Steve’s Update 7/15/2018

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Hey gang, so here’s the latest.

So what have I done the last week?

  • My Newsletter: Just went out – and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. as it’s not just updates, but cool stuff, free books, giveaways, and MUCH more.
  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Cover artist is on break, but I’m working on the text layouts.
  • Agile Creativity: IS OUT.  It’s done.  Go get your copy!  Go ask me for a review copy and review it.  Go share it with friends!
  • Blogging: Not much here, mostly doing my Avenoth stuff.  I won’t be doing any series for awhile – I want to freeform it for a bit.
  • Way With Worlds: The NEW Minibook is half done and I’ve got a lot more planned.  Since I’ve heard how you folks like the books, it’s time I up my game . . . and I have a lot to do.
  • Seventh Sanctum: I actually set aside some time to finally work on this because a side project changed. Speaking of . . .
  • Other:  I had a few distracting side projects that I might blog about.  What?  You think you see all the crazy experiments I do here?

What am I going to do this week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Reviewing the cover of course!
  • Way With Worlds: I hope to send the NEW Minibook to an editor!

 

-Steven Savage

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Medicine

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .

Medical Care

Medical care on a world of sorcery, super-science, and eccentric gods is complicated. Throw in other worlds, ancient bioweapons, and more and you have a place where “hypochondria” might be considered a rational reaction.

Medical care on Telvaren and it’s worlds has the following common traits:

Prevention

Preventative medicine is paramount for all inhabitants of the worlds, at least in the Great Cities and Unaffiliated Nations. Most people are raised very young to engage in healthy habits and activities, and its a popular area of discussion on talk shows, magazines, and books.

Vaccines

Vaccination is also of major importance in the setting, and for some Great Cities not being vaccinated is considered a criminal offense – one can be literally exiled in Olanau-Kau or Vasikon Zek for not vaccinating oneself or their children. Followups are also important. Many Guilds provide related medical service.

Diet

Diet is considered a core part of health, and is a mixture of scientific pratcie, ancient and at times unquestioned tradition, and personal preference. Most people have a decent amount of dietary knowledge, though in some Cities and Wars/Districts people tend to eat locally as opposed to cook.

The mixture of good ideas, traditions, and useless habits is hard to separate, and often varies from region to region and City To City. It’s not common to argue diet and food among people.

Testing

With so much unpredictability, medical testing is a part of daily life and security. Most people have a general health exam including blood work every six month from childhood. For those in more dangerous professions such as relic recoverers, Cryptodivers, or the Military, it can be monthly.

Alchemy

Alchemy, the art of combining magic and chemistry, has led to many useful treatments over the aeons. Common alchemical treatments are sold with moderate regulation.

Alchemical treatments are restricted in their larger use and common use for two reasons:

  1. Users of magic and those with related magical abilities like Revenauts may find such treatments cause unusual side effects.
  2. Continuous use of magical treatments has medical risks, especially when used for healing.

Surgery

Surgery is an obviously common treatment as it is in our world. Magic is often kept out of surgery except in limited extends. Vast exchanged of surgical knowledge are held among medical professionals, and recovered knowledge is propigated quickly.

Magic

Magic is used careful in medicine due to its ability to affect other magic users and the fact that using magic on living systems has side effects. Common uses of magic are:

Healing Acceleration: Healing Acceleration accelerates the bodies own processes. However overuse of it has a risk of cancer or weaker healing simply because one is accelerating cell division. Safe amounts have been worked out mathematically.

Sealing And Repairing: More common in medical magic is the ability to seal a would or re-knit bones with existing materials. Such first-aid magic is quite effective and less risky.

Transplant Connection: In the case of transplants, magic is a powerful way to quickly re-bond organs despite any risk.

Divine Power

Gods often provide healing Aspects to their Clerics or the Touched. This varies with the god, the individual, and their need and is not always reliable. Such healing usually has no side effects.

