All posts for September 2018


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.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/27 08:00

Here's something that'll either come as a shocker or Jack's Complete Lack Of Surprise: I've already started outlining my next novel. No title yet — I had a title, a leftover from a previous project with some distantly similar DNA, but it no longer fit the flavor of the new project, and so out it went. But I have an idea, a story, and a cast. And in the process of jiggering all that together to see how it could fit, 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.

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Tags: creativity  plotting  writing 


Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: Behind The Scenes With 'AONO', Pt. 7: The Themes

A discussion of the themes in my new novel, and how they are embodied there.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/26 17:00
In the weeks leading up to the release of my new novel Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, I'll be making a series of posts to serve as an extended introduction to the book — its origins, its influences, its themes, its setting and characters. Enjoy.

(See all entries in this series here.)

Last time I posted in this series, I talked about the characters, major and supporting. This time around, I'll run down some of the major themes in the story as I saw them.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  Behind The Scenes: AONO  Genji Press  creativity  projects  themes  writing 


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.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/25 17:00

Dean Sluyter once had a cute formulation I've made use of myself. Instead of saying "Today is the first day of the rest of your life," he suggested substituting like this: "Now is the only moment of the rest of your life."

It's an extension of an idea you ought to know from me pretty well by now: the present moment is all we really have, and the only moment in which we can actually do anything. But it doesn't mean the present moment is the only thing that exists, or that plans are foolish things.

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Tags: Buddhism  Zen  psychology 


Large And In Charge

On "volume equals value for money" in books.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/22 17:00

The Guardian view on lengthening books: read them and weep | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian

One culprit can be the misguided sense that volume equals value for money. Another is the odd association between physical heft and artistic or intellectual merit – “weighty” is a compliment, “slight” is an insult.

Pretty familiar points. It's easy to be misled, in any number of directions, about what the length or left of a book (or lack of same) can signify.

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Tags: books  writers  writing 


Back In Circulation

Heard you missed us?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/22 08:00

Sorry about the protracted silence there. I had to travel for work (got to see my folks in the bargain) and ended up spending the following week swamped with all manner of things. But I've continued to work on that last, protracted round of edits for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. "Protracted" does not suggest just how much of a Zeno's Paradox this experience has been; each successive round of edits leads to another, even more fine-grained round. At this rate I'm going to quit talking about a specific release date and just say, it'll be ready when it's ready.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  future projects  real life  writing 


Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: The Almost There Blues

I keep telling myself, writing the next book isn't going to be such a marathon.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/10 17:00

No, I didn't want to spend upwards of two years working on Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, but there you go. Life happens, and a little more of it than I wanted to happened over the last ten to twelve months.

But there's some kind of home stretch in view now. End of September, is what I'm thinking. And then I take the rest of the year off to reorganize the office and read books that aren't mine for a change.

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Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  future projects  projects  writing 


Flight of the Vajra: The Grand Mutation

For fun I sat down and mentally traced the progress of my earlier SF-space-opera thingy Flight Of The Vajra.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/09 13:00

We got to talking the other day about how the finished version of a story looks nothing like its original version. For fun I sat down and mentally traced the progress of my earlier SF-space-opera thingy Flight Of The Vajra. Even I was surprised by the number of steps involved, and the evolution along the way.

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Tags: Flight of the Vajra  Genji Press  ideas  writing 


Disimpostured

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

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/09 08:00

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

Just Who Is Writing This? - Steven Savage

First, writing is not an exact science unless your subject is very exact and like a science.  Because of this there’s no exact way to know you’re doing it right and certainly no way to know you’re doing it perfectly.  This makes it easy to imagine all the things you could do differently and never think of “right enough” – or developing your own standards.

Secondly, writers are imaginative.  We can come up with all sorts of ways to decide how bad we are.  We turn imagination on ourselves.

I was talking before about how we need to think of creative work in terms of palettes and not hierarchies, and Steve's notes feed back into that line of thinking.

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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."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/07 08:00

Kevin Drum, in a recent piece on the way Twitter has degraded online discourse, dropped an aphorism that's worth repeating: "When you write, pretend you’re writing for people you respect."

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Tags: audiences  ideas  intellectualism  philosophy  writers  writing 


True Weird

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

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/06 08:00

Kenny Shopsin died earlier this week.

New Yorkers would know him; I don't know if his legend spread much beyond that burg. He ran a grocery store that eventually turned into a restaurant, and both places (from what I've gleaned of the way people talked about them) were direct reflections of the man who ran them. Not easy to like, not always palatable. He tossed people out for violating rules that changed often, like the use of cellphones in the place, or saying things like "I'll have what s/he's having."

You didn't go there for the food or the service. You went there because Kenny was an original and the number of truly original experiences in the world is minute by definition, and originals are always a pain in the butt.

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Tags: originality 


Anxieties Of Influence

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

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/04 17:00

Steve makes a tremendously important point:

All My Good Bad Influences - Steven Savage

... my major influences were also ones influencing my flaws.  Allow me to explain:

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

Second, you may make the same mistakes your inspiration makes – and likely being less polished than they, you’ll make them worse.

Third, your inspirations together may not sit quite right.  You need to find a way to fuse them into a whole.

All of these are things I've realized at one point or another on my own, in different ways.

