Returning to the Mean

In his history of probability, Against the Gods, Peter Bernstein introduced me to the Law of Returning to the Mean: If you perform at your peak——or at your worst——the odds are very good that your next effort will sink closer to your average, just by random fluctuation.
This week was sort of like that. Not as smooth as the last couple, but way above November’s mess. Close to my mean.
The fluctuations that dragged it were a)a couple of bad nights of sleep (no particular reason. Sometimes it just happens) which took their toll on me Wednesday. Not a wasted day, but far from what it should have been. b)I had a new story assignment from Raleigh Public Record (now online at the link) and it took a lot longer than I anticipated. I still have trouble figuring out how to add extra assignments into my work week: I don’t want to give up too many eHows, won’t cut into fiction-writing time and I’m also not keen on stressing out with too many extra hours. That doesn’t leave much wriggle room.
The desire to use my time efficiently probably explains the couple of errors noted in the comment at the bottom of the story: Nothing that invalidates it but stuff I should definitely have caught. I will not make that mistake again.
All that being said, I did get a new story in the Record, and I didn’t sacrifice any fiction time——in fact, I continued to whittle down the huge chunk of back-time I’m making up from November. One thing I’ll say, when I throw in an extra hour or so every week, it makes me appreciate how much difference that little block of time can make.
Mage’s Masquerade went off to my beta-reader Cindy on Monday (and if you find any of Cindy Holbrook’s old Regencies on used-book sites, I highly recommend them). I’m pleased with it, but that’s not to say it won’t come back with suggestions (which is what I send it to her for, after all). I anticipate showing it to the writers’ group next month.
•The latest draft of Doom-Tripper, which I’ve retitled The Savage Years, isn’t complete but it does look promising. I finally realized the problem with rationalizing the evil wizard’s tactics is that as I’ve reworked the plot, he leads off firing the heavy guns (so to speak), then starts using pea-shooters (albeit deadly ones). I’ve changed that around so the attacks build in horror leading up to the big finish and worked in some angles I’d had to discard (the death of RFK in ’68 as a background element for instance). Unfortunately I’ve had to drop the scene where my heroes battle possessed biplanes——much as I love the idea, it no longer fits.
Brain From Outer Space did so-so. I straightened out several sticking points but I still don’t see what the bad guys’ next move should be.
My eHows were a little low, both because of the slack Wednesday and because I’m participating in a test project that took place offline on a different time frame, so I didn’t submit them as fast as usual. But here’s what I did get:
•What Is NEAR PASCAL and FAR PASCAL?
•Network Trend Analysis
•What Is Android TabHost?
•Microsoft Project for Production Planning
•Application of Linear Programming in Computers
•How Does Geotargeting Affect Google?
•Ethernet Phone Wiring
•Firefox Add-On Coding Options
•The Advantages & Disadvantages of Unix File Descriptors
•The Development of Android Applications for the iPad & the iPhone
•How to Build an Aggregator Website
•How to Use a Controller in Java
•Decision Trees in Microsoft Project
•Google Star Rating
•iPod Manufacturing Process
•”This Copy of Windows Not Activated” Virus

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15 Comments

Filed under Brain From Outer Space, Nonfiction, Short Stories, Time management and goals, Writing

15 responses to “Returning to the Mean

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