There are a variety of Medical gods with no actual leaders among them. The noteworthy ones are

  • Sybella – The general medical goddess, The Lady Of Health. She’s considered patron of most general practitioners and good habits. She is portrayed as a woman whose age changes to fit the individual praying.
  • Romolak – Our Lord of the Red Shield. Romolak is the god of vaccines and preventative medicine. He is portrayed as a warrior dressed in red, and is noted for switching between being dead serious and having a wacky sense of humor.
  • Mavina – The Uncutting Knife. Mavina is a genderless god who is the patron of surgery. Portrayed as a tall person with dark skin and white hair, wearing robes within which are a variety of tools. Mavina is calm, clever, and thoughtful, and maintains good relations with both the technology god Xomanthu and the magic god Ivonau.
  • Yavolox – The Lord of Development. Yavolox is a god of exercise as well as good cooking. The brother and at times rival of Romolak. Yavolox maintains a cheery attitude at all times, and is often portrayed as an Easterner with curly hair and a powerful but limber build.

– Steve

Thoughts On Fandom Pathology

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I recently read a great Tumblr post (yes, I use Tumblr, where else can I get snarky Overwatch memes) about how writing was a way to reduce anxiety. This led me to a realization of how hobbies help us deal with stress – and hurt us.

Reading this reminded me that my writing is often a great way to deal with stress – I find it relaxing. Admittedly publishing is often stressful, but writing is quite enjoyable. Even when I’m not in a writing mood, I find once I get into the rhythm, I feel much more relaxed afterwards.

Even when not writing, there’s something relaxing about plotting my next story or blog post or book. I began to ask why was this.

I came up with a few conclusions.

  1. I like writing. Nuff said.
  2. If I’m having a bad day, writing occupies my mind, uses my abilities, and thus they’re not being used to think about how lousy the day is.
  3. I have a sense of achievement from my work, and thus if I feel bad, I feel better about myself.
  4. Writing connects me with people, giving me something to discuss, edit, work with them, share.
  5. My writing contributes to the rest of my life, building a skill, ensuring I’m published, creating options.

I’m sure you can relate. Writing makes me feel good due to a number of reasons, and I’m sure you have similar experiences with a positive hobby or interest.

Being a person who will analyze the heck out of anything, I then asked “why do some people’s hobbies lead to pathology?” If my writing interest yielded so much benefits, why do other interests lead to fanwars, harassment, and enjoyment becoming anger?

This is a complex subject and I’m not going to discuss all the elements, but focus on a few of my more intense insights.

WHEN INTERESTS GO BAD: Disconnection

First, the fact my writing connects me with others is a positive. To have others in my life relieves stress (to put it negatively) and enriches my life (to put it positively).

For some people, I think they may have items #1, #2, and #3, but their interests don’t connect them with others. This may be fine if that’s what they want. However if this isn’t voluntary, or they’re not aware of it, putting in time on an interest that doesn’t connect you to people may limit their social sphere. With limited social spheres, one is more vulnerable to stress.

So though your interest may have benefits, it may have social negatives. For some people, pouring themselves into an interest that leaves them disconnected may make their overall life worse.

(However we often need space, so remember that may be a positive)

WHEN INTERESTS GO BAD: Bad Communities

Just because your interests bring you social connections, sadly, doesn’t mean their healthy. How many of us have seen, dealt with, or been in pathological communities based around hobbies and interests?  I’m sure we all have.

Even if your interest provides a number of benefits, even if it connects you to people, those connections may not be healthy or involve too much pathology.* In some cases you may be better of without the community.

It’s not just “does my interest connect me to people” it’s “does it connect me with healthy people and communities?”

We’ve all seen what happens when it doesn’t.

WHEN INTERESTS GO BAD: Irrelevance

One of the major things my writing brings to me is a sense of larger connection. People read my blog posts. My books mean speaking and educating and of course making money. My skills are transferable to the job.

