hopeless

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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.

IWSG – Stagnation

Published August 5, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

It’s hard to remember when I last did any serious writing, apart from for this blog.

Don’t get me wrong, of course.  I’m doing plenty of writing for the blog.  I mean, not just random complaining/journalizing/mythologizing/book-reviewing, but actual writing.  I’ve been re-telling Greek myths every Thursday for, ooh, most of this year, and I started up Missing Letter Mondays a while back, where on Mondays I do a post without a letter in it–first week without “A”, then without “B”, et cetera, and sometimes those have been poems, and lately it occurred to me that I could do them as light, folktale-like stories, and I’m actually quite proud of the one I posted this week for the No-“J” post.  (Especially since it’s almost 12k words long, and took me about three weeks to write.)

It’s just that I’ve gotten to a point where I kind of feel like there’s not much point going on with novel writing when there’s so much re-writing to do.  But I can’t really re-write.

No, that’s not it.  It’s not that I can’t re-write.  Of course I can re-write.  It’s just fruitless for me to re-write, because I can’t accomplish the things that most need to be accomplished in a re-write.

Because no matter how many times I re-write something, it’s still going to be written by me.  It’s still going to be without descriptions, because I can’t write descriptions, because my brain does not process visual information.  This isn’t a vocabulary issue, or a laziness issue; it’s an actual brain function issue, and no matter what my mother says, reading more books with lengthy descriptions is not going to help it.  I can’t write descriptions because I can’t visualize what things look like.  My characters and locations have no images in my head, so how can I possibly describe them?

So, realistically, if I ever truly want to publish, then I need to find a co-author.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, come to think of it.

But there’s just no way around it.  I need someone else who can handle the prose, because I just can’t do it.  I don’t have that skill.  I think I’m pretty good with the stories.  Not great, maybe, but I think with someone else really involved to bounce ideas off of, I might have the potential to grow in that direction.  (Wow, that sounded arrogant.)

If it was just a matter of prose style needing a little help, that would be something I could learn.  But one can’t “learn” an entirely new way to have one’s brain process information.  Brains don’t work that way.  (Especially not at my age.  You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks, after all.)

The question is, how in the world do I hook up with another author to help me re-write my books and make them publishable?  I haven’t the foggiest idea how to go about doing that?

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IWSG – Rewrite Horrors

Published July 1, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

(The usual Words Crush Wednesday post is cancelled this week, because it’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  I’ll be back to quoting the Iliad next week.  Or maybe I’ll switch it up and move to someone more recent, like Sophocles or Euripides.)

I’m learning up close and personal just why you need to do all your research before you do any of your writing. Not that the research I’m doing now was ever intended to apply to the writing it’s now making me realize was all wrong, mind you.

The research is actually for my Master’s Thesis. (And for general interest reading.) But one of the things in the book I’m currently reading talked about the way age was understood in ancient Greece, and also mentioned the fact that puberty didn’t hit (men) until they were about eighteen.

You might think that this isn’t too much of a problem, just remove mentions of ages in the re-writes, right?  Wrong.

For one thing, in Ilios, my Trojan War novel, I had Achilles fathering Neoptolemos at fifteen.  Now it turns out he’d have been physically incapable of that at that age.  (In my defense, I’ve read all over the place that he was well under eighteen at the time.  I should check Statius, one of the few full accounts (even if it is Roman), and see what that says, but I suspect there he’s eighteen, if it says.)  This comes up a lot in the quasi-Young Adult novels that more-or-less follow Ilios as sequels.  (Helen’s motivations are different, but otherwise, pretty much everything’s the same.)  Making Achilles a few years older isn’t a big deal, though.  And reducing the age gap between Achilles and Patroclos will definitely make their intimacy less likely hit any “ick” buttons in any potential readers.

The problem comes in with trying to describe the characters in the quasi-YA novels.  I felt awkward enough having them be a little unsure of their exact ages (of the three leads, two were born in slavery, and the third was born in the Greek camp at Troy, so none are 100% sure of their exact age) but now I realize (as I really should have all along, if I’d put any thought into it) that no one would have known their exact age anyway.  Calendars didn’t exist yet, so birthdays as we know them didn’t exist, et cetera.  So my heroines actually have a much better age marker than most people in the world likely would–they can tell people “we were born a few months after Troy fell”–but if anyone ever reads these books (doubtful) that’s going to feel very weird, for one thing, and for another thing it’s going to leave me helpless to describe relative ages.  I mean, yes, my heroines can look at other people and guesstimate that they’re a few years older or younger, but…well, I guess that’s all they’ve been doing anyway, but…ugh.  I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore.

Though, really, the big problem is with a couple of the other female characters.  There’s a flashback from the POV of the hero’s Egyptian princess forbidden-love-interest, looking back to when they first met, when she was fourteen, and he had just rescued her from bandits who had kidnapped her, blah blah blah, you can see where this is going, and he refrained from taking advantage of her (despite that she offered herself to him) because she was too young and he’s a heroic character.  In addition to the fact that fourteen is not too young in the ancient world (which, let’s face it, I knew already), that scene was probably not going to fly in something even quasi-Young Adult anyway, but I’m not sure what to replace it with.  (Also, if she’s fourteen, Ramses would have already made good on his promise to her father to marry her, I’d think, wouldn’t he?  Hmm, need to research that before I get to re-writing that one.)  Then there’s the other girl, in the very last book–actually, the sequel, the one I’m currently writing–the northern barbarian, who follows them home from the Alps, ’cause she’s fallen in love with Molossos, the eldest son of Neoptolemos.  (How mortifying for the heroine, Achilles’ youngest daughter, that she has a nephew almost exactly her age!)  This Alpine girl is probably about sixteen or seventeen, so probably she should already be married, shouldn’t she?  Given that this is the Late Bronze Age and all.  Maybe she was widowed in all the fighting at the end of the main series.

