All posts for August 2017

Me And One Other Fool

Who's really worth pleasing when you're writing? (And why?)

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/16 08:00

Been away from the keys for a few days, not much time for blogging; also fighting off the last of a cold I picked up.

Not long ago, a friend of mine picked up Flight Of The Vajra, and I made the mistake of apologizing pre-emptively for the book. Not in the sense that I thought it was evil, but that it was flawed, and that the flaws in it had become all the more prominent to my own eyes since I'd finished it. But he loved the book anyway, and I realized once again I had made the mistake of trying to second-guess, and ameliorate, someone else's reactions to my own work.

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Tags: audiences  writers  writing 

From Monstrosity To Tragedy

Art isn't profound just because it hurts.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/09 19:00

T.J. Clark · Picasso and Tragedy · LRB 17 August 2017

I doubt that an artist of Picasso’s sort ever raises his or her account of humanity to a higher power simply by purging, or repressing, what had been dangerous or horrible in an earlier vision. There must be a way from monstrosity to tragedy. The one must be capable of being folded into the other, lending it aspects of the previous vision’s power.

Emphasis mine.

Constant readers will be familiar by now with my notion of the Endurance Test Philosophy Of Art: If it doesn't scar you or make you want to puke, it isn't "real" art, because "real" art has IMPACT!!! Or something along those lines. It's twaddle, but it's the sort of twaddle that is easy to make a case for, easy to subscribe to, and easy to find plenty of allegedly valid examples of.

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Tags: Pablo Picasso  art  artists  tragedy 

Feed Me, See More

Our site's feeds got munged. Look within for answers.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/09 17:00

Somewhere along the way one of our RSS feeds fell out of the bottom of the bucket. We originally had two -- an RSS and an Atom feed -- and I eventually consolidated on a single RSS feed, But a lot of Feedly users, and perhaps other folks as well, were using the Atom feed. For the last couple of weeks they haven't been seeing squat. My bad.

If you're using some kind of feed reader, remove Genji Press entirely from it and re-add it using either or the above-linked RSS feed.

You'll start to feel better almost immediately!

Tags: Genji Press  excuse our dust 

But What If The Moment Sucks?

On the problems inherent in "living in the moment".

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/09 08:00

Some twenty or so years ago I was grousing to someone close to me about how lousy things were in my life at the time. In all honesty, they weren't that bad, but everyone always experiences problems in a personalized way; everyone's suffering is always only their own. I was suffering. Ergo, things sucked; Q.E.D.

My friend was trying to be empathic and positive, and he started talking about "living in the moment". I don't blame him for attempting to feed me what amounted to a Zen 102 mini-course, and my memory of his exact words are distant enough that I don't want to attempt to critique them. But I do remember my reply in perfect detail: "'Live in the moment'?" I scoffed. "What if the moment sucks?" (I feel all the more bad for my friend now; he was just trying to help.)

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Tags: Buddhism  Zen  psychology  the meaning of life 

Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: The Long And Winding Checklist

On using (and abusing) the rewrite process's "things to do" list.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/08 08:00

Writing wonkery ahead.

Over the weekend I finished putting together the scene map for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, and slotted into it the "things to do" collected from the notes I'd kept during the first draft process. Some details follow for those not in the know.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  Fran├žois Truffaut  TiddlyWiki  organization  rewriting 

Genji Press: Projects: The Empire's New Tools

New tools for publishing on Kindle are a major step forward.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/07 08:00

In the time between I last published something through Amazon Kindle and now, Amazon has introduced new tools for e-publishing. They're a dramatic improvement over the earlier toolchain -- easier to use, easier to comprehend, and something I can get results from in minutes, not hours.

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Tags:  Kindle  ebooks  publishing 

Action And Reaction And We-action

On not second-guessing audience responses to your work (again).

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/06 19:00

A Writer's Life: Writing And The Models - Steven Savage

I think some things appeal to people – even with flawed models of behavior and world – due to audience participation.

My take: At that point it's not the work that holds the appeal anymore, but rather the community that has formed around it. (There's more to Steven's discussion but I'm chomping out this piece here specifically.

This is one of those things that can get very tricky and very counterproductive if not approached right. I think the fact that communities of specific kinds of enthusiasm form around certain cultural products is a wonderful thing, but also not something you can engineer or anticipate.

