Last Post for This Version of the Blog

Published October 4, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

Ugh, this editor. Grossness.

Right, so WordPress doesn’t want free bloggers anymore, and I am sure as heck not paying them, so I’m leaving WordPress. I’ve moved to Blogger. You can find me at https://iphisofscyros.blogspot.com/.

Hopefully, I will get the IWSG account transferred over before Wednesday, but if not, please head over to the new blog where there will be an IWSG post.

Once I am done with the timed projects I am working on now (as will be described in this month’s IWSG post on the new blog) I’m going to repost all the narrative texts I wrote for this version of the blog (esp. the Greek myths) to my AO3 account. Because.

Goodbye?

Published October 1, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, so I’ve been using the app on my phone for a while instead of my computer.

Yeah, my bad.

But then I had to get a new computer and I thought “hey, good time to write a post on the computer for once” and I login and go to my bookmark for the Classic Editor…and I get what is basically a blank white screen, because they decided they should completely remove the Classic Editor even though it actually worked and made sense.

This is garbage in every sense of the word.

And oh, sure, they have a plugin that will let you use the classic editor…

…but only if you pay them first.

I am not paying for this crap.

I guess I’ll look into one of the other blog platforms and maybe move over there. Or maybe I’ll just stop. It’s not like I’ve been doing much blogging anyway.

In the meantime, it looks like I probably won’t have an Insecure Writer’s Support Group post for October, because once I figure out where the heck the freaking “post” button is on here, I am not touching this &#*$&$%^&#$&ing website until I cool down again.

Which may take a month or more.

We’ll just have to see what happens then. Maybe I’ll keep going by exclusively using the app on my phone (which obviously I cannot ever update or it might get even worse than it already is, in order to mirror this cluster**** of a thing, but maybe I won’t.

Why would anyone create a new, ugly thing that completely removes all functionality? I guarantee no one came up to them and said “hey, get rid of the Classic Editor!”

Ugh, I’m just getting more and more ticked off.

I’m out of here.

Hopefully only for now, but I make no promises.

IWSG – Massive Rewrites Ahead

Published September 2, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, pre-writing this post even more in advance than usual (today is the 21st!), because right now the situation is freshly in my mind and I haven’t been distracted by the other, much smaller rewriting project I’m about to start (and which I will be eyeballs deep in by the time this post goes up).

So, for the past week(ish), I’ve been rereading the series of quasi-Young Adult novels I wrote in 2104, set 17-20 years after the Trojan War, starring the illegitimate daughters of Achilles and Odysseus (both characters I made up) and the (equally illegitimate) son of Aias (who is a genuine mythological character whose actions as an adult have been lost to time but undoubtedly do not resemble my version in any way).  This wasn’t a simple reread, however.  This was a detailed reread, leaving myself a lot of notes using the “Comment” feature on the word processor.  Because I had a look at these already, back in July (or was it June?), and realized that hey, they were actually a lot better than I had remembered them being.  And so I kind of wanted to polish them up for release (for free via LeanPub and itch.io, naturally), which promises to be a much faster endeavor (sort of) than finishing the world-building to polish up that low-fantasy-with-steampunk-elements novel that also needs rewriting and releasing.

Of course, there are a lot of associated works that would also want fixing up.  The whole novel series started out as a spin-off of my Trojan War novel Ilios, which I had temporarily published via LeanPub and then eventually took down because I was quite ashamed of how bad it was.  (I have not at the moment revisited it to see if I want to try to fix it up, because I know that would be even more work.  Plus it is not aimed at the same audience.)  On top of that, there’s a novella called “Patroclos and Achilles” which was also a spin-off of Ilios, and which I directly referenced in the new introduction for Ariadne, the daughter of Odysseus.  I just reread that one this morning, and overall it’s actually pretty good (which is good, since it’s currently floating around the internet already…I think…or was it the other thing about them in the afterlife that’s already up…?) except that the ending makes me cringe, because it got a lot of things flat-out backwards, because there was a lot I didn’t understand about same-sex relationships in ancient Greece before reading The Greeks and Greek Love by James Davidson, and now that I do understand those things (and consequently a lot of ancient Greek culture makes more sense!) I want to fix anything and everything that I’ve written that gets it wrong.  So the novella probably needs to get the first rewrite, before I move on to the Atalanta and Ariadne books.  There will need to be a lot of work done on every reference to same-sex love in those books, naturally.  The mindset I gave the characters was appallingly modern in that for some reason too many people found it funny to think that Achilles had been the boyfriend of his friend and “squire” Patroclos.  There is no reason anyone in classical Greece would have found that funny…though there is the question of if we have any freaking way of guessing what the Greek attitudes towards such relationships would have been in the Late Bronze Age, since we have no written texts from the Mycenaeans other than clerical documents like inventory lists and notes on court cases.  (Though considering some lines of the Iliad have to be aged back to the Mycenaean era in order for the lines to be restored to their proper dactylic hexameter, it does seem possible, if not probable, that enough of the mythic aspects of the culture were unchanged by the end of the Bronze Age that they can be taken to reflect many of the cultural details of the era in which they were set.  Possibly.)

