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

Civic Geek: When The Gods Speak

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

A bit of a change from my usual monthly civic geek posts, in this one I want to talk about religion and politics. It just won’t be in the way you expect.

My latest novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet is set in a a post-post apocalyptic techno-fantasy setting/ This was a world that suffered genocidal war, disagreeing gods, and unleashed weapons fusing science and sorcery. However, in the current setting, it seemed shockingly “together,” with a very stable society – and I began analyzing just why my imagination had made it such.

What I narrowed in on surprised me – and taught me a lesson.

In this setting, the gods are real and communicate with people. Now it’s a good three hundred gods, each of them an eccentric by human standards. However when someone speaks for a god, you’re pretty sure they’re actually speaking for that god – and if someone lies about a god’s intention, there’s a good chance said god is going to clear it up.

So you have a planet intertwined with oddball superintelligences, but at least everyone is pretty sure what they want and mean, or if they don’t everyone is equally confused. When there are conflicting messages, no one assumes that any one is right, but they ask the gods themselves.

That made me realize what had happened with our politics in America and in other countries and other histories; people who claimed to speak for the gods or gods cause a lot of issues.

When you believe someone has divine authority, that they speak for a powerful supernatural entity that controls your fate, you listen to them. You assume that person has some kind of direct communication to that god – which is probably a terrible assumption.

But it’s apparent on our world that a lot of people are saying damned different things about what their gods say. This disagreement should lead people to ask “hey, why are we getting different signals here?” This disagreement should lead us to ask various theological questions, from “how to talk to X god” to “hey is anyone here actually speaking for a god or is this bullshit.”

Caught up in tribalism, assuming all the time , too many humans think they have a direct line to a god or gods and everyone else is wrong. Not enough ask “well, where is this god to show up and clear up this shit?” People don’t want that – they want tribalism.

In theory if you thought a god was really out there, and you wished to know it’s will, you should embark on a spiritual journey yourself. You should try to be open to it telling you what’s going on – treat it like a person and assume that it will tell you. The last thing you should do is assume someone yelling about things is some direct conduit to the divine.

How many of our problems are caused by A) assuming that someone is speaking for a god, and B) not asking questions or even giving the god the respect to ask them.

This kind of tells me how many people really don’t take their god or gods seriously. They’ll gladly listen t someone say what they want to hear, but don’t deal with the theological discomfort of reconciling conflicting messages. They don’t really respect their god or gods enough to treat them as people and ask them.

It’s a peculiar kind of blasphemy, not giving your god credit enough to clear things up. It leads to blasphemous actions as people uncritically carry out the orders of men thinking they’re from a god. It leads to a kind of disrespect to attribute the voice of a great supernatural being to be reflected in the rantings of many grifters and criminals.

Our problem isn’t that we listen to gods – it’s that we listen to humans.

– Steve

Steve’s Update: 6/24/2018

(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: The book is ready to go to the editor.  Just waiting to sync with her and it’s off!
  • Agile Creativity: The editor is back with the copy, all, you know, edited.
  • Blogging: The Brainstorm Book series next entry is done.  It’s going to be longer than I thought as I’m going to get into a few productivity tips.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Still working on the new plans – bluntly, I’m rethinking the nexus into something more “support creativity” oriented than general generators – while promoting all my fellow generator makers!
  • Instafreebie: Still doing those giveaways (check it out).

What am I going to do this week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Send to the editor of course.
  • Blogging: More Brainstorm book stuff and another Avenoth post or two – those will probably start replacing some regular columns to give me a break.
  • Newsletter: Do my next Newsletter (You are signed up for my newsletter right?)
  • General: Still a lot of stuff to do behind-the scenes/bureaucracy wise.

Next month will be deliberately light for me, so I can get things ready for ABTTQP’s publishing and more.  Lots of setup!

 

– Steve

Writing Thoughts: Sand Mandalas And The Impermanence of Art

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

There’s a Tibetan Buddhist tradition where monks spend days building beautiful mandalas of sand, illustrating various principles.  Then at the end of this long ritual, they destroy the entire thing.  It is a nicely evocative example of the impermanence of all things – and a lesson to writers and artists.

Imagine you are making a mandala, knowing it will be destroyed.  You craft it perfectly, knowing it’s impermanent.  Every step is temporary, each precise.

Imagine working as people gather around you, in awe, looking at it, wondering.  They marvel art artistry, think over the meaning, ask questions.  Then they go on their way.

