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Abandoned Book Report: The Alchemyst

Published December 13, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Right, so I may have said before how part of the reason I was more or less stymied in my blogging was because of a book review post on one of my Read Harder choices.  And I have decided not to bother actually finishing the review.  Because a) why torture myself?  And b) I read it in like June and really don’t remember much.

Except that I hated it.  I remember that.

And that the author’s afterword about the real people who inspired the not-actually-the-hero (Nicholas Flamel) and the villain (Dr. John Dee) was way more interesting than the actual book.  (BTW, I was proud of myself, in the early pages, for identifying the latter figure just by his being called Dee.)

I’m including what little I had written (back in August) of the review, and summing up the rest with:  the teenage twins who were the leads were utterly boring, the girl had zero agency throughout the book (her magic was stronger, but the two times she used it to save the day were not her triumph, because in one case it was an accident, and in the other she was literally being controlled by someone else), and their parents were apparently con artists posing as archaeologists, because absolutely everything the twins said about their parents’ work was wrong and backwards.  (FYI, author of this awful book, archaeologists have a culture or region they specialize in, and they do not go gallivanting all over the freakin’ world excavating in every random culture they feel like.  They only work in the one they’ve specialized in.  Traveling the world to lecture or do a book tour, yes, but excavating any old ancient civ?  No.  Doesn’t happen.  Also, children do not need to have archaeologist parents to know who Bastet is.  I knew that from a very early age, because I read books.  And yes, parents who are not archaeologists do give their children books on world mythology.)

This was a young adult book, either about the same length as the first Harry Potter book, or a bit shorter.  But it took me a whole month to read it, because I had so much trouble forcing myself to endure it.

Also, using “Alchemyst” to refer to Flamel as an epithet in narration was really, really annoying.  “Olde English Shoppe” names notwithstanding, I don’t think anyone ever spelled the word alchemist that way.   And if they did, it was when English spelling was so loose that it probably would have been spelled five different ways in the same document.

Anyway, thanks to replacing some of my originally intended books with much, much shorter ones, I now only have one book left to go in Read Harder 2018 (if it weren’t for this stinkbomb, I would have finished back in the summer months, before my fall class started!), so once I’ve read that (and it’s a manga, so it won’t take long, once I force myself to start) I’m going to post a group book report on the rest of them.

And what follows is the small amount I wrote back in August.  Complete with the “note to self” material in brackets that I normally would delete as I replaced it with the proper text.

Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to post again after the last post is that this review is going to be really hard and frustrating to write.  In part because it’s now been like two months since I finished reading this book, and in part because I really don’t even want to think about it again.

This is my review for Read Harder 2018 Challenge #16, “The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series.”

Where do I even start?

Well, at the very beginning, I guess.  Which, in this case, is when and why I bought this book.  I had recently finished writing my quasi-YA series about three young heroes who were all illegitimate offspring of heroes of the Trojan War.  (The boy being a genuine mythological figure, and the two girls being my own inventions.)  As I had ludicrous delusions of being able to polish the books up to a publishable state, I wanted to make sure they fit in with the basic YA crowd.  As such, I wanted to read some other first-in-a-series YA books before I started editing the first book.  And I saw this at the bookstore and thought it sounded interesting.

And as the back of the book pushed the title character, the immortal Nicholas Flamel, rather than the two utterly boring modern teenagers who were the actual leads, it did sound interesting.

[okay, for attacking their asinine claims about their parents’ discoveries, the archaeologists who accidentally discovered Homo floresiensis were Australian and Indonesian, not American, and they were looking for evidence of how humans migrated from Asia to Australia.  That is highly specified work which would not take just any random archaeologist who was used to working with fully developed cultures.]

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IWSG – Stalled Out (+ An Idea Up For Adoption)

Published September 5, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Lately, I  just don’t seem able to write.  Not much, anyway, especially not at a single sitting.  My blogging has almost stopped entirely (I seem to be averaging about 2 posts a month on this blog, and about 1 every other month on my other blog), and my regular writing has really stalled, too.

