. If your book is wildly successful (5+ million copies) then your income isn't based of of writing 5 million books but the proliferation of an idea as a commodity. On the other hand, being a doctor is profitable, so much so that once you are done with the "vetting" process you're making 200 grand a year. However a doctor's income is based on patients seen. If the doctor stops seeing patients then the doctor ceases to make money. Get the idea?

What is interesting about this is that the author, the scaleable income profession, is greatly affected and dependent on Black Swans (i.e. completely unexpected near cataclysmic events of randomness). This can be good and bad simultaneously. For instance, a lucky viral campaign can boost your success on the internet, a Black Swan development of the previous decade, but if some major event happens that was outside of your model of expectations you would be hosed. This could be anything.

I think the book thus far has taught me of my susceptibility. If I can be frank, I've been approaching being an author using the advice and tips of betters already successful in the business. What is funny about all  of this is that these people, from which I get my tips, are completely subject to the same random occurrences as myself. The kindly authors that I meet who leverage considerable internet presence with their successful web comics only got to where they were by pure chance. Because I believe in God, Jesus, et al. my levels of anxiety are diminished considerably. If He should have me to "make it" then I would be so very happy and obliged, but, if not, then I'm fine with it. For those of you that don't "swing that way" then it's all chalked up to randomness.

Am I concerned that a day may come when I throw in the towel and need to give up in the interest of providing for my family? Yes, very much so. But there's always hope. You people are my hope. If any of you read these posts and find yourself gazing at this sentence, remind yourself of this. I can't be successful without you talking about what I have to say to your friends and co-workers. But also, I can't give the world what I love without a voice and a helping hand to see this through.

In some moments of doubt I look at the traffic counters and go, "wow, for an amateur blog this ain't too shabby," but I can't shake the feeling that nobody actually reads thess. But if you do, which I'm sure many do, I just wanted to thank you, wholeheartedly, and in this growing relationship I plan to give you a world (not the world) so fantastic you'd scarcely believe it was set here in our own. At least that's the plan.

All the best, Friends.


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