owlmoose: (quote - questions)
I have returned! Yet another successful FogCon: in the books. Probably jamming two days into one post is too much, but no matter how much I tell myself I can wait for tomorrow to write about today, the fact is I'm very unlikely to do it.

My first panel of the day might also have been the best of the con, and certainly the one that I heard the most people talking about over the rest of the weekend. It was entitled "When Do You Pick Up A Blaster?" and was about revolution: how revolution is depicted in speculative fiction, what fiction gets right and wrong, what can we learn about real-life uprisings from fictional ones, and what is, or should be, the tipping point for the decision to use violence as a tool. One of the panelists, guest of honor Ayize Jama-Everett, suggested that there are types of violence other than physical, namely social and economic violence, and said that the "objective of violence is free the colonized mind from the colonizer. How you define violence is an interesting topic -- another panelist said that he doesn't consider property damage, like bombing empty buildings and shattering store windows, to be the same thing as violence, and although I'm not convinced I agree, it's an interesting point. (Or going back to the previous point, you could consider it a form of economic violence against the property owners). To cover the discussion property would take better notes than I took, but a few other points I wanted to consider: a definition of revolution as when the unimaginable becomes commonplace; the suggestion that you should be willing to risk dying before you risk killing; that you lose something when you fight, even when you win (sometimes it's worth it, but take the costs into considerations); revolution will always take longer than you think it will. As you might imagine, I got a lot to think about here, and took more notes than during any other panel. Lots of discussion centered around the Black Panther Party, and although I'm going to save most of my book recs for another post, I wanted to make note of one here: Black Against Empire, a recent history of the Black Panthers.

Lunch was the annual FogCon banquet, where I sat with friends old and new and chatted about a number of things -- for one, I ran into a fellow Dragon Age fan, and then we decided to stop boring the rest of the table to death and talk about the Hugos instead. Then my afternoon consisted of two guest of honor events. First was an interview with the other guest of honor, Delia Sherman, who talked about her writing process and her stories. After that, Ayize Jama-Everett gave his GoH presentation, a conversation with Afrofuturist Lonny Brooks. The theme of the talk was Jama-Everett asking Brooks to help him imagine a future that isn't bleak. A challenging project in these times, but I think also a worthy one. Some of Brooks's ideas included looking at Peter Diamandis and his thoughts on abundance, platform cooperativism (a worker-centric alternative to the so-called sharing economy promoted by companies like Airbnb and Uber), and diverse communities that celebrate difference rather than fighting against it or practicing separatism.

After dinner -- I crashed an event for members of a writing message board, and had a great chat with a doctor from Illinois whose name I unfortunately cannot remember -- was my one panel of the con, "Between the Pixie and the Crone: Middle Aged Women in Speculative Fiction". Other members of the panel included the aforementioned GoH Delia Sherman and the always-entertaining Ellen Klages, so that was not intimidating at all. Unrelated in any way to the panelists (they were all great), the discussion got tense in a couple of places, which I think is a risk with any panel on a topic that deals in a trope about women at a con that tries to be feminist -- it's going to hit too close to home for some people, feel completely off the mark to others, and it's easy to fall into talking stereotypes. But overall I think it went pretty well. Folks seemed engaged, asked good questions and made good recommendations, and almost no one left before the end, which are all positives, and I got to make most of the points I had planned, including a comment about not falling into the trap of defining all women by their relationship to motherhood, even including women who are mothers, which got a little "whoop!" from someone in the crowd. Last up was a panel on podcasting, which focused almost exclusively on fiction podcasts and never even got to fannish pop culture reviews, although I did get to rec Black Tapes and found a few new shows to look up. Afterwards I wandered by the bar, where I hung out for a little bit before bedtime.