Part of that is due to the re-write in progress, I think.  I believe I said last time that I was currently re-writing last year’s NaNo novel (and had been for both this year’s Camp sessions) and that for the current attempt I’ve completely replaced one of the characters, which has necessitated massive shifts in story.  Some of the scenes are barely altered (largely because he’s not in them), some are still similar enough that they’re easy to deal with, and then you get to the sequence I’m currently in, where there’s more that’s 100% new than there is that’s been kept.  And I don’t mean how much text and I can copy-and-paste from the old draft.  I mean the entire situation of why they’re in town, what they’re doing there and how they’re going to get to the island off the coast has nothing in common with the original version.  Once they get to the island, things won’t be as different, but…they have to get there first.  Today (er, yesterday) all I did was look over what I’d written the last time I worked on it (some two or three days previous) and ended up doing nothing, because I just wasn’t feeling it.

I feel like that’s a big problem with this draft, is that while some scenes I’m really into (mostly the ones with the two male leads interacting and developing the possibility of the relationship I originally intended them to have before I started the initial draft) and then there’s scenes like this one that feel like a chore to write (mostly, these are purely story scenes that don’t develop their relationship, even though they do tend to develop their characters).  I think if I was going back to my fanfic, I probably wouldn’t be in this slump, but I don’t want to stop halfway through this kind of re-write, because I feel like if I did, I’d never finish it.

*sigh*

It’s very frustrating, because I feel like there are a lot of wrong answers about what I need to do right now, and no right answers.

Another thing that’s bugging me is the world-building.  Specifically, the world’s religions.  I’ve based each culture loosely on a real world culture, and I’ve tended to have the characters just toss off mentions — generally in the form of oaths — to their gods, pretty much on the assumption that they’re identical to their Earth counterparts.  (To the extent that some of them don’t even have their own names yet, and just get [Athene] or [Aten] or whatever for now.)  I’m thinking of using this November’s NaNo to write up the mythology of their world, so I can have them more organically reference their myths and stuff.  Since I’m planning on releasing the final book (for free via LeanPub) when the re-writes are finally done, I could just release the myths as well, either before, after or simultaneously.  I haven’t at all started planning it yet, aside from trying to decide some of the details of what kind of myths I want to write (cosmogonies and theogonies, first off, then stories of the gods and major heroic tales for the cultures of the three leads), but I feel like it’s probably a good idea.  I hope.

The idea is that what I’ll be writing will be a book from that world, specifically a book on world mythology.  I’ve already set up a character in the novel who’s a professor studying mythology, so I can have him be the “author,” and that way I don’t have to worry about setting up extremely different voices for the myths from the different cultures, because they’re all being re-told by the same author.

Given the way my writing seems to go, the myths will probably make better reading than the novel.

*sigh*

Aaaaaaanyway, it’s not that I’m running out of ideas.  It’s just that almost none of my ideas are about how to approach this rewrite.

However!  I had a great idea the other day (at least, I think it’s a great idea) for a movie musical, and I wanted to share it, on the off chance that someone might read this who happens to be (or know) a screenwriter.

The movie would be a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984.  Now, it’s been a very long time since I read the novel, but I seem to recall that Big Brother never showed up (in fact, the way I remember it going, I’m not sure he even existed) and I’d want that to stay the case in the movie adaptation…but he’d still get a theme song.  The way I envision it, the Big Brother posters would feature an artist’s rendition of Sting at whatever age seems appropriate for Big Brother (I’m picturing him the way he looked in the mid-’90s, but that might not be old enough), and the theme song would, of course, be “Every Breath You Take.”  Possibly with new lyrics that removed the lines that make some people mistake it for a love song.

I can honestly say that I think Sting would sign on.  (Of course, I don’t actually know much (or anything) about the man aside from his lyrics (mostly from the ’70s-’80s) and a couple of quotes I’ve seen.  But those lyrics lead me to believe he would be receptive to the idea.)

So, if anyone reading this happens to work in the movie industry (or know Sting), please think about this idea seriously!  I think that if the movie hewed as closely to the book as possible (using actual novel text for the lyrics of the new songs, etc) it could be quite something.  I give you this idea freely, and I want neither compensation nor credit should it be made.  I totally want to see it if done right, though.

IWSG – Late but not skipped!