Anyway, the same-sex stuff is pretty minor in the Atalanta and Ariadne books (which really need a series title, but I’m not sure what the heck it would be, considering the early books give no indication just what a massive foe they’re eventually going to go up against, even though at foe’s servants have been targeting them at least since book one, if not from several years before it) compared to a lot of the other things that need fixing.  Matters of clothing for non-Greek peoples at the time (though at least I did learn at some point post-writing them that they would absolutely know what trousers are, so I can dispense with the absurd descriptions of “leg sleeves”) are one of the things that need a thorough fixing, but at least that’s something that will be relatively easily dealt with.

The biggest problem is how to handle the lack of money.

And no, I don’t mean I’m broke.  (Though I do have less of it than I’d like since I lost my job.)  And I don’t mean my heroic trio is broke, either.

I mean the fact that they didn’t have coinage yet in the Late Bronze Age.

I apparently didn’t know that when I was writing these books, especially the first one, which (among other things) has a fairly lengthy and important sequence in a marketplace.

How do you write a marketplace in a barter economy?

I mean, I know they had them.  The Mexica (aka Aztecs) had marketplaces, but in their case it was made simpler because they used cacao beans as a form of proto-currency (which even led to a form of counterfeiting, because some people would hollow out the beans and be trading with empty husks!), but that’s the only case I’m aware of in which there are written records of a non-money-based market.  (The written records being the accounts of the conquistadores seeing said market, so they are not the greatest of records, being essentially tourist accounts written by people of lesser education and not scholarly analyses.)  Based on the Iliad, the main way things seem to have been “valued” was by how many oxen they were worth, but I can’t really have two teenage girls and an early twenties young man carrying oxen about to trade with.  (Though it would be amusing to see them try it!  Goodness knows Atalanta would probably be able to carry a small ox a short distance, as could Eurysakes…maybe.  Ariadne, no.  Just no.  A very small calf, maybe.  A lamb or a kid, definitely.  But I don’t recall measurements of value in sheep and goats, just oxen.  Though I’m ashamed to admit that it’s been years at this point since I last read the Iliad.)

Does anyone know of any books — fiction or non-fiction — about how people might hold a market in a place without money?

I could really use some examples, whether how other people handle it in fiction or how people in reality dealt with things before there was money.  (I mean, realistically, how did food get shared about?  Did the nobles gather up the food from the farmers and then redistribute it to the people, or did the farmers take it to a market to trade it for other things they needed, like clothes, new animals or hired hands?)  Outside of the first book, it’s not going to be a huge issue, since they mostly get what they need in the later books via guest-friendship as they spend a lot of time visiting (and often going on quests for) kings who had fought alongside their fathers at Troy, but wow, is that first book hamstrung until I know how to handle the marketplace!

Additionally, there are various other concerns, mostly around trying to make the books line up better with history/archaeology.  There are a lot of books I read in the two years after writing the books that dealt with the subject of that area in the Late Bronze Age, like The Ahhiyawa Texts, but that was years ago now, and I’ve forgotten a lot of the details, and some of them were gotten out of the university library that I no longer have access to now that I’ve graduated, while others are probably in this house somewhere but I have no freaking idea where because my life is a pigsty.  For two of the books, I’d also need to do a lot of research into what Babylon looked like at the time, and what the court of Ramses II would have looked like, but those shouldn’t be too difficult with non-academic sources…I hope.

Speaking of other things that need fixing up, you may have noticed the word “squire” in quotes up above.  The translation of the Iliad that I’m fond of (it’s prose instead of trying to force the translation into English verse, and it uses the proper Greek names instead of Roman ones) is from like 1913 (give or take a decade), so it does use some awkward things like describing Meriones as “nephew and squire” of Idomeneus, and describing people as “knightly” and so on.  That means those things got into my books, too.  😦  It is so annoying, and decidedly anachronistic, but I have no idea what the period-appropriate term would be.  While I’m sure most readers would probably accept using the anachronistic medieval term “squire” since it’s quite easy for modern people to understand what it means about the person’s professional role, I dislike it for its extreme anachronism.  I should probably have a look at the most recent translation(s) of the Iliad and see how they handled whatever term was being replaced with “squire”.  Mostly, this is only going to impact the prologues (each book has a prologue set during the war) and when they meet certain Trojan War veterans (including the aforementioned Meriones), but it’s something I want to be able to fix on general principles.