Today I took it a little easier, as I usually try to do on the last day of the con. The first panel of the morning was the guest of honor reading, which I always try to attend and almost never disappoints. I was completely sucked in by Ayize Jama-Everett's reading and bought all three of his books (the only other time that's happened was all the way back in FogCon2, after Nalo Hopkinson read from The Chaos). For lunch I walked over to the farmer's market with [personal profile] forestofglory, and after I went one last panel on how to write dystopian fiction in the age of alternative facts. The panelists agreed that, for all the stories where false information is commonplace and fed to people by the government, no one ever saw coming that we would impose the world of wrong facts on ourselves, without a repressive regime forcing us into it. The discussion was mostly about real-world information bubbles and info overload, less about fiction, but it was still interesting. As usual in this type of conversation, I walked away convinced that librarians are more necessary than ever, and I need to do a better job of turning my information literacy skills into political activism.

Next up: WisCon! Two and a half months away, and I can hardly wait.
owlmoose: (lost - sawyer)
It's actually now the end of Day 2, but last night I was out and about and doing stuff, and I haven't had many opportunities to sit down and take some notes. Much much good stuff has happened today, too, but I want to keep this shortish as I need to get to bed soon, so for now I'll limit myself to yesterday.

Yesterday I went to four events. First up was a panel that ended up more of a round table discussion on how games of all kinds are changing. It's a pretty broad topic, but we still managed to hit the three major types of games -- tabletop (meaning board and card games), role-playing games, and videogames -- and many current trends in gaming, both good and bad. Topics included the role of Kickstarter (great for board games and card games, perhaps less suited to videogames), the rise of co-op board games and how that might relate to the popularity of Pokemon GO, and the ways in which gaming relates to learning, such as this research on virtual reality games as a potential treatment for dementia.

The next panel I attended was entitled "Looking Forward/Looking in the Mirror", regarding the ways in which stories about the future inevitably reflect the time in which they were written. The panelists freely admitted that this question has a different weight to it than it would have in early November, and there was some speculation about how speculative fiction written in the next year or so might change. One panelist freely admitted that she has much less interest in writing dark futures right now, to the point that she's trying to revise story to give it a more hopeful ending. There was quite a bit of talk about Arrival, and the ways in which it sometimes feels like we're living in a dystopia right now (to quote Debbie Notkin, "Get me out of this bad Harry Turtledove novel!"

Next up was dinner with [personal profile] forestofglory and Robyn, a writer who we'd sat next to during the previous panel. After that we went to our last formal panel of the night -- which Robyn happened to be on, although we'd already been planning on it -- which was about writing across genres. Discussion began with the question of why we have so many sub-genres in speculative fiction anyway; marketing is the obvious answer, although some panelists also talked about the value of knowing what to expect from a book before you open it. Sometimes you want a new and exciting experience from a story, but sometimes you want predictability, and ultimately there's nothing wrong with that. Of course, this brought us to one of the inherent dangers of cross-genre writing, because when readers doesn't get the experience they were expecting, the resulting disappointment can affect book sales and reviews. The panelists, who were all pro authors, each brought up various examples from their own experiences, some causing more trouble than others. Someone in the audience asked why genre bending seems to be more of an issue with speculative fiction than other genres, and after some discussion we all came up with an intriguing theory: other genres of fiction (mystery, thriller, romance, etc.) tend to be defined by their plot structures, while speculative fiction genres are defined by their elements (spaceships, wizards, being set in the future...) but can follow almost any structure. I suspect this makes specfic highly flexible but also gives the writer more places to "go wrong" in terms of reader expectations. In the end, the panelists concluded that you can't be too worried about those expectations -- write the story that calls to you, and worry about how to sell or market it later. Lots and lots of book recs out of this one.

Last but never least: ConTention, the annual tradition where a bunch of con attendees get together and argue for an hour and fifteen minutes. This year's debates included some oldies but goodies (Star Wars vs. Star Trek, privacy vs. safety) and some newer ones (The Force Awakens vs. Rogue One, what's the scariest Dr. Who monster, can WorldCon survive if it continues to be primarily based in North America).

And now it's late (and soon to be even later, yay Daylight Saving Time), so I'll come back with today's report tomorrow.

Hmm

Feb. 2nd, 2017 05:21 pm
owlmoose: (star trek - bones and sulu)
My WIP triage didn't turn up much to work on next. Just one story really, a Hawke in DA:I epic that's way too big to finish in one month. I don't want to start a new giant thing immediately after finishing up a different giant thing.