Published January 3, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I totally forgot about this, again!  If I hadn’t checked my Reader on my lunch break, I’d still have forgotten.  *deep shame*

Aaaaaanyway, my self-thingy as a writer is not really in a good place right now.

I mean, technically, nothing about me is in a good place right now because things have been so crazy in the last week that I literally forgot I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday until two hours later, and then I was going to call today to apologize and reschedule only I forgot again.  (Ack.)

But, yeah, I’m not feeling good about my writing right now.  I put up a Christmas/New Year’s fanfic in my favorite fandom, and a bunch of others went up at the same time, because there’s a gift exchange at Christmas, so a lot of other fics went up at the same time, and they’ve all been read and liked more than mine.  Which doesn’t really mean much, since I write because I want to, not because I care what other people are going to think about it, but it’s depressing to realize that I suck so badly that everyone else avoids my work.  Also brings up the question of “wait, why am I even bothering to post it in the first place?”

I still haven’t started work on the re-write of my NaNo novel, because it’s going to be a hefty endeavor.  And it’s too cold to think hard right now.  Also I’ve kind of been hooked on a video game for the last month and a half, so that isn’t helping.  (Embarassing, but…it is what it is, y’know?

…hmm.

Not much of a post.  But today was a long and exhausting day at work, so I really don’t have the energy for much more.

Hopefully I’ll be in a better headspace next month.

I need 600 hour days!

Published September 1, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but still!  There just aren’t enough hours in the day for everything I need/want to get done!

*sigh*

Anyway, sorry this is not the myth re-telling of the quarrel between Athene and Poseidon about who would be the guardian god(dess) of the new city that would be named Athens, whichI said last week I’d post today.

It’s just that in looking over the material, I realized I first needed to do the birth of Erecthonius (or however you spell that) and some other stuff, and…yeah, it just became complicated, and today’s class reading really wore me out, so…life conquered the planned post.

But, getting back to the title of the post, I really do need to have multiple days every day.

Read the rest of this entry →

Missing Letter Monday – No “F”

Published July 4, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

My July 4th

4 days in,
My soul belongs to CampNaNo…
…apparently.
Can’t really think about much else.
(Which is disturbing.
Given my subject matter.
And today being Independence Day.)

To celebrate,
I spent several hours writing this morning.

Um, I mean,
I went to my parents’ place,
To have lunch and a movie.
Lunch was hot dogs
(And hamburgers ’cause the guys
Actually like them (Yuck!))
And carrots, and pears, and potato chips,
And loose-plain-lettuce-that-we-called-salad-anyway.
With apple pie as dessert.
(Naturally.)

Then a DVD.
We watched Captain America.
The other option was The Rocketeer.
Um, when did Independence Day
Become a World War II thing?
Did I miss a meeting?
(Though I’m not really in the mood
To watch 1776 today,
So I shouldn’t complain.)

Now I’m gonna write again.
Until my digits expire due to overuse…
…or I get the leads into bed together.
Whichever comes 1st.

Hmm…

Okay, this is long enough!

I’m gonna get back to writing!


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(Also, my period arrived today.  Like a week early.  Because the universe hates me.  Or to make sure I don’t go overboard and actually try to describe the sex.  Whichever.  Maybe both.)

Researching the New Project

Published May 22, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

So, as I mentioned briefly in my last post, I’m working on a new fiction project, rather than either of the two things I was expecting to work on this summer.

The important thing is that I’m writing again — around thumb- and wrist-killing amounts of Hyrule Warriors Legends — and that I’m currently pretty excited about the project.

The down side is that the story takes place in a time period that I lived through and yet don’t actually remember:  the early 1980s.  (Before you criticize me for not remembering, let me ask you this:  how much do you remember from when you were six?)  Compound with that the fact that the genre is a twist on the romantic comedy (a type of movie I never watch), in first person narration by a man (already a problem) who’s a mostly-closeted homosexual.  That last part would be a hard enough perspective for an essentially non-sexual woman even if the work was set in modern times, but in early 1982?

Layers upon layers of new complications.

Now, you may be wondering why I chose 1982, that being the case?

