This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Photo by Levi Guzman on Unsplash

A letter from Virgil

If you’re looking for inspirational wisdom about how leadership is more than a creative enterprise but a calling and there’s nothing more rewarding than selflessly enabling other people’s successes, this is not that.

This is a guide to some of the absurd dysfunctions and dynamics you will likely encounter if you embark on a career…

So, the world has a fair few shitty people. And somehow, there still exist some idealists out there who believe that the best way to change shitty people is to confront them directly and explain to them their shittiness.

We know how this goes. Call someone a racist, and they will double-down on their behavior and turn it around on you for calling them a slur. Point out patterns of behavior among a privileged group and you’ll be accused of stereotyping them and be called a racist or sexist yourself.

So, if you learn nothing else from this essay: don’t…

I’ve given many talks on diversity, technology and culture change, and advised leaders on how to fix the problems on their teams. In all these years, there has been exactly one difference between the leaders who manage to address the problem and the ones who do not. It’s whether or not they are willing to admit they have a systemic problem.

Wikipedia defines a systemic problem as “a consequence of issues inherent in the overall system, rather than due to a specific, individual, isolated factor.” But when it comes to diversity issues, rather than admitting to a systemic problem, people…

Disclaimer: Cats are resilient, I love cats, and no cats were harmed in this article.

Shortly after I submitted the first draft of Driving by Starlight to my agent, she recommended I read Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat. The book fundamentally changed how I read books and view films, as if I had been given X-ray vision and the underlying skeleton of the finished product was now visible to me. That said, it also made me realize this methodology of Western storytelling, so ingrained in us now, is also fundamentally insufficient as a means of disrupting systems of oppression. As…

Lys asking Kay to zipline off the Golden Gate Bridge. Producing a webcomic is quite similar.

There’s a certain amount of hubris involved in being a creator at all, an inherent assumption that what you’re creating is worth the effort and worth an audience’s time. There’s even more hubris in putting out an essay like this one, demystifying “success” while still an amateur. Still, there are so many barriers in front of artists and creators today that hopefully this series helps with tearing down a few.

Learning the economics of art: Writing when every word costs you $$$

When I first asked Airene to be my artist-partner in producing The Night Wolves, she refused. She asked me to read Bakuman, a manga about creating manga produced by the…

One of my more masculine moments…

If you’ve read my book, Driving by Starlight, you probably know that I grew up in Saudi Arabia, possibly the most gender-segregated place on the planet. Men wore white thobes, women wore black abayas, and there was nothing but imprisonment or death in-between. You might also have guessed that Leena’s experiences of “passing” as a boy are based on my own.

Until I was fourteen (and intermittently after that) I passed as male whenever I felt it would be to my advantage, or would make me feel safer. I continued to do this occasionally as an adult, to the point…

When it comes to world-building, the most critical thing about a story is often not what you put in, it’s what you leave out. I read and watch a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, and while I’m usually unsurprised by the world elements (robots, aliens, vampires or other shapeshifters, clones…) what makes a world feel fresh is not the sci-fi element itself but the extent to which the world feels coherent. In the best written worlds, nothing gives you whiplash or pulls you out of the story to ask, “Wait a minute, why would…”

To achieve this takes a process…

I have left five countries already, two of them warzones. My pen-name, Deracine, comes from the French déraciné, meaning a person who has been uprooted from their natural environment, deracinated. To me, calls of patriotism have only ever meant the lure of a conditional love. Anthems that say, give and you shall receive. Rhetoric and nostalgia may hide, respectively, the debts being collected under the banner of “ask not what your country can do for you,” or “Make America great again,” but the conditionality of citizenship is always right there.

As someone who, in a past life, studied and taught…

Some weeks ago, author Elizabeth Gilbert hosted Mikki Kendall on Instagram Live to talk about Mikki’s NYT bestselling book Hood Feminism.

Mikki reads this quote from her incredible book that I gobbled in a single day:

“Respectability requires a form of restrained, emotionally neutral politeness that is completely at odds with any concept of normal human emotions.

The emotional labor required to be respectable, to never ruffle anyone’s feathers, to not get angry enough to challenge much less confront those who might have harmed you, is incredibly onerous precisely because it is so dehumanizing. Respectability requires not just a stiff…

The following is a work of fiction. I do not own the character of Sebastian Michaelis, although I do wish he were real.

I just needed to get this out so I could go back to writing The Night Wolves.

Image source

Day 1: It wasn’t like that at all.

An admin’s day begins early. In this modern world of flexible hours and video calls, one might say the day has always already begun. Nor, as we shall soon see, does it ever end, not even with death.

Sebastian delivers the day’s agenda to his employer along with breakfast: a poached egg with sundried tomato pesto, a flaky…

Anat Deracine

Author of "Driving by Starlight" and “The Night Wolves” I'm on Twitter at @anat_deracine

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store