Posts filed under “Apprenticed Investor”

What Was Most Surprising About Writing ?

A friend asked me an interesting question over the weekend: What was the thing about writing the book that surprised you the most?

Lots of things about the process were pretty much as I expected. The deadlines, the structural changes, the battles with publishers/editors — were all pretty much as you would imagine. The importance of having good researchers was also what I anticipated.

It was my first book, and as it turns out, quite a few things about the entire process were not what I expected:

It took much longer: When McGraw Hill approached me about doing a 30,000 word book, I figured, no big deal! I write 5-10,000 words a week — how hard can it be to bang out 30,000?

Answer: A lot harder than I thought. The subject matter kept shifting, my original focus was wrong, and had to be modified, oh, and the book ended up being about double that length. (Mike Panzner was dead on about this being more than you would expect).

Books last a long time: About half way through, you realize that this thing could easily outlive you. Suddenly, a sense of ownership and pride and desire to do a really good job begins to gnaw at you. A book could live many years beyond its author. The time pressure begins to wear, and you realize that you need another solid month (or three) of rewrites and polish — and you don’t have it.

Lack of socializing is wearing: Yes, writing is quite solitary. From June to December, there was almost no social interaction outside of work and home. I never expected to become such a pariah — no weekends at the beach, very little in the way of going out with other couples. It was, not surprisingly, isolating. Its a small niggling thing that begins to eat at you and becomes more of an issue than you would have guessed.

Need input! The process of researching and writing meant limited tv, NO movies, NO (non-bailout) related books, NO NOVELS. It was all encompassing, somewhat overwhelming, and a little bit depressing (need input!)

I haven’t been to movie theater since before June 08.

Since the manuscript went in, I have seen: The Lady Eve, The Bank Job (2007), Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Casino Royale, There Will Be Blood, Something About Mary, Stalag 17, The Dark Knight, I am Legend, Iron Man, Michael Clayton, 300, Elizabeth, Hairspray, Ratatouille and Superbad.

Writing and Speaking use two different parts of your brain. I have voice recognition software at home and in the office. I’ve always known that speaking and writing were different — certain brain damage (aphasias) leaves its victims the ability to write but not speak (and other surprising variations) — but they were so utterly different, so surprising in the ways they used such different cognitive skills, that I found I simply could not dictate the book. Dictation seemed to read terribly.

If you are counting on dictation to write a book — don’t. Not at least until you try it.

Forget trying to be encyclopedic: In my mind, I thought of this book as the be all end all on the subject. It slowly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen.

Being narrowly focused turned out not only to make it easier to write, but kept the emphasis on what mattered most. I think this made the book better than if it were more exhaustive.

Collaboration can be a joy: I originally tagged my editor, Aaron Task (now at Yahoo Tech Ticker) to edit the work. As the deadlines ticked past — I was maybe 65% done with a month left to go — I decided I needed more of a collaborator than an editor.

And I was horrified at the thought of it.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was. Aaron put everything on Google Docs, we could both edit the same docs back and forth; leaving notes for each other about content, style, order. He organized things much better than I, kept the editing and writing process on schedule, allowed me to refine the structure without going too far astray. He is one of those rare editors that actually makes your work better, yet let’s you retain your own voice.

Being stuck indoors all the time sucks: During the Summer, I put curtains up in the home office so I didn’t have to see what gorgeous weather I was missing. I tried to write outdoors on the laptop, but it was a pain.

My new motto: Never start writing a book in the Spring. Begin writing in the Fall, pound the keyboard throughout the miserable Winter weather, and finish before the boat goes in the water in May.

Deadlines are flexible — until they are not. I missed the August 15 deadline with no problems. Thank goodness, too — imagine a book on Bailouts omitting most of the bailouts? Next deadline, November 15, went by with nary a peep. By December 1, McGraw Hill was freaking out. Everything was in by 12/15.

It physically beats you up.  I never expected writing to be so physically demanding. My lower back ached, my torn rotator cuff flared up, my mouse arm was always sore. I never had carpal tunnel, but damned if my hands and forearms didn’t ache all the time. Years ago, I worked in a firm in where a masseuse visited every other week — this girl gave hand massages that were better-than-sex; I would kill to find her again.

Look, no one is going to confuse writing with picking cotton or rice farming or moving furniture — but those are supposed to be back breaking labor; This wasn’t.

Dorothy Parker was onto something when she said “I hate writing but love having written.”

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Bailout Nation, Film, Intellectual Property, Psychology, Television

10% Intraday Swing

No one knows the future, but we can play the odds when they are in our favor. Today was one of those days. What was looking like a shaky retest now looks like a reverse head & shoulders low (or a triple bottom). For those of you who have been paying attention to both the…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Markets, Technical Analysis, Trading

Retest of the October Lows

Markets have come increasingly close to their October 10th lows. Contrary to what you may have read or heard on TV, this is precisely as it should be. Why? Major lows get retested. That is a basic tenet of market behavior, and crowd psychology. (This has been verified by a variety of studies by different…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Markets, Psychology, Technical Analysis, Trading

The Death of Buy and Hold

click for video


Note my 5 stages of grief meme has taken hold:

The five stages of death are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. We bring it up, because right now, Wall Street is really struggling with that last one, acceptance.

We’re talking about the death of that time honored investment strategy, buy-and-hold. Investors just can’t let go, and they need to.

Thanks to black October, the S&P 500 has now lost a fifth of its value over the last 10 years. According to Jeff Macke, “2008 is the year that will go down in history as the year that long term investment died as a thesis.”

And that means it’s time to move on.

But just because buy-and-hold is pretty much dead and buried, that doesn’t mean you can’t make money anymore.


The Death of Buy and Hold
Lee Brodie

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Markets, Psychology, Video

Questions For Your Financial Advisor

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Trading

Lose the Wall Street Research MSMedia Blogs

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Financial Press, Psychology, Weblogs

Bob Farrell’s 10 Rules for Investing

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Contrary Indicators, Investing, Markets, Psychology, Short Selling, Trading

Is the Market Still a Future Indicator?

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Hedge Funds, Markets, Trading, Valuation

Lessons Learned From A Dangerous Year

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Economy, Markets, Trading

Seven Stock Blunders

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Trading