Any suggestions?
owlmoose: (cats - lexi innocent)
Because I'll be out of town for the rest of the week, and not bringing my laptop along, I think it's time to call it in terms of fic writing and posting (although not writing goals for the year -- I'll take care of that when I get back).

Stories Written )

Questions and Answers )

In Conclusion

Not a great writing year, for a number of reasons both personal and structural, although it could have been worse. It seems so long ago, now, with everything that's happened since, but dealing with Lexi's illness, then losing him, took a toll on me in the first part of the year, and then during the second half I was consumed with the election. Either of those issues would have been a problem at any time, but they only worsened the problem of what feels like a long-term writing slump. One thing I did manage to mostly do, though, is meet most of my writing goals, especially the annual ones. I'll be able to take a closer look at that next week; I'll also decide at that time whether to participate in [community profile] getyourwordsout again. Right now I'm leaning toward no, although I could easily be convinced otherwise. One thing I've really lost over the last few years is the feeling of being part of an active community of writers. I fell out of touch with [livejournal.com profile] ushobwri this year, and never really jumped into GYWO at all, and have been mostly off Tumblr lately as well. I need to think about what types of communities and challenges are the most useful to me, and how it all plays into my longer-term issues with motivation. Giving up writing is the last thing I want to do, but I have some big questions to ask myself about what I want out of it.

Progress!

Nov. 28th, 2016 07:04 pm
owlmoose: (ff12 - ashe)
I might have just sent a draft of Wardens of Ivalice Part 2 out to beta. Maybe I will actually finish this thing.
owlmoose: (da - varric)
I got all the way to November 20th without having to post about how I don't have anything to say today, so I guess that's a good thing?

At least I did manage to get a little editing done on Wardens of Ivalice, and roughed out a missing section that was giving me trouble. My plan is to get it to beta this week; we'll see.
owlmoose: (da - alistair sword)
One of the roadblocks I've found in working on this story is that it's just been too long since I played FFXII. And since we recently got rid of our only television that will effectively run a PS2, I don't see the opportunity to pick it up again on the horizon at all. (Dear Square Enix: I understand that this remaster rumor is essentially just a rumor, but can't you at least port the darn thing to modern consoles or iOS? Pretty please?) Probably I need to apply myself to some Let's Plays, but I did find this collection of all the cutscenes, and I watched it over the space of a couple of days last week.



By all, I mean all, not just the FMVs -- it even includes snippets of most major boss battles, at least one shot of each Quickening, and the introductory shots for most of the world areas. The video is over six and a half hours long, and it was worth every minute to remind myself of details of story, landscape, and characterization. The characters' voices live in my head again, more so than they have in years. It's no substitute for living with the characters and Ivalice through a hundred hours of gameplay, but it was decidedly better than nothing.

Making writing progress, too, if slowly. What's mainly got me blocked at this point is giant plot details that I don't know yet. But I'm hoping that sitting down and writing up the character work, the character moments, will give me plot. It's worked before, anyway.
owlmoose: (marvel - steve profile)
Master List )

Questions and Answers )

In Conclusion

I find it interesting that so many of these stories are flashfic written to prompts, and (as mentioned above) that I like them better with some distance. What's missing is writing my own ideas, in part because I haven't been struck with enough ideas to write -- and when I have been hit with an idea, more often than not the writing has fizzled when I don't have a deadline to push toward. (I doubt I would have finished "The Right Partner" or "Face the Music" if they hadn't been Big Bang stories.) I've always known that deadlines are helpful to me, but I still miss the rush of inspiration. There hasn't been as much of that lately. But more on that when I get to my goals post. Stay tuned.

Ooof

Nov. 27th, 2015 11:13 pm
owlmoose: (california - freeway)
I just wrote 4,613 words. In one afternoon/evening.

Don't ever let me do this to myself again.

But hey, good news: I have a complete draft! Yay, complete draft.
owlmoose: (book - key)
(And so the experiment in regular Tumblr cross-posting begins. I'm not going to lie; I'm pretty excited. I hope it works out!)