A more wide-ranging problem is that I have to figure out how much a sixteen-year-old slave girl in the Late Bronze Age who had somehow kept herself entirely chaste would typically have known about sex.  Because one of the ways I wanted Atalanta and Ariadne to be different from their fathers is that they remain virgins, unlike Atalanta’s father who was quite lusty (the number of his accomplished/potential/desired conquests at Troy seems to grow every time I read a new book on the subject) and unlike Ariadne’s father who slept his way around the Mediterranean for ten years before finally going home to his all-too-faithful wife.  For some reason, when I was first writing these, I decided to accomplish that by having Atalanta nearly kill a man to stop him from raping her, following which Athene erased all her memories of the very concept of sex, and nothing can ever make her remember that sex even exists.

I have no idea why I did something so mind-bogglingly stupid.

My new version is much more simple:  she’s asexual.

I think the reason for the bizarre backstory gymnastics is that I wrote these books about a year and a half before I came to understand that I myself am asexual, so…I don’t know.  As an explanation, it doesn’t entirely make sense, but it’s the best one I can come up with, honestly.

Whatever the reason I originally wrote it, it has to go.  Now, I do want Atalanta to retain a childlike innocence (including on sexual matters), but there’s not going to be anything supernatural or traumatic about it.  She’s just not terribly bright and doesn’t pick up on subtext and subtle details of situations, and the classical Greeks certainly didn’t like to…well, they didn’t like to write about sex, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t like to talk about it and doesn’t necessarily mean the same was the case about their Late Bronze Age ancestors, but one does tend to fill in the gaps with the historical culture when one is dealing with the Greek Heroic Age.  Anyway, I have to decide just how much she knows, and how much she suspects of what she doesn’t know, and how she would interpret any mentions of things she doesn’t know.  That will have to be figured out before I can start writing, and it will be a lot of work making sure to catch every single absurd instance and replace it with something more simple and believable.  Atalanta spent all seven books sort of traipsing back and forth across the line from “possessing the mind of an absurdly stupid child” to “just a little bit dim and very innocent”, and that’s generally something I need to fix.  I also need to fix Ariadne’s side of their relationship; they’re very co-dependent, in an entirely platonic, non-romantic way on Atalanta’s part, whereas I realized late in the game that Ariadne is actually in love with Atalanta and refusing to admit it even to herself, so I need to work that in and make it more obvious throughout and yet in a way that makes it clear that Ariadne will never be willing to act on her feelings.  (That may be a more subtle task than I’m capable of, but we’ll just have to see what happens in the new drafts!)

I also have various other things I have to decide on, too.  Like, I don’t want to use the Aeneid‘s version of the immediate post-Troy events, but I also have scattered throughout the books various references to the journey of “Aeneas” with his band of Trojan refugees.  So I’m thinking of setting up something halfway between the Iliad‘s version of post-Troy events (in which Poseidon commented that Aineias was to become the new king of Troy after the war) and the Roman version, so that Aineias became King of Troy as planned by the Greek gods, only then Korythos (son of Alexander/Paris by his first wife, the nymph Oenone) drives him out and takes over the kingship, so Aineias still sets off for the future site of Rome.  (And I don’t think the gens Julius completely made up the idea of Roman descent from Aeneas/Aineias; I think they did get that from some of the Greek settlers in Italy, as the ancient Greeks did love to set up mythical ancestors for various people they met (Medes, Perses, etc).)  But I’ll have to decide when that happened, how far they had gotten in rebuilding the walls, how much violence was entailed, why in the world Aineias would have fled rather than stayed and continued to fight (especially against a son of that weakling Alexander!) and so forth.  Some versions of the abduction of Helen do include Aineias having gone with Alexander to Sparta, so maybe this should be a version like that (though there’s no indication of Aineias being there in the one flashback I have to the abduction itself…though given the presence of his mother in the flashback it wouldn’t be hard to believe it) and Korythos makes the demand to the remaining people of Troy that they shouldn’t follow Aineias since he aided and abetted in the arrival of the harlot who ruined the marriage of Korythos’ parents and for whose sake the citadel of Troy was besieged for ten years and then destroyed.  Yeah, that might work, actually.  Korythos wouldn’t even need an army if he turned the majority of the people against Aineias.  Cool, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Names, on the other hand, are something to worry about.  Specifically, how far do I want to go in using the Greek names?  Like, some of them are easy.  Patroclos > Patroclus, Aias > Ajax, Aineias > Aeneas, Heracles > Hercules, Zeus > Jupiter (like anyone now would use that in a Greek setting, lol), but do I want to go the whole hog?  Do I want to use Achilleus instead of Achilles, Alexandros instead of Alexander, Ganymedes instead of Ganymede, Bellerophontes instead of Bellerophon…stuff like that.  (And yes, all those names do come up in the books.  (BTW, the spellchecker in my browser is insisting that the correct spelling of “Bellerophon” is “Telephoner”.  Like, wow.))  Part of me is annoyed with myself for using any of the Romanized/Anglicized versions, but the rest of me is like “seriously, Achilleus and Ganymedes?” (For some reason I’m much more cool with Bellerophontes than a lot of the other typically-always-Romanized/Anglicized-even-by-scholars names.)