Well, there are a lot of reasons, most of them involving not wanting to let go of the characters’ original origins as dead backstory characters who survived Vietnam only to get killed in a case of mass hysteria during a tragic ski vacation.  But there are reasons to hold to that backstory, even though the tragic ski vacation and horrible early death are now removed from it.  For one thing, I don’t have to make up a new history for the characters.  (As that’s one of my weaknesses, this is an important reason!)  For another, of the same-sex couple, one has been gay since he was fifteen, and the other…well, he’s already in love with the other guy, he just don’t realize he is, so as far as he thinks of himself, he’s straight.  (If that’s inaccurate to how reality works, I apologize.  There’s not much I can do about it, though; that’s kind of at the crux of their story together.)  The narrator — gonna switch to using names here to make it less awkward — Ashley, though he’s been aware of his feelings since he was fifteen, has tried to keep his number of sexual partners to a minimum.  Not out of fear of diseases (that likely would never have crossed his mind!) but because he’s been in love with his best friend, Paddy, the whole time, and keeps wanting only to be with him, so the other men are more or less an aberration against his constant heart.  (Or that’s the way he sees it, anyway.)  The upshot of all this is that by leaving the story set in the early 1980s, I can give him that period of brief sexual experimentation without any risk of ruining their eventual happy ending by his having contracted AIDS; in the window between its introduction to the US and the public becoming aware of it, he had very few partners, and since he doesn’t live in one of the coastal cities where it first became prevalent, it’s not a stretch to imagine that he’s been spared thus far.

Now, I did a little cheating to help me get around my lack of concrete knowledge about 1982.  It’s first person narration, but rather than random first person narration — where we don’t know why the person is telling the tale or to whom — Ashley is very up front in the first few pages about the fact that he’s writing this story into a book, and that the events (while “true”) took place more than twenty years earlier.  So I can have his narration reference a movie that didn’t come out until 1993 if I want, because it’s the twenty+ years later Ashley talking, not the one from 1982.

But that only covers the narration.  There’s still a lot more I need to research about the early 1980s.  How did they dress?  How did they talk?  What were the prevailing stereotypes of the time about homosexuals?

The last one is the stumbling block, of course.  It’s obviously of vital importance to Ashley what the stereotypes of the day were.  Since he’s closeted from everyone except one female friend and the other men at the gay bar where he sometimes goes for drinks when Paddy’s busy, he can’t engage in any activity that’s earmarked as being stereotypically gay.  He’d actively avoid those things, even if he wanted to take part in them, because he’d be afraid of being found out.  (Though I suspect he wouldn’t want to take part in most of them anyway.)  And more importantly for his narrative voice (as opposed to his actual behavior, since he’d never admit that he feared being outed) he’d be outraged at the offensive stereotypes being unjustly applied to him and those like him.

A certain amount of his outrage would transcend time, of course:  since it’s his modern(?) voice narrating, he can be just as outraged at the stereotypes of the 2010s (or whenever) as at the stereotypes of the 1980s.  But whenever someone else’s behavior would reflect the stereotypes of the time — he’s sort of falsely outed about halfway through the book — that’s going to have a big impact.

And that’s where it all falls down a bit.  I went on Wikipedia to look up the movies of the early 1980s and very late 1970s, so I could pick a few to watch and get an idea of clothes and especially how people talked in that time period.  (Most of my favorite movies from the late ’70s and early ’80s do not take place in the real world/present day, and are thus of no assistance.)  As I was clicking on name links to get summaries, I was particularly paying attention to ones that sounded like they would have depictions of the stereotypes of the era.

The problem is that most of the ones that have massive depictions of the stereotypes are not available on Netflix for precisely that reason.  They’re offensive, and so they’re not available streaming, and normally I’d be totally okay with that, because under normal circumstances I wouldn’t want to watch that, either.  But now it’s research…and yet I’m not sure I could force myself to watch them even if they were available.  (And I’m not about to request the DVDs from Netflix, since they’d be sent to my brother’s place…)

I don’t know; maybe I don’t even have to.  Maybe the stereotypes haven’t changed that much.  Or rather, maybe they didn’t change much from the early ’80s to the early ’90s.  The stereotyping is finally beginning to lessen, so today’s stereotypes are slightly different, but I remember stuff from the ’90s well enough not to need any refresher course.  Much of what I have planned is probably in line with the stereotypes of the day.  (For example, after he’s falsely outed, one of Ashley’s students barges into his apartment to see for herself if he’s gay.  When she finds a sparse, un-decorated apartment, a bit sloppy around the edges, and a fridge containing nothing but beer, she’s convinced that he’s not really gay, because his apartment is too much “like a man’s.”)

