total loser

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IWSG – Always Second-Guessing Myself

Published August 5, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

So, following July’s Camp NotNaNo, I find I have new problems and complications.

A couple of months back, I posted about my plan to make a video game set in the world of my low-fantasy-with-a-few-steampunk-elements novel series.  (I call it a series, but I’ve only written the first novel, and it’s still in the rewriting phase.  Although the current draft is light years better than the first draft.)  A lot of July was spent working on developing and filling out a template containing all the information I would need for each country.  I only got through the first five…and technically didn’t actually get through any of them, because I added a bunch more questions so late in the month that I never answered any of the new questions.

Thing is, it took me that long to do that much world-building prep for the countries where I didn’t need to do a lot of research first.  Meaning, of course, that the other countries will take even longer to complete.  But that’s only a minor complication, not a problem.

The problem is that my plan was to have 26 countries in this fictional world.  (Although after putting together a really bad attempt at a map, I have been toying with the idea of reducing that to about 23 or 24, because one of the continents turned out much smaller on that map, which made me just stop and think about how hard it would be to create really distinct countries for a continent based on pre-European-contact South America, since most of the cultures we only know about archaeologically, leaving a lot of gaps in what we know, particularly since none of those cultures had writing.  Anyway, whether I end up making 23 countries or 26, if I made the international trade and travel game, that would mean a minimum of 23 cities to visit, yeah?  A bit large for a traditional RPG (I think most of the JRPGs I play tend to max out around 15 towns), but these wouldn’t be full towns for personal exploration, so on the surface that doesn’t sound too bad.

Only it would actually be a lot more than that.  The plan for the game, so far, is that you start out in the Britain-like country, working for an international trading conglomerate, and doing trade runs within the country.  Then after an event involving sky pirates, you end up moving up in the company, and get to do trade runs with the rest of the world.

If the home country has 5-8 towns and all the rest of the world has only one town per country, that’s going to be really lame.  But if all 23-26 countries also have 5-8 towns…!  That’s a minimum of 115 towns and a maximum of 208.

Even 115 towns is way more than I would be able to create, I’m fairly certain.  Not by myself.

I haven’t entirely given up on the idea, because I think it really would make a kick-ass game, but I’ve put it on the back burner, as an “after I’ve finished the novels” type thing.  And fortunately, I don’t have to do as much of the world-building in order to work on the novels.  They won’t be visiting every single country in the world in the novels, so for any country they don’t go to, I don’t need the nitty-gritty details, just the big picture, particularly about how the country relates to the other countries around it.  And some of it is not really relevant even for countries they do go to.  For example, the care of the elderly never came up in the first novel, so if I failed to answer that question on the Britain-equivalent, then that’s all right.  And it isn’t likely to come up in the brief time they’re in the France-like country at the beginning of the second book (they end up leaving pretty quickly, escorting the deposed-queen-in-hiding to her brother, the king of the next country over) either, so if I have proven unable to answer that question there, too, it’s not important.  On the other countries where I don’t know yet what the plot of the book will entail (technically, I don’t even know how many books there will be total or how many countries they’ll end up visiting, though I have definite plans for the ones based on Rome, Greece, Egypt, Japan and the Incan Empire), for the most part as long as I can answer the bigger questions, I can fill in the smaller details later if I realize the novel in question will require it.  But there’s still a massive amount of work to be done, in both research and world-building question-answering, and it’s still feeling quite overwhelming.

Meanwhile, a brief burst of renewed love for ancient Greek mythology had me spend a few days rereading large chunks of my quasi-Young Adult novels about the daughters of Achilles and Odysseus and the son of Aias, and I’m feeling like maybe they’re worth polishing up and releasing (for free via LeanPub and itch.io, of course) after all.  And although when I first realized that I said “no, after the world-building and its related novels,” wouldn’t it make more sense to do the rewrites on a completed novel series first, as that’s a shorter process than all that research and world-building and rewriting and writing?

Or am I just trying to make excuses to get out of so much tedious, low-level research?

Part of me fears it’s just excuses, in all honesty.

Right now, I’m still trying to finish the fanfiction piece I started in the final days of July, but after that…well, I want to start rereading Emma to be able to polish up the fusion piece I wrote based on it (since I kind of promised (well, strongly implied, anyway) I would start posting it in the fall) at the end of this month/beginning of next month, but after I’m done with that….I’m not sure.  I might go back to Atalanta and Ariadne for a while instead of keeping going with this tedious world-building.  Between what I’m working on right now and Emma, I want to keep working on the myths associated with the world-building; there are a lot of myths still to write for pretty much all the cultures I’ve already got myths for (I stupidly forgot to include tales of heroes (outside of the epics) in the ones based on Greece and Rome!), and I haven’t even started the myths inspired by the Scandinavian/Teutonic myths.

