Be back soon, but don't know when.
"Translators are people who read books for us."
In re: "Trying to find absolute rights and wrongs is a trick we play on ourselves to feel comfortable."
More on the de-boob-tubing of my life.
"The computer has almost since its beginning been a solution looking for a problem."
I have been reading the writings of Gerhard Richter, a painter whose view of his work is a good deal more interesting to me than much of the work itself. He was, like John Cage, not interested in creating things that were an expression of his personality; he wanted some larger aspect of things to manifest itself through him. In fact, Cage is explicitly credited as an influence, and in one of the photos in the book, Cage is seen smiling in front of one of Richter's paintings.
"...you can a mash lot of orcs and unicorns and intergalactic wars together without actually imagining anything."
The greatest stories make us emotional standard-bearers, not just emotional recipients.
Comics and video games are low-hanging fruit that anyone can use for cheap shots about maturity.
Self-pity is no way to ask for help.
On choosing an emotional resonance for a story.
Reverse engineering shouldn't be a prerequisite to working with technology.
On training yourself to see the obvious things.
On kicking off a third draft.
Reasons to be grateful.
All art is experimental. Let's not shy away from that.
Why was 'Justice League' only okay instead of epic? How could it have been made epic? Here's my plan.
On 'Justice League' itself. Beware spoilers.
More on why I'm a never-the-same-thing-twice writer (and why others might not be).
My 'Justice League' theory is bust-ice league. But that's a good thing!
More notes on getting caught up with the state of SF&F.
Some of my SF reading list for 2018.
On the autohypnosis of the boob tube.
And one of the most intoxicating for do-it-yourselfer creators.
A rundown of projects in progress and other things.
A mission for the coming seasons: Read more current SF.
How not to let self-determination turn into a mission to merely offend.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is not here to make you smile, so stop asking him.
On an author with a worldview that is more arrested development than substance.
"Whatever works" is not the same as "anything goes", and other insights.
Creative motives matter.
“You have to worry about your own work and ignore what everyone else is doing.”
A few notes about creator's personal voodoo.
On the devolution of Zen into a bad joke.
Why the morality-play view of personal responsibility is bogus.
“The premise is not ‘I have you what you need, let me give it to you.’ It’s ‘You have what you need and we’ll find it.’”
More on why "I could do that, too" is an impulse to grow past.
I started writing, why? Because "I could do that, too."
Who turns around and starts over in the middle of a first draft? A case study.
"Good films are made, because the person behind the camera had to make them."
If my theories about the movie prove wrong, I can make hay from them. I've done it before.
On reading, at long last, Alan Watts's 'This Is It.'
The other night, in discussion with friends of mine, it came up that most every generation of creators seems to be influenced by whatever happens to be in popular culture at the time. Previous generations were influenced by Star Trek or Star Wars; the last generation or so was influenced by the first wave of anime crashing on American shores; the current generation is surrounded by Harry Potter and now love-triangle YA dystopias.
On 'Blade Runner 2049': All these moments in time must be kept, like tears from the rain.
On schlock being useful without the love of it becoming its own snobbism.
Me, minus a little of my mouth.
Me and my achey breaky mouth.
Why nothing beats the "in-the-trenches" experience of writing.
Slowly getting back up to speed with life.
The pause that refreshes.
There is no such thing as "mastery" of one's art, just improvement in whatever form is possible.
A new, new project rears its head, all but overnight.
Or, challenging vs. merely irritating.
Post-Irma, picking up the pieces.
My post-Irma cleanup.
On Irma and I.
How to work with all those ideas swimming around in your head.
Want to get to know your story? Pitch it to someone else.
Irma's coming, and I'm not sure how much of its impact I'll be feeling directly, so I'm in kind of an existentially uneasy mood. I've prepared as best I can, though, so there's not much I can do except button up when it comes, and wait it out. For the time being I'm going to contemplate the eternal or something vaguely like it.
How 'Flight Of The Vajra' could have begun altogether differently.
On my unease with creating longer works.
Or, how to keep pedantic jackasses from getting the better of you.
It's a problem when you fall in love with the (SF) exception and not the (SF) rule.
On the use of "crazy" as an intensifier.
Steve and I were talking about the way Blizzard has cultivated an absolutely frothing level of devoting in the fans for Overwatch. It's to the point where a character that is only shown in passing on a poster suddenly inspires fanart and cosplay.
On resisting a reworking.
Don't turn a project wiki into a fridge full of leftovers.
On rewriting: "No, no, I can't cut that, it's there for a REASON!"
On Hugh Howey's wish list for a word processor.
Alan Vega is dead, and that means there will never be another Suicide album. But it also means there will never be another Alan Vega album, and that matters at least as much to me.
A year and change ago, I mostly quit social media. I don't think that's likely to change.
Why you can't perfect something that was never created to begin with.
Why 'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance' made me hold my nose.
On Buddhism and fascism and pacifism.
"You’re going to find your voice.... The problem is getting rid of it."
Who's really worth pleasing when you're writing? (And why?)
Art isn't profound just because it hurts.
Our site's feeds got munged. Look within for answers.
On the problems inherent in "living in the moment".