My writing connects me to the larger world.  That’s a good thing for everyone

I’m not talking just job and skills-wise – that’s my thing. A good hobby may help you build confidence or give you insights into things like history or improve tactical skill or be fun to chat about at parties. If your interest does “more” than just be relaxing and confidence-building and social, then it means you have a more unified, cohesive life.

But what happens if a hobby or interest lacks these connections? If it’s not transferable in some way? If it doesn’t enrich you as a person? If it’s of highly limited interests to others? In this case, it might be pathological as you’re putting a lot of time into something that may have limited benefits.

We should evaluate our hobbies by how they benefit us. “I use it to blow off steam” is fine if you’re aware of it.  “I’m just goofing around” is fine if that’s what you want.  Its just that sometimes this can go wrong when what you get from the fandom isolates or limits you.

I’m thinking specifically of the people who often annoy us in fandoms – people who spout trivia as a dominance ritual, or brag about game skills that are irrelevant outside of the game. The people who have put a lot of their time and interests and identity into something – but that thing has little to no relevance in the rest of their lives . . . and act like it’s the most critical thing in the world.

But – and you’ve seen this – these people act like it’s the most critical thing in the world.

This is why it’s important to evaluate our hobbies and interests, both to know and maximize the benefits, but also know if we’re down a rabbit hole. If we start caring about this side thing and its limited sphere and fandom, we’ll be disconnected from the world and perhaps get more disconnected. I’m sure we’ve all been there.

WHEN INTERESTS GO BAD: Deadly Synergy

I think the ultimate expression of Hobby Pathology occurs when people’s hobbies lead them to a limited social sphere (those in said hobby) and that interest occupies a lot of their time without connecting to the rest of their lives. Soon you have something fun that becomes self-limiting and self-reinforcing – and with a community that feeds on itself and acts as a pressure cooker.

Such communities also tend to reward bad behavior. Because the important social signifiers are about said interests – not life, the big picture, the larger world – they become more important than things like actual civic behavior. If you’ve ever watched a fan war you know what I mean.

Finally, these tight-situations of almost “self-culting” seem to attract bad actors as it is. When you have a group and know the signifiers to communicate, you can easily propagate bad ideas or just build your own little fiefdom for yourself. People leave, more bad actors come in, you get the idea.

REVIEW

My ultimate conclusion here is that we should be conscious of our interests, to maximize their benefits, but also be aware they might lead us to pathological isolation or limited social connections. When one’s interests are of limited relevance outside of that hobby, and lead to a limited (or nonexistent) social circle that’s a sign there may be problems.

On the other hand when you can say “I am gonna do this to get away from crap” with full self-awareness, great.

I clearly need to study this idea more, but I think I’m on to something.

– Steve

A Quick Note On My Brainstorm Book Posts

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

My Brainstorm Book posts are done – for now – as of this post. I wanted to explain a bit about how they were part of a larger project.

Lately, I wondered about what I call “bookblogging.” Taking a subject, exploring it in blog posts, and using that as a way to draft out parts of a book. This way I get feedback, I get insight, I share things over time, and thus can ensure the ideas become a more effective book.

Also if it turns out my idea is awful or not suited, well, I learn that too!

My Agile Creativity was the first experiment to do this deliberately (Way With Worlds was a kind of afterthought), and as that book approaches launch, it seems to have worked out. The Brainstorm Book posts here, rewritten and expanded with what I’ve learned, will be another book in a month or two.

I’m not sure if this’ll work, if it’s a good idea, or what, but it’s going to be a fun experiment. I’ll probably be posting more thoughts on what I learned.

– Steve

Steve’s Update 7/8/2018

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

And here’s my weekly status report.  By the way, do these help?  Let me know.

So what have I done the last week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Still waiting on the editor.  So yeah, waiting.  However, the cover is also progressing.
  • Agile Creativity: Is now being formatted.
  • Blogging: The Brainstorm Book is over!  I’ve saved a few things for the book of it, so stay tuned!.
  • Seventh Sanctum: My replanning the nexus is going to depend on some life stuff this week.  Short form is I’m going to make it muh more about creative tools.
  • Other:  Mostly some life things have me busy this week.

