the_gneech: (Default)
Critiques can be scary. >.>
Critiques can be scary. >.>

Picture if you will, the valar and maiar gathered around discussing creation.

Reviewee: I have invented a new kind of animal! It lives in the water, has gills to breathe, and flippers that enable it to move. I call it a “fish.”

Critiquer: Yeah, that’s good, but… what if this “fish” lived in trees and had wings to fly with?

Reviewee: Well, the point was to make a thing that lived in the water…

Other Critiquer: Man, I really like this “lives in trees and has wings” idea! You should give your fish brightly-colored feathers and have them sing.

In the FurTheMore writing track, writing groups and critiques — and specifically, how to give good critiques — were a major focus. Having only recently gotten into the world of actually being in a writing group, this discussion was fresh in my mind as I watched and winced at a person in a recent group meeting having their perfectly good kid’s book being twisted into all kinds of weird pretzel shapes. Instead of critiquing the story that she had brought, the discussion kept turning to all sorts of different things the story could have been (or to some of the critiquers’ way of thinking, should have been).

The thing reached a head when one of the critiquers suggested that the entire story could be told in pictures, with none of the reviewee’s words at all, to which the reviewee replied, “So what’s the point of my even doing it?”

Please don’t do this to people.

Giving useful feedback can be difficult, and the thing about writers particularly is that we’re a creative lot. When we see an idea that sparks thoughts and possibilities, we want to spin new stories out of them. It’s as natural as breathing! But in the context of writing critique, it’s as useful as putting a fish in a tree and telling it to fly.

Unless the reviewee is specifically looking to brainstorm new ideas (which can also be a great exercise), your job as a critiquer is to address the text at hand: what works, what doesn’t, and specifically if the writer succeeds at making the text do what it’s supposed to do. “Maybe your fish should have its eyes on the side of its head to more easily spot predators” is useful feedback. “Your fish should be a bird” is not, and worse, it can be actively harmful. I don’t think anyone at the meeting intended to tell the reviewee that she had wasted her time and effort creating a useless story, but that was clearly the message she was receiving.

Giving Good Critique in Three Easy Steps

So, what should you do? Try this…

“Get” the Story. Look for what the writer was trying to accomplish, as well as fairly universal things like “Do the sentences make sense?” and “Are the characters engaging?”

Talk About What Worked, What Didn’t Work, and What Was Great. Using the famous “shit sandwich” model (the bad stuff surrounded by good things on either side), give feedback that’s as specific as possible. Remember that the point is to discuss the story that’s actually on the page, not the amazing story you came up with in your own head.

Suggest Changes. Here’s where you can toss in your own ideas, but keep in mind that the changes should be to address what didn’t work first and foremost. If the reviewee’s fish has given you a great idea for a bird, go ahead and mention it as a possibility for expansion or a new direction if you like. Or maybe go create your own bird. You’re a writer, after all! And the best part is that by doing that, you empower the reviewee to make an even better story, instead of tearing them down and making them wonder what the point of having written it was.

the_gneech: (Default)

A story fragment that popped into my head last night, starring my tabaxi rogue. Enjoy!

Shade-of-the-Candle slid the final stretch of the ramp in a
low crouch, dropping forward onto one hand from her momentum when she hit the
bottom. The torch she’d been carrying clattered across the floor, extinguished,
but to her surprise, she didn’t need it.

She’d been deposited into a large, round chamber with
concentric pillars that were covered with writhing hieroglyphs. The middle of
the ceiling was dominated by a cluster of dimly-luminous indigo crystals; sitting
cross-legged on a dais under the crystals, was the robed figure of a man.

Or… not? There were too many arms, for starters, and the skin
visible on the man’s forearms and hands was a dusky blue-gray, but that may
have been a trick of the light. The fact that each of the four hands had two
thumbs, one on either side, also did not inspire confidence. The man’s face, if
indeed he had one, was completely obscured by his cowl, but Shady had no doubt
that he was aware of her.

Shady blinked at him. He didn’t move. The tomb was supposed
to have been lost. It was definitely trapped. She’d had a tough scrabble to get
this far, only to find this oddity sitting in what she had expected to be the
treasure chamber. Either way, she wasn’t about to go home empty-handed now. Her
tail flicked back and forth involuntarily, as she rose to a standing position
and slowly drew her cutlasses.

The hood dipped slightly. A deep bass rumble assaulted Shady’s
ears and crushed her skull, nearly knocking her back off her feet, but then it
passed as quickly as it had come. Across from her, the figure gave a quiet and dismissive

Shady blinked at it. “What kind of hellspawn are you?” she

“I am no kind of hellspawn, you superstitious creature,” the
figure replied. The voice was male, more of a deep buzzing than anything else, and
spoke in the clipped tones of a noble.

“Then what are–“

“There’s no point in telling you what I am,” he said. “It
wouldn’t mean anything to you. And even if I could explain it, it would just
blast your already dangerously-limited mind into even smaller fragments.”