Then you spin it or scrape it away or let the wind come in and it’s all gone.

That’s very likely to be your book – any book.  That’s likely to be your art – any art.  Few of us will be spoken of in centuries, let alone years ,let alone ever.  We’re unlikely to be Kameron Hurley or Terry Pratchett or any of the other greats.  We’re temporary things, but in the end we’ll be sand – and even the greats will probably stick around a bit longer before they’re footnotes and records.

It’s worth it.

First, it’s worth it because art is what you do.  That is your expression.  That is who you are.  Be it for religion or creativity or to speak or even money, that’s you and what you do.

Second, it’s what you learn by doing this.  The craft, the knowledge, the self-reflection.  Each step in your own impermanent work tells you something more.  Each step changes you – because you too are an impermanent, shifting, collection, so make it a good one.

Finally, it’s that crowd gathered around you, watching and learning.  They may not take home the mandala, they may not see it again.  But they’ll think, and learn, and contemplate.  You may just touch hearts – they don’t need to take a picture or have their own copy to do that.

What many of us artists can hope for is not immortality as creators – and it’s not what we should hope for.  In these impermanent moments we leave behind something greater, not as a work praised for the ages, but in influencing ourselves and others.  Just because your book is forgotten a year or two from now, doesn’t mean it didn’t matter or have an effect.

It’s pretty much the same as how I take the Buddhist idea of Projected Karma – that thing that has an influence down the road.  Influence of action, not permanence of creation.

Just like the Mandala teaches, so can you work.  It doesn’t have to be forever – and indeed it shouldn’t be.  Nothing is, and clinging to past forms, worn and tired, isn’t immortality, it’s a specific kind of hell.

Let the sand be sand.  Don’t mummify your creativity in the hope people will stare at it dumbly, unmoved, un-involved.  Let it be a living thing and go where it may, even when it may die.

Think of how liberating that is.

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Politics

(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 . . .

Politics

“Never trust a person without divided loyalties.”
– The Sixth Sage

The politics of Telvaren and all the human worlds orbiting Avenoth can best be summed up by that pithy statement from the ancient thinker. A further motto from the Reformation also adds some insight.

“Peace is when people agree on 60% of everything.”
– Unknown

The politics of all the worlds of humanity are thus summed up as follows:

  • It is considered natural and indeedp healthy for people to be involved in multiple organizations, churches, temples, unions, political groups, and more. It is by these multiple involvements that the reconciliation and truce-making necessary to politics comes about.
  • As long as people can agree on an (at-times slim) majority of things, peace is assured.

This leads to a mix of practicality and idealism, where people aspire to reconcile and fix issues while being members of their community, while assuming they’ll disagree with each other. Politics is soaked into the post-War culture, and it is assumed that all people to some extent engage in political actin. The idea of this endless cycle is called The Dance.

The Dance

The Dance is the nickname given to the various ways unions, guilds, companies, Great Cities, The Military, and more attempt to both get along and disagree. Everyone wants the Dance to go on, and thus does nothing radical to disrupt the world, meaning a great deal of politics is arguing, avoiding, bribery, negotiation, backstabbing, or just giving up. This constant low-level political activity is considered far better than the alternative of ignoring things until they go wrong.

This means for anyone in a remotely controversal, active, dangerous, or public profession that they’re always going to be involved in some conflict. Dealing with this conflict in a way that doesn’t spiral out of control is considered par for the course.

As an example, the relic-hunters of the mage’s guild Phoenix Ascendant may find themselves clashing with the guild of Radiant Visage, who hunt down and destroy rogue mages and dangerous magic over a trove of artifacts. There may be no violence (well, more than a broken nose or a display of magic), but there may be theivery, bribery, or deal-making. When open violence occurs, it is considered a failure.

One does not stop The Dance.

Political Parties

There are multiple political parties on all the worlds of Avenoth. Some may be as local as the Ward of a city, others may be planetary or interplanetary. Most people so inclined belong to multiple political parties, depending on their interests. Powerful Guilds, Unions, and Universities also act as political parties.

The parties respect The Dance as well, though some people find the arguing among them (especially in rather verbal places like Grand Ivar and Zafrel) to be cathartic.

Common Political Beliefs

Despite the acceptance of differences, thee are a few common political attitudes among the people of Avenoth.

The Need For Human Unity: Is very common – humanity must be united politically. This causes conflicts with the Unaffiliated Territories and large parts of Lindhaem for obvious reasons – they don’t want to be part of The Government. Fortunately this unity is often pursued in passive-aggressive means.