[tumblr.com profile] maybethings tagged me in a first lines meme, which as far as I can tell is posting 10 first lines from things I've written. Without context, have some first lines:

  1. The first thing Steve knew, after the cold and the dark and the pain like being slammed into a brick wall, was the familiar cadence of a ballgame.

  2. It had seemed inappropriate to hold any sort of wedding festivities on the actual nuptial day of the King and Queen of Ferelden, given that the Blight had ended not even a week before, and so a formal ceremony was called three months later, complete with foreign dignitaries, a feast, and dancing.

  3. Alistair woke in the dead of night -- jolting upright, writhing body twisted in soaked sheets -- and knew it was time.

  4. "I still don’t understand why you forgave me, but I’m grateful that you did."

  5. Once upon a time, there was a young summoner named Yuna.

  6. Carlos snaps his head toward the radio and stops breathing.

  7. The entrance of the church is dark and quiet, a stark contrast to the bright sunshine just outside, to the sounds of the street now muffled by the heavy wooden door.

  8. "Hey Tasha, it's Clint, and it's Day 47 of watching a bunker in the middle of nowhere."

  9. ""They say that Princess Ashelia died of grief."

  10. The newly minted Judge stood before Drace's desk, his arms stiff at his sides, his face hidden beneath a black helm.


  11. I don't think I'll tag anyone here, just invite anyone who wants to do it to give it a try. It's a worthwhile exercise, this little jog down fic memory lane. :)
owlmoose: (B5 - Ivanova)
[personal profile] yohjideranged asked me about the character types I like to write.

I gravitate toward a few character types in my writing. Probably the most common, and the one that other people have commented on most often, is competent women. My favorite character list is riddled with women that fit this mold (Paine, Yuna, Fran, Aveline, Natasha Romanoff, Peggy Carter, Susan Ivanova, C.J. Cregg (whom I've never written, but someday, who knows)...) and when I have to create a one-off OC for a fic, there's a very good chance that she'll be very similar. Most of my female Wardens, too, as is my first Inquisitor, and I tend to push my female Hawkes in this direction as well (which is why I don't really play along with the dominant fandom image of Hawke as a Jo Shmo who just happens to be in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time). I like writing about women, and I like writing about people who, for the most part, know what they're doing, so this is a natural intersection.

Another character I enjoy writing is typified by Alstair Thierin and Steve Rogers: the guy with a strong sense of right and wrong, cares about people and wants to do what he can to help, snarky sense of humor when he lets it show, a bit too earnest, a bit too naive, commits to a course of action and sees it through. I say guy, but Yuna fits this category, too, in a lot of ways. I like competence in a male character as well, although it's not a bulletproof kink in quite the same way.

I also like characters with secret pasts: Auron, Balthier, Paine again. I like digging out the details, figuring out how they might be seeing a situation based on what they know that we don't.

I feel like I ought to have more to say on this topic, but I'm blanking for now. Ask me again later, I might come up with a dozen more. :)
owlmoose: (quote - back to work)
Sure, let's do a post about writing when I haven't written a word in three days. ;)

Anyway, [personal profile] wallwalker asked me to talk about my typical writing process. This got pretty long. )
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro dino)
So folks may have noticed that I haven't been around so much lately, and I haven't been writing a whole lot, either (this is particularly notable in my monthly writing goals posts). There have been some real-world reasons for my absences, but I've had other busy periods in my life without much time to sit down at my computer, and those haven't necessarily kept me from posting -- here when it was my primary posting spot, on Tumblr once I semi-migrated over there.

I've thought about this relative lack of posting off and on: why it might be happening, why I haven't been particularly motivated to change it. But it didn't really come into focus until today, when [tumblr.com profile] tarysande reblogged a great post by [tumblr.com profile] jadesabre301, "Jade's Guide to Not Caring About the Number of Notes You Get" (which I immediately reblogged with a link to "Internet Popularity and The Claw", which seemed an appropriate addendum).

