All posts for Uncategorized / General in 2018

Plug And Play Character Set

On fixing a casting issue in the new novel, by way of a previously unused character.

The Kid In The Window Stays In The Picture

On reading Scorsese talk about Scorsese.

Future Schlock

On how SF tries to imagine the future, and how that needs to be more than uplift or doomsaying.

2019 And All That

The Genji Press Agenda for the coming year.

Sympathetic And Practical Magics

It's hard not to be foolishly romantic about certain things, like the workspaces or utensils of great artists.

Catching My Eye (2018-12-10 Edition)

Stuff I'm looking out for, anticipating, and recommending.

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet

My good friend Steve Savage has his first novel out. Go grab it.

Our Respective Things

My work can only really be measured against my other work. Same with yours.

Beat It To Fit, Paint It To Match

"Workshop" is the wrong word for the place where we come to mutually improve our writing.

My Best Fiend [sic]

I ask of a friend not that we be in absolute harmony, but only that our discord be its own delight.

Mop And Pail, Dustpan And Broom

How PCs become trash accumulators that rival any closet, garage, crawlspace, or basement.

Slugging (And Slogging) On

Getting caught up, and some notes on criticism from days past.

Pounded To Death

I go through keyboards the way other people go through pencils.

Would You Do It Anyway?

"Do you enjoy doing it?" is, I think, only half the statement. The way I would put it is, "Would you do this anyway?"

Paint Your Lunch

Fun game to play: Pick a person, and imagine what kind of creative advice they would give you. Then compare that to the actual advice they give you.

No, No, NaNo (2018 Edition)

There was, as you can guess, no NaNoWriMo challenge for me this year. But it wasn't always like that.

This Art-Too Unit Has A Bad Motivator

More from Steve on the whole vexed issue of doing what you think you want to do, not what you actually want to do.

Bad Fuel For Brooding

This whole business of how we become the stories we tell ourselves is so easy to get wrong and in so many ways.

Very Much Reality

Anything you put out in the world under the pretense of entertainment is worth taking at least as seriously as someone else could. And some take it very seriously indeed.

What We Put Into Our Heads

Most of us simply don't care what we stuff in there. It's a moral failing.

This Project Still Has No Title

But at least it now has a wiki.

Another Turn Of The Big Wheel

Call me a workaholic if you really want to. I just call it keeping ahead of the curve.

The Price Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing

The difference between a skeptic and a cynic is motives.

Do(ing) The Right Thing

"moral action is also, inevitably, practical action, and immoral action is inevitably impractical..."

Spelunking The Inner Archive

Compiling that list of influences the other day was like performing archival research on myself.

Under My Influences

The stories, films, music, and other things that stuck with me.

Sometimes Nothing Can Be A Real Cool Hand

There's this line about Zen practice that comes up a lot, that it doesn't "give" you anything.

Creativity Repeating Itself

“Every director has one film to make. He just keeps remaking it.”

A Few Less Words Next Time

No good story is ever too long and no bad story is ever too short, but that's still no reason to waste breath.

In Lieu Of Telepathy

You can't tell people anything; sometimes you can't even show them, either.

Same Old, Same Old

Our Gray Goo Media problem.

Kid Stuff

On how we've outgrown outgrowing things.

A Walk-On Part In The War, Or A Lead Role In A Cage

On The Minnie Effect in fiction.

Narcissism And No-Self

On a Zen concept vs a psychological one.

You Can't Beat People Up And Have Them Say "I Love You"

On the unneeded cruelties of the moment.

Ray And The Great Unpluggening

How Ray Bradbury saw a cellphone-addicted future. No, not in that book about book-burning.

On The Other Hand, Insects Are A Pretty Efficient Lot

"Specialization is for insects", revisited.

In And Out Of The Trench

.I ran once again into an old issue: the way a story doesn't look remotely the same in the trenches as it does at the 30,000 foot level.

Now Is The Only Moment Of Your Life, And Other Necessary Delusions

It doesn't mean the present moment is the only thing that exists, or that plans are foolish things.

Large And In Charge

On "volume equals value for money" in books.

Back In Circulation

Heard you missed us?


Steve has some notes on why authors (him included) come down with Impostor Syndrome.

Nowhere Are We Commanded To Be Doormats

Kevin Drum dropped an aphorism worth repeating: "When you write, pretend you’re writing for people you respect."

True Weird

A world where we mandate weirdness is just as unproductive as a world where we mandate its removal.

Anxieties Of Influence

"...there’s a chance if you’re inspired by an author or a creator, you won’t do it quite right."

Offerings Not Demands, Palettes Not Hierarchies

I have long held a motto of my own that I think is an echo of what Steve is putting out here: Palettes, not hierarchies.

Too Smart For Your Own Good

"Beginner's mind" is not something we can impose on others.

Go Elsewhere, Young Man

"The best way to write fiction is to read, watch, and listen to anything but fiction." I am not sure that it is the best way, but I think it is ultimately one of the most valuable.