What am I going to do this week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Hoping to get a cover draft.
  • Agile Creativity: Publishing this!  Stay tuned.
  • Blogging: I’m not going to do anything focused for a month or three, so no idea what’s coming!
  • Way With Worlds: The next TWO minibooks are outlined and I plan to start writing the next this week!

 

-Steven Savage

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Souls And More

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .

Souls And More

The cycle of birth, death, reincarnation, souls, and hauntings by annoying relatives is of great interest to the humans whose worlds circle the star Avenoth. After all, since death isn’t the end (or the beginning for that matter), it helps to keep up on everything outside the entire body-of-flesh thing so many people live. Also it pays pretty well as a profession.

To explain the voluminous writings, theories, and mad drug-fueled rantings about the nature of the human soul and the like would be impossible. This presents a quick summary of what is known about the cycle of human life, reincarnations, and the poorly-named “Afterlife.”

Souls

Souls are self-referential, self-conscious collections of information that can exist independent of a body. Possessing no actual substance, they are best thought of as “engraved into the world” by the actions of thinking and cognition. Souls seem to form by conscious thought and activity, and if a human is not reincarnated, the soul seems to be fully formed by 2-4 years of ages.

Only humans have souls proper, but various animals may have “soul-like” qualities, and human souls have been known to attach to various animals in a form of reincarnation (see below).

Souls are not solid, permanent objects but are ever-changing collections of information, growing in complexity life-to-life. They may in some cases degenerate, and very weak souls may disintegrate entirely, bringing madness and insanity to the human whose soul fragments that cannot be cured. This soullessness is not always easy to diagnose by non-professionals, and sadly many horrible dictators and criminals who had gone soulless were not detected in time.

Echoes

Echoes are “soul-fragments” or “soul-leavings” created by heightened emotions, often negative ones. They exist as “vibes” in areas where they were formed, burned into the spiritual structure of that part of the world. Places rich in echoes give people “vibes,” visions, flashbacks of memories not their own, and many other unpleasant experiences. Many places scarred during the war, such as the South or the bombed areas of the North are rich in echoes.

Echoes may latch onto an existing soul and influence it for good or ill.

Echoes are usually caused by traumatic and stressful events, but may also occur due to soul-disintegration brought on by madness or degeneration.

Echoes are fed upon by demons, who use them to construct personalities. Strong enough echoes can be used as seeds to spawn conscious demons.

Ghosts

Ghosts are full souls latched onto a given area, thing, person, family, etc. Ghosts may or may not be conscious of what they’re doing depending on their intention and state of death.

Many ghosts haunt with full knowledge of what they’re doing, at least as far as they are able. However even well-intentioned haunting tend to stay around longer than needed, which may require an exorcist.

Most ghosts can be unhooked from their anchor in the physical world with the right spells, negotiation with the ghost, or a good old-fashioned exorcism. Exorcism, however, is rarely subtle except for some gods – it’s more akin to turning hairspray into a flamethrower, re-purposing one’s connection to the gods to “shock” supernatural phenomena.

Ghosts are not afforded civil protections unless people affected by the specific ghost lobby for such protection.

Reincarnation

Reincarnation is an accepted phenomena on the worlds of Avenoth since it happens to a lot of people. Doctors, clerics, therapriests, and the like will explain, often at length, that it’s not quite the romanticized version people expect. Sometimes people listen.

Reincarnation occurs when an existing soul without a body latches onto a developing soul – usually two months before to six months after birth. The reincarnated soul and the forming soul merge into one, though the reason for reincarnations vary wildly from borderline haunting (a soul trying to incarnate for a reason) to accidental “latching on” to a body. Many gods take a hand in reincarnation, since souls are part of their business.

However, having access to the memories, skills, and such of a past life – or indeed lives, is a complex process. Because the soul has to deal with a forming brain, with it’s own experiences, reincarnation is not really “someone waking up in a new body.” Instead the old soul’s past life or lives becomes accessible to the new personality that is forming.

