Quit telling me what to do, Google!
Who d’you think you are, to tell me what to do?
I’m not gonna do it!
Really, why do you even think I’d need to?
I’ve only uploaded 12 or 13 with “Halloween” in the title.
Quit telling me what to do, Google!
Who d’you think you are, to tell me what to do?
I’m not gonna do it!
Really, why do you even think I’d need to?
I’ve only uploaded 12 or 13 with “Halloween” in the title.
*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.
Please don’t kill me. I know it’s a lame post title.
So for once I actually looked at the monthly theme for the IWSG post, and it was “When do you know your story is ready?”
I actually have two answers to that. One for my original works, and one for my fanfiction, which I’m sorry to say has completely taken over my (writing) life since I allowed myself to return to it for July’s CampNaNo.
The original works answer is easiest, and the reason for the post’s titles: they’re never ready.
There was a time when I thought differently. When I thought they could be polished up and presented to the world. But then I stopped and actually looked at what I was writing, and realized that no, they absolutely could not be. So, I write them, and maybe polish a little, make a few changes to things that really bug me about them, and then I just let them be.
I know it probably seems like a terrible waste of time to write hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of words with no intention of ever letting anyone else read them, but…since no one would read them even if I released them into the wilds of the Internet, what would be the point? It’d be a much bigger waste of time to go through re-write after re-write, trying vainly to make dull stories and uninteresting characters into anything other than what they are, only to fail spectacularly and only sell one or two copies (at $1.99 or less), and even then only to friends and family who would only give very polite “how nice for you” responses.
Now, for fanfiction, it’s a bit different. Because there’s no expectation of perfection in fanfiction (although I wish other writers would at least edit their stuff before posting it!), no one’s going to criticize for a mistake or twenty, and even major characterization errors can go uncommented upon. Plus there’s a built-in audience in the form of other fans of the original work, so a few people will actually read what I’ve written, unlike what would happen if I tried self-publishing my original fiction.
And, of course, for fanfiction, I’m in 100% control, so I can always go back and change something even after I’ve posted it online.
So for fanfiction, it’s easier to decide something is “ready.” I’ve developed a process:
Of course, that’s for short fanfiction. I’m not sure yet how to handle the novella-and-longer stuff. (July’s word tally was 155k. And I’ve got another about 55k that I’ve written since.) It’s going to be a variation on the theme above, I guess.
Well, that lets out most of my topics.
Uh, I mean, most of the topics I actually kinda wanted to talk about.
I guess I could tell my museum tale if I used “desktop” instead of “compute*” and maybe…uh…well…hmm…I guess I could just use…no, that’s got one, too. Dang, that’s just not gonna happen. Not today. (Pity, it was kinda funny…)
What else could I talk about?
School? No, too stultifying.
My house? Ugh, too much of a mess!
The election? God, no!
My fiction? No, too pathetic.
The blog? Way too pathetic.
Maybe I should just put the blog on hiatus until such a time as I actually have things to talk about again. This is just getting sad now.
I suck. Big time.
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.
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?
Well, my biggest reflection is that I chose a theme that was way too complicated. As a result, I ended up getting lazier and lazier about it, and the comparisons started getting cheap, sloppy and almost exclusively stuff I knew well before starting the challenge. (And this, of course, was while taking a class with heavy reading and a paper each week, so it was doubly poorly chosen as a theme.) It actually started feeling like work in the final few days, to the extent where I had to promise myself a reward for finishing — and a bigger one than I’ve promised myself for finishing my classes for the semester!
Next year, I’m gonna do something much simpler. I actually already have something in mind, though I don’t know if I’ll end up doing it or not.
I had written a long bit here explaining why so many of my “first choice,” as it were, topics for posts were nixed and had to be replaced at the last minute. It didn’t really have much to do with April A-to-Z, so I’ve moved it into a different post, so if you want to read about it in detail, please follow that link. I’ll sum up briefly here by saying that my original sources proved unreliable…and as the month progressed, I realized one of my new sources was also somewhat unreliable. Ugh. (BTW, if you saw my “U” post and wondered about the other version of the story, it’s in that other post on the sources, so please check it out!)
Overall, I feel like I changed most of my post’s topics within 24 hours of writing them. So I thought I’d share with you what they were originally going to be about. (I’ll get to a recap of what they ended up being about — and a tally of cultures — after this.) Read the rest of this entry →
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.
Sorry, I forgot!
Sorry (that) I forgot!
There has been much stress here as of late.
There has been much forgetting as of late.
But there will be repairs.
Tomorrow comes the repair person.
Until then I eat pears.
(Uh, sorry, trying to rhyme…Mr. Lawson.)
A poet I am not.
So I’ll stop.
Really, I totally forgot about this. It’s been like that for a while now…
For the first time, I’ve failed NaNo.
In the future, anyone who chances upon my profile will see four wins followed by a loss. They might think something like “Oh, what a shame she messed up after so many successes!”
Of course, if they click further and look at the stats for the failed novel, then they’ll probably ask themselves “Why in the name of sanity didn’t she validate her novel if she had 87,474 words?!”
Well, the obvious answer is that to me, the goal of NaNo isn’t to write 50,000 words. To me, the goal is to write a complete novel.
And I didn’t do that.
Questions and Replies
Can questions be asked that don’t have interrogatives?
Isn’t that more difficult to phrase?
Is there a reason someone might do that?
Is there even a reason for us to discuss this?
Not a one.
Let’s stop, then.
Yeah, it’s super-short.
But it’s NaNo! I don’t have the time!
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