pathetic

All posts tagged pathetic

IWSG – Looking Back on NotNaNo

Published December 4, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

Obviously, it was surreal not to be officially taking part in NaNoWriMo.  This is the first time since 2011 that I haven’t done it.

And yet I was still doing it, just not officially.  I still wrote 50,000+ words over the course of November.  A lot more than the 55k I counted, in fact, since I was also posting daily to this blog in order to leave an “official” tally.  (Though technically there was one day that had no post and one that had two, because I took so long one particular day that the post didn’t go up until after midnight.)

Of course, I didn’t do things the normal way in any other regard, either.  I didn’t drop what I had been writing to go straight on to my brand new project.  I didn’t get to the new project until almost halfway through the month.   I don’t know if that was why the new project didn’t really work out for me, or if it was just the exceptionally half-baked way I had planned it out.

I think a little of both, probably.

After giving up on it and letting the failure percolate for a while, I think I’ve nailed down why it didn’t work.  It wasn’t just that it didn’t gel with me, or that I didn’t have any idea who the villain was or even what they were trying to do; I’m such a pantser that I tend to proceed more on momentum than anything else, after all.   And I think that’s what killed it.  I was adhering too closely to the plot that I had generated via Querent (see this post for details), and it mentioned that the thing that almost stops the heroes from setting out on their journey has a wish-fulfillment aspect to it.  So I had them escape the destruction of the pub where they met by passing through the space-time fluctuation that was destroying it (long story) and end up in the very distant past, on a rather paradisaical world, so the wish-fulfillment was just going to be them getting to stay there.  The werewolf secondary heroine was going to be protected from her transformation because there aren’t any moons orbiting that planet, and the main heroine was…um…actually, nothing I came up with even seemed like an adequate wish to fulfill, which is (most likely) part of the reason I was getting derailed.  I was planning on having the king there offer her a major court position, which was to take the place of whatever she would have accomplished if she hadn’t dropped out of what amounts to a magical PhD program, but…she hadn’t really been seeking her degree out of a sense of ambition, so it didn’t really hit that wish-fulfillment goal.

More importantly, because they emerged out of a tense situation into one that was blissful and safe, they had no reason to get closer to each other, and instead their differing personalities (to say nothing of the heroine’s anti-social tendencies) drove them apart, making it completely unlikely that they would ever want to set out on a journey together.

I should have had them emerge into a terrible place, and if I wanted to follow the generated plot by having a nobleman try to stop them going on their quest, it should have been by imprisoning them, not by offering them plush jobs at his court.

I plan to return to it eventually and do it right, with them coming out into a terrible place that forces a bond of friendship to grow between them, but I’m not going to bother until I have at least some idea of who the villain is or at least what the villain wants to do and why they want to stop them.

Meanwhile, I’m just going to keep writing whatever floats around in my crazy brain.

For example…

…I went to see a movie today.  Knives Out, which was absolutely fantastic.  (And I don’t like murder mysteries as a genre, so the fact that I completely loved it is really saying something.  Especially considering how likable the victim was, unlike in Murder on the Orient Express, where the victim was an utter monster and you were glad he’d been horribly and repeatedly stabbed.)  I now have two stories I want to write.

The first, obviously, is a murder mystery (though how I’d write one when I don’t like the genre and never read them is beyond me), but also a fanfiction and slightly…not exactly a fusion with Knives Out, but close, in that the reason I want to write it is because Toni Colette was in Knives Out, as well as in the movie that is my obsession, Velvet Goldmine.  So now I want to write a story wherein Mandy Slade remarries and then her new father-in-law is killed at a party in his enormous, isolated manor house filled with his suspicious family.  It’ll require a lot more planning than I usually do (being almost incapable of writing anything that isn’t sheer pants (in the British sense as well as the “writing by the seat of my pants” sense)) but I should be able to write it, even if it may not turn out very good.

The other…I don’t even know how to describe what it would be.  So, there was this trailer for a movie called Antebellum.  For the life of me, I have no idea what the movie is about.  It looked like they were editing together pieces of three different movies.  It’s probably a horror flick, given the creepy little girl.  (Or rather, it looked like they were taking a Civil War/antebellum South movie, a modern drama and an evil-little-girl horror flick and editing them together (with the occasional literal overlap, like a horse-drawn carriage on a modern city street), so that probably means it’s the latter with trappings of the former two.)  But as my brother and I were discussing the trailers on the way home, we were talking about that one and trying to figure out just what the heck it actually is, and he came to the conclusion I just described, about it being a horror movie, but with, like, time travel or something, and I said how it could be something more novel, like it had a Megazone 23-style setting (wait, is it 23 or 32?), so that the whole thing is actually on a space ship or space station or whatever, and the little girl is patching between different zones of it.  We both agreed that would be much more interesting than whatever likely is actually going on.  I went one further by saying how it could look like it was an evil-creepy-child situation, only then it turns out the creepy little girl is actually the heroine, because she’s able to go into these zones and rescue the clueless inhabitants from their Matrix-like imprisonment.  We both agreed that was definitely not what’s going on in that movie…but now I want to write a story where that is what’s going on.  Dunno if I’ll ever get to that one.  It would be dipping into a lot of genres I don’t read or watch (though obviously I would pick a different past era than the antebellum South, picking instead one I actually like and know a bit about) and again I’d have to do a lot of planning first.  Still, I intend to let it percolate around in my broken brain and see if anything useful dribbles out later on down the line.

.

..

Ew, that sounded really gross.