The corner of Shady’s mouth rose in a smirk. “So you’re a
wizard,” she said, moving slowly into the ring of pillars.

“Fine. Yes. I’m a wizard. It’s less wrong than anything else
you might come up with.”

“You’re pretty rude,” said Shady.

“I am intensely rude,” said the wizard. “And I intend to
remain that way. What will you do,
now that you’ve come to that brilliant conclusion?”

Shady stepped forward again, pointing at his cowl with the
tip of one of her swords. “I’ve heard it said, that the best thing to do when
you come upon a wizard, is to kill it.”

The creature didn’t move. “So why don’t you, then?”

She gave him a long, appraising look. “Because…” she finally
said, “you don’t seem particularly afraid that I might.”

Two of the wizard’s four arms retreated under robes. He used
the other two to shift into a more attentive position. “The creature has some
sense after all!” he said. “This may turn out to be interesting.”

“What are you doing, squatting in an ancient tomb?”

“What are you
doing, crawling around in it?”

“I’m a thief,” said Shady.

“Of course you are.”

“But you didn’t answer my question. The tomb was sealed. What
are you doing here?”

“I am playing a game of strategy,” said the wizard. “A game that
spans eons, made up of the most infinitesimally small moves imaginable.”

“A game?” said Shady. “There’s no board. There are no

“I’m looking at one right now,” said the wizard.

Shady rolled her eyes. “Okay, this conversation is
pointless,” she said. “Where’s the Red King’s treasure chamber? Where’s the Red
King’s treasure?”

“Oh, it’s here,” said the wizard. “Right where he buried it.
Every few hundred years another would-be robber comes blundering in, and not
one has managed to take it way yet. One or two did manage to get away richer
than they came, of course. You may be one of the lucky ones.”

“Any objections if I try my luck?” said Shady, gesturing
with her sword again.

“None whatsoever,” said the wizard. “I have no interest in
baubles. There’s another passage, behind me. You may find what you’re looking
for that way.”

“Fine,” said Shady, sheathing her swords. “Go back to your
game then, wizard, and stay out of my way.” She collected the torch from where
she’d dropped it and reignited it.

“Another pawn moves into play,” said the wizard. Shady glared
at the back of his cowl, and plunged down the passage.

the_gneech: (Default)
September and October have been something of a rough spot, productivity wise. I spent a lot of September just plain sick, and while I did finally get through that, the time since then has felt kinda like being in a plane that goes "brrzzt... brrzzt... cough!" and doesn't want to stay in the air.

I don't want to get into the quagmire of why that is; what I want to focus on right now, is what to DO about it. I need to get my shit together in order to make a living, and I want to get my shit together just because I'm tired of being somebody who, well, isn't that. >.>

Working with my own coach, one thing I've distinguished is that I have been "all over the place" in terms of focus. I mean, this isn't news– I'll be all excited about writing for a while, then all excited about my comics for a while, then all excited about D&D for a while, then then then... And that drive and excitement can lead me to accomplish great things. But the downside is, it can also lead to dozens of promising starts that end in frustrated fizzles. Another book not finished. Another commission sitting in the queue for months. Another day gone by without finding a new coaching client.

My go-to here would be to rail against the tyranny of time, which is one of my favorite enemies. I get into the zone and focus on a thing, something I'd like to accomplish in a few hours or a day's work, and three weeks pass. It's very, very, VERY annoying.

But it's also the world that is, so what good does railing against it do? None. I have to find a way to work with reality instead of against it.

So that's what I'm focusing on today, starting with this journal entry. I want to get back to daily writing and/or journaling, because that is something that always helps keep me both focused and happy. To that end, I've hopped back onto to gamify it. Lady Rowyn and Inkblitz used to be my pals there, and I don't know if either of them are still on it, but it was fun having writing buddies. I'm also looking for ways to "clear my decks" because I feel like I'm spread too thin. I've barely touched my Twitterponies in a long time, and I feel guilty about that. I've got outstanding commissions, and I feel guilty about that. I've got rewards promised to Patreon subscribers, and I'm always worried about making sure those get done in time– it feels like it's always the last week of the month and everything's due.

(Speaking of which: it's the last week of the month, and everything's due.)

Finally, I will cultivate my daily meditation habit to help calm my yakkity-sax mind. I used to meditate a lot more often, while riding in the car, or on a break at work, or whatever, but somewhere along the line I fell out of it. Probably stress is a factor– the stress of current events, of being worried about money, and ironically the stress of mental noise itself that meditation is the treatment for. It's kind of an insidious trap that the problem itself is the major impediment to the treatment of the problem. XD

So, yeah. Consider this entry #1 of my new daily journaling habit. XD And I've hit about 600 words here, not bad! ;) I have in mind to write a followup to my D&D blog from the other day about wandering monsters, too, but that might wait until tomorrow.

the_gneech: (Default)

About 2/3 of the way through the opening sequence of Heathcliff/Cats and Company, Riff-Raff and Cleo randomly go zooming off in a bathtub.