Ultimately, I’m feeling really torn about what to do.  Especially because now that I’m unemployed, I want to be spending my time working on something that I could somehow make some money at, which means I absolutely should not be writing, because my writing is garbage and will never get me paid.  (Yeah, I could try to make money off it, self-publishing my novels and asking money in exchange for them, but it’s not like anyone would actually cough up said money.  They’d look at the preview chapters and nope right on out of there.  If it’s free, there’s at least a tiny chance one or two people might think the story sounded interesting enough to put up with my crappy writing to get at it.)  Unfortunately, there’s not really much I can do that people would pay me for.  There are all sorts of roadblocks cropping up in between me and getting paid to proofread others’ works, and there’s nothing else I’m good at.  (Okay, technically, I was pretty okay at my job, but no museums are going to be hiring for a couple of years at the rate things are going, so that’s not really relevant.)

Maybe I should try writing non-fiction.  I did have an idea to get together with a former co-worker and put out a book about a particularly underdocumented doll line, but that would depend on her still having her notes on the subject and on our being able to convince the director of the museum to give us copies of all the photos that were taken a few years back of the museum’s large collection of that kind of doll.  It would also depend on getting photos from other museums and from private collectors.  The private collectors part would probably be a lot easier to accomplish than the museum photos.  Still, I should call her at some point and see if she’s interested.  It would at least be something slightly productive to do…

It was just not on today

Published July 6, 2020 by Iphis of Scyros

I slept badly, which makes my body acutely aware of everything all day, so the first time I sat down to write, I literally gave up again without even doing a thing. (I’m not positive I even opened the word processor!)

Eventually got over it a bit and did a little, but not much.

And I’m not even sure how much, because at one point I stopped the timer to go get a glass of water and then forgot to restart it right away when I got back.

Today’s time: ~24 minutes

Time in July’s Camp NotNaNo to date: ~6:25:15.04

I am very immature.

Published August 28, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

—WARNING!—

The following post contains gratuitous smart phone game stories and images.

You have been warned.


So, for reasons that may baffle other minds as much as my own, I have become addicted to Animal Crossing:  Pocket Camp.  (Thankfully not to the point of actually giving in to their constant pestering to spend real money to buy in-game currency.  I am not about to fall for that.)

For those who don’t know, it’s this cute little game from Nintendo (the smart phone dumb-down of a much more in-depth game from various of Nintendo’s consoles (the first one to come to the US was on the Gamecube (which I loved to pieces) but it actually started on the N64 in Japan) in which you’re this lone human living in a town/campground/whatever filled with talking, anthropomorphic animals who expect you to run a lot of fetch quests for them.  (Well, it’s more complicated than that, esp. in the console versions, but that covers the basics.  Sort of.)  In the Pocket Camp version, you have a “friendship level” with each animal, and when that hits certain levels, different things open up, like what requests they can make when they’re staying at your personal campground, etc.  At one particular level (15 with most animals, but 10 with some of the early ones), they’ll ask you to make a certain item and add it to your campground.  (It doesn’t have to stay there, of course; you just have to talk to them while it’s there, and then you’re free to remove it again.)  This particular item cannot be crafted until the animal has asked you for it, so it’s a necessity to get all the animals to that point if you want to complete your catalog.  (Of course, without spending copious amounts of real money, you can’t actually complete the whole catalog, because too many items can only be obtained with “Leaf Tickets” which are slowly earned normally, and can be more quickly obtained with an in-app purchase.  So, total catalog completion is impossible, but I want to get everything that doesn’t require Leaf Tickets.  At least they have the decency to split the catalog into normal and “special” categories, and you can complete the normal one without spending money.  Of course, I wouldn’t begrudge spending money once, like to unlock a new character who would sell me Leaf Tickets for the other in-game currency, Bells, which are super-easy to obtain.  (I have, in point of fact, told Nintendo this through the game’s suggestions/complaints menu, but of course they haven’t acted on it.  Maybe after playership drops through the floor following the release of the new Switch game, then they’ll do it.  Or maybe they’ll just shut the game down.  Who knows.))

Aaaaaaanyway, you get a tiny thumbnail of each item to unlock before you actually unlock it, so I knew the well-dressed hippo was going to ask me to have a replica of Michelangelo’s David crafted for him.  And I was expecting, you know, a cheesily polygoned fig leaf at a certain spot on the cheesily polygoned statue….

Read the rest of this entry →

So, I’m back…

Published May 17, 2019 by Iphis of Scyros

Class is over.

I wish I could say “yay, I’m graduating tomorrow!”  But everything that could go wrong yesterday (when my final paper was due) did.  And I mean, yeah, I got the paper turned in.  But I know by now to listen to omens when they’re that overwhelming.  (Seriously, I was crying on my drive home.  It was that bad.)  And those omens were saying “you are an idiot if you think you’re graduating.”

So, rather than getting a diploma mailed to me in a few weeks, I think I’m going to get a letter saying “oooh, no, sorry, you counted your credits wrong!  We could have told you before, but we didn’t, because lolz.”

