pathetic

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MLM 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 →

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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: Conflicted

Published March 1, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

So I’m back to being insecure again.  (This, I suppose, should come as no great surprise.  If I wasn’t prone to insecurity, why would I be taking part in the support group, right?)

After some SNAFU stuff on the NaNo forums regarding my nearly submitting my 2013 NaNo novel for self-pub, I made a pledge to myself that “screw it; I’m never publishing anything, and that’ll teach those jerks!”  (And no, that didn’t entirely make sense even at the time.  And the people in question were not trying to be jerks.  (Most of them weren’t, anyway.)  But it’s one of those heat-of-the-moment resolutions that becomes firm and feels permanent, because you feel like you’ll have lost if you go back on it.)

After that, I took the smart path of withdrawing from the NaNo forums for the next couple of years, but I don’t learn too good (poor grammar intended), and so I’ve been active on the forums again.

And this time the guy really was trying to be a jerk.

Basically, he said that I’ll be a racist if anyone in my entire novel has a different skin color from everyone else.

Yes, he was advocating an entire planet of uniform skin color.

And he thought that was somehow less racist than having a diverse world.  Ugh.  (And keep in mind, I neither said anything about nor intend to introduce any ethnic stereotyping or prejudices.  It’s a world very unlike our own, without our social construction of “race”.  They have some prejudices, of course, but they’re based on culture and nationality.  (Read any 19th century work wherein the English discuss people from other European nations, and you’ll see the kind of thing I mean.)  But really even those prejudices are unlikely to come up much, because it’s a steampunk/fantasy adventure with heavy doses of m/m romance.  They’re going to be much too busy flying around the world looking for the pieces of the McGuffin and flirting/having sex for weighty social issues to come up much.  Because I write light escapism.)

So, because he said all this crap about the world I’m trying to put together for a series of novels I haven’t even begun to start writing yet, I feel like “now I have to publish it just to prove that f***er wrong.”

But that is in direct opposition to the 2013 doctrine of “never publish anything ever no matter what!”

Which puts me in a weird emotional bind.  All the more weird considering I haven’t even named the main characters yet.  (Well, it kind of grew out of an AU fanfic idea, so for my plotting purposes I’ve been using the names of the movie characters.  Though at this point there’s not much similarity between my characters and the movie ones.)

It’s probably a moot point.  I’ll probably finish the first draft of book one (assuming I ever start writing the thing) and go “wow, this is irredeemably terrible” and go back to writing other stuff.  (That is, after all, what usually happens.  Like my 2012 NaNo novel, the last time I tried to spin an original novel out of a fanfic idea.  I was enjoying writing it at first, but by the time I was done I was just like “ugh, I never wanna see this piece of trash ever again!” and I haven’t opened the file since.)

Anyway, amusingly enough, this all kind of ties in to this month’s optional question

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Because that 2013 NaNo novel?  It was the result when I finally got around to writing something I’d been planning since I was 18.  (So the idea was almost twenty years old.)  I think I had actually started writing it back in the summer of my 18th year, but…not sure what ever happened to the manuscript.  (And I guarantee it had zero similarity to what I eventually wrote.)

Missing Letter Mondays – No “O”

Published September 5, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Fanfic

Sadly,
It has taken charge in my brain
After all.
I lack any strength,
Can’t prevent further abuse.

It’s fun, naturally.
Sexy guys,
Dancing in my head,
At a tune that is in my imagining.
Maybe…
A bit lacking depth.
(Me and what I’m writing.)

But…
Everything else I write
Lacks depth as well,
Thus what’s the difference?
(Except these guys have
Real faces.)


MLM icon init MLM O

Missing Letter Monday – No “J”

Published August 1, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Well, so I’m back from CampNaNo.  (Not that I strictly speaking went anywhere, but you know what I mean.)  It was both an eventful month and an uneventful month, in that I did very little other than write.  So it was eventful for the characters, and not so much for me.  But that’s as it should be, right?

Um, okay, maybe not.

