I-suck

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IWSG – Post April Camp

Published May 2, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Because I was just doing revision instead of writing something new, CampNaNo this time did not feel quite as…how do I even put this?  An impetus, I guess?  Only that’s not quite it, because it did serve as a low-level impetus, finally getting me to stop putting it off and start the reworking on my novel from November.

I think my biggest accomplishment was sort of a by-product, though.  I knew I wanted to add material (at about 80k, it was short for me, but that isn’t why) to try and get around the complete stoppage of action near the end, and also some fun stuff to flesh in the world a bit.  My attempt to prevent the stoppage absolutely did not work; it still comes to a screeching halt, and I have no idea how to change that.  But the fun stuff opened an amazing door.  It started out in the form of an advertising campaign trying to get people to sign on with a very shady trading company (like the British or Dutch East India Companies, only with trading ships flown around the world by pegasi, and no imperialism to make their gains even more ill-gotten) and when that failed to get out all the information I wanted, I decided to follow it up with their new employee handbook.  (Parts of it, anyway.)

I had a lot of fun with the new employee handbook, but more importantly, it made me realize two things.  One, if I started half my chapters with an excerpt from a promotional ad or an employee handbook from a company like that, any readers I might have would obviously expect the company to feature in the story, and they would expect them to be evil.  And two, that it would be really boring if it was as simple as them just being evil.

So I decided I should have the company just be, well, a slightly more powerful and sadistic version of the real thing, but with a twist:  there’s a secret society hidden inside the company that’s been guarding exactly what the heroes are searching for, and will spend the whole series gaining pieces of in a desperate race against both the villain and the clock.  (Well, the calendar rather than the clock; they have three years.)  That way I get around the earlier, rather ludicrous idea I had that all the clues were in a 700 year old book and no one had ever in all that time stumbled across any of the pieces to move them.  This way, they have to get the information out of the members of the secret society, instead of already having the knowledge they need.  And some of them will cooperate, and others won’t.

I’m afraid I need to find a beta reader now, though.  I need help with the structural problem; I’m too close to it to see the solution.  (If there is one.)  It’d probably be good to have someone tell me if the characters are totally annoying, or whatnot.  I’m not quite sure where to find a beta reader, though.  Probably through the NaNo forums.  I mean, technically, I don’t absolutely need a beta reader, because I’m not planning on publishing this professionally, or even self-publishing it in any meaningful way.  (To defeat a forum troll, I have to release it to the public in some way, but I’m just planning on putting it on LeanPub for free, and posting a few chapters on AO3 to increase the chances of at least one person actually seeing that it exists and maybe downloading a copy.)  But I’d still like to get it into better shape than this before I set it adrift on the interwebs.  (Admittedly, LeanPub allows you to edit as much as you want even after you release it, but I’d rather it be as fixed as possible first.)

The idea of getting a beta reader terrifies me, though.  They’ll be expecting something much better than my crappy writing…and I worry that they’ll dismiss the whole book just because I can’t write descriptions (or even visualize the things to be described) or anything much other than dialog.

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IWSG – April is complicated

Published April 4, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

(If you’re looking for today’s April A-to-Z post, you have astonishingly bad timing; I scheduled the two posts to go up within two minutes of each other!  You can find the A-to-Z post here.)

So, April is a crazy month for me this year.  I’m doing both CampNaNo (working on a revision of last November’s novel) and the April A-to-Z blogging challenge.   (And, come to think of it, I haven’t done my taxes yet!  Yikes!)  Therefore, I don’t have a huge amount of time to spend on this post (even though I’m writing this on March 29th) and I’m gonna move on to the optional question for April:

When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

Okay, well…actually, I prefer cloudy and rainy days to sunny ones, so…um…I totally lost track of my answer already.

So, my writing is entirely for my own entertainment (though I do post my fanfic on AO3, for the two or three people that actually read it) and if I’m not really feeling it, I just put it aside for a while.  I definitely do go through writing-heavy and writing-light phases in my life.  (And getting hooked on Stardew Valley has not helped my writing life any.)

I do often look to NaNoWriMo (and CampNaNo) to help me jump start my writing when I’m feeling a little less into it.  The structure and the competing-with-yourself nature of it somehow really helps me out.

IWSG – It’s almost April…

Published March 7, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

…and that means Camp.

Not camp like “cheesy, over-the-top” but camp like CampNaNo.  (But you knew that.)

Actually, I’ve never done the April session of CampNaNo before, just the July session.  But I’m not taking a class this semester, not doing April A-to-Z (or maybe I should, just to try and jumpstart my pathetic blog), so there’s no reason not to.  Plus I haven’t been very motivated lately (getting addicted to a couple of video games in a row has definitely not helped, of course), so I’m hoping this will get me back into a good writing habit again.