Okay, yeah, a university would never send a letter that said “lolz,” but you get the idea.

It might not even be that I counted my credits wrong.  What if some jerk pulled my paper out from under the professor’s door and threw it away, just because they thought that’d be a funny prank?  (Yes, the professor actually asked us to just stick the papers under the door to his office.  It’s pretty typical of him.)  Imagine failing your final class because some passing creep decided to have a laugh at the expense of hard-working students!

Anyway, doesn’t matter.

Even if — when — the inevitable letter comes to say I didn’t really graduate after all, I’m done with school.  I can’t handle another semester.  I’m not smart enough.  I was a fool to think I ever had the brains to try getting a Master’s Degree in the first place.

So, now that I’m free from my student responsibilities for good — one way or the other — I’m going to get back to  blogging again.  I’ve been looking over this year’s Read Harder list, and I’ve already met four of the challenges, so I’ll post about those in the next few days.

Other than that, I also want to post my final paper.  Not until I’ve heard back from the school, of course!  (I don’t know how plagiarism checkers work, but if they scan the internet as well as published works, then I could get accused of “plagiarizing” myself.)  It’s not a great paper, but I got a lot of really interesting material, stuff people don’t tend to know about.  If I ever lose my job and win the lottery (lol, like I could win the lottery, especially when I don’t usually even enter it), I think going to England to cull and publish a lot of the primary documents that I didn’t have available for this paper would be a great use of my time.

Posting the paper will probably be three or four posts (it was 27 pages long), and hopefully by then I’ll have figured out how I want to keep going with this blog.  I mean, I know I want to keep posting reports on the books I read for Read Harder (and noteworthy ones that aren’t for Read Harder), but I’m not sure what my “usual” posts will be.

I need to get back in the habit of writing — I definitely plan on taking part in July’s Camp NaNo session — so I may post about that process, and/or post some of the results.

Other than that…I dunno.  I’ll see if I get a new rhythm going, or if the blog just becomes “random eclectica.”

IWSG: NaNo time again

Published November 7, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Bah, I really wanted to write a non-IWSG post this month.  I even tossed some ideas around in my head…during the commute to and from work, when I couldn’t do anything about it.

*sigh*

Well, anyway, I actually finished the draft I was working on about mid-month, giving me some time to play around with a new fanfic (which I didn’t come even close to finishing) as well as time to do some prep for NaNo.

I’m pretty confident that I’d have super-duper no problem finishing this year’s NaNo novel if I had no other demands on my time.  But I have a presentation and a paper to prepare (and as of this pre-writing, on Oct. 30, I’ve only had my main source for 24 hours, and have read about five pages of it, max), plus the museum where I work will be decorating for Christmas, which will likely take away the majority of a day when I’d normally be free to write (probably two or three, actually, as I’m going to need at least a day to pull all the toys that will go on display, plus I’m supervising a display case we always fill at a local library for the holiday season), and as Christmas season approaches I’ll have to be working more days as we get more busy at work.  So…yeah, life is going to do its best to throw a wrench in my writing plans.

Maybe there’ll be a freak snowstorm and I won’t be able to go to work for a week.  That’d help me keep caught up on NaNo and my class work.  Might kind of suck otherwise, though…

(Also, I am totally creeped out beyond anything any Halloween-related movie is likely to do.  Not ten minutes ago, a mosquito landed on my computer.  Inside my bedroom.  This is all kinds of wrong, and has left me compulsively scratching all over myself as if it’s already bitten me everywhere (despite that most of me is covered with cloth).  How did it get in my house?  How did it get in my bedroom when I always keep the door shut?  How is it even alive?  I know it was unseasonably warm today (70+ degrees Fahrenheit), but earlier this month we had nights that were down below 40; it should have died of cold.  Even worse, I didn’t wanna squash it on my computer, and so it got away, and now I don’t know where it is…)

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.


 

IWSG – A Day Late (Again)

Published September 7, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IWSG – The NeverReady Story

Published October 5, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

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:

  1. I let it sit for a little while, and write something else.
  2. I give it the once over, looking for major mistakes, and places where whole sections might need to be torn down and replaced.
  3. I give the twice over?  Well, whatever you wanna call it.  I look it over again for mistakes and needed changes.
  4. Let it simmer a while longer.
  5. At least two more passes looking for errors and changes.
  6. Edit something else.
  7. Return to it, and if I can read it two or three times without wanting to change anything, it’s probably ready.  That’s when I run the spellcheck….which is complicated in this new fandom, because I like to change the dictionary setting so that the English character’s POV uses English spellings, and the American character’s POV uses American spellings.  Kind of weird, yeah, but I’d feel like it was lacking all attempts at verisimilitude if my British character (inside his own head) was talking about “color” and “honor” instead of “colour” and “honour”.
  8. Then I read it over one last time as I’m posting it online.
  9. Then I sit back and watch people ignore it.

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.

Missing Letter Monday – No “R”

Published September 26, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

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.

Ugh.

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.


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