The Need For Division Of Politics: Most politics is split between The Government, The Cities, local territories, and assorted organizations. This is seen as good and healthy, in that certain areas of society have certain responsibilities. Its just people argue about what they are.

Multi-Level Identity: One’s political identity is assumed to be multi-faceted – one’s City, one’s professional association, your neighborhood, etc. THe idea of people having one “party” or “loyalty” is seen as unhealthy – and fanatic.

Caution over Innovation: Though how cautious people are varies, the culture/cultures of Telvaren and its worlds do not assume innovation is always a good thing. There’s so much history of dangerous magic and technology that “hey look what I came up with” isn’t something people always want to hear. Needless to say, mages and technics and scientists tend to overstep these bounds.

We Are Better Than Before The War: Though the Lindhaemi might disagree to an extent, there’s an assumption that humanity learned so many lessons from The War and The Reformation, that they are better people for it.

Fear of Another War: Built into the culture and politics of all the peoples whose worlds orbit Avenoth is a fear of another War, a great global (or now interplanetary) conflict. Though it’s seen as very unlikely, this fear is woven throughout everything.

A Minimum Standard Of Living: Povery and assumed poverty were both part of the times before The War, and after it. Between The Government and The Great Cities, there’s a large amount of financial, educational, and other support for citizens. Going hungry or without medical treatment is rare.

A Need TO Be Involved: Being part of society, functioning in it, contributing, is also woven throughout the culture. It is considered normal to do charity work, go to political rallies, be involved in public institutions, etc. A duty to society (and its parts) is considered normal.

The Inevitability of Politics: Finally, most citizens accept politics and political involvement, with all its ugliness and strangeness, to be completely natural. This leads to a kind of cynical idealism.

– Steve

The Brainstorm Book: The Review

(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!

Now that you have a Brainstorm Book and are filling it with ideas, you need to review it. When you review it, you’ll go through the contents, go over your ideas, and figure what to do with them. That means coming up with a review schedule – but also coming up with a way to organize these ideas.

Your Review Schedule

First, set up a time to review your Brainstorm Book. You want to find a schedule that’s going to work best for you and not drive you up a wall. I recommend one of the following two choices:

  1. Do it every 2 weeks regularly.
  2. Do it twice a month on regular times that makes things roughly equal distance. (I recommend the 5th and the 20th).

Now it’s OK to, now and then move the time around a bit, but don’t get too radical. Good, solid, regular review should become a habit so you make the time to do it.

But what do you do? Well, when you review you need to set a few things up in your notes. Let’s get ready for a review.

Preparing for a Brainstorm Book Review

Remember, set this up before your review begins.

When you review a Brainstorm Book, you’ll sort ideas into four separate files. Now that may sound like a lot, but bear with me.
Here’s the four ways I keep ideas.

  • Archives – A collection of files that are things written down that you might refer to one day. One file can be enough, though you may want to divide them into general lists (stories, cooking, etc.)
  • The Incubator – This is my list of things you want to do some day, but aren’t sure when. Keep them in a list in order of importance – and no item can be of equal importance to another.
  • Backlog – Things you are definitely going to do. These should also be listed in order of priority. In many cases you’ll start breaking down work here because you know it well enough.
  • Current Backlog – What you’re committed too now. As an example I plan my work in monthly increments, so it’s a month of things to do.

Yeah, it sounds like a lot, but I keep the Incubator, Backlog, and Monthly backlog in the same spreadsheet.

If you’re familiar with Agile methods, specifically Scrum, some of this may look familiar – that’s because it comes from a mix of my own experience, Scrum, and the Getting Things Done method of David Allen. I sum this up more in the next chapter but to give you an idea:

I use my personal version of Scrum, where I plan work monthly. Every month I determine what I can do (from my regular tasks and Backlog) and then commit to that. Then at the end of the month I re-evaluate.

(You can also get a detailed guide here)

Now you know what you have toset up, let’s talk about how we use the review.

Reviewing Your Brainstorm Book

When you sit down to to a Brainstorm Book review, commit to taking one hour to do it. You may not use all of the time – but sometimes you will. You may also find yourself needing to go over, which is fine, but if it’s a habit you may want to get more efficient.