For Me Or For Them Or For Us?

When you start by trying to please others instead of yourself, you end up pleasing no one.

And Bear In Mind

I'm on vacation this week and not posting much, but here's some Links Of Note that crossed my desk.

The Dreaming System

On de-romanticizing the writing process.

Unknown Treasures

One of the things I always hated about myself was how I was, in theory, supposed to be this gigantic SF nerd, and as it turns out I really wasn't.

Revenge Of The Big Lie

I don't see any of this ending well, but I'd rather be on whatever side of history valued verifiable truths over comfortable lies.

An Open Book (actually, a whole lot of them)

In praise of the Open Library project and the late John Holt.

Clearing My Desk

What comes next for me after I shove my current book off my desk.

No Humans Allowed

Once again: Whatever it is we're designing our world for, it isn't the human being.

The Uncertainty Principle

What did Bertrand Russell mean when he said, "Do not feel absolutely certain of anything"?

Watts Up

On how social-reading network Wattpad is becoming a hub for discovering the next big thing.

Court And Spark

It's the fate of most any creator to never know what their work means to other people, but only to themselves.

Psycho Fandom, Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Steve has some notes on pathological fandom that are worth a read. A few things stood out.

Warning! Progress!

Future Genji Press plans, laid bare! (Oh, and free stuff!)

How To Tell Me Something I Want To Hear (So I Can Just Ignore It And Move On)

On not caring what other people think of your work, while at the same time caring about your work.

It's X Meets Y, But With Z!

"There is no reading experience in an idea, only in its execution."

Reality Knocks

And loud.

Be Ye Not As Jerks

There is no guarantee of victory; there isn't even a guarantee of continuation. But you miss all the shots you don't take.


Notes on a single point of failure.

It Helps To Stay On Track

I made a pledge to myself to keep you in the loop. So, here's the loop.

The Long And Winding Game

We didn't get into this mess all at once and we're not going to get out of it all at once, either.

Ellison Wonderland

Harlan Ellison, whom I wrote about just the other day, has exited the building.

Axes For The Frozen Seas

A Kafka quote re-examined.

A Little Something

The folks at Birth. Movies. Death. are raffling off movie goods for a good cause (the Texas Civil Rights Project). The more you donate, the greater the odds you'll get the goods you want. Minimum raffle is $10.

New Days Of Blood And Sorrow

"Revealed at Last! What Killed the Dinosaurs! And You Don’t Look so Terrific Yourself."


On contempt for popular culture as an easy way out.

The Do-Over

What, I'm still editing the latest novel?! Well, yeah.

Look Upon My Works ...

The work should be about the making of the work.

Fixer Upper Insights

Some bits gleaned from the latest round of editing on my book.

The Paradox Of Limits

Maybe we need to speak of focus rather than limits.

Don't Write What You Know, Write How You Know It

Looking at two bits of reading and writing advice from Saul Bellow.

That Pile On The Nightstand

The overwhelming majority of what I'm genuinely curious about reading has been nonfiction. I hate that.

No Second Guessing

More on why motives matter for creative work.

All The Things I Never Said

Most of my unpublished blogging simply isn't fit for public consumption. Here's what most of it is.

You're A DJ, Not A Librarian

You don’t ever write a story, you just write part of one.

What's In A Title?

The less the better, paradoxically.

A Checklist Manifesto For One

"What do I do when I have too many ideas and can’t finish any?"

Spotless Mirrors, And All That

The editing and rewriting process for any of my books always exposes me to the same dilemmas.

Owning Your Boredom

A redux of the old question: what's so bad about being bored?


"The other, of course, involves orcs."


On the difference between thinking and worrying, and on worrying as a virtue signal.

Enlightenment NOW!!!

The desire for something quick is not itself wrong.

A Better Beta

On giving, getting, and using good feedback on your work.

Moral Men And Immoral Societies

"The very ordinariness of human life seemed a kind of original sin, the sin of not being extraordinary enough to recognize and resist evil."

The Unfinishing Touches

On imperfection in creative work.

Advertisement(s) For Myself

On confronting my uneasy feelings about self-promotion.

Press Pause

The next week and change I won't be around much.

What We Do In The Shadows

On ramping up from an audience that can be counted on one hand.

I Owe You Some News

A short briefing on happenings at Chez Genji as of May 2018.

Chaos Reigns

Akira Kurosawa's Ran is currently running on Mubi. See it.

Say What Now?

Don't take it personally when you're misinterpreted.


On the prevalence of righter-than-thou behaviors in fandom.

Do The Wrong Thing

What if someone Did Something Bad with a creation of yours?

Is This A Brick Wall I See Before Me?

Not writer's block. Maybe we could call it conceiver's block?

A Second Life On Video

Movies have more second lives than ever, but only because they barely have first ones.

The Incuriosity Complex

Being generally incurious about life is bad enough; it's far worse when you're trying to create.

This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get

"No man demands what he desires; each man demands what he fancies he can get."