Anyway…

CNW_Winner_1500-1

Anyone who’s been reading my blog from before I suddenly went walkabout (basically, around this May) will undoubtedly realize that I had no trouble getting to the typical NaNo 50k.  Which is what I put in for my Camp goal, because I didn’t really care how many word I got written.  Why would I, y’know?  My writing is naturally excessively verbose, so word counts have never really mattered to me; what matters is finishing the story.

And the fact that I’ve got a winner’s badge means I finished it!

Somehow.

On the last day.

At 155k words.

Which is probably a good five times as many words as are in the screenplay of the movie it’s a fanfic of.  (Okay, actually, I have no idea how many words are typically in a screenplay.  But there’s a lot of time in the movie devoted to ’70s-style music videos, and to concert performances, so it’s gotta have fewer words than most.)

The dialog is bloated, the descriptions virtually non-existent (seriously), subplots I planned to include are introduced and then forgotten, a large chunk of time was devoted to one romantic lead pining for the other while assuming he’d never be interested even though I had to literally wedge a handful of horny college coeds in between them to keep them from getting it on in their previous scene together, and the two leads undoubtedly spend more time out of character than in it.  (Though in my defense on that last part, going all ooc with Curt was an inevitability, because he spent 90% of his screen time silent, singing, stoned or in a fit of rage.  There wasn’t much time for him to be particularly well characterized.  Also, I put both characters in all kinds of weird situations that the movie absolutely did not prepare them to deal with.  Er, didn’t prepare me to know how they would deal with them?)  Also, I’m sure that most of Arthur’s dialog and POV narration is entirely too American for an English character, and probably there are tons of anachronisms all over the place.  (Hey, I turned 9 in the year it’s taking place.  I don’t remember much!)

I actually had more trouble finishing than I should have, which is probably why the ending is rushed and o’er hasty.  Because I pretty much lost all of this past Thursday.  I was stretching my back on Wednesday night, trying to the get the “I’ve been writing all month and my back is killing me” kinks out of it.  My favorite stretch is simply to bend down and touch my toes, holding for a while in that position.  (Yeah, lame, I know.)  Anyway, there I was, at midnight on Wednesday, standing on my bed (probably where the problem came in) to touch my toes, and it felt like something shifted sideways.  It hurt so badly I felt nauseous, and I kept wiggling my toes to make sure that my spine was still connected; I was seriously afraid that I had shifted a vertebra out of position and was in danger of severing my spinal column at any moment.

Obviously, it wasn’t anything so terrifying.  It was some kind of muscle thing.  I went in to an Urgent Care place the next morning for some X-rays, and it was diagnosed as back strain/sprain, and they gave me some prescriptions for pain pills, and told me to spend the next couple of days lying on my back with my knees bent for as much time as possible.

I can’t write in that position.

Even worse, my father had been champing at the bit for me and my brother to come over and watch the “Ultimate Edition” Blu-Ray of Batman v Superman with him, because he hates watching anything alone and my mother didn’t want to waste three hours of her life on that.  (While I don’t blame her, in theory, she didn’t actually use that time for anything to speak of.)  I was not in the right frame of mind for that…though it may be that there is no such thing as the right frame of mind for that, particularly for me.  (And if it turns out Suicide Squad isn’t worth watching, then that was a total waste of my time, since that was the only reason I agreed in the first place.)

Anyway, I did do a tiny bit of writing Thursday night.  Then on Friday I spent all day alternating between brief periods of writing lying on my back moaning.  Not really a lot of fun.

And then Saturday and Sunday I had to work.  And on Sunday they went and closed off the main east-west street I use to get to work, and it took me half an hour to find a go-around!  I know it’s partially my own fault for not taking highways, but they’re not actually that much of a time-saver:  it takes about 33 minutes by street to get from my house and the museum, and getting home on the highway on Sunday evening took about 20 minutes.  So, yeah, there’s some time savings there, but not a significant amount.  And some lunatic in an SUV almost killed me because he decided he wanted to get over two lanes and didn’t bother looking to see if anyone was, you know, in one of them!  (Why is it that the worst drivers are always the ones in the gigantic vehicles that are guaranteed to kill anyone they hit?)

