Archive for all posts in 2019

Monster Mouse

It isn't Disney that's the problem with Star Wars; it's us, and not in the way you might think.

A Few Next Steps Into 2020

What's on deck for me for the end of this year and the beginning of the next.

The Fall Of A Milestone Marker

'Fall Of The Hammer', draft 1 (actually, 2): finished.

Connections And Disconnections

"Is this something I can see myself sitting down to work on literally every day for the next year or more?" If not, why?

Havel's Optimism, December 2019 Edition

Stories aren't about happy or sad endings. They're about making sense of what happens.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Act Five

What happens when you stop in the middle of a draft and rewind to the beginning, and why.

The Shape Of The Envelope

On pushing your envelope as a creator (and not getting all moralizing with yourself about it).

Ten Writing Rules For The Home Office Wall

A few things I've learned.

Down With The PKDness

On adapting Phil Dick's work to film and TV, and why this most unfilmable of authors has been filmed so much.

The Advice To The Spirits Of Adventure

Another strange and remarkable dream, scavenged as best I could from its remembered fragments.

A Cure For The No Future Blues

ON SF exhaustion, and the point of believing in tomorrow.

Stan, The Man With A Plan

On Stanley Kubrick knowing just what he wanted.

The End Of Quality (Not Really)

Some say "good, better, best" is an absurdity and best done away with. I agree, sort of.

Book Your Own Life!

How the Open Library, digital resources, and my own reading habits have changed my bookbuying.

This Is About As Performant As I Want To Get

People who launch YouTube channels or present themselves a certain way on Twitter are said to be engaging in a kind of performance. Or someone who just keeps a blog, like yours truly.

The Night Guard

For some reason the dental guard I wear at night now provokes unprecedented dreams.

My Bad Chess Game

And how to push my own envelope.

On The Just Doing Of It

It's hard to just do things, because our ideas about them always get in the way.

Something To Think About

On the use and abuse of thought experiments.

The Best Of The Best Of The Best

The more I try to parse it, the more this business of best-of, of ranking things, seems a consumerist attitude.

Makers Gonna Make

And should, even if they aren't great marketers.

Russell's Folly

Ken Russell's "The Devils": not quite bad enough to be funny. But still awful.

When The Gears Mesh, And When The Lightbulb Goes On

When tech works it's a wonderful thing. The rest of the time... (Self-written blog software edition.)

As Yet Unbegun, Let Alone Unfinished (2019 Edition)

Some story ideas of mine that remain eternally in progress.

I Have Been In This Elevator Before

A mindset to be identified and resisted.

Not This Year, Either

No NaNoWriMo for me this year, again, but only because I don't need it. But what do I mean by "need"?

Snoopy's Neck

On a childhood possession and the nature of grasping.

What Started As A Romp

I always say to myself, "I'm just going to write something fun," and of course it always turns out to be far more than that.

Even One Word Is Power

I write fiction because I do not want to die feeling I have had no control over my life.

Smother Me In Fun

So much media, so little time. Again.

No Place To Put It, Or No Time For it

With all the things I'd like to write about, I have to put my fiction first, if only because there's no one else who can do it.

Feeding Your Head (Pt. Three Thousand & Six)

I'd rather have people sincerely interested in things, whatever cultural level they live at, than be wannabe tastemakers forever jonesing to expand their reach.

The Impersistence Of Memory

How our lives slip through our own fingers.

No Good Vs. Yes Good

Creative paranoia: when you know, just know, your work is worthless in a way only others can see.

Doing The You Thing

On defending that original burst of inspiration to the death.

I Owe An Excuse

What's the difference between an appreciation of something and making excuses for it?

Doowutchalike, Part Three Hundred And Six

What is the good, and bad, in saying "I do what I dang well want" in any creative medium? I know there's both.

Short Of My Own Mark

A good critic of other work makes me look at my own and feel like I've missed even the standards I wanted to set for myself.

Beat Zen, Square Zen, And Fad Zen

If someone is now interested in something that once only had faddish appeal, their interest has a far greater chance of being genuine.

We'll Always Have The Avengers

Ubiquitous cultural things don't thrill me, because they're in no danger of vanishing.

The Destructive Frivolity Of The Incurably Serious

"The most destructive frivolity of all comes only from the incurably serious."

Conditions Are Never Ideal, Pt. One Thousand And Six

There's no sense in delaying life because things aren't quite right yet. (A redux.)

Nobody Cares Enough About Your Idea To Steal It, Part Nine Thousand And Seven

"Don't worry about someone stealing your good ideas. Worry about someone stealing your bad ones!"