Say You, Cliché Me

"A cliché is as much about the deployment and the mode of use as it is the item itself..."

Nobloggy But Me

Blogging never "died"; it's just become harder to see. But it's as crucial as ever.


With Facebook out of my life, it's all the easier to spot unproductive discourse of all kinds, because of what else it reminds me of.

Office Space

Steven Savage's latest post is about "rethinking work", and it reminded me of an anecdote courtesy of Milton Glaser...

The Life Of The Mind

An influencer seems more interested in being well-known, being "influential", than in being motivated by a thirst for the truth.

KISS And Make Up

The productivity virtues of keeping it simple, stupid.

To Play Outside One's Head

Another road to creative improvement: thinking beyond your own view of your work.


Outside of the social media bubble, the void.

The Driver's Seat

On the problems of a passive protagonist.

Pick Something And Stick With It

I missed commenting on this earlier:

Theorizers Vs. Practitioners

Zen matters when it's practiced; it's getting people to practice that's the hard part.

No More Heroes, Pt. 2

Don't have heroes, just emulate behaviors.

I Am (Not) An Entertainer

"I'm an entertainer." -- Alan Watts. "I am not an entertainer." -- William S. Burroughs. Discuss.

The Unsubmissive

"The world will be saved, if it can be, only by the unsubmissive."

From The Shoulders Of Giants, The View Is Lovely Indeed

"The negation of a [scientific] theory is not a new theory."

The Problem With The Rat Race Is That Even If You Win, You're Still A Rat

On media both social and antisocial.

The Reason They Export Molson Is Because Canadians Are Too Smart To Drink That Bilge

I was going to say something about Jordan Peterson, but this article beat me to it.

The Unthinkable Lightness Of Being

On how Zen and Buddhism are not anti-intellectual, but non-intellectual. Big diff there.

Maybe We Shouldn't Have 'Heroes'

Why this business of personal heroes may well be a bad idea.

But Will It Play For The Over-21 Set?

How different a standard should we have for works aimed at younger audiences vs. those aimed at "all" audiences?

Philosophizing With A Megaphone

On Twitter as a case study in technical non-solutions to social problems.

When You Didn't Know You Wanted This

What to do when you find yourself saying, "I didn't know I wanted this."

Getting Better All The Time

Why Steven Pinker's encomium to an improving world falls so flat.

Plug Me Into Something

To put things into perspective for yourself, lose "yourself" a little.

Paranoia The Destroyer

On how the conspiracy theory mindset stems from emotional torment.

The Drive To Create

In re Jarmusch's 'Paterson'.

Typing With Both Fists

On blogging while angry.

The Royal We And The Singular I

On what we do with the discovery that we're not things, but processes.

I Am A Rock, I Am An Island

People aren't flowers, of the hothouse variety or otherwise, and neither are artists.

The Characters Who Don't Do Anything

Don't write stories about "people waiting for their lives to begin."

The Critic-Proof Story

Spoiler: It doesn't exist.

Doomed To Repeat It

In re Parkland.

Walkabout, Workabout

"...if we think of “done” as a point we navigate towards, tacking here and there, we can embrace change."

The Attention Thieves

Boredom's not a burden anyone should bear.

Get On With It

On not over-documenting creative work.

Content, Content Everywhere

On the desire to turn everything into a franchise.

The Mashup Men

On making something new from a whole lot of somethings old.


These past couple of days have been a cavalcade of non-stop technical and mechanical failure.

In Over My Head Again

How the heck did I end up starting to create my own programming language?

But Who Am I To Be Critical?

When you look at something, you have to be willing to not pretend that it needs to be great in order to justify anything.

The Loud And The Desperate

"Your image does not need curation, because all you are doing is broadcasting your desperation."

Unsticking The Gears

No prizes for guessing I'm talking about my next project.

A Few Words From LeGuin

Parting words, unfortunately.

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, But Sometimes They Just Turn Out To Be Cattle Rustlers

We need to have more nuanced ways of taking what matters for us from a given creator and from their works.

Ruined Forever

No critic can ever "ruin" a work you like, unless you don't know what their job really is.

If You Can't Please Yourself ...

Works don't exist just to please audiences. But authors also don't exist just to please themselves.

Things I Have Learned, 2018 Edition

Words from the wise.

Mystery, Not Mystification

If you shoot for ambiguity, some people are going to come away from your work bored or confused. Here's how to cope.

Smarts For Me But Not For Thee

On very stable geniuses and the like.

The Answer To Last Week's Puzzle

"Are we so desperate to solve our art?"

Bailout Protocol

When is it OK to quit reading a "boring" book?

It's A Living

If written fiction's becoming nothing but a prelude to adaptation, what's that mean for written fiction itself?

57 Channels Redux

And still nothing on.

Player Zero

On why books need to be written to be books, not film pitches-to-be.

Someone Else's Discussion

On getting back into the headspace for blogging.

Excuse My Silence

But I think you'll find it was entirely justified.

See previous posts from 2017

See future posts from 2019

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