On the consequences of not knowing what you really want.
Where from here for me?
"...to be happy to be alive in the full knowledge of all misery, our own included."
Learn a little something creative from someone on the other side of the aisle.
Getting your ideas together for a new story can be just that tough.
You could be the change, or you could just hold your breath and wait for it.
On not getting too attached.
Because if it's popular, it has to be good! Right? Right?
There is no creativity by committee, but we love to believe otherwise.
On my end: Less blog, more books.
Belief's a label you earn, not self-apply.
On the Fiction of Resignation.
I'll be back.
Analysis is not an assault on the audience's identity.
Why black and white views of the world are self-inflicted, and self-crippling.
On the idea of "troll it 'till it breaks".
On why non-SF writers sometimes disdain SF, continued.
On the fine line between "I only believe in facts and logic" and "If I believe this, it must be logical and factual".
On Pixar's alleged slide into crass commercialism.
On the word "fraud" as a term of critique.
Young-adult fiction and the classics, once again.
There's no hero worth having that's not also worth growing past.
Few things hurt a writer worse than having a tin inner ear.
Writing: the work that validates itself. (But who really believes that?)
Action in the present moment: for you and you alone.
The world does not owe creative types a living -- not yet, anyway.
More on nothing ever being "mere entertainment".
On creative work presenting itself as science for the sake of legitimacy.
Publishing companies: the unknown ideal.
Why "any reading is good reading" is not a great defense of reading.
There's no waiting for creative lightning to strike; you've got to get out there on a hill with a kite and a key on its string.
Amazon's new publishing curation system: the non-wisdom of crowds.
On weirdness as a substitute for being original.
Storytelling descending; marketing rising.
Even our entertainments are works of art whether or not we like it, and have the chance to be taken very, very seriously by somebody out there.
"Write the book you want to read" also requires that you know what kind of book you really want to read. Not easy.
Why the success of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' was a two-edged sword.
On the way we contrive our behavior to conform to the expectations of others, both good and bad.
Authors rarely impress me with the depth of their intellectual rigor, and I suspect that's because they don't see themselves as thinkers.
Why a compassionate writer is a better writer. (A somewhat roundabout discussion.)
Are you your characters? And should you apologize for them?
Writing: there's a best way, a right way, and in the end, your way.
2nd draft of "Welcome to the Fold" under way for real now, with a few bumps in the road.
On ephemeral culture that never gets around to being ephemeral.
On the philosophy of sequels (and why I'm on the "against" side).
On the contradictions (?) between Buddhist nonviolence and the violence that protects it.
Ideas of immortality, old and new, re-examined.
How I write, and how I rewrite.
Why great SF has typically been cautionary and not just visionary.
The new American man doesn't have to be a dudebro or a feminized wimp; he can be a step in the right direction.
My Little Insight: "'there's a point where a pleasant lack of cynicism ... becomes insular naivete.'"
On finishing a first draft, and my tools of the trade.
A peek at the Hieroglyph, up close.
Yet more on 'Hieroglyph' and a better future for all who can afford it.
On 'Hieroglyph', take two.
Why an anthology of techno-positivist SF raises hackles with me.
On being almost, almost, almost done with this book, and how I got here over the past year.
On the creative trap of First, Second, No Good.
On standing on the shoulders of giants, but only to jump free.
Are SF and literary work at odds because creators of the latter are trained not to think out of the box?
How to learn from the authors you admire, without cloning their work.
Let's gaze into something other than the abyss - but not our navels either.
How gaming and SF share an inclusivity problem.
On a lot of things: Spike Lee, SF, hard-to-swallow endings, and stacking the deck.
Coming soon: a real-life version of a fictional technology I dreamed up for a book.
Does success make it impossible to speak truth to power?
On writing for a living vs. living for writing.
Why we accept the existence of crass psychological manipulation as part of the unspoken cost of modern living.
A little love letter to my readers.
Sometimes the best argument is the one you walk away from.
Breeding monsters, and all that.
Why does it always come down to having to choose between science and art, between Shakespeare or the bomb?
To understand doesn't mean we have to forgive. See: comic book movies, et al.
"As long as people are reading something..."
I could use a little help from my fans.
For sale. Best offer!
Hollywood's mania for sequels makes sense in light of how forgettable the films are. With no follow-up, who would remember they even exist?
On the self that plays tricks on the self by being the self, or something.
On why taboos aren't just prejudices.
On daring to be silly.
It's the end of the world as we know it, yet again.
"Question the question."
On the fluidity of canon in comics and Buddhism alike. No, really.
The first of four ways to broaden your horizons, courtesy of Paul Krugman.
Nobody "earns the right" to be abusive.
The best projects are always the ones that haven't been started yet. That's the problem.
Real diversity is about more than just letting the freak flag fly.
On the dangers of being Just Different Enough.
Last ride on the suffering train, I swear!
On ending suffering not being what you think it is, 'n all that.
Don't just do something, sit there!
On suffering being attachment, 'n all that.
On media as a water-cooler subject, and how it becomes about everything except itself.
Your humble narrator has finally learned to use Twitter effectively. Cue the shock and gasping.
The eyes we give creators to look through aren't even their own anymore -- they're a composite of everyone else's.