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Tags: audiences  interpretation  writers  writing 

Science Fiction Repair Shop: Changing It Up

Take a book that's not SF. Imagine it as SF. What would it be like?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/05 19:00

One of the games I enjoy is to take a novel I admire or outright love that isn't science fiction or fantasy and try to imagine what an SF&F version of that story would be like. The easy way to demonstrate this game is by way of an extant example: If we turned The Count Of Monte Cristo into an SF story, what would we have? Easy: Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination.

The game becomes harder, but also more rewarding, when you turn towards other books which SF&F readers (or even SF&F authors!) might not know as well.

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Tags: Alfred Bester  Giuseppe di Lampedusa  Science Fiction Repair Shop  fantasy  science fiction 

Rock (Un)Steady

Just because something's in your story doesn't mean that's what your story's about.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/05 08:00

"Writing is never solid," writes Steven Savage in his follow-up take on the way the ideas you cling to in a story can just weigh you down, like so many rocks. His take is that you go where the story demands, not where the artifacts of your story are dictating you go.

This reminded me of how easy it is to confuse the elements or ingredients of a story with the actual themes or meaning of a story.

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Tags: Steven Savage Dialogues  storytelling  themes  writing 

The Benefits Of A Cracking Good Yarn

What storytelling can do that a straight rundown of facts can't.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/03 19:00

My friend Steven Savage normally writes self-help, career-management, and creativity-wrangling books. (Go read his series on worldbuilding, it's really good.)

Recently, he's dived back into the fiction end of the pool, and one of the discussions we had around that process unearthed the insight that some kinds of analysis and insight are more readily accomplished through fiction than nonfiction. I agreed with that, and I have a few theories why.

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Tags: Fyodor Dostoevsky  Steven Savage Dialogues  fiction  nonfiction  writing 

The Ticking Clock

Some thoughts on deadlines and how they affect productivity.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/03 08:00

Steve has some thoughts on deadlines and how they affect productivity:

My Agile Life: The Line Isn’t So Dead

... Agile methods are about adaptability and doing things right – a lot of good productivity methods are the same way.  The thing is if you focus on the deadline, you often forget about doing things right – and you stress yourself out.

... What’s the most important things to do and how do I do them effectively was more important than a given deadline in most cases.

Sure the deadline mattered, but unless the deadline was truly more important than doing it right, it wasn’t a worry.

... the focus on the deadline may make you miss doing things right.  Consider this – if you focus on doing something well, won’t you get it done quicker, especially over time?  Won’t it last longer?  Won’t focusing on quality and work first, ironically, mean you’ve got a better chance of hitting the deadline (or at least being more on time later)?

 Valuable advice no matter what kind of work it's being applied to, but I think it's twice as important when applied to work that is entirely your own, and happening entirely on your own schedule.

Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned is tentatively scheduled to be released at the beginning of next year. Emphasis on the tentatively. In truth, that's a best-of-all-worlds scenario; my suspicion is that it will slip somewhat. Some part of me feels bad for even placing a tentative timeframe on the release, because I hate to build up expectations and then tear them back down. Underpromise and overdeliver, and all that.

I also know that by putting a deadline out there, deadline, even one that might slip a bit, keeps me honest. It reminds me that the work I start is only going to be finished by me. I can kick the can further down the road, and I really should if the deadlines I set prove unrealistic. But at least I have one to move ahead in the first place, if only for my own sake.

Tags: deadlines  discipline  writing 

Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: Map Vs. Territory

On finding my way through the second draft of a story.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/02 08:00

Time to lift the hood on my work habits a little. The second draft process for one of my books -- Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned in particular, which is the one I'm currently rewriting -- works something like this.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  rewriting  writing 

Me First

I like to write about other peoples' work, but I write my own work first.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/01 19:00

One of the curious side effects of cleaning up a blog archive that goes back as far as mine does (2000 or so -- seventeen years, that's aeons of internet time) is that you realize how wide-ranging some of your interests are. That and how you sometimes have to shelve those things to do justice to the other stuff you tell yourself matters more, like your own creative work.

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Tags: creativity  criticism  critics  discipline  self-criticism  time management 

Always Outnumbered, Always Overworked

Next up: revisions on my next novel, and rough plans for a future one.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017/08/01 08:00

Now that I've vacuumed most of the sawdust off the floor of the new iteration of this site, it's time to turn to discussing the other work pending and the new work as-yet-begun.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  The Fall Of The Hammer  future projects  rewriting  writing 

Genji Press

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