With that time set aside, do the following:

First you take your Brainstorm book, and go to the latest page that needs revieweed (I mark pages as I review them). You look at the idea or ideas there and decide what to do with each:

  • Ignore It – The idea may not be worth it or isn’t as great in retrospect or you weren’t sure what you wrote down.
  • Archive It – It may be something you want to write down but there’s no place for it. Put it in an Archive file.
  • Incubate It – If it’s an idea that you really see value in, really want to do, then put it in the Incubator. However the Incubator is ranked in order of priority as noted – so you have to put the idea at the right priority. You might reshuffle the entire list (this is why you may need an hour)
  • Backlog It – If an idea is really important, really must-do, put it in your Backlog – and again, put it in order of priority. If the idea is maturing, take some time to flesh it out more – you may break it into parts – another reason you may need that hour.
  • Current Backlog – If an idea is that important, that necessary (or that awesome) put it in your current backlog so you get to it soon.
  • Do it now – If it’s going to take a few minutes, why not just get it over with?

Simple, isn’t it? You look at ideas and determine how important they are, then put them in the proper areas. It’s intended to be simple because we don’t want to overcomplicate this. Next chapter, we’ll talk how to use these gatherings of ideas in more detail.

Why The Review Matters

Now that you’ve started to do your reviews, why are they helpful? Well, first after a review or two you’ll see why they matter, but heres a quick summary:

  • You don’t loose ideas or worry about losing ideas. You record them twice over to make sure you have them.
  • By seeing your inspiration you’ll be able to trust it to help you. Even if there are problems in being inspired, you now can see them, address them – and know when they’ve worked.
  • Analyzing your inspiration helps you understand how you think. You may find ideas repeat, or that certain days are better than others.
  • You can get re-inspired. When you look at your ideas, they don’t just come back to you, new ideas form. This further helps you understand how you think and have confidence in your imagination.
  • Reviewing them like this is the start of deciding what to focus on. By sorting items into different lists (or discarding them) you start prioritizing already.

This prioritization helps you get ready for long-term planning to bring your ideas to life. In fact, that’s the next chapter.

– Steve

Steve’s Update 6/17/2018

(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: Almost done with feedback – it should be done today.
  • Agile Creativity: Just waiting on the editor.  I do have the cover done, which you can see below!
  • Blogging: The Brainstorm Book series continues – and man are you going to enjoy this!
  • Seventh Sanctum: I’ve got an idea on my new plans, I just have to kind of collate them.
  • Instafreebie: I’m part of a great Instafreebie giveaway (check it out).
  • Newsletter: The newsletter is out (You are signed up for my newsletter right?)

What am I going to do this week?

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Finish this final run and see if the editor is up.
  • Blogging: Continue the Brainstorm book stuff and add another Avenoth Post.
  • General: Lots of side/background/administrative stuff.  Not gonna be an exciting week.

But now, the Agile Creativity Cover!  Went for business minimalism here:

– Steve

Writing Thoughts: Focus, Not Limitation

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

Lately I’ve been talking about how we need to focus on our work to get anything done.  My friend Serdar has been following up on my musings, with discussing selecting work as triage or how we select our work carefully like a DJ.  Each column is a reading-worthy videpoint.

However, I have come to dislike the triage metaphor, and in further discussions with him, came to the realization that we creatives, writers, etc. often look at limiting ourselves as bad.

We don’t want to limit ourselves.  We want to tell every story, explore every nook, paint in colors no one has yet seen.  We want to do it all.  Creativity means a head full of infinity in a mortal frame that has to pick and choose what parts of that endlessness to let into the world.

We make it even harder because we often talk about our need to be selective and to cultivate work in negative ways.  Triage. Limitation.  Pairing ideas down.   Killing your darlings.  We come up with the most negative ways to talk about this, ensuring of course we want to do it less.

Thats the problem.  So let me make a suggestion – as a creative don’t talk about choosing what work to do in the negative, find positive terms.  Yes it’s a psychological trick, but by using negative terms you’ve already been tricked into seeing this as a bad thing.

Think of it as:

  • Focusing on the best choices you create.  You decide on what brings the most benefit and do it.
  • Curating the most important works you can do.  You’re like a librarian or a DJ creating a best-of for people, chosing what they truly need from your infinite repertoire of possibilities.
  • Cultivating a garden of possibilities.  You choose what to “grow” in your works and nurture it to life.
  • Being a steward of ideas.  Perhaps that means not just developing them, but also knowing when to pass ideas on to others.

So I challenge you as a creator to look at your need to focus and find the most postivie way to look at it that is still rational.  Find a way to see the good in it, and you’ll be able to focus better and more effectively.  In doing so, your need to make choices will be much easier.