Changing gears a bit, let me go back and talk about that one female friend who knows Ashley’s gay.  The original thought behind this project was to take the romantic comedy motif of the heroine’s “gay best friend” and tell the story from his perspective, while removing the negative stereotypes likely applied to him.  Since I don’t actually watch romantic comedies (the most recent one I’ve seen is French Kiss, and I find the love story the weakest part of it) this is in itself somewhat problematic.  I suspect this first draft is going to portray as completely flat both the characters who would be the leads of the romantic comedy.  And at this stage of development, there’s probably not a lot I can do about that.  (That’s what re-writes are for, right?)  It doesn’t help that the narration is stilted, of course:  Ashley may be her best friend, but she certainly isn’t his.  In fact, he finds her a bit annoying.

*sigh*

Actually, I think everyone in the book is going to come off as flat, except maybe Ashley.  So far, even Paddy’s not got much depth to him, despite how fleshed out he is in my head.

Ugh.  Maybe I should just give up on taking my writing seriously.  I’ll never write anything good enough to share with anyone else, so what does it matter?

IWSG – Uncertainty, as usual

Published January 6, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

I am still working on the NaNo novel from this past November.  I barely got anything done over December.  Well, I did manage to get through some important stages in the romance between the two leads, but it’s probably the #1 most unrealistic romance I’ve ever written.  (And they’ve all been unrealistic.)  Obviously, since it’s only a super-rough draft, that’s not a huge issue (and it’s even less of an issue because I’ll probably never touch it again, let alone let anyone see the danged thing) but it annoys me that this relationship which was in many ways the reason I wrote the thing in the first place is so terribly handled.

Of course, I’m in a weird place for writing relationships, having never had one.  And even if I had had any, as I’m a woman, I can’t possibly have taken part in any male same-sex relationships.  (Not in this lifetime, anyway.  But as I have no past life memories, it wouldn’t help even if I had been in such relationships in a previous life.)  So obviously the romance between Ashley and Paddy was always going to be awkward and unrealistic.  If I ever feel like I’m going to be able to give writing a serious go as a career move (unlikely), I’ll have to invest in reading a lot of fiction with strong emphasis on the romances, and make sure I read books with all three variants.  (Technically, I’m sure there are romantic variants other than M/F, F/F, and M/M, but they’re probably a bit more, uh, rare.  To say the least.)  Not necessarily romance novels as such, just ones where it’s a larger part of the story than most of what I read.  Okay, technically, at this stage in my life, most of what I read is non-fiction, so that’s kind of a…um….ack.

Why am I trying to write fiction, anyway?

I totally suck at it.

Furthermore, I have very little time, and all my reading hours end up getting devoted to non-fiction, whether for my classes, for my eventual thesis, or just because there’s so much amazing research out there I want to know about.  But reading non-fiction takes longer than reading fiction (usually), and I have so much else on my slate…

Y’know, this isn’t what I was going to be talking about today at all.  I intended to talk about my lack of style and failure to grasp the basics of story construction.

And now, after a 24 hiatus in the pre-writing of this post, I feel more like talking about my idiotic need to come up with story ideas at the slightest provocation.  Which, I suppose, answers the question of “why am I trying to write fiction, anyway?”  Because I come up with ideas — some of which would probably be really good if written by someone not-me — and I want to see them come to life in some manner, and I keep hoping that if I try hard enough, eventually I’ll attain some small degree of skill in the craft.  (So far, that has not happened.  And I’ve been writing, in one form or another, for more than twenty years.)