In a way, Jade's Guide isn't anything I didn't already know. These are all guidelines I try to follow, to one extent or another. But it resonated with me right now, particularly Steps 6 and 8: Post When You Write Something and Write More. Because that's exactly what I haven't been doing: posting, and writing more. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized: my problem is The Little Hater.

The Little Hater is a concept presented by the always-briliant Jay Smooth, in a video about creativity and communication and getting stuck. I've posted about this video before*, but we can always stand to watch it again.



The whole thing is worth watching, but here's the key quote:

I’m sure there are people who wake up every day feeling confident that the entire world wants to look at their face and listen to them talk, but I’m not one of those people. When I’m in the groove, and getting work done, and I feel like I’m making the connection with you guys out there… it feels natural to keep showing up and maintaining that connection. But if I go too long without putting work in, and it feels like that connection is broken, there’s a little voice inside my head that starts playing tricks on me, and trying to convince me that the connection was never really there.


Jay calls that voice The Little Hater, and my Little Hater has been dogging at me for ages now, particularly around my journaling. That voice sends me into a death spiral of perfectionism and procrastination, telling me that no one really cares what I have to say, and it isn't really that good anyway, and if I'm going to post something in my journal now, it had better be good to make up for all the days (weeks, months) of inattention. So I'll start on something, but then get stuck on it and don't finish it (like the Agents of SHIELD post I started writing in June), or I don't bother to write it at all (I've had links in open tabs about the latest "misogyny in gaming culture" blowup for weeks now). It happens with fanfic, too; I start a story and then abandon it, halfway through or even as a final draft, after convincing myself that it's not worth posting. I haven't crossposted from Tumblr in forever (except for the fic WIP meme from yesterday), and I haven't reblogged a Tumblr meme or posted fic there in quite a while. A lack of creation leads to a lack of communication which leads to a lack of connection, and that causes a feeling of isolation that feeds back on itself.

The only way I've ever found to break out of these negative feedback loops is to swim upstream against them. Force myself to write even when I'm not inspired, to post even when I'm not 100% happy with the results, and so here I am, writing about this, and putting the post out for the world to see. At the very least, I need to notice this cycle while it's happening, if only to remind myself that it's not reality, it's just The Little Hater.

And The Little Hater is a liar.

Even when it doesn't feel like it.

*I wanted to link that post here, but going through my archives and trying to find it turned into a project that I was using to procrastinate writing this post, which is exactly one of the traps that The Little Hater likes to use against me. ;) So I stopped looking and got to writing; apologies to those of you for whom this is a partial repeat.
owlmoose: (book - key)
I got tagged to do this over on Tumblr, and I figured I'd carry it over here, too.

The rules: Post one sentence, with no context, from all of your WIP. Then tag five other people to do the same. Except I'm not going to tag anyone, but I would encourage everyone to do it. :) It's good for pulling things out of the cobwebs.

Here are mine, for fairly generous definitions of "in progress" and "one sentence". Some of you might recognize some of these.

  • The candles burned out, one by one, as Teagan waited, alone in the parlor.

  • Varric checked the map. “I don’t know why I’m even looking at this,” he said, crumpling it up and sticking it back in his pack.

  • "Miss Leandra?" he said, eyebrows half up, his Starkhaven accent sharp. "And where are you going, alone, at this hour?"

  • "You wanted to fly, right? Here’s your chance."

  • "Beautiful and deadly," said Penelo. "At least we don’t have to worry about darkspawn."

  • It was, in fact, a man Yuna had never seen before, with dark blond hair, a sharp nose, and a sort of machina weapon slung over his shoulder. And unless she was mistaken, very much alive.

  • "I will return with Jack Sparrow in chains, or not at all," Alice replied, making a brief, stiff curtsey.
owlmoose: (ff12 - ashe)
Why am I suddenly struck with all these ideas and inspiration to work on Wardens of Ivalice when I have three other exchange/gift fics in various stages of completion that I really ought to finish first?
owlmoose: (ffx2 - yuna)
Today is my single day off in a marathon concert week (we even had an extra rehearsal on Sunday night). There's only one performance, on Friday night. I have mixed feelings about single shows -- it's nice that I don't lose my entire weekend, but there's way more pressure to be perfect because we don't have another shot at it. One of the pieces is fiendishly difficult, but I found in last night's dress rehearsal that I know it better than I thought I did. As is usually the case. I wish we had another week or so to work on it, but I think we'll do fine.

