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IWSG – A Day Late (Again)

Published September 7, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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?

April A-to-Z Reflections

Published May 9, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

First Reflections

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.

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!)

Summaries and Scores

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 →

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.

Missing Letter Monday – No “D”

Published December 21, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

“Late”

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.


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Really, I totally forgot about this.  It’s been like that for a while now…

 

IWSG – NaNo Failure

Published December 2, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

Missing Letter Monday – No “W”

Published November 2, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Questions and Replies

Can questions be asked that don’t have interrogatives?
Of course!
Isn’t that more difficult to phrase?
Duh.
Is there a reason someone might do that?
Probably not.
Is there even a reason for us to discuss this?
Not a one.
Let’s stop, then.
Okay.


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Yeah, it’s super-short.

But it’s NaNo!  I don’t have the time!

 

IWSG – Am I still a writer at all?

Published October 7, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Do I really have the right to call myself a writer anymore?  (In a way, I have never had that right, since I’ve never been paid for anything I’ve written, but that’s a more narrow definition than I intend here.)  Other than the myths I’ve haphazardedly re-told for this blog — and a couple of odd short stories for Missing Letter Mondays — I haven’t written anything for many long months; no significant amount of writing since Camp NaNo in April, and even that wasn’t all that significant.  (I think I set my goal to about 20k.)  And I’m not even sure if I’m going to take part in NaNo this November.  (Though admittedly that’s because of time concerns more than anything else; I have two research papers due in mid-December, one 25 pages long, the other 5,000 words long, which comes to about 20 pages, as far as I can tell (based on the length of my 1,000 word papers for the same class).  So in November I will be neck-deep in research.  I also have a presentation to do at some point that month, I think.)

I’m not sure exactly why I don’t seem able to write anymore.  It may be due to any number of factors.  I can think of a few possibilities, off-hand.

1) Following the successful conclusion of my quasi-YA novel series in the first draft stage, I told myself it was time to buckle down and do some re-writing, first on my Trojan War novel — which the quasi-YA novels are kinda-sorta a sequel to — and then on the series, to try and get them all polished up in the hopes that I might someday (self-)publish them and maybe get one or two people to read them, and maybe even to pay me for them.  But I’m no good at re-writing, and actively detest having to scrap scenes/sequences/chapters/et cetera and start over, which I had to do at several places in the Trojan War novel.  (In fact, I still haven’t finished the do-over on the Telephos chapter.)  However, since I was supposed to be re-writing, I felt guilty about writing anything else.

2) Last year’s NaNo project is still hanging over my head, unfinished.  Well, not “unfinished” as in I never got to 50k, or even that I didn’t finish the book, sort of.  It expanded from a single book to the first in a trilogy, and I finished that first book, but I still haven’t been able to make much headway into the second book.  I think it’s about 20-30k, but I’ve barely even made a dent in the plot.  Dent nothing, I’ve barely even scratched it!  (In addition to the fact that my characters are always far too chatty, the series has way too many of them, which makes it very long without accomplishing as much as I’d like.  It’s hard keeping up with what so many people are doing, but due to the way the story and plot are structured, there really aren’t any I can safely cut.  Well, maybe I could cut the reincarnation of Antilochos, but that’s about it.)

3) Two characters from the backstory for last year’s NaNo project have utterly taken over my imagination’s life, but I have very little I can do with them.  (Though I have written three (contradictory) short stories about them, and a…I have no idea what to call it.  I was taking a course on oral history last year, and thought the oral history interview was an interesting potential mode of story-telling…and I ended up writing an “oral history interview” with these two characters.  Though not with their actual life story for the backstory — in that they both die young — but in a continuation from one of the short stories.)

Okay, while I blame all three of these situations, I think #3 is probably the primary culprit, so I’m going to go into it in more detail.  (Though I’ve said some of this before.  I apologize to anyone who’s already read that stuff, because there’s going to be old news mixed in with the new stuff.)

So that NaNo novel was an anime-inspired sci-fi piece, quite literally Mobile Suit Gundam meets the Trojan War.  Not that it’s a fanfic cross-over, mind you.  It’s just the Greeks and the Trojans reincarnated into the far future, which has giant robots and operates on a very Gundam-style set of story rules.  (Though there’s also a tiny bit of influence from Macross and Martian Successor Nadesico.)  Because the reincarnation of Cassandra could remember all their previous lives, I had to know what they all were, so I could have her talk about their past lives consistently, without relying exclusively on their original lives.  But for some reason the versions of Achilles and Patroclos who were killed in the 1972 massacre (mass hysteria in a snowed-in ski lodge) really struck a chord with me, and have refused to go away.  I’m not sure why, exactly.  It helps that 1972 is only slightly outside of my own life experiences (born in ’75) and thus something I’m more readily able to imagine with some degree of realism, unlike the 1880s, or the French Revolution, or the future.  (Okay, I can imagine all kinds of futures, but…they tend not to be terribly consistent.)  Possibly more important is that in the 1972 version, for whatever reason, their love is exclusive.  I mean, in the actual NaNo novel, the reincarnation of Achilles has sex with four or five people, or rather, three or four women in addition to the reincarnation of Patroclos.  (And the reincarnation of Patroclos does have sex with one woman in the course of the book, though not much attention is drawn to that fact.  Even most of the cast assumes that he’s not interested in women, only in his boyfriend, and he’s always very annoyed that he has to explain that he does have girlfriends, it’s just that he doesn’t have one at the moment, and what with the fact that 95% of the people he’s ever met just died, he doesn’t really think this is a good time to be dating.  (Not that that stops the reincarnation of Achilles from chasing every skirt he sees.  (Not that they actually wear skirts, mind you.  That’s just a figure of speech; they all wear identical jumpsuits.)))  This is typical of their relationship in all the lives — including the original one — except that one in 1972.  There, instead of being bisexual, they both become homosexual, planning to spend the rest of their lives together.  And, technically, they do.  It’s just that in the original version, “the rest of their lives” is three days.  That’s probably one of the other reasons they’ve taken over like this, too; the extra tragic nature of the brevity of their love hits the “fanfic” nerve in me, the “I’ve gotta fix this story!” nerve.  (Though another part that’s important is the fact that this particular reincarnation of Achilles is much nicer than the original Achilles, and less shallow than the one in the actual NaNo novel.  Though the fact that he’s nicer was only really set up as I started writing those short stories, so they had kind of already taken over by that point, or were starting to, anyway.)