So I guess I write out of a compulsion to do so.  Much like almost everything else in my life, when it comes right down to it; I seem utterly unable to deny acting on these urges.  (Lucky none of my compulsions are to do things that are illegal!)  I just wish, considering the time I end up devoting to it, that I was actually good at it.  As it stands, it’s nearly a complete waste of time.  (The one way it isn’t a waste is that I’d probably need therapy if I couldn’t write.  Or need it enough to actually force me to get some, that is; I undoubtedly need therapy already.)

Okay.  I’ve randomly whined for too long now.

So I’ll stop.

Missing Letter Monday – No “D”

Published December 21, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

“Late”

Sorry, I forgot!
Sorry (that) I forgot!
There has been much stress here as of late.
There has been much forgetting as of late.
But there will be repairs.
Tomorrow comes the repair person.
Until then I eat pears.
(Uh, sorry, trying to rhyme…Mr. Lawson.)

A poet I am not.

So I’ll stop.


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Really, I totally forgot about this.  It’s been like that for a while now…

 

Missing Letter Monday – No “C”

Published December 14, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

So, my final paper of the semester is due on Wednesday.

It’s killin’ me.

I wrote the rough draft over the Thanksgiving break, but…there were all these bits where I just wrote things like [find an example and quote it here] or left a footnote saying things like [I know someone was saying this; figure out who it was!]

This may stop me from doing any real re-writing.

In that I first have to figure out the right books to point to for every single one of those.

Not to mention finding and typing in all the right quotes.

And then, if I have any time left, I finally get to do the genuine re-writing.  And let me tell you, it totally needs it.

So, yeah.

That’s why this is an even more lame than usual Missing Letter Monday post.

Sorry.

 


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My bibliography is going to be, like, ten pages long.  At least.  *sigh*

(The paper’s only supposed to be 25 pages, btw.)

 

 

IWSG – Am I still a writer at all?

Published October 7, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Do I really have the right to call myself a writer anymore?  (In a way, I have never had that right, since I’ve never been paid for anything I’ve written, but that’s a more narrow definition than I intend here.)  Other than the myths I’ve haphazardedly re-told for this blog — and a couple of odd short stories for Missing Letter Mondays — I haven’t written anything for many long months; no significant amount of writing since Camp NaNo in April, and even that wasn’t all that significant.  (I think I set my goal to about 20k.)  And I’m not even sure if I’m going to take part in NaNo this November.  (Though admittedly that’s because of time concerns more than anything else; I have two research papers due in mid-December, one 25 pages long, the other 5,000 words long, which comes to about 20 pages, as far as I can tell (based on the length of my 1,000 word papers for the same class).  So in November I will be neck-deep in research.  I also have a presentation to do at some point that month, I think.)

I’m not sure exactly why I don’t seem able to write anymore.  It may be due to any number of factors.  I can think of a few possibilities, off-hand.

1) Following the successful conclusion of my quasi-YA novel series in the first draft stage, I told myself it was time to buckle down and do some re-writing, first on my Trojan War novel — which the quasi-YA novels are kinda-sorta a sequel to — and then on the series, to try and get them all polished up in the hopes that I might someday (self-)publish them and maybe get one or two people to read them, and maybe even to pay me for them.  But I’m no good at re-writing, and actively detest having to scrap scenes/sequences/chapters/et cetera and start over, which I had to do at several places in the Trojan War novel.  (In fact, I still haven’t finished the do-over on the Telephos chapter.)  However, since I was supposed to be re-writing, I felt guilty about writing anything else.

2) Last year’s NaNo project is still hanging over my head, unfinished.  Well, not “unfinished” as in I never got to 50k, or even that I didn’t finish the book, sort of.  It expanded from a single book to the first in a trilogy, and I finished that first book, but I still haven’t been able to make much headway into the second book.  I think it’s about 20-30k, but I’ve barely even made a dent in the plot.  Dent nothing, I’ve barely even scratched it!  (In addition to the fact that my characters are always far too chatty, the series has way too many of them, which makes it very long without accomplishing as much as I’d like.  It’s hard keeping up with what so many people are doing, but due to the way the story and plot are structured, there really aren’t any I can safely cut.  Well, maybe I could cut the reincarnation of Antilochos, but that’s about it.)