You don’t need triage when the DJ has you dancing to the best tunes already.

– Steve

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Mages’ Guilds

(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 . . .

Mage’s Guilds

Mage’s Guilds are part of the culture of Telvaren and the human worlds that are so historical, so commonplace, that no one remarks on them. They’re a part of life, like rain, if rain wore funny outfits and threw spells around

Historically, there have been Mage’s Guilds since various witches, wizards, sorcerers, and alchemists decided it was time to get organized, support each other, and outrun the occasional mob. Some Guilds trace their history back for thousands of years, though as the term “Guild” is a catch-all term for magely organizations, the modern Guilds are often removed from their historical counterparts. Except for historians, this is often of little concern in day-to-day life.

Mages usually enter guilds after formal education, usually the university level. Though there is often some experimentation in career, the majority stay with their Guild, and after five years some ninety percent stay with the Guild they are part of at the time – if that guild is still in business. Choosing a guild is obviously important, and modern career counselors do their best to keep up on them.

Guilds all have their own uniform, color scheme, and logo or badge to make them stand out. As there are a huge number of Guilds, this means that except for truly noteable ones (or stylish ones) people can mix up mages between guilds. It also means any hopeful new guilds will inevitably make style decisions that either conflict with known guilds, or look horrible.

The Guilds provide a large amount of services to their members that, if they choose to, cover almost all of their life needs. There is housing assistance, dining, job placement, training, and retirement benefits. Once a mage is in a Guild, barring any extreme behaivor (well, extreme for a mage), their life is defined if they so wish.

This is unfortunately not just due to convenience or social consciousness, but because to not belabor the point, most magical practitioners are a bit “off” or eccentric. They have radically different life experiences, they wield great forces, and they have to twist their minds into convoluted shapes to bend reality. The Guild ensures full support, and in a few cases, just makes sure no one does anything dumb and destructive.

By ancient agreement and modern politics, all teachers of magic and related professions are approved by a Guild – which of course provides various Universities with a reliable certification program. Some guilds with a teaching or investigative focus, like Phoenix Ascendant, certify non-mages in various historical and technical practices related to magic.

All mages are required to wear their guild colors and badge at all times to identify themselves. This allows people to know when a magic-user walks among them, and to respond accordingly. Though this has meant mages are now fully recognizable as a class of uniformed professionals, this casualness was hard-won over the last few hundred years. Because mages are seen as everyday citizens, Guilds go to great lengths to make sure no one upsets their golden apple cart.

Due to politics, personal preference, and the occasional collapse of Guilds, some mages loose their Guild status. These mages are required to register at a local University magic department. They dress in gray and are known as “unguilded.”

A mage that repeatedly does not identify themselves can be subjected to various sanctions, from expulsion to Guildmarking or Branding – magical tatoos on the face to make their magical nature unhideable. Some mages do this anyway to look impressive since they get to choose the style.
In some cases, Mages may belong to more than one guild; there are a slew of minor specialist guilds. Other guilds also sponsor spinoff or new guilds, often to expand their own power or deal with divisions in their own ranks.

Guilds are regulated by a council where each Guild of a certain size is represented. In theory guild population and seniority decide the votes each Guild has. It’s not that easy, and Mage politics are often quite underhanded and border on the bizarre.

The following is a list of noteworthy guilds:

Abiding Herald

The Guild of diviners, researchers, seekers, analyzers. Abiding Herald is a small but powerful and respected guild known for it’s knowledge and high standards. Despite these standard (or because of them) It’s a surprisingly relaxed guild – getting in is a mark of honor and the guild is mostly free of politics if only for its small size. If you’re in, you’re family.

Abiding Herald’s members wear black and silver. Their logo is a stylized eye, and because of it’s simplicity other guilds are jealous.

Celestial Foundation

The largest Magician’s Guild by a hair, and respected member of the Guild Council. Celestial Foundation has a well-earned reputation, but is very bureaucratic This is because many members end up managing its interests which include property, money, and more. It does produce and attract talented mages, but is riven with internal politics which has caused it not just to stagnate, but to slowly begin a decline.

Members of Celestial Foundation wear blue with gold details as well as blue hats or caps. They tend to wear blue jackets. Their logo is a four-pointed star on a horizon. They are always impeccably dressed and polite, and in “higher society” have a reputation for being charming.

Cerulean Compass

Cerulean Compass is a generalist guid of mages that is also one of the oldest – but not as old as Celestial Foundation. They have an emphasis on developing skills outside of straight-up magic and thus have an educated (and surprisingly functional) group of members.