Meanwhile we are having a heat wave, and it is glorious. I know many of my fellow San Franciscans are melting, but I am so happy. You people who enjoy your cold and your fog get your preferred weather 80% of the year; let me have this moment of cozy warm glory. ;) It's supposed to break tomorrow or Friday, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

The Agents of SHIELD finale was last night, and overall I am pleased. The season had its bumps and its low points, but as a first crack at cross-platform storytelling, I don't think they did too badly. I think I have a larger post brewing on this. Watch this space.

Good progress on DOINK! today. I am inching toward an ending. Let's see if I can get it there.
owlmoose: (ffx2 - paine smile)
Because why not write ladies? But let's go a little deeper than that.

Background: Over on Tumblr today, [tumblr.com profile] saathi1013 pointed out how often we have conversations about why people in fandom write m/m slash, or why they don't focus on female characters. So she flipped the question around and asked us to "celebrate presence instead of justifying absence", suggesting that we talk about why we choose to write and read about female characters. And I am happy to rise to this challenge.

The easy answer is that I am primarily a het writer, and it's pretty hard to write het without writing female characters. That's still a little too facile, though, and I write enough gen that it doesn't tell the whole story anyway. What it comes down to, I think, is that I write stories I want to read. And I want to read stories about women, and their lives, and their relationships (with friends, with family, with lovers, with the women and men in their lives). So I prefer put female characters in the spotlight wherever I can, to give them the recognition I think they deserve.

Of course, there are male characters I love, and whom I will always number among my very favorites. (After all, you also can't really write het without writing about men!) But in whatever I read, watch, or play, I'm always looking for the women. I'm more likely to identify with female characters, and I'm more likely to be interested in where their stories are going. It's difficult for me to enjoy media with no female characters at all, and nothing gets me to disengage from a story or backbutton out of a fic more quickly than cutting the women out of the narrative. Kill off the only woman? Pair up two men in a way that erases or disrespects a canon female love interest? I'm probably done, and I'm most likely not coming back.

I want my stories to reflect the world I see around me in some way. And that's a world that contains women. I write female characters because I can't imagine not writing female characters, and I guess that brings this post full circle: Why not write ladies? The truth is, I can't think of a single good reason.
owlmoose: (dim sum)
The Dragon Age Kiss Battle is still going! Many prompts and excellent stories for your perusal.

And don't forget the Final Fantasy Kiss Battle -- it got off to a bang and then suddenly slowed waaaay down, but there are still a ton of open prompts. Especially for you, Team Ifrit. Yes, you! We're in a solid second place right now, but it would be easy to catch up with just a few more fills. :D

I've written multiple fics for both battles, with ideas for more, and I also wrote a Porn Battle story which I will crosspost here eventually, and then yesterday I made actual progress on my [livejournal.com profile] dragonagebb story, so that was exciting. I might actually get that one done after all!

I was browsing the "finish your stories" community [community profile] onedeadplotbunny, and came across this post about Premise Bunnies: story ideas that are a good premise for a story, but don't really come built in with a plot. And boy did that ever resonate. Wardens of Ivalice, for one major example: it got its start as a premise bunny (Grey Wardens come to Ivalice and fight darkspawn), and the plot has been slow in coming along the way. The Sherlock Holmes/Iron Man crossover, that's stalled at a single chapter, even more so. Most of my crossover ideas and AU ideas are premise bunnies, really, and most especially the occasional flash thoughts I get around original fiction are *always* premise bunnies. And that's even worse, because at least with fanfic premise bunnies I have existing characters and situations to work with, to eventually inspire plots. To take an origfic premise and turn it into a plot seems so daunting that I never even start. Maybe someday I'll figure it out, and maybe I won't, but at least I'm getting a better idea of what's holding me back.

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