Evolutionary theologists argue it’s the best of all worlds – information and knowledge can be passed on, but it doesn’t overwhelm the formation of a healthy personality.

Reincarnation is often left alone to run its course, but doctors, teachers, and therapists stand ready to help reincarnates manage their past lives. Children may have to deal with new memories, unexpected inclinations, and unexpected deficits or fears. Sensitive management is the key.

The Afterlife

The “Afterlife” is a general description of where souls go when they aren’t or don’t want to reincarnate. There is a huge, complex series of heavens, hells, and purgatories next to and part of the Godsrealm to deal with human souls.

Heavens – Are general terms for places where souls with similar ideas cluster for positive reasons, many times built and maintained by a god of similar inclinations. Here they may partake in their own societies, politics, and activities, at times beyond human understanding. The gods themselves have great benefit from Heavens, as they are creatures of concept, and souls that participate in those concepts, those archtetypes, enrich the life of a god.

Staying in a Heaven too long usually mean a human soul evolves into something non-human, usually an agent of a god, part of the complex divine bureaucracy, or even a very minor god themselves. Some who had a connection to a god in human life, become saints, agents of the god that may also appear in the flesh.

Hells – Hells are for confining dangerous souls or those riven with pathology and self-hatred. Hells are places of purging, a kind of spiritual flagellation, usually self-inflicted. Souls rarely stay in hells more than a few decades, and usually reincarnate after that.

Some Hells are rumored to house horrible people, dangerous maniacs, and perhaps even Lost Gods.

Purgatories – A general term for “holding pens” for souls that may be established for various reasons, such as the souls having escaped traumatic experiences, or being unsure of where to go.

Moving On

Some souls – and even gods – eventually evolve into a state where they do not reincarnate nor do they stay in the Afterlife or the godsrealm. They are said to have Moved On, and they pass into a state beyond knowing. The Eight Sage religion treats Moving On as an appropriate goal, that to cling too long to the cycle of life is to limit oneself and reinforce misery. Others consider Moving On as an inevitable thing to happen.

– Steve

The Brainstorm Book: Finishing Up And Following Up

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

We’re talking how to solve your creative challenges with a Brainstorm book!  Last time I discussed how to record your ideas and track them.

Of course I assume you’re actually getting things done during this time by whatever method of productivity you choose. So let’s talk what to do to follow up once you get things done.

Signoff

Make sure you have a way to look at one of your projects and say “yeah, that’s done at least for now.” This way you can confidently say you’ve completed what you set out to do. This could be something as solid as a published book, or as ephemeral as a website update you know you’ll change tomorrow. Learn how to say “this is done.”

Defining “Done” means you can complete work. You can evaluate. You can deliver a product. You can relax. “Done” is vitally important to define – so do it as early as possible, including as early as possible when you’re maintaining your lists of all these ideas.

When you do decide something is “Done” have your Brainstorm Book handy – that “Done” will probably inspire other ideas.

Plus you get the peace of mind of something being over.

Retrospectives

It’s important to have a regular Retrospective – a review of how things have gone. I recommend two times to do them – in fact, I recommend both:

  1. First, do a retrospective after any big project completes.
  2. Second, do one after a period of work. For instance if you plan things out by month, then review every month.

On a Retrospective review the following:

  1. What went well?
  2. What did you have problems with?
  3. What work took more effort to do than expected and what work did you miss?

After this review, you should actually ask what concrete actions will you take in the future to make things run better. This could be doing things you did right more, it could be fixing things, it could be staying aware of issues.

Retrospectives help you understand how you brought ideas to life, and how work went from a scrawl in a Brainstorm Book to being real. They spawn new ideas and help you understand your creative process.

Plus each time, you get better.

Success List

Finally, keep an success list. Every month list out what you achieved that month to move your plans forward. That should include:

  • Any major achievements and successes in your plans.
  • Making distinct progress in one of your projects.
  • The completion of a project.
  • Anything you’re particularly proud of.

