All posts for January 2024


A Sincere Lesson

The least we can do is not lie to ourselves. That makes it easier to, in turn, tell others the truth well.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-30 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


Ken Macrorie once quoted Peter Elbow (Writing Without Teachers) thus:

I warn against defining sincerity as telling true things about oneself. It is more accurate to define it functionally as the sound of the writer's voice or self on paper — a general sound of authenticity in the words. The point is that self revelation — breast baring (going topless) — is an easy route in our culture and therefore can be used as an evasion: it can be functionally insincere even if substantively true and intimate. To be precise, sincerity is the absence of "noise" or static — the ability or courage not to hide the real message.

[Emphasis in the original.]

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Tags: Ken Macrorie Peter Elbow

Greater Expectations And All That

"Out of the corner of my eye these days I sometimes see the glimmer of a world transformed by millions of persons who expect great things from each other."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-30 08:00:00-05:00 No comments


The very last sentence of Ken Macrorie's book Uptaught (not in print, not available digitally either) is one of those lines I wish I had written myself: "Out of the corner of my eye these days I sometimes see the glimmer of a world transformed by millions of persons who expect great things from each other."

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Tags: Ken Macrorie creativity creators science fiction

Can't Sit Still

It takes an effort to get to a point where complacency is more painful to you than effort itself.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-28 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


When I wrote the other week about playing over your own head, I wrote down an insight that never got treated in the body of that post: "It takes an effort to get to a point where complacency is more painful to you than effort itself. Some of it is about sensitizing yourself to things you previously never paid attention to — the cost of being complacent with your work."

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Tags: creativity

Something Said

If there's one impulse that all writers seem to share, it's the need to *say* something.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-26 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


If there's one impulse that all writers seem to share, it's the need to say something. What that something is, or how to communicate it, will have as varied a set of expressions as the types of flowers out there. And those that discover they really don't have anything to say, well, they tend to drift off and do something else. No sin in that as such; the only sin I see is in not recognizing and honoring it. If something isn't your bag, just find another bag, and don't worry about what people think of you.

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Tags: creativity creators writers writing

Primal Screen

Q: "What film made you angry, either while watching it or in thinking about it afterward?"

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-25 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


Gleaned from Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule: PROFESSOR VAN HELSING’S JUST-BEFORE-SUNRISE WOODEN-STAKE-THROUGH-SPRING-BREAK QUIZ (sergioleoneifr.blogspot.com):

Q: "What film made you angry, either while watching it or in thinking about it afterward?"

A: Too many to list, but I have a few standouts:

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Call It Progress

"Charisma", draft 3, act 1. Action.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-23 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


Last night I got to the end of "act 1" for the third draft of Charisma. Most of the text was repurposed as-is from the original draft, but with a lot of interstitial rewriting. That is, the core function of each scene remained very much the same, but the direction and purpose of the scenes were now quite different. I still plan to take five, back up, and re-read what I have to make sure it works before going any further.

No exaggeration: This is the most challenging book I've worked on so far. It's a confluence of things. The milieu is unfamiliar, so I've had to do a lot of research; the elements run the risk of becoming overcomplicated for their own sake, so I've had to fight to keep them simple and direct; and I've also been jugging a great many things in my real life that threaten to starve my attention.

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Tags: Charisma writers writing

No Status Quo

I'm not happy with the idea that I haven't moved since the last time I sat down to make something.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-21 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


I once believed the best thing for me to do as a writer would be to seek out the kind of material that I could just write automatically, effortlessly, thoughtlessly even. I came to the conclusion not all that long ago that I didn't want to write anything that would be that easy, because it wouldn't compel me to play over my own head and stretch myself.

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Tags: creativity creators writers writing

Traveling Saylesman

John Sayles: "It's our job, I think, to look outside of what we were born into and say, 'Is what I know really all that's going on?'"

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-15 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


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There's a 4K remaster of John Sayles's Lone Star coming by way of Criterion, and a very nice new interview with the man:

We’re So Short on Time: John Sayles on Lone Star | Interviews | Roger Ebert

... none of us get to start from scratch. We're born into a certain place, a certain time, a certain class, a certain race and each milieu has its official story. And that's what we get. It’s our lot, our responsibility, it's our job, I think, to look outside of what we were born into and say, “Is what I know really all that's going on?” It’s our job to look out from that and say, “Oh, there's other ways of living and that creates other ways of thinking.”