3) Two characters from the backstory for last year’s NaNo project have utterly taken over my imagination’s life, but I have very little I can do with them.  (Though I have written three (contradictory) short stories about them, and a…I have no idea what to call it.  I was taking a course on oral history last year, and thought the oral history interview was an interesting potential mode of story-telling…and I ended up writing an “oral history interview” with these two characters.  Though not with their actual life story for the backstory — in that they both die young — but in a continuation from one of the short stories.)

Okay, while I blame all three of these situations, I think #3 is probably the primary culprit, so I’m going to go into it in more detail.  (Though I’ve said some of this before.  I apologize to anyone who’s already read that stuff, because there’s going to be old news mixed in with the new stuff.)

So that NaNo novel was an anime-inspired sci-fi piece, quite literally Mobile Suit Gundam meets the Trojan War.  Not that it’s a fanfic cross-over, mind you.  It’s just the Greeks and the Trojans reincarnated into the far future, which has giant robots and operates on a very Gundam-style set of story rules.  (Though there’s also a tiny bit of influence from Macross and Martian Successor Nadesico.)  Because the reincarnation of Cassandra could remember all their previous lives, I had to know what they all were, so I could have her talk about their past lives consistently, without relying exclusively on their original lives.  But for some reason the versions of Achilles and Patroclos who were killed in the 1972 massacre (mass hysteria in a snowed-in ski lodge) really struck a chord with me, and have refused to go away.  I’m not sure why, exactly.  It helps that 1972 is only slightly outside of my own life experiences (born in ’75) and thus something I’m more readily able to imagine with some degree of realism, unlike the 1880s, or the French Revolution, or the future.  (Okay, I can imagine all kinds of futures, but…they tend not to be terribly consistent.)  Possibly more important is that in the 1972 version, for whatever reason, their love is exclusive.  I mean, in the actual NaNo novel, the reincarnation of Achilles has sex with four or five people, or rather, three or four women in addition to the reincarnation of Patroclos.  (And the reincarnation of Patroclos does have sex with one woman in the course of the book, though not much attention is drawn to that fact.  Even most of the cast assumes that he’s not interested in women, only in his boyfriend, and he’s always very annoyed that he has to explain that he does have girlfriends, it’s just that he doesn’t have one at the moment, and what with the fact that 95% of the people he’s ever met just died, he doesn’t really think this is a good time to be dating.  (Not that that stops the reincarnation of Achilles from chasing every skirt he sees.  (Not that they actually wear skirts, mind you.  That’s just a figure of speech; they all wear identical jumpsuits.)))  This is typical of their relationship in all the lives — including the original one — except that one in 1972.  There, instead of being bisexual, they both become homosexual, planning to spend the rest of their lives together.  And, technically, they do.  It’s just that in the original version, “the rest of their lives” is three days.  That’s probably one of the other reasons they’ve taken over like this, too; the extra tragic nature of the brevity of their love hits the “fanfic” nerve in me, the “I’ve gotta fix this story!” nerve.  (Though another part that’s important is the fact that this particular reincarnation of Achilles is much nicer than the original Achilles, and less shallow than the one in the actual NaNo novel.  Though the fact that he’s nicer was only really set up as I started writing those short stories, so they had kind of already taken over by that point, or were starting to, anyway.)

Oh, I should explain that.  See, it’s been one of my…hmm, what to call it?  It’s not a “writing technique” as such, but I’m not sure what else to call it.  A way in which my writing bleeds into my real life?  Well, whatever it is, it’s been the case at least since college — and probably, in a slightly different manner, far longer than that — that I tend to think about the primary romantic couple in whatever I’ve been writing lately.  All the time.  See, my life sucks.  It always has.  Being me is no fun, so whenever I’m not actively doing something that requires my attention, I have a tendency — and this is not a conscious thing, it just happens — to imagine myself as the woman in whatever is my current pairing, whether it’s a pairing out of something in pop culture, or a pairing from something original I’ve been writing.  At some point, this switched me over from making up new stories advancing the plot to making up stories that are alternates to the plot.  (I blame my Final Fantasy VII period; there wasn’t a lot to do with that pairing in “advancing the plot” because the further you get in the “official” story, the more convoluted and yet pointless it becomes, not to mention the fact that characters are not terribly consistent from one game to the next, so it was more satisfying to make up completely alternate stories, simply borrowing the characters.)  So in taking over my mind’s “primary couple” position, these two also activated my “fanfic” senses in a big way, and instead of advancing the plot, I end up making up new ways for them to get together romantically, never really advancing any new plots much beyond that.  (And I won’t go into how awkward it is that suddenly I’m imagining myself as a guy.  It’s fortunately an unconvincing bit of imagination, but…still not one I’m entirely comfortable with.  I just can’t seem to get it to stop!)