Speaking of names, I’m not even sure what I should be calling the Greek people as a group.  For the historic period, Hellenes would be correct, and I do use it sometimes.  In the Iliad, the names Achaians, Danaans and Argives are used pretty much as direct synonyms, chosen for metrical reasons.  Of course, Argives was right out as a choice in my books because that specifically means people from Argos.  Achaians — while the source of the Hittite name for the Mycenaean Greeks, Ahhiyawa — seems most likely to refer specifically to people from Achaia Phthiotis, the region of Thessaly where Achilles’ father Peleus reigned.  (Unlike the classical Greeks with their city-states, the Mycenaeans seem to have had kingdoms in more of the sense we think of for Medieval Europe.  As far as I can tell.  Which isn’t far.)  Danaan was likewise the source of a foreign name that may have referred to Mycenaean Greeks (Danaja, used by the Egyptians and possibly also the Phoenicians, and which I do have Ramses II use), but as I recall it doesn’t even refer to a particular location in Greece, but rather to a mythical ancestor figure.  I’m not sure if that makes it more likely to have been what the Mycenaeans called themselves (Hellas and Hellene, after all, coming from the mythical figure Hellen) or if it was actually applied to them by mistake by their contemporaries and then the mythical figure was made up to explain it after it had stuck.  (The mythical figure might have even been made up in the classical period to explain the LBA-authentic name Danaan used in Homer, for all I know.  There are, after all, many things in the Iliad that are accurate to the Late Bronze Age but not to the classical era, particularly in the Catalog of Ships, where some of the places were so long gone by the historic period that no one even knew where they had been.)  There’s a lot that the scholarly community doesn’t know about this sort of thing, and even more that I don’t know, since it’s been years since I did the research, and I never got too far into the really detailed and up-to-date research even back then.  What would actually be correct is, of course, of lesser importance in this case than the basic question of which name should I use?  In the original drafts of the books, I primarily used Achaians, with a pretty hefty dose of Hellenes, and the occasional Danaans thrown in there just to be confusing.  😛  At some point after the novels were finished, I wrote an invocation of the Muse-type intro to the series that defined Achaians as people from northern Greece and Danaans as people from the Peloponnese, which is not entirely out of line with scholarly thinking as far as I remember and is entirely in line with how foreign people use the related terms (since the Hittites were more northerly and the Egyptians directly south), but…I dunno.  Among other things, trying to define the peoples by where they live in an invocation to the Muse feels weird in and of itself!  (But on the other hand it would at least give me some consistency, while still allowing the Egyptians to call them Danaja.)

*sigh*

I could probably keep going with this post forever and not run out of issues I’m going to have with these rewrites, but I’ve been at this for like three hours now, so I think I better stop.  Especially since I was supposed to be spending this afternoon sorting through the ghastly build up in my inbox.  😦  Guess that’s being put off yet another day…

Anyway, my biggest worry at the moment is, as I indicated, how in the world to handle a marketplace in a pre-money economy.  I’d like it to be as realistic as possible to what the Late Bronze Age was like, but how in the world does one look up what a Hittite marketplace looked like ca. 1230 BCE?  (It’s the marketplace in the mostly-rebuilt Troy, which was in Hittite territory.)  I’m going to have to do some heavy research before I dive into the rewrites.