Um, anyway, rather than either of those things, my next writing projects are likely to be two very odd fanfiction pieces I now have ideas for.  Probably my favorite thing I wrote this past month — and certainly the most unexpected thing I wrote — was a fanfiction fusion combining Velvet Goldmine and Henry V.  (A fusion being different from a cross-over in that it’s literally reworking the world so — wait, let me give examples instead.  Mickey’s Christmas Carol, in which Mickey Mouse & co. actually were the characters from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an example of a fusion, while the comic book stories that have universes collide, people or ships pop across dimensions, etc., would be examples of cross-overs.  (Crossovers are apparently very common in comic books, to hear my brother tell it.  And I’m not talking about two books by the same company happening to converge; I’m talking about things like DC and Marvel cooperating to have their heroes meet each other, or things that let the crew of the Enterprise meet the Doctor.  (And yes, both of those have happened in comic books.  Published, official ones.))

Anyway, I had thought about doing fusions for a few other literary films those actors made (specifically Midsummer Night’s Dream and Emma) only it seemed a bit too complicated.  But I just worked out how to do both of them, so I’m going to see if I can get those done in time to turn in at least one more of them for the Yuletide event.  Emma may be too complex to get done in time, but the other I think there’s a good chance of.

IWSG – Untitled

Published October 2, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

So, I had this post planned out where I was going to spend the whole time bitching about how the new NaNoWriMo site is broken and hideous and it’s completely killed my desire even to participate, and…

…but I’m not gonna write that post, because I don’t want to just sit here soaking in negativity.

Then I thought I’d write about the monthly question (which I haven’t even looked at in ages, lol) only it turns out I really don’t have anything to say about this month’s optional question.  So instead I shall flounder about for something to say.

I haven’t really been doing much writing lately.  I mean, I try, but I keep failing to get much done.  Not because I have no drive to write and not because I’ve hit a wall in what I’m writing, but because it’s just too freakin’ hot.  I mean, today’s October 1st (pre-writing) and it was over 90° today!  (Which is over 32° for those of you living in civilized countries where you learned metric everything instead of this backwards place.  Are we, like, the only country in the world that hasn’t gone metric yet?  (Although, I have to say, “90” sounds a lot more impressively awful as a temperature than “32” does.  So that’s one small something to be said for Fahrenheit…))

And no, I don’t live in a tropical area where that’s normal.  When I was a kid, October would have been in the 50s or 60s.  Maybe 70s if I was a particularly warm fall.  But those days are long gone.  And yet some people still deny climate change.  Ugh.

Anyway, my body has basically overloaded on hot weather, as far as I can tell, and is violently insisting that any, say, contact between two parts of my body (arm and side, for example) is being interrupted by a frying pan just pulled out of the fire.  Makes it very hard to find a position to sit in to write that doesn’t end up being brutally uncomfortable.  In consequence of which, I haven’t been able to get much writing done.  But a cold front is supposed to move through Wednesday night (or was it Thursday morning) and the rest of the ten day forecast is much more seasonal, so maybe I’ll be able to start writing again.  And sleeping through the night without being woken up by feeling like I’m lying on top of a stove.

It’s a pity that I can’t write for such annoyingly external reasons, because my current story is going pretty well.  My half-pantser/half-plotter method sometimes means I end up with a convoluted mess with an entirely unstable tone, but sometimes it means that as I’m going along I have a terrific idea that ties everything together and fills in holes I had in my plan up until that moment.  I had one of those “aha!” moments just the other day; the main plot of the piece is about a journalist writing a story about the disappearance of a fellow journalist, who the police won’t go looking for, and having no other way to go about it, he ends up investigating the story she had been working on, about the thirty year anniversary of an actor’s defection.  (This is set in 1984, btw.)  So, I knew all along that it was in some way because of that story that she disappeared, but I didn’t know quite why, but then a random little detail I threw in about some of the other research the journalist was doing into the defection told me exactly what the cover-up was that the first journalist had stumbled onto (or that someone at least thought she had stumbled onto) that made her a target.

I’m still left with the nagging question of “so did they get her, or is she in hiding somewhere, and if they got her, is she still alive, or did they kill her?”  It’s a hard question to answer.  I tend to write light, fluffy stuff, so part of me just wants to say “yeah, it was a narrow shave, but she managed to get somewhere safe” but part of me is saying “the journalist’s story is going to have more impact if she was captured and/or killed, so that the exposé can get the crooked politician behind the cover-up impeached.”  See, it’s not set in the real 1984, but an alternate, slightly dystopian one.  Like, in the previous story that this is a sequel to, I had an editor tell the journalist that unlike the man who owned the magazine, he wasn’t a “rabid” liberal, because “if it weren’t for the censorship and the martial law, I’d quite like President Reynolds.”  It’s that kind of a dystopia, you know?  Not so far removed from reality that it’s unimaginable for it to happen (the martial law having first been declared after the attempted assassination in 1981, which I figure would have happened regardless of who was president, since it wasn’t in the slightest bit about Reagan’s politics) but still just off enough that we get jarring statements like that from someone who claims to be at least somewhat politically opposed to the administration.

I might do a halfway between them solution, where she was captured by whichever government agency was stalking her, but a whistleblower-type inside the agency had protected her from any serious negative consequences.  Dunno.  I’ll have to see how it feels when I get there, I guess…

…only who knows when I’ll be able to get there if things don’t cool off first.

Abandoned Book Report: The Alchemyst

Published December 13, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

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

Except that I hated it.  I remember that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where do I even start?

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

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

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

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.


 

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 – 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.


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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?

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