I’ll be re-working my NaNo novel from this November, which is a first:  I’ve never done a rewrite as a NaNo project.  I’m also doing a first for me and have set my goal as 30 hours instead of a number of words.  I generally get about half an hour’s writing time before I leave for work in the morning…though I don’t always use it to write.  In fact, lately I’ve loaded up my current project (essentially an RPG in fiction form), written about two sentences (if even that much), and then opened a file of one of my past projects that needs editing.  Not that I actually edited the past projects when I opened them; I just read over bits I liked and made mental notes about the parts that needed fixing.  (Yeah, not the least bit productive, I know.  That’s part of my worry.)

Of course, I have new worries about doing this revision for camp.  Like, for starters, I haven’t even opened the file since early December.

I should probably read it over before April gets here.  Especially since the idea is to start out by writing the long dead guy’s journal in order to use it as chapter-openers throughout the book.  I need to remember what he was writing about before I can actually write it.  And refreshing my memory about the world I created would probably be a good idea, too.  (I mean, I could look at my notes file, but it’s a freakin’ mess, so I’m not sure that would actually be helpful.)

Part of me thinks I should see if anyone in my Cabin (once I’m in a Cabin, anyhow) wants to look over my first draft and see if they have any suggestions, and the rest of me thinks that wouldn’t be at all fair to them (I know it’s a convoluted mess with ghastly pacing and a tendency to take back doors to avoid anything actually, you know, happening) and might serve no function but to make them hate me.

….so, I just re-read my IWSG post from December, where I was talking about NaNo, and there was a lot there I’d already forgotten.  Am I getting senile in my early 40s?  That’s a terrifying thought…but either way, at least I have that post to help me remember what I wanted to do in the re-write.

But I think I definitely need to re-read the original draft before April 1st.  I guess, since my current project isn’t grabbing me, I’ll set it aside for now and use my mornings before work to re-read my NaNo novel and get some planning done about how I want to proceed through April…

…and maybe make some plans to do April A-to-Z after all…

Missing Letter Monday No “F” – Worrying

Published February 12, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

You ever think “yeah, this is it; I’m going to be sacked any day now” or something like that?

That’s what’s been going through my mind lately.

I think I’m just being kept around until my exhibit opens, so that I can be the one to go down when the board hates it and/or it causes a publicity nightmare.  (It’s already two weeks late in opening.  Not really anything I could have done about it — display cases needed to be bought, and that’s not something I’m authorized to do — but I could and likely will still be assigned the blame.)

Were I being told the truth about that, it wouldn’t bother me so much.

Only I’m totally not.  Every time I bring the subject up to my co-workers, they assure me that I’m being paranoid and that’d never happen.

I don’t know why they think I’d believe that.  I’m totally untrained to hold this job, and I suck at it.

Why wouldn’t they send me packing?

I mean, I don’t even know why they didn’t do it ages ago.


 

Sorry about yesterday

Published February 6, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m sorry I totally dropped the ball and didn’t do a “Missing Letter Monday.”  (I really need to start getting those up in advance again…)  I’ll just pick up again next week.  I’d like to briefly explain what happened, but in the interest of laziness, I shall copy-and-paste the explanation I just posted on my other blog:

It starts out, of course, that it is that time of month, and a particularly bad one.  So, I’m a bit more hormonal than usual.  And when I was at the bookstore yesterday, I happened to find a new volume of one of my favorite manga, which I decided to read in the bath…and on the last two pages of the volume, it looked like my favorite character got shot in the face.  (Such violence is not super-common in that manga, but not as uncommon as I’d like.  However, the victim has never been such a long-standing character before; normally, if a good guy is killed, it’s someone who’s only just been set up in that arc.)  For the first time ever, I went to the publisher’s website and followed their links to buy a single chapter of the next volume (they publish them online now within days of their release in Japan, but at $2 a chapter for digital only, that more than a little sucks) because no way was I going to wait goodness only knows how long to find out if the author was just screwing with us and he was fine, or if it was a horrible, horrible, evil thing and he’d been killed.  It turned out to be a little of both:  he wasn’t killed, but over the process of that chapter his closest friend (my second favorite character) was brutally slaughtered, giving up his own life to protect him.  After I finished sobbing like a little child, I called my brother and went over to his place for pizza and light, funny stuff to distract me.  On getting back, I wasn’t in the right state of mind to try and communicate like a human being, so I forwent my Monday features on both blogs.

was going to follow that explanation up with more a more detailed reaction to Persuasion, or to get going on my next review (though I still haven’t finished the book) only I don’t really have enough time before I have to leave to get lunch before the movie (tryin’ to make the most of my weekend, here!) so I’ll just post this as-is and do another post for those things.  (Or just edit the Persuasion post when I have a chance.)

Missing Letter Monday No “V” – Another Author’s Oracle Tag

Published October 30, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So, in trying to decide what to post for my last Missing Letter Monday until December (yeah, it’s going away for NaNo), I looked through to see what I’d done in the past with this letter, and found this post with a series of questions for an author to answer about their current WIP.  And I decided that hey, I could just answer the questions again, only this time for the project I’m going to work on next month.  These questions were initially encountered on Sara Letourneau’s blog, in an open-ended “consider yourself tagged if you’re reading this” kind of thing.  So I guess that means I’m re-self-tagging?

Er….anyway…on to the questions, though (as before) I used some * in the questions when this week’s forbidden letter came up.


The Author’s Oracle Questions

The answers this time are going to be NaNo prep, for next month’s project, which I am planning as the first in a series.  (Who knows what I’ll actually end up writing, but…)  I keep putting off filling out the cool character sheet I found on the NaNo forums, so maybe this will help me with that.  It’s a genre-ignoring project with elements of the fantastic, elements of steampunk, and an LGBT romance.  And giant eagles.  Because all things are better with giant eagles.

0. The Fool: Which of your characters is the most intuiti*e?  The worst decision-maker?

The best decision-maker would be Ouden, the 12 year old girl on the crew of the airship.  She considers herself the one who keeps Cal, the captain, from dying all the time, and she’s pretty much right about that.  As to the worst…hmm.  That’s a tie between Cal and Elliot (the romantic leads), but for different reasons.  Cal is extremely passionate, and short-tempered.  He acts on impulse, but he’s also slow to trust, so he’ll do dumb things because he doesn’t trust someone yet, only then once he does trust them, he’d bend the fabric of reality if he could for someone important to him.  He was hurt horribly not too long before the book starts, so he’s become more slow to trust than before.  Elliot, on the other hand, is the ultimate naïf.  I mean, the guy took a madam’s word for it that she was just sheltering him out of the goodness of her heart, and had no idea she was charging the men who were also just taking shelter in the same room with him and who just happened to want to sleep with him.  (In his defense, he is quite young (about nineteen) and recently ran away from his sheltered home on the family farm.)

I. The Magician: What character, location, or object has the most positi*e influence in your story?

(OMG, I skipped this one last time!)  Probably Cal’s airship, the Audacity.  The cast would be utterly lost without it.  Although Cal wouldn’t be hunted without it, so maybe it’s not all good. Read the rest of this entry →

IWSG – A Day Late (Again)

Published September 7, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

*sigh*  I suck.  This is the second time (though thankfully not the second time in a row) that I’ve only remembered my Insecure Writer’s Support Group post the day after it was supposed to go up.  I could make a lot of excuses (things are hectic at work, I had my first assignment (of sorts) due this semester, I’m generally a stressed-out wreck) but ultimately this is just me being my usual idiotic self.

The bitter part is that I actually had stuff to talk about.

I’ve got two things going on with my writing right now.  My super-massive fanfic (155k!) is finally getting a rewrite, more than a year after I wrote it, thanks to someone from AO3 volunteering to beta it.  I’ve never actually worked with a beta before (not in a proper sense; I’ve had a few people read things and then give me a few hasty notes with no accompanying back-and-forth) so it’s a little nerve-wracking, but so far it’s been really awesome.  She’s been giving me very helpful notes about places I needed to flesh out and follow-through on earlier plot threads.  (With so much text, it’s not surprising that things got forgotten!  Especially considering I wrote it in a month.)

The other thing is that I’m trying to get myself ready for this year’s NaNo.  I’ve had this idea kicking around for a while now, but wanted to get the fanfic urge out of my system before I started devoting any serious attention to it.  Only then I discovered Sparkler, an online magazine that would be the absolute perfect place to try to publish this project if it turns out good enough to try to publish it (which is, admittedly, highly unlikely), and so now I’m totally motivated to try and get this puppy written.

I did finally work out a really good solution to a backstory issue that had been plaguing me — which had the additional benefit of making one of the main characters already a wanted man before the story started, so he can’t possibly blame the other main character for dragging him into danger —  but I’m painfully aware of how little actual world-building I’ve done so far.  I want each country in this fictional world to be partially based on real cultures, but I have this distressing tendency to use that as a crutch, thinking of it so totally blatantly as a transported version of the country that my (chaotic) plot-development word processor file has placeholder names like notFrance and notJapan.  (And my dependence on their history was going to be even more ludicrously similar, to the point that they were going to arrive in France during the Reign of Terror and then (despite that they’re a century apart) end up in Japan during the Meiji Restoration.  Uh, not in the same book.  This is the start of a series.)

Trying to figure out the right way to handle that aspect of the world-building is challenging.  Though perhaps some of it can be left for rewrites?  I dunno, though, that sounds dangerous.

I need to focus more time and attention on the world-building before November (fortunately, it’s only September, lol!), but I don’t know how much time I have to do so.  I’m working more days than I used to, and my responsibilities have increased (which I’m not complaining about in the least; getting to design exhibits was something I really wanted to do!), plus my class this semester is what’s officially called “directed readings,” which basically means I’m self-directed and just check in with the professor every so often to make sure I’m on the right track…which means I really have to dedicate a lot of time to the research, since no one else is going to do any of it for me.  (I mean, I like that, but it’s also a lot more stressful when you stop to think about it.)

So, yeah, I’ve got a lot to be insecure about right now, and yet I’m also kind of in a hopeful place.

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