But first I’m going to do the rewrite on my fusion of Velvet Goldmine with the 1996 (rather awful) movie adaptation of Emma, which means now I need to dive into rereading the original book and keep my rewrites in pace with my rereading, so I can keep straight things like how long Emma spent using “Mr.” in talking to and about Frank Churchill, when Mrs. Weston had her baby, when the Knightley boys returned to London, etc.  (All things that were completely ignored by said film adaptation, naturally.  I need to watch the new adaptation whenever it makes it onto Netflix or Hulu or whatever.  I missed it in the theatres because its release was cut short by all the theatres closing…but I do want to see a good (or at least better) adaptation, even if its Frank Churchill will never be as hot.)  And that’s precisely why I’m writing this post so far in advance, because otherwise my mind will be filled with Regency England instead of the Mediterranean in the Late Bronze Age .

IWSG – Always Second-Guessing Myself

Published August 5, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, following July’s Camp NotNaNo, I find I have new problems and complications.

A couple of months back, I posted about my plan to make a video game set in the world of my low-fantasy-with-a-few-steampunk-elements novel series.  (I call it a series, but I’ve only written the first novel, and it’s still in the rewriting phase.  Although the current draft is light years better than the first draft.)  A lot of July was spent working on developing and filling out a template containing all the information I would need for each country.  I only got through the first five…and technically didn’t actually get through any of them, because I added a bunch more questions so late in the month that I never answered any of the new questions.

Thing is, it took me that long to do that much world-building prep for the countries where I didn’t need to do a lot of research first.  Meaning, of course, that the other countries will take even longer to complete.  But that’s only a minor complication, not a problem.

The problem is that my plan was to have 26 countries in this fictional world.  (Although after putting together a really bad attempt at a map, I have been toying with the idea of reducing that to about 23 or 24, because one of the continents turned out much smaller on that map, which made me just stop and think about how hard it would be to create really distinct countries for a continent based on pre-European-contact South America, since most of the cultures we only know about archaeologically, leaving a lot of gaps in what we know, particularly since none of those cultures had writing.  Anyway, whether I end up making 23 countries or 26, if I made the international trade and travel game, that would mean a minimum of 23 cities to visit, yeah?  A bit large for a traditional RPG (I think most of the JRPGs I play tend to max out around 15 towns), but these wouldn’t be full towns for personal exploration, so on the surface that doesn’t sound too bad.

Only it would actually be a lot more than that.  The plan for the game, so far, is that you start out in the Britain-like country, working for an international trading conglomerate, and doing trade runs within the country.  Then after an event involving sky pirates, you end up moving up in the company, and get to do trade runs with the rest of the world.

If the home country has 5-8 towns and all the rest of the world has only one town per country, that’s going to be really lame.  But if all 23-26 countries also have 5-8 towns…!  That’s a minimum of 115 towns and a maximum of 208.

Even 115 towns is way more than I would be able to create, I’m fairly certain.  Not by myself.

I haven’t entirely given up on the idea, because I think it really would make a kick-ass game, but I’ve put it on the back burner, as an “after I’ve finished the novels” type thing.  And fortunately, I don’t have to do as much of the world-building in order to work on the novels.  They won’t be visiting every single country in the world in the novels, so for any country they don’t go to, I don’t need the nitty-gritty details, just the big picture, particularly about how the country relates to the other countries around it.  And some of it is not really relevant even for countries they do go to.  For example, the care of the elderly never came up in the first novel, so if I failed to answer that question on the Britain-equivalent, then that’s all right.  And it isn’t likely to come up in the brief time they’re in the France-like country at the beginning of the second book (they end up leaving pretty quickly, escorting the deposed-queen-in-hiding to her brother, the king of the next country over) either, so if I have proven unable to answer that question there, too, it’s not important.  On the other countries where I don’t know yet what the plot of the book will entail (technically, I don’t even know how many books there will be total or how many countries they’ll end up visiting, though I have definite plans for the ones based on Rome, Greece, Egypt, Japan and the Incan Empire), for the most part as long as I can answer the bigger questions, I can fill in the smaller details later if I realize the novel in question will require it.  But there’s still a massive amount of work to be done, in both research and world-building question-answering, and it’s still feeling quite overwhelming.

Meanwhile, a brief burst of renewed love for ancient Greek mythology had me spend a few days rereading large chunks of my quasi-Young Adult novels about the daughters of Achilles and Odysseus and the son of Aias, and I’m feeling like maybe they’re worth polishing up and releasing (for free via LeanPub and itch.io, of course) after all.  And although when I first realized that I said “no, after the world-building and its related novels,” wouldn’t it make more sense to do the rewrites on a completed novel series first, as that’s a shorter process than all that research and world-building and rewriting and writing?