Cerulean Compass openly sponsors new guilds as a way of cultivating power and keeping the world of magic shaken up.

Cerulean Compass outfits are blue and their logo – unsurprisingly – is a compass.

Crystal Tapestry

The guild of Illusionists. Crystal Tapestry has a long history, but is relatively small and thus has little say in the Council. They are big on ethics, proper practice – and kind of need to be considering what they do.

The guild itself is more a professional association like a union – focusing more on activism and training as illusionists easily find employment. Most work in the military/intelligence, entertainment, law enforcement – some are secondary guildsmenbers in other guilds.

Crystal Tapestry members wear white robes. Their badge is a black point radiating red, yellow, blue, and green lines.

Crimson Cornerstone

Crimson Cornerstone are construction-mages, specializing in working stone and metal and the like for buildings, repair, and recovery. They take great pride in their work, and have developed a strong presence on Gellitar as well as Telvaren.

They employ a large amount of specialty mages – those using only one form of magic. Many guilds look down on “level one” mages, but this GUild prefers specialists for some areas of work.

Members wear black and red, and shoulderpads fit prominently into guild robe designs. Their logo is a black cube on red.

Mirror Mountain

A relatively new and fast-growing Guild, Mirror Mountain is a generalist guild that openly challenges many of the older ones – mostly Celestial Foundation. Because of their willingness to do so, other guilds back them at least temporarily.

Mirror Mountain members wear vibrant purple robes with black highlights, their logo is a triangle-and-eye logo.

Obsidian Moon

Obsidian Moon is a Guild of Necromancers operating in the east of Telvaren, usually among Grand Ivar, Brightguard, Allanax and Kalstaff. They are a straightforward guild, focused on practice of their craft, and have little time for politics.

As they often have little time for social skills, they have taken to outsourcing certain delicate tasks to other guilds.

Members of Obsidian Moon wear black and purple. Their logo is a three-faced skull.

Phoenix Ascendant

Phoenix Ascendant is the guild of Reclimators and Reliquers, those that seek old technology, unusual technology, and reclaim it or defuse it. It is a respected, if workmanlike guild that attracts mostly practical mages and some suicidlaly weird ones the former keep in line. It is not a glamorous guild, but it is respected – and often wealthier than people expect.

Phoenix Ascendant keeps a large selection of scientists, historians, technics, and more on hand and certifies them as well. They are extended full Guild benefits upon becoming full members, aka a Signed Technic or Member.

Members of Phoenix Ascendant wear red wraps or robes with some gold trim, but usually its sober. A flame logo like a wing is their mark.

Radiant Visage

Radiant Visage is a guild that deals with rogue mages, magical dangers, and unusual monstrosities. They are the Telvaren branch of Silent Mask, when the guild split apart centuries ago.

Members of Radiant Visage wear light gray and gold, and wear masks that cover their upper faces when on the field.

Silent Mask

Silent Mask is a guild of exorcists, Demon Fighters, monster-fighters and at times trackers of rogue mages and magical experiments. Silent masc split from Radiant Visage some 2-300 years ago, and they are only found on the worlds of Gellitar and Telvaren.

They are known as a ruthless and at times fanatical guild, and they have an unpleasant rivalry with Radiant Visage. They also cross paths with Phoenix Ascendant.

Their outfits are always white and a mask is always involved, with various faces drawn in black – the faces tell something of their ranks. High-ranking members may have additional details in red and gold, while truly high ranking ones have blank masks.

Splendid Sunset

Splendid Sunset is a very “modern” Necromancer Guild operating out of Grand Ivar and Allanax. They specialize in raising the dead and contacting the dead for forensic and personal reasons.
They were founded by several other guilds some hundred years ago as a way to develop a team of Necromantic professionals with actual social skills, and to settle conflicts over “proper” use of Necromancy. It was easy to shut off people who seemed a bit too sensitive about the whole dealing-with-the-dead thing at the time.

Splendid Sunset’s members are trained in therapy, in speaking, and in etiquette as well as necromancy. Depending on your situation they are thus welcome and comforting or terrifyingly friendly. Other Guilds have found themselves outsourcing important tasks requiring a human touch as well as death-magic to them because they’re just so good at handling it.

Splendid Sunset members wear yellow and their logo – unsurprisingly – is a sunset. They also are known for fashionable hair and dress and use of makeup.

– Steve