Reviewing your successess helps you see the results of your actions, appreciate them – and provides you reminders that you can get these things done. It builds habit of self-reinforcement.

All those ideas in your Brainstorm Book? This is when you see that you can make your dreams real.

You’re Not Done Until After You’re Done

Always remember that your brilliant ideas aren’t done when they finish. You want to take time to figure out how to end them, how to review them, and how to learn. That helps tie together all you did and all you learn and all you do at the end.

It’s important to have these kind of closing rituals to know you’ve ended things correctly. And of course, you’ll come up with new things to do or tweak my ideas – good.

Keep learning because even though things are done, creativity doesn’t end . . .

– Steve

Steve’s Update 7/1/2018

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Good day everyone, what’s been up this week?

So what have I done the last week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Is off to the editor!
  • Agile Creativity: All edited, so next up is a few checks, then publishing.  I’m not sure I’ll get it out this week, but certainly I plan to within two weeks.
  • Blogging: The Brainstorm Book columns continue!  We’re close to the end of them as well, so it’ll finish up this month.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Still haven’t gotten to modifying my plans.  Feel free to bug me on that – and I have new generator ideas to boot.  I need to replan.
  • Instafreebie: Still doing those giveaways (check it out).

What am I going to do this week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Going over the cover art with the artist.
  • Agile Creativity: See if I can get it out this week or next.
  • Blogging: Finish up the Brainstorm Book stuff (or close) and keep up with the Avenoth blogging – that’ll actually replace one of my regular columns for awhile.
  • General: I’ve got a few things to take care of in the next week or two and need to do some planning as noted.
  • Way With Worlds: Yep, I’m planning to return to my Minibooks!  So a new one starts this month – and I want to see how long it takes me to get it out – can I do it in one month or will it take two

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Economics

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  It’s out late this fall but you can find out about the world now . . .

Economics

Economics isn’t the dismal science on the worlds of Avenoth; it’s taken quite seriously. When you’ve got sorcery, super-science, and the gods running around it really helps to know what won’t destabilize your economy.

Economics is considered a science similar to statistics, analysis, and forensics – it is about understanding how things work for the sake of improvement. Economics tend to be very workaday, often specialized, and very dedicated – it is not a “sexy” profession.

The major goal of economics is seen as better understanding of how things work and making it better. Many an economist with ambition will pitch a plan to a town, ward, district, or even a Great City to try and implement. Some will succeed – though few seem to go into politics, preferring to be more of an advisory role. Considering the often verbal politics of the Government that’s probably wise.

There are no real economic philosophies as we would think of them in our world – many points of culture and civilization are considered not up for debate. For instance, regulation of toxic substances or the need for strong economic representation of professionals int the forms of guilds and unions is considered normal. What does exist is hundreds if not thousands of proposals, ideas and theories to tweak this or that.

It’s a lot like diet – people know the general outline of what’s healthy, but there are debates over the best food, proportions, and the like.

A few universal elements of the economy of the human worlds of Avenoth:

Marks: Marks are the common currency, maintained by The Government. The term is a shortened version of the term “Mark Of Trade,” an old way people would mark the value of items in different currency. Marks usually come in waterproof paper bills, with coins for single Marks, and fractions of them (half-Mark, Quarter-mark, and Decimark). A thousand Marks is usually called a Kilomark or K-mark.

A Mark would be roughly equivalent to just under two dollars in America 2018, though prices are hard to translate.

City Wealth Funds: Each Great City maintains a Wealth Fund, a large pool of money used to promote economic wellbeing. This can take the form of everything from zero-interest or no-payback loans, grants to promising students, and investment seeking payback in other businesses. The Great Cities also invest in each other’s cities, businesses, colleges, and other ways to seek benefits for their citizens – and this opens up yet another route for complex politics.