Okay, so, lengthy rambling needs to stop now, because my back is telling me it’s time to lie down again.

Oh, btw, in the week that I missed?  I came back and found 48 posts I needed to read.  Which is why this post is going up now and not three hours ago.  (And no, I did not spend those three hours sitting up.  I was lying on my back to read those posts.)

Anyway, I hope to return to my usual content soon.  Though possibly not as quickly as I had initially hoped, what with the whole back thing.


MLM icon init MLM J

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?

Missing Letter Monday – No “R”

Published March 28, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

“Hey, Listen!”

It’s all Link’s fault.
It totally is,
You gotta believe me!
I’d’ve been on time
If he hadn’t messed me up!

It’s all Link’s fault,
You gotta see that.
Just what is that dude, anyway?
He’s not an elf,
But he’s not a man,
And he doesn’t even talk!

Anyway, it’s all Link’s fault,
So I don’t wanna get any complaints.

It’s all Link’s fault,
Got it?


MLM banner init MLM R cookies banner init


Yeah….you can guess what I spent half last night playing…

 

IWSG – Not a lot to say, really

Published March 2, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Another double post Wednesday!  (Yeah, that’s going to keep up for a number of months, until I get rid of my ever-growing backlog of quotes.)

Anyway, it’s been a very slow month for me as a writer.  Like, deadly slow.  I haven’t had much time for writing, not writing fiction, anyway.  I have to spend a lot of time reading for class, and I have a paper due every week, which doesn’t help.

But I think it’s also just that I’m not really very motivated to write right now.  It’s this NaNo novel that’s been hanging over my head since November.  I don’t want to abandon it, but I’m not sure I can finish it.  It’s not that I don’t know what happens next, or even that the next scene is going to be all that hard to write.  Well, it’ll be hard in one sense, since I’ll have to describe things, and that’s my biggest weakness.  But there’s no painful emotions in the scene.  After I got through all the turbulence of Ashley having to come out to his best friend at the same time as he confesses his love for him, and then the ensuing whirlwind…writing the characters discovering  the now-ancient ruins of a far-future weapons factory shouldn’t be that difficult.

But I just can’t get up the interest to write it.  I’ve started re-reading everything I’ve written so far, in the hopes of renewing my interest, but it’s not working.  I think the problem is that the novel is incompatible with the characters I invented it for.

I’ve gone into aspects of this before in my IWSG posts, so I’ll just summarize.  Because Ashley and Paddy were taking over my brain, I thought I could exorcise them by making them the stars of their own novel.  But I didn’t want to write the gruesome story of the deaths originally planned for them (couldn’t have written it even if I’d wanted to, in fact), and I knew I wasn’t up to the challenge of writing a realistic novel about their struggles to come to terms with their love and fit into a society that wasn’t ready to embrace homosexuality.  Even if I was a mature enough person to write something that serious and down to earth, the required research into the late 1960s or the early 1970s would have taken far too long.

So I gave them a new setting.  In the original version, it was already established that they had fought in Vietnam, so I had them in a helicopter that went through a timeslip and ended up in the super-distant future.  I think the setting and explanation I came up with are kind of interesting, and it might make a nice story in someone else’s hands.  However, I’m spending as much time on the romance between the two leads as I am on the story, and the romance is totally freakin’ irrelevant to the story (as well as being utterly unrealistic).  And, perhaps worse, this story is just not the right place for these two characters.  They belong in the real world, not a distant future filled with all sorts of oddities.  (A strange statement considering they were originally dead backstory characters for a goofy, anime-inspired, reincarnation-and-robots novel.)