Or am I just trying to make excuses to get out of so much tedious, low-level research?

Part of me fears it’s just excuses, in all honesty.

Right now, I’m still trying to finish the fanfiction piece I started in the final days of July, but after that…well, I want to start rereading Emma to be able to polish up the fusion piece I wrote based on it (since I kind of promised (well, strongly implied, anyway) I would start posting it in the fall) at the end of this month/beginning of next month, but after I’m done with that….I’m not sure.  I might go back to Atalanta and Ariadne for a while instead of keeping going with this tedious world-building.  Between what I’m working on right now and Emma, I want to keep working on the myths associated with the world-building; there are a lot of myths still to write for pretty much all the cultures I’ve already got myths for (I stupidly forgot to include tales of heroes (outside of the epics) in the ones based on Greece and Rome!), and I haven’t even started the myths inspired by the Scandinavian/Teutonic myths.

Ultimately, I’m feeling really torn about what to do.  Especially because now that I’m unemployed, I want to be spending my time working on something that I could somehow make some money at, which means I absolutely should not be writing, because my writing is garbage and will never get me paid.  (Yeah, I could try to make money off it, self-publishing my novels and asking money in exchange for them, but it’s not like anyone would actually cough up said money.  They’d look at the preview chapters and nope right on out of there.  If it’s free, there’s at least a tiny chance one or two people might think the story sounded interesting enough to put up with my crappy writing to get at it.)  Unfortunately, there’s not really much I can do that people would pay me for.  There are all sorts of roadblocks cropping up in between me and getting paid to proofread others’ works, and there’s nothing else I’m good at.  (Okay, technically, I was pretty okay at my job, but no museums are going to be hiring for a couple of years at the rate things are going, so that’s not really relevant.)

Maybe I should try writing non-fiction.  I did have an idea to get together with a former co-worker and put out a book about a particularly underdocumented doll line, but that would depend on her still having her notes on the subject and on our being able to convince the director of the museum to give us copies of all the photos that were taken a few years back of the museum’s large collection of that kind of doll.  It would also depend on getting photos from other museums and from private collectors.  The private collectors part would probably be a lot easier to accomplish than the museum photos.  Still, I should call her at some point and see if she’s interested.  It would at least be something slightly productive to do…

Didn’t post yesterday…

Published July 31, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

…because I preferred to spend that time writing. 🙂

I forgot to mark down exactly where the timer was this morning when I resumed writing, but it was somewhere between 32:10 and 32:15, so that was around 2:10 to 2:15 of writing time yesterday, in which I finished the COVID version of the story I was talking about in the previous post and started in on the 1980s version. :p

I’m still working on that second version, as it’s a bit more work to get it started, since they don’t yet live together and I had to maneuver things around to get Arthur into quarantine in Curt’s apartment instead of his own. So far, I’m having more fun with this one, partially because the “still feeling out this relationship” phase is more interesting to write about than the “we’ve been together for 30+ years and have grandkids” phase. (Gee, I wonder why?)

Sadly, my time today was hampered by, among other things, my stupid chair breaking again last night, even worse than it had broken before. Previously, it was just that one of the support struts had popped out of the hole it was in one on side. This time, a whole freaking leg came off! I have no idea where or when I got this chair, but it was obviously very badly made (it seems to have been held together largely by wood glue) and I am absolutely going to be replacing it as soon as I can.

Anyway, so today’s time was only about 1:05 or 1:10, making the grand total of my July Camp NotNaNo 33:20:28.59! 😀

The last week or so has given me some stuff to reflect on, which I will be discussing at length in August’s IWSG post. (OMG, how can it already be August?!)

More of the same, but also kind of not.

Published July 29, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, yesterday, I ended up writing an out-of-the-blue story rather spontaneously.

Today, on the other hand, I ended up writing a variation on something I’ve been wanting to write for months. (Well, starting it, anyway.) Though I still want to write the original version, too.

As you might guess, what I ended up working on today instead of more world-building was more Velvet Goldmine fanfiction. Since pretty early in the COVID shutdown, I’ve been wanting to write a story of a similar quarantine situation for my OTP, with a fictional pandemic probably more closely related to the “Spanish” flu of the 1918 pandemic, since there wasn’t any pandemic in the 1980s that I recall!

This morning, though, I suddenly remembered a series of fanfics that I wrote earlier that brought the characters all the way up to 2016. So if I made it another entry in that series, then I could just have them actually in the current COVID shutdown. (Though I don’t know if perhaps it would be tasteless to post it until years from now when the world has been able to heal a bit.)