Guilds, Unions, and Professional Associations: Almost anyone who has a profession is part of one or more professional group. These groups, recognized by ancient charter and slow-but-inevitably-evolving laws, provide support for various professionals with both social bonding, training, and economic support. They also act as power brokers, giving people economic leverage, which is both accepted, but is yet another area of complex politics that citizens navigate.

Guilds and Unions, especially, provide retirement and economic benefits to their members. The Great Cities appreciate this since it ensures people are taken care of.

Benefits: Citizens of Avenoth who are under The Government (which is about 60-80% of them) are provided with certain benefits as citizens:

  • A public education up to and including college. An educated population is a cornerstone of civilization.
  • Health benefits. Obviously a healthy population is a stable one – and considering the amount of biological weapons unleashed during the War, and new diseases from other worlds, it’s needed for survival.
  • Welfare. The society in general provides a lot of welfare benefits, but they vary from Great City to City and planet to planet. For instance on Gellitar food and housing is free.
  • Retirement benefits. Though retirement is a nebulous term in the culture, it is generally figured that past a certain age it is desirable to slow down. Plans are provided by a mixture of The Government, The Great Cities, and professional associations – usually meaning a financial advisor needs to get involved.
  • Maintenance of the Network. Cities work hard to maintain a good part of the network and public access is free to all. Some people pay for boosters or additional security.

Taxes and Fees: Taxation is part of Avenoth and is seen as one paying to support their social structures. People often pay government taxes, City taxes, Ward or district taxes, and there are membership feels to guilds or unions. There is no single tax filing day – taxes are reviewed quarterly. Obviously this keeps many an accountant in business.

Electronic Commerce: Electronic commerce has been known for over five decades, and in piecemeal ways before that. Its best to say it’s been secure for a decade. However, people have adjusted to it slowly and there are those who refuse to use it in any form to this day. Some electronic commerce is thus paid for upon delivery or done by other means.

Forensic Accountants: The term Forensic Accountant refers to people who unriddle financial and economic issues, often after disasters, crimes, and historical discoveries.

Banks: Each Great City has its own Bank, and many Unions, Guilds, and the like run smaller Banks or Credit unions. Banking is highly regulated because of the potential for abuse, thus this arrangement is generally considered a positive. There are only two “non-localized” Banks that operate broadly and they are watched with great suspicion as banking is seen as being open to abuse.

Banks are considered more like a public service than a business venture.

– Steve

The Brainstorm Book: Active Management

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

We’re talking how to solve your creative challenges with a Brainstorm book!  Last time I discussed how to review it – so new we talk getting active and using all those notes.

You’ve got a Brainstorm Book, you put ideas in it, then sorted them into various groups. You have your Archives, Incubator, Backlog, and Current Backlog. So, now what?

First, with the Current Backlog is self-explanatory – you’re doing that now. That’s your “getting things done in the near future” thing – and if you don’t have a system to do that, I have a free book for you.

But let’s talk the rest of the lists.

Using The Archives

The Archives are where you put ideas you like, but aren’t sure if you want to do. Of course, what do you do with them since they kinda sit there.

As you add to them in each Review, consider the following:

  • Are any of your files, documents, piles of ideas getting too large? Then take the time to purge them and cut out things you no longer care anymore.
  • Does anything look like it’s worthy of promoting to the Incubator? If so, go ahead (it’s not like you can’t remove it later).
  • Do you care anymore about a given set of ideas or interests? If not, find a place to just store old files in case, or outright delete them.

The rule I use with Archives is “is there any value in keeping this?” When there’s not, get rid of it somehow.

After awhile, you may find these things getting overlarge and need to do a review. Do this every six months, and set a timebox to an hour.

Using The Incubator

The Incubator is your “want-to-do-but-not-sure-when” box. It’s things you haven’t yet put on your schedule but are sure you’ll probably want to do.