On using (and abusing) the rewrite process's "things to do" list.
New tools for publishing on Kindle are a major step forward.
On not second-guessing audience responses to your work (again).
Take a book that's not SF. Imagine it as SF. What would it be like?
Just because something's in your story doesn't mean that's what your story's about.
What storytelling can do that a straight rundown of facts can't.
Some thoughts on deadlines and how they affect productivity.
On finding my way through the second draft of a story.
I like to write about other peoples' work, but I write my own work first.
Next up: revisions on my next novel, and rough plans for a future one.
My latest novel is now out! Get a promo copy while supplies last!
On interpretation: "The experience of grappling with the thing is what makes it interesting."
On the "drawbacks to the all-access, all-free world".
A brief pause as we clean house.
Getting beyond the trap of: "But what's your story about?" "Well, um ... "
Meaningless yet complex; simple yet shallow -- two ways to make a story founder.
I dropped a hint earlier that I was going to be unveiling a revamped version of the Genji Press site. Some more notes on that, then.
More on a story being complex vs. being deep.
I went looking for books in my personal library that are about the craft of writing. I could barely find any.
On preparing 'Welcome To The Fold' for (self)-publication.
Some more detailed thoughts on having finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.
I finished Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned draft 1 last evening....
On when not everyone who shows up for your work is showing up for your work.
Go make something beautiful and humane. Everything else is just commentary.
Stories abandoned and as yet unwritten have much in common.
My books have soundtracks. Faith No More begs to provide one for a book as yet unwritten.
It's important to deliver original things in the way that matter; it's not important to be original everywhere and always.
Given my interest in Zen, am I writing "Buddhist fiction"? I'm dubious.
On improvising, or why no plan for fiction survives first contact with the writing process.
News on current and future books of mine.
Rewrite, revise, revisit, rethink.
When you assume full and total responsibility for everything that happens to you, even the things you think you can't control, you have a change of perspective.
On the themes I keep coming back to in my work, and how I try to not let that trap me.
What to do when a story component is just an albatross. Or a boulder.
How I decided to try taking the plunge back into screenwriting.
Stock "literary" characters can be just as one-dimensional as stock SF characters.
On taming my inner fussbudget.
On my first attempt at writing a character of nonbinary gender.
The trick to learning from failure is to not make it into a morality play.
How to survive the modern digital cultural flood: have no sense of history.
It's far harder to write a good short book than a good long one.
The closer I get to the end of my new novel, the slower it is to write.
More on the idea that entertainments can be engines of empathy.
Last updated: 2017/05/19
Does reading make us more empathic, or do more empathic people just make better readers?
On carving up one's time efficiently for creative work.
Sometimes making things hard on yourself doesn't "build character"; it just makes things harder than they have to be.
On creating an internally complementary cast of characters.
If past, present, and future are all unknowable, what's left? (And why frame things that way?)
Tim Hall, one of the good guys, is leaving us.
" ... his goal was making someone’s favorite movie of the year." Whoever that someone might be.
On the idea that we can use technology to amplify human intelligence.
The real story about writers' block, or lack of same.
Do I call myself a Buddhist? I'm not sure I ought to.
Notes towards using a wiki for managing a writing project, 2017 edition.
On politics in literature, again.
Writers have a hard time reading industriously without feeling like they're goofing off.
On the urge to find validation for one's work.
Don't think good and evil; think why and how.
Creative advice from a former Black Flagger.
Would you believe me if I said the universe wasn't out to get you?
You'll never get anything done that way. Take it from an expert.
On Robert Fripp's three divisions of creativity. (And how I fit in one of them.)
Ten things from my shelf I'd take into isolation, 2017 edition.
Peek at my latest novel, and find out what's happening with my next one.
"I cannot serve like a waiter, because that's not what this job is about."
Pardon my silence (and agony).
Take yourself seriously even when no one else does.
"Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
Let's waste less time trying to argue people out of something they were never argued into to begin with.
"I could do that too," said the writer. And thus the trouble began.
On politics in literature, spoken and unspoken (and a few other things).
On making things in reaction to the existence of other things.
The second chapter of Welcome to the Fold has been uploaded for previewing at Inkshares.
I hope people will not assume my silence over the last few days indicates any kind of assent to the situation unfolding around us. I've been busy with some mundane things -- my day job has put that many more...
I call my work SF because I gotta call it something.
Every picture tells (me) a story.
It doesn't matter who does something first. It matters who does something best. Or who does something most theirs.
My novel 'Welcome to the Fold' is now finally going public. A little at a time.
'Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned' and its hidden influences.
How not to be intimidated by your own creative process.
My thoughts have become less in the vein of, "What is the wisdom to be sought?" and more in the vein of, "How is this wisdom to be germinated in each of us?" (Warning: Late-night blather-y.)
Being a skeptic or a freethinker is more than just about a label.
How a static plot outline becomes a living thing by way of self-dialogue.
NPR commentator, author, and sardonic voice of the disgusted put some of his best material to wax in this collection that is regrettably out of print.
To ring out the old (and busted) and ring in the new, I share with you a note penned just after WWII. I think you will find it as fitting as I did....
This page contains an archive of posts for the year 2017.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind