Spiritual advice don't mean a thing if it don't come from within.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/22 08:00
Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön has books titled The Places That Scare You and The Wisdom Of No Escape. The titles are big hints about what she believes, and for that reason are potential turn-offs for some (for reasons I'll get into shortly). One of her main streams of thought is teaching yourself how to not compulsively resist the bad things in your life or compulsively cling to the good things, either — how to look at them both with equinamity, how to let both good and bad be your teachers.
My own lesson on top of this is how those mean nothing if you don't treat them as inner directives instead of outer ones. I'll explain what I mean, but first some buildup.
Each work is a bridge to the next one.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/21 08:00
The first novel I ever wrote, I wrote during the summer of 1992 when I was a temp worker at a company in New York City — some kind of fund-management outfit, I think. I essentially warmed a chair and did the occasional bit of word processing. My computer had a copy of Microsoft Word, and I had a copy of Microsoft Word at home, and so I took a floppy disk in with me and started filling my lunch hours (and then a bit more than that) with something that I eventually called The Wolves Among Us. It wasn't good. It was ambitious, but it wasn't good. It was something I'd written every word of myself from beginning to end, but it wasn't good. It had some wonderful characters in it and some nice writing, but it ... really ... wasn't ... good.
Still, I knew then I'd found something I wanted to stick with for the whole of my life. Even if what came out was sheer junk, the pleasure of doing the thing itself was unparalleled. I just had to figure out how to write something that wasn't bad.
Zen's influence on my work.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/20 08:00
We — meaning the circle of creative-minded friends I'm in — got to talking about influences the other night, and I mentioned that one of mine was Zen Buddhism. Influential in the sense that once I started to take my study of it seriously, it altered the way I saw and thought about everything, and that in turn changed the kinds of stories I wanted to write.
No, this isn't about pets; it's about making the tools I use for my creative work.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/19 08:00
Software developers have a phrase for using the software you build for others: eating your own dog food. Testing such software is "dogfooding". For the past week and change, I've been dog-fooding my new software tool for writers, a personal wiki for project organization. It is still far too feature-tool and bug-ridden to be useful to anyone but li'l ol' me, but even in that state it's still valuable. Both for how it helps me write Fall Of The Hammer, and how it helps me enforce the discipline I need to improve it.
The new needs friends, not evangelists or apologists.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/13 17:00
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.
(Last emphasis mine.)
The new needs friends because, to whip out a line I'm fond of, the genuinely new thing is a terrible pain in the ass. It needs friends because by itself, on its own, it will almost certainly end up out in the street. But how you're a friend to the new makes all the difference.
On letting an old domain name roll away.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/11 10:00
The other day I allowed the domain name I once used for my personal blog to lapse. I had not used that domain in over ten years for anything; it just auto-directed back to this place. But all the same I'd kept renewing it in the thought that someday, someday, I'd do something with it. Well, here it is, a decade and change later, and I've still done nothing with it. Out it goes.
On art as the alleged antidote to life -- although life is no illness, is it?By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/07 08:00
There's this sample floating around the musical ether — Hive used it in their song "Ultrasonic Sound"; and I think they got it from Crass's "Bomb plus Bomb Tape": During these films you may begin to feel overload ... There are times when, I imagine like many of you, I just sit there and feel crushed flat by the weight of everything going on. The little stuff and the big stuff alike. Feels like there's no difference between the threat of annihilation and the misery of a friend; they both just hurt.
What makes the pain bearable, what turns it into something that's at least not quite so painful, isn't running away from it or throwing one's self headlong into it, but something in between — being able to look at it and understand it. It's the Václav Havel quote I come back to so often: hope isn't optimism, but the certainty that things will somehow make sense. And so we tell stories in the hopes that they will help us make sense of things, even if those stories aren't about anything that actually happened.
Kicking off 2020.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/06 08:00
Sorry about the silence on this end — long holiday break, lots going on. Allow me to turn your head away from the burning world on your TV and enlighten you about new doings in Chez Genji.
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind