iwsg

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IWSG – Frustration

Published June 6, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Late post, and 1st time trying to compose a post on my phone. (If my tablet wasn’t still broken, this’d be easier!)

I can’t type right now. Pinched nerve in my shoulder; my whole arm goes tingly if I try. (Fortunately, the phone is okay(ish) because of the different poses it allows.)

Haven’t been able to use my computer in a week. I may actually go insane at this rate.

Worst part is, I had just started getting the project from NaNo and April Camp ready to beg on the NaNo forums for a beta (alpha?) reader to help me figure out the structural SNAFUs before July Camp.

That is looking less and less likely now. 😦

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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.

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…

IWSG – Genre

Published February 7, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

(Pre-writing to make sure I don’t forget!)

My writing life has been a bit slow of late, so I don’t have any fresh…well, anything, really…to talk about, so I’ll just stick to the optional question for the month:

February 7 question – What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

It’s sort of an awkward question for me right now, because lately (like, for the last year and a half) what I’ve been writing has been fanfiction.  And I’m not sure if that counts as a genre.  (I’m fairly sure it doesn’t, regardless of NaNo categories.)  So what genre have I been writing in?  I guess it’s either the catch-all “fiction”, romance or…is there such a genre as “recent historical fiction”?  Or rather, “recent alternate history” fiction?  Because the movie I’ve been writing fanfic of is set in 1984, but it’s not the real 1984, as it’s a bit more dystopian (without going full-on Orwell), and I have a tendency to play up the dystopian angle, though not enough to make it a work of dystopian fiction.

I suppose, for the sake of argument, I’ll pretend that “recent alternate history” is a genre.

I have to admit that I have a lot of fun with that, playing around with the early ’80s, not only in revisiting the decade (though the movie’s 1984 is also a lot less colorful than the 1980s I remember (admittedly, I was only 9 in 1984)) but also playing around with all sorts of things we all know came after.  For example, in one I wrote a while back, the reporter who’s one of the central characters of the movie managed to write a story that broke the fictional president’s reign of terror.  (Okay, okay, “reign of terror” is an exaggeration, but…for cryin’ out loud, there’s a scene in the movie where there are three police-types standing on the streets of New York with freakin’ assault rifles, and everyone ignores them, because that’s their “normal.”)  Because that happened about 1986 or so, I figured that made a safe bet that 1988’s election would go differently, and I could make a passing reference to “President Dukakis” in a scene that took place around 1990 or 1991.  (Admittedly, there’s no real reason to assume Dukakis would still have gotten the Democratic nomination in such a different 1988 primary race, but I figured “why not?”  Considering it was just a single passing reference, I didn’t see any reason to research the other contenders for the nomination to decide if someone else would have been more likely in the atmosphere left behind by a president whose corruption caused his own self-destruction.)

Still, as much as I love doing stuff like that, I guess that’s all secondary to the romance…which is more than a little weird, considering that I’m aromantic and don’t actually like romance as a genre.  It’s just that Curt and Arthur are so perfect together and I can’t help wanting to write about them somehow finding a happy ending together, despite their coming from such different worlds!  (Of course, the romance is the weakest angle of my already weak writing, what with having zero experience (not to mention being female), but…well, I’ve come to understand a few of the things I do a lot that are most absurd, and I plan not to do them anymore, and hopefully I can even excise them from some of my unposted works that are still waiting for editing, so that’s something, anyway.)

Prior to getting addicted to Velvet Goldmine fanfic, I used to write mostly various types of fantasy.  For that, it’s easy to say what I loved:  getting to utterly ignore reality, and create a new set of rules for my little fictional world to follow.  Admittedly, I frequently depended on pre-existing rule sets (like the set of novel-length works set in the Heroic Age of Greece, starring the offspring of three of the most important and famous of the Greeks who fought at Troy) but I still had more ability to tweak reality to suit me, and as long as I was consistent in that tweaking throughout the work, it was okay, you know?

Getting to create a whole new world, even if it’s only a tiny bit different from reality, is definitely my favorite part of writing all around.  I lack the descriptive ability to make others fully grasp what I’ve imagined for my fictional worlds, but my writing is pretty much just for me, anyway.  (I’ve only twice tried to actually publish anything, both times quite abortively.  I’m going to do a half-hearted self-epub of this past November’s NaNo once I’ve polished it up, but for very different reasons than one normally publishes anything.)

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.

IWSG – This year’s NaNo

Published December 6, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

As I said last month, this year’s NaNo project started out as an AU (alternate universe, for those not acquainted with fanfic terms) fanfic of my favorite movie, Velvet Goldmine.  But this wasn’t going to be one of those “serial numbers just barely filed off” projects; I did so little planning before it became an original project that almost nothing about it ever had a connection to the movie.  (The movie’s main three male characters were imported, but none of them have much connection to the originals.  Cal is the most like his inspiration, Curt Wild, but even he has a lot of differences, given his knowledge of steam-powered airship design, affinity with giant birds of prey and his tragic first love, who is the person he loved most in the world, and who was always totally original.  Except that he kind of looks like Ichabod Crane.  (From the Disney animated version.)  I’m not sure why he looks like that.  It just sort of happened.)

So, my reflections on finishing the project:  first and foremost, it’s a mess.  The point of this first book (in a series of eight, as currently planned) was to get them to learn about the MacGuffin (it doesn’t have a name yet) and get their hands on the book of clues as to where to find the pieces of it.  Well, okay, that’s not the whole point, but that’s its role in the bigger story.  So part of the process of finding out about it was to find the journal of the dead fiance of one of the main characters.  He had been researching the MacGuffin (and was killed over it), and had in turn learned a lot of his information from the journal of a man who lived a thousand years earlier.  (Very sturdy paper!)  So I kind of had this huge info dump as one of the characters was reading the dead fiance’s journal.  I mean, I broke it up over a few days, with other things happening in between, but…not good storytelling.  I’m thinking that my first task in a re-write will be to write the entire journal of the man from a thousand years earlier, divide it up into neat little chunks, and stick them at the beginning of each chapter.

But that’s barely scratching the surface of what needs to be done.

Read the rest of this entry →

IWSG – NaNo Time Again!

Published November 1, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Convenient that the first Wednesday of the month is also the first of the month; I only have to do one post to say I’m gonna be gone for November to do NaNoWriMo again!

As to this month’s question, I’ve almost always finished my NaNo project, during NaNo, but I’ve never published anything.  (Though I went half-way twice.  My first NaNo project (2011) I briefly self-published through LeanPub, but I’ve since taken it down because it was just utter rubbish.  And then last year’s project was fanfic, which I’ve posted on AO3, which is as close to publishing as fanfic gets without having its serial numbers filed off.)  The one NaNo project I never finished was 2015’s.  I didn’t finish it during November (despite hitting 82k) and though I tried to limp along with it in December, I eventually realized that the leads, who originated in the previous year’s NaNo as dead backstory characters, just didn’t fit the novel, as I was setting the interesting displaced in time/sci-fi story aside in order to focus on a rather tepid and unrealistic romance.  Once I came to that realization, I decided the thing to do was to stop, to move the characters to (another) new work that would be focused on their love story and almost nothing else, and to re-write the sci-fi story with new leads who were already a couple.  I was doing pretty well on the almost-nothing-but-the-romance book, until I saw Velvet Goldmine, and descended into the fanfic pit from which I have not emerged until, well, today.  (Because my NaNo project this year is not fanfic.  Even if the story idea originally started out as a steampunk Velvet Goldmine alternate universe fanfic…)

So…yeah.

I’m gonna be gone for NaNo until December.  Like always.

I think I won’t even bother keeping up with the Missing Letter Monday posts.  They’ve been pretty lame lately, anyway.  Better to just set them aside until I have some time to work on them properly.

IWSG – Not Missin’ THIS Month!

Published October 4, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Yup, pre-writing this two weeks ago, to make sure I don’t miss it!  (Because of course nothing will change between then and now, right?)

I’ll probably tack on an actual post at the end of this, but in the mean time, I’ll just real quick answer the question of the month for October (which oddly has nothing to do with Halloween!):

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Hmm.  I have surprisingly little personal information.  (LOL, that sounds crazy!)  But, really, by nature I’d spend all day hiding at home and doing whatever I pleased (reading, writing, gaming, toy collecting, shopping for more toys), and that means that’s what I tend to do when I have free time, so I have very little that’s the sort of thing they probably mean in this question:  no romantic ties, no children, etc.

On the other hand, the main character of my July CampNaNo work was essentially a self-insert into my current fandom obsession, so there’s a lot there that’s me:  total lack of social skills, asexual/aromantic, doll collector, museum employee, easily compelled into strange obsessions (but not in a creepy way), gamer, anime fan, Vocaloid fan, totally ignorant of 90% of popular music past and present, resident of this city, and 42 years old.  So, yeah, I guess I’ve slipped a lot of my personal information into a character on purpose!  But I doubt the work will ever be read.  I’m going to admit that she’s a self-insert in the (likely to be copious) author’s notes at the beginning, and probably in the summary, too, and self-insert characters are the Kryptonite of most fanfic readers.  (I find it highly amusing, possibly even ironic, that as I write these words, I am listening to a song “performed” by three Vocaloids produced by a company called Crypton Future Media.)  Of course, those notes will also explain that she’s just the vessel through which the readers are taking a tour of the 2017 edition of the slightly dystopian 1984 in the movie (and just like in reality, 2017 is infinitely worse than 1984) and hunting for clues as to what’s happened to the characters we know and love in the intervening decades, so maybe a few open minded fans will read it, but…heck, my stuff is only read by a few people anyway. 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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