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Tags: Steven Savage Dialogues  creativity  creators 


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.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/04 08:00

Every so often Steven Savage writes what amounts to a manifesto of creativity. The latest is "No More Heroes – But A Legion Of Them", and it is essentially an attack on the idea of big creative tentpoles as the model for others to follow. I liked the points he made and the recommendations he offered, this one in particular:

do believe we should share literature and media, but no more preaching. Let’s encourage people to enjoy things but let’s stop pursuing the next big thing – it’s wearing us out and wearing us down. It’s tiring to have so many must haves. Let’s make offerings not demands.

Emphasis mine.

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Tags: Steven Savage Dialogues  creativity  fandom 


Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned: Behind The Scenes With 'AONO', Pt. 6: The Supporting Cast

A discussion of the supporting cast in my new novel, and the roles they play.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/03 17:00
In the weeks leading up to the release of my new novel Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, I'll be making a series of posts to serve as an extended introduction to the book — its origins, its influences, its themes, its setting and characters. Enjoy.

(See all entries in this series here.)

Last time I posted in this series, I introduced a few of the main characters - Aki, the protagonist; Börte, his wife and Yannick Seyrig, the godfather of the crime family (for lack of a better term) they were welcomed into. Now some notes about the rest of the cast:

  • Jarboe Seyrig: Daughter of the scion for the Seyrig family and long-range Split user, she takes control when her father falls unexpectedly into a coma. From what Aki and Börte see, she's nowhere nearly the visionary or protector her father was — she only seems interested in keeping the wheels turning and keeping their pockets lined. But she has other plans, far bigger ones that might not include any of them.
  • Shura: Jarboe's right-hand man and lover, a short-range Split user whose power complements his tastes for kicking butt and breaking heads. If there's one soft spot in his world, it's for Jarboe, and when she unveils new plans of her own, he's in with them all the way to the end. Although he might not be if he knew what it would all cost him.
  • Godfrey Delaney: In another life, Godfrey's long-range Split (originally used to bilk easy money from people looking for tarot and palm readings) would have been something the Seyrig family would have used to protect and empower itself. Then Jarboe assumed power over the family, and now Godfrey is a glorified bartender ... but he's not about to wait for someone to offer him something better. He's going to go out and make it himself.
  • Gavin: A rogue Split user the Seyrig family hauls in from off the street, a teenager with no future but tons of raw short-range talent. The last thing he wanted to do was get caught in the middle of a tug-of-war over who in the family gets to mentor (read: control) him, but the Seyrigs aren't the only party interested in him either. And who's to say he doesn't have his own ideas?
  • Yvain Seyrig: Yannick's son and Jarboe's "baby brother", a long-range Split user whose focus on the group's finances made him into their bagman. Tired of living in the shadow of his older sister (and under a green eyeshade), he and Lalla decide to strike out on their own — only to find out even bigger plans are already lying in wait for them.
  • Lalla: A short-range Split user, Yvain's beloved and also his bodyguard. Despite being nearly blind, she can use the Split to compensate for it — although "compensate" doesn't mean "replace". Yvain's all she's got left in this world, now that they've left the family behind; it's up to her if what they encounter in its wake can compensate for it. Let alone replace it.
  • Nowy: A Split user Godfrey has been sheltering privately on his own, out of sight of the rest of the family. Nowy sporting a variety of the Split no one else has seen before — at least not yet. Between the two of them, they've been putting together the rudiments of a new design for life they can share with others — and ways to look out for other Splits like Nowy's that might only be the tip of what's possible.
  • Terry Chandler: Head of a Silicon Valley outfit that delivers do-it-yourself digital medicine to the masses, Terry has something to offer Jarboe as part of her ambitions, something he hopes to make into a mutual project. At least for now.

One thing that occurred to me when compiling all this is how I have an affinity for fairly large casts of characters, as a way to mirror or exemplify all sorts of different aspects of the story. But at the end of the day I know a story has to be about one person at the center of it. That person is going to be our psychopomp through the story's underworld, leading himself and us alike out into the light. But they will need a kind of company that by its very existence comments on what the rest of the story is about too.

In the next installment of this series, I'll break out some of the themes it touches on, and how I chose to treat them.


Tags: Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned  Behind The Scenes: AONO  Genji Press  characters  creativity  projects  writing 


Too Smart For Your Own Good

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

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018/09/03 08:00

Like a Fool, Like an Idiot (Zazen Yōjinki, Part 4) « Nyohō Zen

A karate teacher I met years ago came from Okinawa and was trying to give us American students a pep talk. He said that to be really good—at anything —you have to be a little stupid. It’s the same idea. He used the example of digging post holes. It’s repetitive work—there’s a tool you stick in the ground to pull up the dirt, and that makes the hole. You just do it again, and you do it again. He said, there’s a particular kind of mind that can do that, that can say, “I’m going to wake up today and I’m going to dig post holes, and I’m going to do that until the end of the day, and then tomorrow, because it’s my job, I’m going to wake up and I’m going to dig post holes again.” Smart people, he said, can’t do that. They’ll overthink it. They’ll ask themselves in every gesture, why am I doing this? Why am I here? What does this mean? What does this mean about me? What does this mean about my life? If you’re thinking that way, you can’t do it for a day, much less for a lifetime.

To dig really deep—into Zen, into an art, into a relationship, into your work—you have to be able to just do something over and over and over again, without asking why. This is true from the moment of waking up. If you’ve ever heard the alarm in the morning and lain in bed thinking, “Why? Why do I even get up in the morning?” then you’re being too smart for your own good.

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Tags: Buddhism  Zen  intellectualism  philosophy  psychology 


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