I don’t know what to do with the realization that my characters and my novel are incompatible.  I can’t just delete them from it and go on without them.  Among other reasons, none of the other soldiers from Vietnam are men whose heads I can get inside.  The one of them I like best, Caesar, is the brother of a Black Panther, so he’s paranoid that the brass were always watching him, expecting him to be doing undercover work for his brother.  As a white woman of a much later era, I could never get into his mindset enough to write his POV; I know my limits, and that’s way past them.  One of the others is an uneducated country boy, and then there’s the career military NCO, two more I’d never be able to understand.  So right now the only other character I can give a POV is Ricki, the time-displaced 80s girl.  If I were to remove Ashley and Paddy, I’d have to invent two new people to put in their place.  And, honestly, if I did that, I think I’d also do myself a favor and get rid of the whole “helicopter over Vietnam” thing, and make it a small plane somewhere in the US.  Caesar could still be there, as is, perhaps having just been discharged from his military service.  And the country boy wouldn’t require any change except that he’d be a civilian instead of a soldier.  The NCO would have to go, unless he was maybe someone who trained new troops stateside.  But with such a massive re-write…ack.  I think I’d want to finish draft one before I tried it, but I don’t think I can finish draft one.  (Catch-22 and back where we started…)

I had, for a brief time, been pretty charged up about the experiment I wrote about last month.  I even made up a lot of characters, some great story details, and I had a blast making up all sorts of totally useless superpowers for the squad of losers who make up the male lead’s gang.  I even wrote the first, I dunno, couple hundred words.  Just a bit that came to me and was really fun.  (That reminds me, I was thinking of posting some of it on the blog at some point.)  My enthusiasm wore down a little, though, perhaps in part because I kept telling myself to finish the NaNo novel first.  I’m pretty sure I could get the enthusiasm back quickly enough, but should I?  I mean, shouldn’t I finish the other one first?

I dunno.  Maybe it doesn’t even matter.  I mean, it’s not like I have a lot of time for it.  Between class, museum work, and blogging, I have very little time for anything else.  (Though blogging will take up less time after I finish researching for April A-to-Z.  Slightly less, anyway.  Maybe I spend too much time on my blogs…)

It doesn’t help, of course, that my arm is getting worse, and it’s now painful to try to type in most positions.  I’ve been put on new medication, which hasn’t helped, they did another MRI, which revealed nothing, and now I’m scheduled for a spinal tap next week, so they can find out if this is MS or something else.  (I’m rooting for it to be something else.  From what little I’ve read, I really don’t want to have MS.)  I don’t want to go through such a horrible procedure, but if it lets them figure out what’s wrong with me and thus enables them to fix it, then it’ll be worth it.  But I’m told I’ll need to spend 48 hours or more afterwards just lying down and recovering.  Which is a problem, because lying down makes my arm worse.  Maybe I can lie down on my back and read, holding the book up at arm’s length.  That might work.  Maybe.

Ugh.  My life sucks at the moment.  That’s the short version.

On/Off Topic

Published January 12, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Since the year of daily posts ended, my blog’s “topic” has become largely Greek mythology, with some history thrown in.  (And some random nonsense on Mondays…)  From that point of view, this post will be “off topic.”  But in the sense of the whole “grad student” aspect of the blog’s title, this is “on topic.”

Lately, I’ve been worried about the coming semester.  Not crazy worried — and in some ways not as worried as I am about the doll I partially ruined the other day *sob* — but still worried.  Or maybe “concerned” would be the right word.

Classes start on the 20th.  (Well, my classes start on the 20th.  Technically the semester starts on the 19th.)  So I have a very short window to get this sorted.

Because, you see, I’m wondering if I should drop one of my classes.  I know, it seems crazy to drop a class before it’s even started, right?  But the thing is that I haven’t paid my tuition yet; if I drop the class before it starts, then I don’t have to pay the tuition for that class, just for the one I am taking.  If I let the semester start, then I have to pay the full amount, and they’ll refund part (or maybe all) of the tuition for the class I drop.  But since I’m not the one actually paying the tuition (ugh, how embarrassing to have to admit that!), they’d be refunding the money to the wrong person (me), instead of to the person who actually paid it in the first place (my father).  So I’d rather avoid the refund situation if at all possible.

