The Midwest Writers Workshop inspires me to write more

I’ve not done substantial writing during the past eight years. Most of my work during my second act has involved writing for the web, social media, and this blog.

My fascination with long-form writing hasn’t stopped, which is why I attended the 2017 Midwest Writers Workshop this past week. Held in my hometown and attracting nationally known writers, the conference was a great opportunity to hear writers talk about their craft and get exposed to the business side of publishing.

I’ve toyed with writing a novel throughout my life. Allegedly, I have a nearly finished piece of work somewhere on a 3.5 floppy disk.

Writing is hard for everyone, but I face two challenges. I cannot type and I like to rework sentences after I finish them. Both can be troublesome when attempting marathon writing sessions. I’ve tried to learn to type, but nearing 50 I don’t think I can train my brain any further.

My goal for the rest of the year is to write more. I have several ideas kicking around for a novel, mostly in the scifi and technopolitical thriller genres. Mostly I am writing for myself. Perhaps one day I may get published, but that’s not important for me at this point.  My goal is to practice the craf and enjoy creating plots, characters and worlds.

I have a few ideas for a non-fiction book, as well.  I was discouraged at the conference to learn that an author’s platform — expertise plus audience – is very important to non-fiction writing. It seems these days one needs to have thousands of followers on social media to make non-fiction book ideas a reality.

Alas, I don’t want to work that hard on social media. Maybe I should to develop a platform. Social media is a mess these days, though. It’s no longer fun for me.

The conference clued me in on a bunch of resources I’ll be devouring during the next few months. I plan to learn the Scrivener program, read some famous books on writing, subscribe to Writer’s Digest, and perhaps attend some more workshops. I also would like to try my hand at the National Novel Writing Month in November.

The conference may lead to some other writing opportunities for me, which would be nice. For now, I’ll try to update this blog more regularly. I may even share some of my non-fiction and fiction writing here. Perhaps I’ll start a newsletter and attempt to monetize this blog by being an Amazon Affiliate and offering a PayPal donation button. Regardless, thanks for reading.

Why Net Neutrality Is More Important Than You Know

Today was #NetNeutralityAction Day. Because I work with online communications in the public sector, this is an important issue for me. I’ve contacted my representatives in Congress with my thoughts.

Trump’s FCC is currently attempting to roll back the Tittle II regulations which prevent broadband providers (i.e. Comcast) from charging added fees to content provides (Netflix) to carry data. Under the Obama administration, the FCC declared internet broadband a telecommunications utility service and imposed regulations to keep such business deals from happening. In short, it required providers to treat all data content with parity, whether it is from Amazon or NASA.

Rollback of the regulations would remove such conditions, and allow service providers to charge more money to content providers for faster speeds and more bandwidth.

At face value, this would seem to respect free market principles, but let’s go deeper. Establishing a tier approach to providing content is dangerous. Those companies with deep pockets (Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon) can afford to pay higher fees.

But what about government, non-profit, education and other public sector websites? There’s the clincher. If we allow providers to classify and distribute bandwidth based on pay-to-play, those that cannot pay will reach smaller audiences.

For example, Rep. Luke Messer’s surveys will be less likely to land in constituents e-mail inboxes. They will also be slower. Education sites such as Ball State University and larger government sites like NASA.gov will also find it more challenging to distribute content. It reaches down to the local level. Consider your town’s website, or your school’s online presence. All could take a dramatic speed hit.

Will Congress and the government realize that rolling back Title 2 is a self-defeating action? I doubt it. As we’ve seen this year, ideological trumps pragmatism. I urge you to write you representatives and mention this angle. It may not have even occurred to them.

 

Why no man is an island

A new state law on July 1 requires children (those under 18 years of age) to wear helmets when riding in off-road vehicles.

The law has some upset because it applies to actions on private property.

Hoosiers are an independent lot, but the uproar doesn’t seem rational or logical to me.

First, people are complaining about the law on the DNR Law Enforcement’s Facebook page. This strikes me as odd. Judging from the comments, many forget the difference between those that write the law (the legislative branch) and those that enforce the law (the judicial branch). People should be voicing their concerns to their representatives in the legislative branch. Complaining on Facebook is not going to be effective.

Second, people are complaining that the new law is big government intrusion/overreach and taking away their “rights.” It’s worth nothing these individuals don’t specify what right. The right to be stupid? Laws don’t stop at property lines. It’s trendy to be self-righteous libertarians and complain about government intrusion, but most of the ORV accidents involving children happen on private property. Perhaps harshness is warranted to demonstrate the fallacy. Want Jill or Johnny to ride without a helmet? Fine. Sign a waiver and forfeit all services you and your child would receive if – God forbid — there was an accident. No emergency responders. No health insurance or public assistance to pay for the medical costs. No changes in education to help with your child’s disabilities. No disability for your children. Be truly independent. Bottom line

  • Your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn’t supersede that of your child or of other taxpayers.
  • Your actions on your own property can have negative impacts outside of your property. This is why laws extend to private property so people don’t murder, poach or pollute or harm others or themselves.

My take: Some of the comments being left are examples of why the law is needed. Common sense seems to have disappeared from many.

Yes, there is a discussion to have about government over-reach and the nanny state, slippery slope, yadda yadda yadda, but this particular situation isn’t the time.  When you place political ideology before the safety of your child, you look foolish and irresponsible. In the end, that’s why such laws exist.