I don't know if Sayles is a Buddhist or not, but the sentiment he's expressing is right in line with Buddhist thinking (see "dependent origination"). You're a product of your moment in time and your circumstances, and that limits your choices — and your perceptions — in ways you're not automatically aware of. Your job (and really, that's a good choice of word) is to see beyond those things to the best of your ability.

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Tags: Buddhism John Sayles creativity creators

Spring Cleaning Has Sprung

Among other things going down at Chez Infinimata this month, spring cleaning is officially under way.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-14 08:00:00-05:00 No comments


Among other things going down at Chez Infinimata this month, spring cleaning is officially under way. The first couple of steps for that involved tearing apart the spaces behind my computer monitor, unplugging everything, labeling it, ganging cables together, and rerouting it all so that I can actually make use of all the space back there.

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Tags: nostalgia organization

Movies: Two Small Bodies

Beth B.'s pressure-cooker two-person drama, from Neal Bell's stage play, has a lot more on its mind than just fictionalizing an infamous true-crime story.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-13 08:00:00-05:00 No comments


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There's a moment in Two Small Bodies that comes and goes so quickly it would disappear if it weren't under the magnifying lens of the movie's crushing intimacy. A police detective (Fred Ward) has come early in the morning by the house of the woman he's investigating over the suspicious disappearance of her children (Suzy Amis). He arrives disheveled, with spare clothes, and he changes right in her kitchen — part of his overall strategy of asserting dominance over her. He's grimly fascinated by her; she despises him. And then, between one sentence and another, he loops his tie around his neck, leans towards her, and without missing a beat she reaches over and knots it for him.

Beth B.'s Two Small Bodies turns on acute little observations like that. It is less about the mystery (did this woman kill her own children?) than about the quicksand that forms between these two people around that mystery. The crime is just the arena for how these two people learn about what kinds of power games they can play with the kind of person they might never have let close to them before. Every time we circle what seems like the easy reading for what's going on, the characters turn things around on us.

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Tags: Beth B. Fred Ward Suzy Amis drama movies review

4K In '24

Between one thing and another, I revisited the list of movies I'd like to see reissued on home video, what with a newfound appreciation for physical media sweeping the globe.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-12 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


Between one thing and another, I revisited the list of movies I'd like to see reissued on home video, what with a newfound appreciation for physical media sweeping the globe.

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Tags: Blu-ray Disc UHD-BD 4K movies

Projects In The 90th Percentile

"Charisma" is easily the toughest writing project I've worked on yet, and I have my doubts if I can achieve all I set out to do with it.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-10 17:00:00-05:00 No comments


Don't take my radio silence as proof of lethargy. If anything it's been the opposite. I've been busting all my camel humps getting Charisma into shape. This is easily the toughest project I've worked on yet, and I'm now starting to doubt whether or not I can get it to within the right percentile of what I'm aiming for with it. Doesn't mean I won't try, though.

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Tags: Charisma creativity future projects writing

You Can't Listen To Tapes Of Yourself In The Future

You don't learn from influences by copying them, but by studying how they were influenced.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2024-01-02 08:00:00-05:00 No comments


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The "lost" John Coltrane / Eric Dolphy album Evenings at the Village Gate is a wonderful find, not just for the music (unheard in decades) but the liner notes. Among them is this observation by Branford Marsalis, one of the best things I've come across in months:

There's this singular mindset that if you want to play like Trane you buy every Coltrane record and a transcription book and beat it to death. When I was in [Art] Blakey's band, I really started getting into Coltrane. Art heard me doing that and said, "You're never going to learn how to do it that way." I said "Oh, so if I want to play like Coltrane I should listen to somebody else?" To which he responded, "What I'm saying is that when Coltrane was your age, what the fuck do you think he was listening to? Tapes of himself in the future?"

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Tags: Art Blakey Branford Marsalis Eric Dolphy John Coltrane creativity creators jazz

See previous posts from December 2023

See future posts from February 2024