Actually, I think I really am more worried about Ilios than the quasi-YA novels.  Because now, instead of a fifteen year old Achilles in drag on Scyros, I have an eighteen year old Achilles convincingly fooling Lycomedes and everyone else around him.  I guess that’s not a big difference, really.  It just feels like one, somehow.  The question is, does he spend longer on Scyros than I originally planned, or does he spend longer with Cheiron before his mother takes him to Scyros, or do I just not clarify the number of years?

This might not worry me so much if I was able to write right now.  But somehow I just can’t.

Maybe it’s just the heat.  Or my medication.  Or…meh, I don’t know.  I go in phases, I guess.  Inspiration will strike, and then I’ll be able to write again.  (Maybe I should have signed up for July Camp NaNo after all, try to force myself into it?)

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IWSG – Futility

Published June 3, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

(The usual Words Crush Wednesday post is cancelled this week, because it’s the first Wednesday of the week, so it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  I’ll be back to quoting the Iliad next week.  Or maybe I’ll switch it up and move to someone more recent, like Sophocles or Euripides.)

Lately, I’ve been feeling like there’s no point to working on polishing my writing.  Because the point of re-writing and polishing is trying to get it to out to the public, right?  But it’s clear to me that I’ll never get anything I’ve written to a point where anyone would want to read it.  My basic ideas are good, I’m sure of that, but my prose is childish, my characters are shallow, and any time I attempt a love story, it’s entirely unconvincing, because I’ve never been in a romantic relationship.  (That, of course, is why I decided that my heroic trio in my quasi-YA novels would not have any romantic relationships.  Well, except then I later established that the young man in the trio already had several unofficial fiancees (not of his own will) and a girl he’s in love with, but since all those conditions are pre-existing, it’s a very different type of unconvincing.)

On the NaNo forums towards the end of April’s Camp NaNo, or possibly in very early May, I was given a link to a private forum where I could get some feedback on Ilios, since it was already in bite-size chunks, so that I could re-publish it.  (Ilios is my Trojan War novel, telling the whole story of the war, as mythically accurate as possible, with each chapter being narrated in the first person by a different character.  (Which I thought was a unique approach, until recently at a used book store, when I found another novel that had done the same thing, as far as I could tell by glancing through it.  Took a very different approach, of course, and probably didn’t tell the whole war.  I might have picked it up, if the author had used Aias instead of Ajax, but he didn’t, so I didn’t.)  I had e-published it a while ago on LeanPub, but I officially “retired” it because I was so disgusted with how badly I had handled some of the chapters, particularly some of the key emotional chapters tied to the events of the Iliad.)

Anyway, I said I would go to those forums after turning my final paper in, mid-May.  I still have yet to do so.  Because…what’s the point?  The person who offered doesn’t understand how bad my writing is.  People always hear my ideas and say “that sounds great; let me read it and I’ll give you feedback!”  Then they read it and can’t find anything to say, because what needs to be said is “Don’t give up the day job.”  (Which is awkward, considering I don’t have one.)  Of course, there’s more to it than that; I’d be intruding on a forum where everyone else is already close friends, and what would I say when I got there?  I guess it’s partially my social phobia obstructing me even online.

But even though I intend to eventually re-write the abysmal chapters of Ilios, I don’t know if I’ll bother re-publishing it.  Even for free, it only got two downloads.  (Admittedly, that’s partially because LeanPub does not have a flourishing fiction section; it’s more a place for IT texts and other technical books.  But even if it was on Amazon or someplace, I don’t think it would have any more success, even for free.)

For at least fifteen years, every word of fiction I wrote was purely for myself.  In fact, most of it was fanfic.  Though it might seem like a waste of time and effort to write stories/novels/whatevers that I had no intention of ever showing to anyone else, it was comforting to know that it didn’t matter if it sucked, because no one else was going to see it.  It didn’t matter if someone was out of character for a while, because no one would know.  It was okay that the relationships were flat and unconvincing, because I was the only one who could read it.

But since telling myself that my fanfic days are over, I feel like I’m supposed to be writing towards the goal of publication, admittedly only the self-published kind.  But there’s no way anything I write can ever be suitable for the public.  As I said last month, I’m incapable of writing descriptions, because I don’t think visually:  I have no idea what my characters look like apart from a very few physical details that I do impart in the books (primarily concerned with height and hair color) and even if I did know what they looked like, I wouldn’t be able to describe them, because I don’t “get” descriptions of faces.  My ability to describe locations isn’t much better; my brain can’t grasp the geometry of the place, no matter how many descriptions I read of the region, or how many photos I see.  (Even if I went to Greece and Turkey to see the places for myself, I doubt I’d have any better luck trying to describe them.)

I think I’m about to sink into a re-run of last month’s post, so I should perhaps stop while I’m ahead.

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