Back To Zero, Again And Again

The thrill of breaking the 120-minute barrier | Roger Ebert's Journal | Roger Ebert

Hammered To Pieces

The most amazing thing about the next draft of 'The Fall Of The Hammer' is how much of it will end up not getting ditched, as I feared might happen.

Less Is Less (Is More)

Purging bookshelves, freeing up space, lightening the load.

How To Make Up Your Flippin' Mind

Learn to cut stuff, lest your creative work becomes one giant act of paralysis.

Milestone Markers In Many Forms

There's more than one way to mark progress for a work in progress. Sometimes it's when you take one step back so you can take several more steps forward in a new direction.

Dream On

For a creative person, I have some of the dullest dreams around. I don't get it either.

Nobody Cares Enough About Your Idea To Steal It, Part Nine Thousand And Six

Ideas aren't what matter, anyway. Execution is. And beyond that, the habit of executing. But why do we get hung up about great ideas?

Even Bad Mozart Is Hard

The most beautiful Mozart you'll hear, the one from your own fingers, is beautiful because you now know what it costs to have even a bad version of Mozart out there.

Highly Illogical, Jim

When does a story's logic hold fast, and when does it break?

Hello From The Other Side

A letter to a long-dead friend.

Just Play At This

"Don’t think about your discipline, don’t think about your craft, just play at this."

Self-Work In Progress

If you don't work on yourself, it makes the job of others defining you against your will easier for them.

Constructive Loafing

On Zen as the "do-nothing" philosophy (which it isn't).

The Forever Draft

The idea is called "continuous publishing", and it doesn't thrill me.

Bibliophile's Lament

The joys and tribulations of the Open Library.

Advice And Consent

The very best advice I received was not a command but a seed for discussion.

Fallings From Grace

My Dale Peck problem.

My Own 'What' And 'Why'

How I used to get caught up in thinking about the surfaces of the things I admired.

The Wile E. Coyote Problem

Why much of what we call "genius" is mostly cultivated stubbornness.

No Hands On The Wheel

The problem of power, and why discarding power isn't a solution to it.

It Ain't Where You're From, It's Where You're At And Where You're Headed

The peculiar genesis of my new novel means it's going to take at least one to two more passes than usual to kick it into shape.

The Big Payback, er, Payoff

What you do and don't owe a reader.

Why Nelson The Miscreant Was Right

"...the wretched of the earth might not be wholly responsible for their wretchedness."

The David Katalin Memorial Archive

A dream from the other night, so vivid and specific in its details that it unnerved me.

Spero Meliora And All That

"Greatness is lived, not had."

I Reject Your Reality And Substitute My Own

The power to visualize something well is not the same as the power to enact it well. In a world ruled by images, it's hard to remember that.

The Bane Of All Curious Minds

What do you do when there's just so much to do and so many things to know? Focus. But how?

Bless This Mess

The Fall Of The Hammer so far has the messiest and most fractured first draft of any book of mine I can remember.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Fifty years later, one of the greatest films ever made has scarcely aged a day in the ways that matter

Tinker Toys

In some ways I'm quite stodgy when it comes to the software tools I use for my creative projects.

Bliss Is Ignorance

There was once a time when I felt I was a better writer when I didn't really know what I was doing.

Yes U-Turn

On not backing up in the middle of a first draft ... and then doing exactly that.

Apocalypse Table Stakes

My creative sin: writing stories where all of creation hangs in the balance, YET AGAIN.

How To Listen To Your Gut

And how to do what scares you, at the same time.

Guilty As Charged

Everyone who's ever put a word to paper has an excuse, or a justification if you want to be less nasty, for everything they do. Of course I'm guilty of this.

Whatever It Is, I'm Against It

On why contrarianism is not dissent.

The Refutation Proclamation

Make something that is your answer to all the things in the world you don't want.

Pull That Thread

If there's a thread in your story that begs to be pulled, pull it.

You Can See Why I Was Busy

Whole lotta shakin' going on.

Regular Service Resuming Shortly

Excuse our dust.

Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death

"...what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument."


People who say "I'm a jerk and proud of it" are sending a signal they should be avoided. The problem is we aren't always in a position to enact that advice.

The Old New Thing, Again

"The familiar is beautiful until it becomes chic to prefer the different."

Big Ticket Items

More on popular culture as a bad model for creator culture.

Solo Work

"All a writer’s real learning is done alone."

Is This Thing On?

Blogging has resumed.

Rumor Control, April 2019 Edition

Some recent writing and creative news from these shores.

In A Roundabout Kind Of Way

My current book bears no relation to its earlier incarnations save for its title.