Review the Incubator once a month for an hour – if you want, you can do it as part of one of your regular Brainstorm book reviews. While reviewing it do the following:

  • Reorder it. As you insert new items into it, or just go over it, see if you want to change any priorities.
  • Remove items. If something seems relevant to you, then delete it – I wouldn’t even put it in the Archives. If it was important enough to put here but you lost interest, you probably won’t care again.
  • Move an item to the Backlog. If an item is something you’re sure you want to do, move it into your Backlog – and put it in the proper order.
  • Move an item to your Current Backlog. If something seems ragingly important, you may want to have it on your short-term to-do list. I don’t recommend this unless there’s a good reason.
  • Do it and get it over with. If it was real simple and can be done in a few minutes, do it. In fact, you probably should have done it before.

As always, keep the Incubator in order of priority – with nothing of equal importance. That forcing-the-issue will really help you keep track of what you want to do and set your priorities.

Using The Backlog

The Backlog is where you keep your definitely-going-to-do items. Again, in order of importance – however there’s an important difference.
By the time something gets to the Backlog, you’re probably already thinking of how to break it down into pieces of work. If you’re not, you should, because a lot of great ideas take time to do, so you don’t do them all at once.

So remember, as you keep your Backlog and polish it, feel free to start prioritizing the parts of things you want to do. Maybe make the priority also reflect chronological order. Maybe think of what’s the most important stuff you can do first.

EXAMPLE: You really want to write and publish a short story. That can be broken down into several “stories” on their own – writing out the plot, doing the story, editing, etc. By the time that story idea hits the Backlog, you can break it down, in order, and maybe even have an idea of when you want to do things (which also affects order).

Review your Backlog once a month, and whenever you think you should. I usually find I look at it once to three times a month as I get new ideas, or review my Brainstorm Book, or get new feedback. Your Backlog is your roadmap to the future – take it seriously.

When reviewing consider:

  • Do I even care about this item? Some items may not be worth doing after awhile. You can send it to the Incubator, but usually if you put something into the Backlog and then stop caring, you’ll never do it. You learned how much you really want to do it by saying “not now.”
  • Should I move this item up or down in priority? Remember, if you’ve already broken an item down you might just shuffle parts of it. But either way, as you review, things may suddenly seem more important – though as you get used to a Backlog, I find that changes less.
  • Should I move anything into my Current Backlog? Maybe it’s time to start doing something now. So do it.
  • Do it now. Again, sometimes you just get it over with.

Using The Current Backlog

Well, this is the list of stuff you’re trying to do right now so you’re probably looking at it daily. I’ll assume you’re fine here.

As You Review . . .

So you’ll find yourself reviewing your past brainstorms, you’ll most likely find that you’re having new ideas as well. Which is good, but kind of annoying as you’re busy.

This is of course great because, hey, new ideas – plus you see that your imagination is working away. But again, you’re busy.

What I do is take these ideas and put them in my Brainstorm Book so I don’t get distracted, unless the idea is so absolutely stunning it must go in my documents. You have to make the judgement call, but I’d say err on the side of caution and jot it down for later.

Why Actively Managing Your Documents Matters

You’re now regularly reviewing the documents that are . . . created from your Brainstorm Book reviews. So why do these matter to you?

  • You’re able to re-review your ideas. This keeps them in mind and helps you appreciate them, analyze them, prioritize them, and reassess them.
  • You’re able to polish a long-term plan in increments. Instead of developing some huge, doubtlessly unlikely-to-succeed plan all at once, a plan to realize your ideas emerges over time. Its’ more likely to succeed.
  • Because you review your ideas, you now see that, yes, you actually have good ideas. This builds confidence in your imagination and helps you overcome fears of being creatively blocked.
  • Since you’re re-prioritizing all the time, you’re keeping yourself from being overwhelmed with ideas. In time, these documents will grow, and you’ll not just see how imaginative you really are, you’ll use them to keep yourself from going overboard.
  • Finally, looking at past ideas will inspire you with even more ideas. Which you will, of course, review . . .

By now you have a Brainstorm Book system. However, I have a few more ideas for you.

– Steve