All posts for Uncategorized / General in September 2021

Good Enough

if you want to be read, aim for the middle. Don't write total crap, but don't write stuff that's only going to be of interest to a self-selecting few, either.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-30 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

Most of you know the Sturgeon Principle: 90% of everything is crap, with 5% being okay and 5% being great. Audiences, not critics, tend to favor things from all across this spectrum, and in fact most of them tend to favor things in the middle rather than the top (or the bottom). "Critical darlings" are often just that: favored by critics, but not savored by many others.

The obvious lesson to take away from this would seem to be: if you want to be read, aim for the middle. Don't write total crap, but don't write stuff that's only going to be of interest to a self-selecting few, either. It's taken me a while to really suss out what that last bit means, because for too long it felt like an argument against writing anything challenging or highly personal.

Read more

Tags: creativity creators writers writing

You Have To Be Willing To Feel Stupid (For A While)

One of the reasons we call some people "geniuses" is because of (among other things) their disinhibitions about feeling stupid.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-27 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

I sometimes help out in a programming-related forum, and one of the things I found myself saying to someone relatively new to programming seemed like generally good advice for entering into any discipline: "You have to be willing to feel stupid for a while."

Read more

Tags: creativity learning writers writing

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities (2021 Edition)

Last night I had a dream that was among the most vivid and terrifying I have ever experienced, possibly the most vivid and terrifying I've had yet.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-25 09:00:00-04:00 No comments

Last night I had a dream that was among the most vivid and terrifying I have ever experienced, possibly the most vivid and terrifying I've had yet.

Read more

Tags: dreams

Whatever You Can Bring To The Picnic

There is a place for all of us there, and we just have to bring whatever we have with us to it.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-22 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

One of my favorite authors is Ousmane Sembene, the Senegalese novelist (and filmmaker) whose God's Bits Of Wood delivers more wide-gauge epic story in its two-hundred-something pages than all your Thone Games and Time Wheels did in their redundant thousands. He could also be wickedly funny (see: Xala, or The Money-Order), or mordantly angry (White Genesis), in either case about the ways the traditions people fight so hard to keep only end up enslaving them. Reading him was one of my many educations into why authors must get out of whatever self-imposed bubbles they live in, whether by way of changing their life experiences or changing their diet of media.

I don't think I was entirely ready for the lesson Sembene, and other authors of his stature, had to give me when I first bumped into them. My original misinterpretation went something like this: you cloistered little weasel, what the hell have you got to tell anyone? What makes you think you're equipped to do anything better than put a momentary smirk on someone's face? Great authors, when encountered face to face through their work, intimidate anyone with a germ of ambition. They put into stark perspective just how many of us start doing this kind of thing not because we have something to say but because we convince ourselves and others we're good at it — and how when you encounter someone who not just has something to say but is something to say, we feel mighty tiny indeed.

Read more

Tags: Joe Sample Ousmane Sembene creativity writers writing

Underpromise And Overdeliver (Or Just Deliver)

I tend to keep my mouth shut about projects until they are actually in some kind of sharable, discussable condition, and even then I keep details close to the vest.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-18 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

Earlier in the year I posted a bunch of big, regular updates about projects in the hopper. That was, I'm finding, an aberration, because I had a slew of things that were in rapid flux at the time. Now that they have settled down and taken their positions for taxiing to the runway, as it were, I have less to say about them until it's actually time to produce them. It was fun to post about all that stuff at once, but it seems to have been a one-off, or maybe two- or three-off. Not something I'll do habitually, at least not for now.

Read more

Tags: creativity promotion writing

The Present Moment Leaves Its Mark Anyway

I've found I do my best work when I'm not self-consciously trying to comment on my moment in time.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-17 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

I had a conversation with someone about The Fall Of The Hammer, and how I'd written that book during the Trump years, and finished and released it during the height of the pandemic. But I had worked very little, if any, of the flavor of those moments into the story. And the current book on my plate, Unmortal, is also not being written as any kind of receptacle for, or commentary on, our current moment in time.

I've found I do my best work when I'm not self-consciously trying to comment on my moment in time. The present moment leaves its mark on my work in some form, and always will. No point in trying to strongarm it into being seen and felt.

Read more

Tags: creativity these troubled times

A Thing To Marvel At

The issue I have with tentpole franchise entertainment is not that it's unentertaining, but that it provides the wrong lessons for creators.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-13 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

My wife ended up finally watching Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, with me popping in and out as I'd seen both of them before. Being re-exposed to them reminded me the problem I have with most such material is not that it's bad as entertainment, but bad as a teaching example for creators to follow. They're worth watching and enjoying, but not necessarily worth emulating.

Read more

Tags: Marvel Comics creativity entertainment movies

Movies For The Mind

How I sometimes model my approach to a book as if it were a movie for the mind.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-12 20:00:00-04:00 No comments

At various times I've mentioned my personal profile could include the line "frustrated filmmaker". I always wanted to make movies, but I never got my ducks in a row, especially after I really sunk into writing as a creative outlet and decided filmmaking was too much like actual work. (My other profile description is "Lazy workaholic.")

Read more

Tags: creativity filmmaking writing

The Artificers

Something is not "artificial" because of its means of production, but if the act of producing it, in whatever form, goes against your inner convictions.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-06 16:00:00-04:00 No comments

Purchase on Amazon

In Jonathan Cott's book of conversations with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, there is an anecdote where Stockhausen met with D.T. Suzuki (an influence on fellow composer John Cage), where Stockhausen talked about how his music was "artificial" in the sense that much of it was made with tape, electronics, etc. instead of the human voice or a conventional instrument. Suzuki disputed this distinction. To him, something was not "artificial" because of its means of production, but only "artificial" if the act of producing it, in whatever form, went against your inner convictions.

Read more

Tags: A Guy Called Gerald Karlheinz Stockhausen creativity music technology word processing writing

What We Bring To The Table

Learning to find your own take on things you read or watch gives you a sense of what you can bring to your own work, too.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-09-01 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

A good 'un from my fine fellow Steve:

Only You Goes Both Ways - Steven Savage

Your reading or viewing experience is just as unique as anything you create. You will have insights no one else has, and find inspiration unique to your own creativity. You will find flaws no one else saw, and take away lessons no one else will learn. However you consume an artistic experience, that experience is yours and what you take from it is yours.

A key thing for reading as a writer is learning how to produce takeaways from what you encounter. This is not to say that you can never just relax and have a good trashy time at the movies, but that you get the best results with your own work when you learn how to take lessons from other work. Learning to do this also teaches you about what you have to bring to your own table as a creator.

Read more

Tags: Steven Savage Dialogues creativity criticism

See previous posts from August 2021

See future posts from October 2021