I’m signed up for two courses, one on Intellectual History, and one that’s more about the ties between history, artifacts and museums.  Technically, the latter isn’t even part of the History MA program, but the Museum Studies program that’s also in the History Department.  The former is going to be hellish in terms of reading (I’ve had this professor before, and he usually has us read a book a week, and write a reaction paper to it in the same week) because it’s more or less the history of philosophy, and my few interactions with philosophy texts in the past have not been fun.  The latter has only two books listed with the school bookstore, and I have no idea what the workload will be like, since the syllabus hasn’t been posted yet.  The former is something I feel I truly need for my thesis (though little of the material is likely to tie in directly), and the latter is something I feel might be useful for the job I’m hoping to get at the museum where I’ve been volunteering for about four or five years now.

Two classes should be a small workload for a graduate student, you may be thinking.  And at most schools, you’d be right.  But everyone’s confirmed that the workload in this history program is excessive — considerably higher than at other universities.  And the courses are all designed with the expectation that you’d only be taking one course at a time.  Because a lot of the students in the program are getting their MA while working full-time, often teaching at the high school level or lower, which is also why most of the classes are at night.

But that’s the History MA program.  The Museum Studies program is structured, and expects its students to be taking a number of courses every semester (I’ve seen the outline of the program, and while I don’t recall the specifics, I think it was around three or four courses a semester; you know, the normal level).  Therefore, each class in the Museum Studies program probably has a lower workload.  So maybe I could handle taking both classes.  And yet I think I’ll have trouble getting through some of the less pleasant authors (say Aristotle and Freud) or the longer works (say Plato’s Republic) in a week even without an additional class to worry about.

What bugs me here is that I’m going to have to make my decision without all the facts.  Unless I can see the syllabus before I decide, I can’t know what the workload is.  I can’t know if I’d be able to handle it.  (Though I can’t truly know that until I try it, even if I do see the syllabus.)

Ultimately, I’m torn.  I don’t want to have to do my whole MA one class at a time.  That’ll take forever.  On the other hand, I don’t want to take a course if I can’t give it my all; if I can’t do it right, I’d rather not do it at all.  (Ironically, that’s rarely my attitude outside of my academic endeavors.)

Dropping the philosophy Intellectual History course isn’t an option, because intellectual trends over the past 3000 years are extremely important to my thesis.  But the museum course could help me get a job at the museum…or maybe not.  I mean, I doubt they’ll be covering what I’m doing at the museum.  (I’m already considered the place’s expert at the software in which the collection is cataloged.)  And it probably doesn’t really deal with our kind of museum much.  (I think one of the textbooks is about religious artifacts in museum collections.  That’s not the kind of museum I’ve been volunteering at.)  And yet…it’d look good to the board if I was taking museum-related courses, surely.  (Though I have no idea if the board would really be involved in the hiring process.  I don’t know how that works.)

So…yeah.  Torn.  Should I drop it, should I not drop it?  I don’t know.

It’s more than likely that this museum course will be taught again and again…but it sounds like it was a computer error that let me sign up for it without getting authorization first, and that error might not come again.  (Then again, maybe that error was caused because I was in the Museum Studies program’s files, having previously applied to the program.  All I know is that another student in the History MA program tried to sign up for the course and was told she’d need permission from the instructor, but I was able to sign up for it like any other course.)

I keep hoping the syllabus will be posted before I have to make up my mind.  But I figure I absolutely must decide by Sunday at the latest, and preferably well before that.  And yes, I have been thinking about this all break, even before I found out just how hellish the reading list for the Intellectual History course is.  I just haven’t been able to come to any decisions yet.

Sorry.  I’m sure this is very boring to read.  I just…sometimes I think better when I’m typing than any other way, and I hoped that if I poured my dilemma out like this, some great solution would come to me as I was going.  Doesn’t seem to have worked, though.

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.

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