Something To Push Against

On constraints as creative impetuses, and the fallacies that arise therein.

You Figure It Out

"Fish s**t or coffee, sir?"

The Case For Preferring Older Books

You miss out on less than you think.

Hugo, Hugoing, Hugoforit

AO3's Hugo: a sign of progress.

The Same Old New Thing

"We choose virality instead of quality, and equate it to quality because of its resonance."

Rewriting Is Writing Is Rewriting

Is rehearsing.

Blog On

Toying with Pelican, Nikola, and other static site generators.

The Last Great Special Effect

It's sheer human effort.

Don't Make A Career Out Of It

Professionalized hobbies make bad careers.


The temptation to go back and touch up one's on work is strong.

Another Land's Words

Are international literary prizes just for "foreign writers who make sense to us"?

The Blankest Of Slates And Pages

What happens when we take a genre and remove everything from it that we'd label as being part of that genre?

Out Of Touch

The number of things we need to have an opinion about right this second is not as large as it might seem.

The 10010 2019 Experience

Back in NYC for a few days.

Freedom Yeah Right

"... from where I sit, freedom isn't choice. Freedom is agency. Indeed, choice - by limiting agency - is often the opposite of freedom."

Up The Other Academy

Awards are popularity contests, and the only thing that distinguishes the prestigious ones from the less so is the way the more prestigious ones are designed not to look like popularity contests.

Kill Process And Reboot

On stopping in the middle of a first draft and starting over, sort of.

Up The Academy

No more superhero/wizard academies based on British boarding schools, please!

Sneaking Up On The Generalities

Instead of attacking them head-on.


A photographer deleted his social media presence to save his creative instincts. A wise idea.

The Passive Type

Zen as nonintellectual, rather than anti-intellectual. But also non-passive.

Forest, Trees, Fox, Hedgehog

On the difference between foxes and hedgehogs.

The Mud Of The First Draft

Notes from early on in the first draft of the new novel, 'The Fall Of The Hammer'.

Resuming Regular Service

We're back!

The Firstest With The Mostest

If remakes are trash, it's because the true potential of such a project is not the motive.

Change In The Wind

The name "Genji Press" doesn't really fit me anymore, and I'm not sure it ever did. Time for a new one?

The Pile That Never Shrinks

How the Open Library is keeping me from drowning in books.

The Reading Prescription

On recommending books as a way for authors to get perspective on a current or future work of their own.

The Fire Of The Mind

Those who embrace creativity take control of their lives. It's a contagious thing.

Progress Not Guaranteed, Pt. 2

More on Steven Pinker.

Words From The Wise

Very few people are qualified to give useful story advice because they think the main function of a story is to entertain them.

The Future Is A One-Way Street

"The simple faith in progress is not a conviction belonging to strength, but one belonging to acquiescence and hence to weakness."

All The Cool New Folks Are Dead

In re: "I can’t help feeling a bit depressed that so many of the cool new writers are dead."

You Won't Find It Here

I sometimes feel like books about writing should be prefaced with, "You won't find any 'literature' here."

Roads Not Taken, And All That

Musings on the guy I almost was.

Oh, Yeah, Now Where Was I?

Sorry about the silence over the last couple of days. I've officially started writing the as-yet-untitled 2019 novel.

The Performance Index

On gauging artistic quality by way of popularity, always a bad move.

Always Outnumbered, Never Misprinted

A small printing issue has surfaced with the dead-tree edition of my new novel, 'Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.'

The Shining Prince And The Misery Index

On Kenneth Rexroth, 'The Tale Of Genji', and the notion of miserable places that can produce beautiful things.

The Worst Horse

"If you understand Zen as a kind of practice to be a best horse you will have a problem."

Nowhere To Go Drinking

People need a place to go that's just a place to gather.

Now Gaming In A Theater Near You

On Netflix's Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and interactive fiction as a video platform of the future.

Anxiety Of Influence, Once Again

You don't want to run from your influences. You want to walk away from them.

An Infinitely Receding Horizon

"...while surely there will be a time to rest, it is not now."

The True(r) Story

On the fictions of the "true story" style of moviemaking.

As The Nines Roll Over

One last bit before next year, about the significance of the choices I've made for the coming twelvemonth.

See previous posts from 2018

See future posts from 2020

About This Page

This page contains an archive of posts for the year 2019.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

About Me

I'm an independent SF and fantasy author, technology journalist, and freelance contemplator for how SF can be more than just a way to blow stuff up.

My Goodreads author profile.

Learn some more about me.

My Books

Now Available

Previously Released

More about my books

Search This Site