Problem is, I still want to do the other version, even after I finish up this one!

Because there are some really huge differences. In the one I’ve already started, early 1970s rock legend Curt Wild, now in his own early 70s, starts livestreaming performances of his music in the recording booth in his house, with his husband manning the control panel, handling the comments from the audience, etc. In the version I originally thought of, early ’70s rock legend Curt Wild, in his late 30s, gets his hands on some radio equipment and starts sending out a pirate radio broadcast (ever see Pump Up the Volume?) of his and some of his friends’ music, both in recordings and performed live by him, and making speeches to his fellow New Yorkers reminding them that they’re not alone, all with his fairly new boyfriend manning the tech side of things.

It’s a very different dynamic, in terms of the leads’ relationship to each other, in how much his message would mean to the people, and in how easily the record label would be able to contact him and/or take advantage of the situation. (Not to mention that a fictional, slightly dystopian 1984 is very different from 2020 because…um…because 2020 is actually worse than that dystopia? Ugh. Can I please have a time machine and a guide to rewriting history?)

Anyway, I haven’t decided if I want to write the other version as well, or if it would be entirely wrong to post either one. (Obviously, I’d have to finish writing one or both before that could even be an issue!)


Today’s time: 2 hours! 😀

Time in July to date: 30:00:24.36

I was going to write a review, but…

Published July 28, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

…whenever I try to write a review, it ends up feeling sloppy and uneven.

The review would have been for the Netflix show Hollywood, btw.  It’s entertaining, but leads to levels of tolerance that only came up in the late ’60s and early ’90s.  In other words, it starts its own alternate history that would have led to a much better world than the one we live in now.  (Also, I have to wonder if Rock Hudson’s estate signed off on it in any way, because their fictional version of him is dumb as a post.  Very sweet, but astonishingly, impossibly stupid.  Like you can see gears turning every time he has to try to think about anything.)  Still, it’s well worth a watch as a pleasant historical AU.

Right, so, actual post.

I did manage to get some writing done today, because I woke up with a story idea.  It’s just another Velvet Goldmine fanfic, but it’s a short, stand-alone piece I was able to write in one sitting, which is a refreshing change of pace.  And it’s a different angle on the characters than I usually have.  Famously (within the fandom, anyway), back in 2015, someone on Twitter asked Ewan McGregor if he thought his character and Christian Bale’s character would get together after the movie ended, and he not only said (what she obviously wanted to hear) that they would, but even gave some details on the kind of life he thought they’d have together, including that they have kids.  That obviously led to a lot of fanfiction exploring the idea of them as parents, typically by way of adoption (sometimes of nieces and nephews), though sometimes (including in one I wrote) there’s a kid from a one-night stand or brief relationship, too.

Well, this time, I gave Curt (Ewan’s character) two kids by a very different and much more traditional method:  I gave him an ex-wife he’d been married to for a few years, and just had her show up at his apartment because he had custody that weekend and he’d forgotten about it.  It made for a very different dynamic, both regarding his interactions with the children, and their reaction to a strange man being in his bed when they arrive.

It’s not great art — it’s not even particularly good in comparison to my usual work — and it won’t exactly set AO3 on fire whenever I ultimately post it, but I don’t think it’s especially bad, certainly no worse than my usual work.

And hey, at least I was writing!

Sure, my world-building is no more complete than before, but…something is better than nothing, surely.


Time today:  1:39

Time in July to date:  28:00:22.45

Ack

Published July 28, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, I’ve been struggling lately, right? I figured, you know, the problem is all the world-building stuff. It’s kind of stifling, not doing anything else (writing-wise).

That was why I figured, you know, try something else for a while.

And what to do but try a few days of quick writing prompts?

So I sit down with Pitchstorm and pull out a set of cards.

I end up writing for all of nine minutes. Only 341 words.

It was an awful combination of cards. Two of them were too specific and the third one fit too well with the third. (Which sounds kinda backwards, but…)

Anyway, since it wasn’t much time spent, I figured “okay, I’ll just try again.” And I got these cards…

Total failure.

I mean, even if you were playing the actual game, it wouldn’t work right.

So, I decide to try again.

Again, it just doesn’t work for me. It’d probably be no good for the game, too. The pieces fit too smoothly to be funny, and they’re too “not me” to stir me up to anything.

So I decided to try that Photoshop map tutorial.

It was awful.

The end result looked more like someone sneezed on my monitor than like I made a map.

To cap it all off, I didn’t even start the timer, and I have zero idea how long I spent on that disaster.