So, lately I’ve been wondering if I should excise those two from the backstory of the sci-fi novel — I can easily enough make up a new story to go there (in fact, I have one in reserve that suddenly snuck into something unrelated I was writing, though that was originally set around now, but shifting it back to the 1970s wouldn’t be that difficult) — and give them their own story, their own book, in the hopes that that will exorcise them from my mind, and let me move on to other things.

No idea if that’ll work or not; I’ve never had anything quite like this happen to me before.

Of course, the problem is that despite the book they’re part of the backstory for being rather silly and outlandish, these two characters are very down-to-earth and their story is supposed to be grim and highly realistic.  (Not that it would be if I ended up trying to write the original story of the slaughter at the ski lodge.  I don’t know what it would end up being, but realistic would not be on the table.)  So it’s hard to imagine them in the kind of weird stories that I generally write.  And there’s no hope of writing a realistic “what sort of suffering would a newly gay couple have gone through in 1972” because I have no idea what that would be, don’t have the time to research it, and even if I did, I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, and any attempt to imagine what it’s really like to be a gay man would definitely come out flat and unconvincing, and possibly unintentionally offensive.  (Not in the usual, mocking ways, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my imagination failed so spectacularly that it ended up giving offense.)

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have any ideas of what to do with them in a NaNo novel for this year.  I did have an idea, and I think it has some potential…if I can ever move past their role in it to think about the rest of the plot.

It would be a bizarre thing where they’re in a chopper over Vietnam (it was part of their original backstory that they served in the Special Forces in the Vietnam War) in 1970, and then the helicopter gets sucked through a vortex of some sort, and crashes on an island, in a very Island of Dr. Moreau kind of thing.  (Not that I’ve read that book yet…)  I have one other character in mind, the main go-between for the mad(?) scientist and everyone else on the island, but only the sketchiest of ideas for everyone else.  To the extent that I have no idea how many other people were even on their helicopter.  My file of plot ideas for this is a couple of thousand words long by now, and most of them are about how the no-longer-reincarnation of Achilles is going to confess his love, and how it’ll play out from there, and what their new backstory is, but only where their romantic relations are concerned.

The irony about this seeming monomania for the love stories is that they rarely feature heavily in anything I’ve written.  Despite my personal obsession with them, they tend to be low key and not very important to the plot.  (For example, I wrote a vampire novel — intended to be the first in a series — quite a long time ago, maybe 2005ish.  The lady vampire intended to be the overall heroine of the series isn’t even in the first book, though she’s discussed a lot, and the fellow intended to be the overall hero of the series is only a supporting character, and the fact that he’s in love with her is only vaguely hinted at.  In a short story taking place between book 1 and book 2 (and I did actually start book 2, for what little that’s worth) I did have scenes involving both of them, but aside from some flirting, the romance really didn’t come up at all; in fact, the main drive of the story was him getting involved with another woman, little knowing that she, too, was a vampire.  (He’s never been willing to act on his love for the heroine because she’s a vampire, you see.  Well, and some other reasons — including that she’s his employer — but that’s the big one.)  They weren’t going to get together as a couple until book 4…which was going to be the next time that the hero even showed up.  And yet these two were my “pair” for a long time.)

Despite that I’ve started coming up with this plot for a NaNo novel for this year, I doubt I’ll really take part in NaNo this year.  Given how little of my research I’ve done so far for those final papers (I’ve got tons of library books sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to read them) I have a feeling that I really won’t have time.

And I’m no longer sure if I’m even capable of it.  I feel like my writing muscles have atrophied.  It’s very distressing.

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