Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Thursday, 21 November 2002

I bought a sloth stuffie.

I've always thought of the sloth as my totemic animal. It's probably not really accurate: I'm as prone to activity as any of the more active animals, but only when it's something that I want to do. That isn't precisely the nature of true slothfulness. Still, sloth is one of my three favorite sins, so when I saw the sloth stuffie I knew I had to buy it.

I've stopped working on the novel. I think the reason I'd been excited about it was that it worked with one particular idea (that I've worked with in fiction before) that means a lot to me. But I tend to prefer more idea-dense stories. It's something I do well with my short stories. I think I should do it with novels as well. So, I'm rethinking.

In the meantime, I've got the short story that I'd just started on before my mom came to visit. It hasn't gotten much attention either, but it nags at me. That's a good sign, I think.

At lunch today I was reading an article about Li Ka-Shing, a Hong Kong billionaire. One of his companies, Hutchison Telecommunications, is investing in new infrastructure for 3G mobile phones. My current project at the day job is related to a 3G phone, so I was interested. I'd never heard of him or his son Richard Li until I was in the UK a couple of months ago, but the driver who took us to the airport on our way back home filled us in. Anyway, he's an interesting guy.

My erstwhile traveling companion was also having lunch, so I handed him the article, reminded him about the driver's comments, and mentioning that Li was worth $10 billion. My co-worker expressed a willingness to be satisfied with such a sum. I indicated that I'd happily settle for a mere one-tenth as much.

The result was a general lunch room conversation on the topic of how much money would be enough. Various people expressed a preference for the whole $10 billion. There are, of course, things you could do with $10 billion that you can't do with a mere $1 billion. (Buying a space shuttle was mentioned.) But I stand by what I said. I'm pretty sure that my life would be no different if I had $10 billion than it would be if I had just $1 billion. I'd live the same place, eat the same food, travel the same places in the same way, wear the same clothes, drive the same car.

I'd have to think more carefully to figure out where the lower limit is. If I just had $10 million, say, I would probably live a different life. That's really just barely wealthy. A billion dollars would mean that you could keep apartments in London and Berlin and New York just on the off-chance that you might want to go there for the weekend. If you only had $10 million such behavior would bankrupt you.

Mind you, I'd settle for even less than that. Someone slips me $600,000 today and I'm a full-time writer tomorrow.


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