😦

So my total time for today ended up only being nine minutes, because by the time I was done with this garbage, I was just plain done.

Total time in July to date: 26:21:26.31.

This space left intentionally blank.

Published July 26, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

Well.

I exist.

Even if that’s about all I do.

I spent some time with my template, adding new questions and answering some of them.

Even though it’s completely pointless and a total waste of time.

It’s not like there’s much I can do that isn’t a waste of time.


Today’s time: 1:13

Time in July to date: 26:12:25.58

Total Meltdown

Published July 25, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, I just had a total f***ing meltdown here.

I was looking at this list of world-building resources from World Anvil.  There’s some really useful stuff on that list, especially this list of world-building questions that’s given me a lot of things I want to add to my template.  This guide to drawing maps (including a way to randomly generate them in Photoshop) was useful enough that I want the link to it here so I can get at it on my phone and thereby consult it while I’m on my good computer, the one that actually has Photoshop, not just GIMP.  (Though it might be too old a version of Photoshop to be able to follow the tutorial…)

But then I tried to read the tutorial on how to hand-draw maps if you’re artistically challenged.  It was a .pdf guide, but for some reason it insisted on downloading instead of letting me read it in the web browser.

And every single time I try to open the file, it crashes after about a minute.

I scanned it repeatedly with my antivirus software.  I tried the “search online for a solution” choice on the crash menu.

It keeps on crashing.

And after the fifth or sixth time, I just had a complete meltdown.

Seriously, I threw off my glasses and just started crying.

It’s like that.  It’s always like that.  Every time I want to do something or find a way around one of my many inabilities, there are always roadblocks.  It always comes back impossible in one way or another.

The universe is trying to tell me not to bother, because I’ll never, ever succeed.

And, okay, I get it.

So, I’ll never be able to draw a map.

Fine, I get that.

But lately it seems like it’s also telling me to give up on fleshing out this world because it will never be good enough, never real enough, never even good enough to get people to suspend their disbelief even a little bit.

Maybe the universe is just trying to convince me to give up on my insane notion that I’ll be able to make a video game in this world I’ve been working on.

If that’s all it is, that’s fine.

But I don’t think that’s it.  I think the universe is telling me to give up on writing at all, because I suck at it so badly.

But everything I try to do, it always comes back the same:  I’m no good and should give up.

It wasn’t (allegedly) my fault I lost my job.  But despite weak claims that maybe they’d be able to hire me back when the world gets back to normal (if it ever does), it was pretty clear that they really don’t want me back, ever.  I mean, they won’t even let me keep doing the job for free.  That’s pretty telling, you know?  How bad do you have to be at a job that they won’t even let you keep doing it for free?  I shudder to think what those recommendations they offered to write would say if I ever asked for them.  (Since no other museums are hiring given what’s going on, and since I was never actually qualified for the job in the first place, obviously I’ll never need them.)

But I thought that being a freelance proofreader sounded like a good thing.  I thought it was a sure bet that I could at least get a little money coming in that way.  My own error-filled text notwithstanding, I genuinely am good at spotting errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation.  But every job market I can find for a freelance proofreader wants years of experience.  (Or a photograph, which is even worse.)  I don’t have years of experience.  I did some proofreading at the museum, but only maybe half a dozen times a year over about four and a half years.  That would only count as a few days’ experience of the sort they mean.  And really it’s less than that, given how many of my edits were ignored.  (There were also a couple of times I was lectured on my edits being “too harsh” but really it’s not my fault if I started getting a little snippy when people with Master’s Degrees were producing text that would get an F in a high school composition class.)

So, the universe is telling me I can’t get work as a proofreader, the only thing I have that even comes close to being a marketable skill, and that I can’t ever make the game I want, the only thing I would ever be able to produce that anyone might pay even a tiny amount of money for, so what am I left with?

How am I supposed to make a living, universe?  I have no skills, and so many social phobias that there’s no possibility of doing something like retail, and so many health issues that I couldn’t get work in any kind of factory setting, if there even are any in this town.

So what am I supposed to do?

Even if I cut off all my unnecessary spending, I can’t live forever on my trust fund.  It’s not that big, and of course it’s much smaller now than it was last year, given the nosedive that the stock market went into because of COVID.

I mean, I know the whole world only has ten, maybe twenty years left, but…the money won’t last even that long.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.

Other than try to stop thinking about it so I”ll stop crying at least long enough to eat my lunch.


For what little it’s worth, before my meltdown I was able to spend 53 minutes working on taking notes based on all those world-building resources, making for 24:59:46.56 total time spent in July.

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