An attempt at politically tinged SF, but only an attempt: such are the risks of not thinking through fully the implications of your premise.
More on why it's good that some books might never be filmed.
Why a long movie that attempts to emulate a novel is a tough proposition, but not an unworkable one.
Why "disruption" starts at home in creative circles.
Why adult fiction doesn't speak to adults anymore.
It's the end of the world as we love it.
The how-to of writing is something to be outgrown, not followed to the end.
It's not that we don't learn from success, it's that we learn all the wrong things.
Not every book is a first draft for a movie. Or should be.
Just because someone speaks geek doesn't make them your friend.
On how good writing about computing and video games has been with us since the 1980s.
Remakes: the poor man's newness.
Looking backward keeps us from looking forward.
Yet another example of pop spirituality getting it wrong.
On making a *constructive* argument for creative snobbery.
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to sell.
Creativity, repeating itself. (Or why you don't remake lightning in a bottle.)
On why hyping yourself always feels like it should be someone else's job -- except when it really isn't.
Fandom should be about more than just emotionally protecting one's territory.
You can only play the "honesty" card for sex and violence so many times.
To engage with the world in the here and now, or to withdraw? The case for both.
Why I hoarded; why I stopped.
There's little in the way of serious literature out there about the psychodynamics of role-playing games.
Is tying your work into current events smart self-promotion or just spammy?
On the communal enjoyment of entertainment and the 'paradox of choice'.
Empire's greatest-movies list is skewing unpleasantly towards spectacle and superficial fanboyism.
"The most shocking dystopian novel is the first one you read..."
Or, how I do what I do when I do what I do.
When John Zorn and Bill Laswell joined forces, the results were nothing short of seismic.
Oh yeah, here I am again. What I've been up to.
Why combining one thing with another should be about producing something greater than just the sum of its parts.
It's the real, not just the fantastic, that is most alluring in a fantasy.
Fans owe it to themselves to understand why they love something, and not be satisfied with mere self-flattery.
Dead is forever, but it's also not the end.
Amazon's self-publishing program is no curation program.
If looking to SF for a vision of the future is a bad idea, can we at least say which SF we're talking about?
On George R. R. Martin and repentance.
On leaving New York City behind.
The story isn't the pitch, but for readers, it often is.
On how there can be "suspense without surprise".
Are there too many comic book movies? No, just too many movies made from the same prefab story beats.
The great books of the here and now may be wholly invisible to us except in retrospect.
Flatter the audience at your own risk.
Me versus template storytelling, again.
Me versus blurbs, again.
On the difference between "culture" and "lifestyle".
Give the people what they want. Or you can give the people what you want.
On the political in the creative.
Talkin' to Andrew Conry-Murray.
The SF of the past is an artifact of its time, but also much more.
I have no instruction manual for how to do this 'creative' stuff. No one does.
I started writing to see more of the work I felt had vanished.
Hit the books! Harder! Harder, I say!
Plan ahead, lest you find yourself behind plan.
In dying is all.
Japan's underground tribal unit didn't record much, but the best of its moments are here in one convenient place.
How I turned an intellectual failure into a creative success.
The worst thing about Spike Lee's 'Oldboy' is that it could well have been made by most anyone.
To what extent do labels like "comic book" or "SF" influence our creation?
On the problem of "cargo cult creativity".
What's kept me busy.
Goodbye, classical music.
Is it knowledge of details or sincerity of enjoyment that makes fans?
You'll scare everyone off.
Of my death, that is.
Because, that's why.
Why the way some fantasy authors hold the present in contempt should bother us.
What happens when the room you're in becomes a monoculture. (Fandom-related.)
The smarter the machine, the more likely we are to cozzen up to it.
On the use (and abuse) of wish-fulfillment in SF&F.
When James Agee reviewed Bugs Bunny, it was a thing of beauty.
When SF is written by people who are fans of nothing but SF, it's bad news.
Why literary fiction often chooses to be fantastic in such a straight-laced way.
Self-publishing shouldn't just be an excuse to recapitulate what exists.
I'm moving. Expect radio silence.
Epics are about depth, not length.
The systematic study of most any spiritual path (in my case, Zen) leads you, if you're lucky, to confront the incarnate meaning of the clichés thrown around by people who have at best read a few books about it. "All...
A bigger bang isn't always a better one, whether in movies or in books.
If you think of the artist as a person, an individual, you're less likely to construct your business around treating him with contempt.
How both self-publishing and conventional publishing are doing authors and readers (and critics) the same kinds of disservices.
You don't need all that stuff. Really. Especially if you "think it'll come in handy someday".
Why it's good to resist the temptation to just give people what they want.
We'd sooner sell another version of the old than dream up something truly new -- and maybe it's marketing that's the culprit.
Why creativity always needs some*one* in the driver's seat.
Why it's so hard for creative people to let go of something they've already sunk so much into.
On John McCarthy's odd comments about literary fiction vs. SF.
"In a few generations, there will be no new ideas, only popular ones."
Why do people assume "fantasy" means "unserious"?
Why I keep my work close to the chest until it's done, done, done.
Where I stand and where I'm headed in the newly-minted year.
This page contains an archive of posts for the year 2014.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind