I have had a longstanding ambition to write, but my venture capital career has kept me busy. I suppose like many other writer wannabes, I have a drawer full of writing ideas and partially completed work on a wide variety of subjects, from fiction to business to travel to sociology.
I have found that the craft of writing involves many difficult skills; the discipline of creating the time and mental space to write; the ability to do quality research; the challenges of developing an outline; the ability to accept feedback and improve your work – they make the task of scribbling words onto a page much more complex than it appears. I admire other writers who have mastered these skills.
I have been fortunate to take a course on “Story” with Robert McKee (www.mckeestory.com). I’ve actually taken the course twice, and learned even more the second time! McKee’s approach to story development is very helpful and inspiring, and he has taught and/or mentored something like 53 Oscar winners and 170 Emmy winners!
I am currently working on three projects and have provided a brief synopsis of each project below:
A Road Trip (Fiction)
Background: I have spent a lot of time in the USA and there are many aspects of American life (and people) I like a lot. However, like many others, I am appalled by their political gridlock and inability to govern themselves in a productive way. I speculate that one of the principal reasons is that the US is governed by documents – the Constitution and the Amendments – which are outdated and impractical for modern day-government.
One day I was in a pub in north Boston which claims that some of the Founding Fathers had imbibed beers there around the time of the American Revolution. I wondered what the Founding Fathers would say if they saw America in 2013.
Synposis: Six of the Founding Fathers “time travel” to 2013, and reappear in the pub, which is actually now part of a theme park! One of the part-time “guides” in the park is Betsy, a full-time Harvard University Ph.D. candidate specializing in American History. During one of Betsy’s tours for tourists, she discovers that the “usual” students posing as the Founding Fathers have been replaced by the “real” Founding Fathers. After being convinced of the authenticity of the real Founding Fathers, and needing to undertake original research for her doctoral thesis, Betsy agrees to take the real Founding Fathers on a “road trip” across the country to see the best and worst of modern-day America. They make stops at an NRA convention in Texas; an NFL football game (including a tailgate party; a meth lab (where they also buy forged documents); the Pentagon; Disneyland, and other representative sights The story is half farce (time travel being, of course, farcical), and half serious, as I try to confront the ways that America has evolved which the Founding Fathers could never had imagined.
Inside the One Percent (Non-fiction)
I am concerned about the “class warfare” that is emerging, where the top 1% earners are vilified by the press, and the population in general. Ayn Rand wrote about this problem in “Atlas Shrugged” in 1955, and she provides a frightening foreshadowing of where this might lead. Although there are some undeserving and unworthy members of the 1% (mostly, the .01%), I have been fortunate to know several 1%-ers, and in my experience they are great contributors to the economy, society-at-large, their communities, their families and friends, and charities and other worthy causes. I think the current “blanket criticism” against the 1% is unfair, and my book will present their contributions with a more balanced view and perspective.
Don’t Screw Up! (Non-Fiction)
Background: For quite some time, I have wondered about two related observations on how individuals make major personal decisions. First, invariably, all the self-help books and media personalities tell you to “Just Do It” – to take the risk and strive to be “all that you can be”. Second, I observe that many people have made bad personal decisions in many respects, and the results are everywhere: failed marriages and relationships, personal or corporate bankruptcies or other financial stress, disappointing career decisions, and so on.
Synopsis: My work focuses on large-scale decisions: Where you live; who you marry; what course you take in school; the career you select; major financial decisions; following the law; and so on. I have developed a checklist structure which, when used appropriately, may help people think through the consequences of their decisions. My checklist includes factors such as financial analysis; establishing priorities; understanding the impact of short-term emotions; pleasing other people; the impact of time; assessing options and risks, and others. Of course, not all factors apply to all decisions. I also have considered turning this work into an app which people could share with trusted others to assist in making a decision (although nothing will replace discussing problems over a beer!).