Oh, I should explain that.  See, it’s been one of my…hmm, what to call it?  It’s not a “writing technique” as such, but I’m not sure what else to call it.  A way in which my writing bleeds into my real life?  Well, whatever it is, it’s been the case at least since college — and probably, in a slightly different manner, far longer than that — that I tend to think about the primary romantic couple in whatever I’ve been writing lately.  All the time.  See, my life sucks.  It always has.  Being me is no fun, so whenever I’m not actively doing something that requires my attention, I have a tendency — and this is not a conscious thing, it just happens — to imagine myself as the woman in whatever is my current pairing, whether it’s a pairing out of something in pop culture, or a pairing from something original I’ve been writing.  At some point, this switched me over from making up new stories advancing the plot to making up stories that are alternates to the plot.  (I blame my Final Fantasy VII period; there wasn’t a lot to do with that pairing in “advancing the plot” because the further you get in the “official” story, the more convoluted and yet pointless it becomes, not to mention the fact that characters are not terribly consistent from one game to the next, so it was more satisfying to make up completely alternate stories, simply borrowing the characters.)  So in taking over my mind’s “primary couple” position, these two also activated my “fanfic” senses in a big way, and instead of advancing the plot, I end up making up new ways for them to get together romantically, never really advancing any new plots much beyond that.  (And I won’t go into how awkward it is that suddenly I’m imagining myself as a guy.  It’s fortunately an unconvincing bit of imagination, but…still not one I’m entirely comfortable with.  I just can’t seem to get it to stop!)

So, lately I’ve been wondering if I should excise those two from the backstory of the sci-fi novel — I can easily enough make up a new story to go there (in fact, I have one in reserve that suddenly snuck into something unrelated I was writing, though that was originally set around now, but shifting it back to the 1970s wouldn’t be that difficult) — and give them their own story, their own book, in the hopes that that will exorcise them from my mind, and let me move on to other things.

No idea if that’ll work or not; I’ve never had anything quite like this happen to me before.

Of course, the problem is that despite the book they’re part of the backstory for being rather silly and outlandish, these two characters are very down-to-earth and their story is supposed to be grim and highly realistic.  (Not that it would be if I ended up trying to write the original story of the slaughter at the ski lodge.  I don’t know what it would end up being, but realistic would not be on the table.)  So it’s hard to imagine them in the kind of weird stories that I generally write.  And there’s no hope of writing a realistic “what sort of suffering would a newly gay couple have gone through in 1972” because I have no idea what that would be, don’t have the time to research it, and even if I did, I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, and any attempt to imagine what it’s really like to be a gay man would definitely come out flat and unconvincing, and possibly unintentionally offensive.  (Not in the usual, mocking ways, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my imagination failed so spectacularly that it ended up giving offense.)

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have any ideas of what to do with them in a NaNo novel for this year.  I did have an idea, and I think it has some potential…if I can ever move past their role in it to think about the rest of the plot.

It would be a bizarre thing where they’re in a chopper over Vietnam (it was part of their original backstory that they served in the Special Forces in the Vietnam War) in 1970, and then the helicopter gets sucked through a vortex of some sort, and crashes on an island, in a very Island of Dr. Moreau kind of thing.  (Not that I’ve read that book yet…)  I have one other character in mind, the main go-between for the mad(?) scientist and everyone else on the island, but only the sketchiest of ideas for everyone else.  To the extent that I have no idea how many other people were even on their helicopter.  My file of plot ideas for this is a couple of thousand words long by now, and most of them are about how the no-longer-reincarnation of Achilles is going to confess his love, and how it’ll play out from there, and what their new backstory is, but only where their romantic relations are concerned.

The irony about this seeming monomania for the love stories is that they rarely feature heavily in anything I’ve written.  Despite my personal obsession with them, they tend to be low key and not very important to the plot.  (For example, I wrote a vampire novel — intended to be the first in a series — quite a long time ago, maybe 2005ish.  The lady vampire intended to be the overall heroine of the series isn’t even in the first book, though she’s discussed a lot, and the fellow intended to be the overall hero of the series is only a supporting character, and the fact that he’s in love with her is only vaguely hinted at.  In a short story taking place between book 1 and book 2 (and I did actually start book 2, for what little that’s worth) I did have scenes involving both of them, but aside from some flirting, the romance really didn’t come up at all; in fact, the main drive of the story was him getting involved with another woman, little knowing that she, too, was a vampire.  (He’s never been willing to act on his love for the heroine because she’s a vampire, you see.  Well, and some other reasons — including that she’s his employer — but that’s the big one.)  They weren’t going to get together as a couple until book 4…which was going to be the next time that the hero even showed up.  And yet these two were my “pair” for a long time.)

Despite that I’ve started coming up with this plot for a NaNo novel for this year, I doubt I’ll really take part in NaNo this year.  Given how little of my research I’ve done so far for those final papers (I’ve got tons of library books sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to read them) I have a feeling that I really won’t have time.

And I’m no longer sure if I’m even capable of it.  I feel like my writing muscles have atrophied.  It’s very distressing.

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