It’s not a bathtub on wheels, there are no rockets or other means of propulsion. It’s just a friggin’ bathtub.

I mean, the cats living in a random James Bond-esque transforming Cadillac in a junkyard, didn’t bother me. But flying off in a random hover-bathtub? That bothered me.

Last night, I had a random dream in which I was watching a “behind the scenes” video about this series. I don’t know if this dream was based on a long-lost memory, or if it was my brain making stuff up, but it doesn’t really matter. In the dream, somebody my brain identified as one of the show-runners coined the term “laconipedantism.” “What that means,” he said, “is that our policy was to explain as little as possible, or with as few words as possible, or to just not explain things at all. ‘How does it work?’ We’re not going to tell you! What you see is what you get, deal with it.”

That struck me as a gutsy approach. I don’t know if I would always consider it a good approach, but it was a gutsy one. But as I started to think about it, I realized that lots of storytellers work this way. Sometimes, you even get Lampshaded Laconipedantism.

Even Kronk thinks it doesn't make sense!

Lampshaded Laconipedantism, or “We’re not gonna tell you! Neener-neener-neener!”

Obviously, cartoons have the most leeway for this kind of thing. Contemporary shows like Gumball and Friends work entirely on this premise. But heck, the Marvel Cinematic Universe runs on this fuel, as does most fantasy literature. Star Trek and a lot of science fiction does a weird inverse, where it starts with “teleportation exists” and starts playing around with the ramifications of that, but it still can’t tell you how teleportation really works, just that it does.

Not every wild premise actually qualifies as laconipedantism, however. What makes it laconipedantism is the refusal of the artist to explain, address, or even acknowledge that there’s anything weird about it. Riff-Raff and Cleo go zooming off in a bathtub, man. Get over it. Done well, it creates a feeling of confidence in the work, even when it leads to headscratchy moments. Done poorly, it just becomes an incoherent mess, where the world makes no sense and the story falls apart.

Use with caution.

-The Gneech

the_gneech: (Default)
I don't know why I've felt like crap so much this week, but I'm going to combat it by thinking about things I love and that inspire me. Today's topic: the two Avatar animated series.

I think I need to re-watch both of these shows. Starting today.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Boot to the Head)
Okay. So, we all know. Let's get it out of the way.

John Oliver blows up 2016

Yeah, 2016 pretty much blew chunks in a lot of ways. Thing is, it started out so well! I thought 2014 was the worst things were going to get, 2015 was the beginning of an upward climb, and that 2016 was going to be awesome. Then everything went pear-shaped, starting with our moving plans. Then Buddha died... and from there it was a nearly-unrelenting sea of crap that culminated in the Worst Possible Result in the election. I used to joke about not wanting to live in 1930s Germany. I don't joke about that any more.

For the record, some good things DID happen in 2016, and there's evidence that 2017 will be better. So even though things have been rough, just wallowing in it isn’t going to help. Since the end of November, I have been making a concerted effort to wedge positivity back into my life by any means possible, and it is working, even if there is a lot of resistance from a world determined to set itself on fire. But more on that in the Goals for 2017 part of the post. For now, let's review the goals I set at the beginning of the year.

  1. Issues Four and Five, Plus the First Collection. Partial success. Issue four is out and issue five is running currently, after moving and story development heck. This will be finished in early 2017, assuming all goes well.

  2. Publish That Book! Still working on it. I've received a fair amount of positive feedback from the various agents etc. I've shopped it around to, but so far it hasn't found a home. I'm going to keep at it until it sells or I run out of potential markets. If it gets to that point, I'll look at self-publishing.

  3. Finish Another Book! Didn't happen. Had to punt mid-NaNoWriMo, but I'll get back to it in 2017.

  4. Get the Money Sitch Fixed. Didn't happen. Despite being a very strong candidate, [ profile] lythandra went to trainings and applied for jobs and talked to headhunters and out of all that got a few tiny nibbles and only one offer– which was immediately cancelled a few days later due to the contract being disputed. I hung out my shingle as a freelance/tech writer but so far have spent most of my time on that front turning down such lucrative offers as "Write ten full length novels for us to sell without giving you any residuals or credit for $35,000/year." So, still living on savings and what income the comics and art bring in, but we have plans in motion. (See below.)

  5. Move. Um. Happened, yes. But not the way we wanted. It needs fixing still/again.

  6. Get Back to Conventions! Eh... sort of. AC and MFF happened again. We also went to a steampunk meet in PA, but we had to punt on FurTheMore and Dragon*Con for financial and/or scheduling reasons. I expect 2017 to be different, however.

  7. Stronger faster slimmer better. Big setbacks here. Depression, stress, and a host of other factors meant that in six months I regained all the weight it had taken me two years to get rid of. :P I am not happy about this. The good news is that at the end of November I rejoined Weight Watchers and I have recovered 11 pounds' worth of progress since then, despite the best efforts of convention food and holidays. More significantly I have figured out how to live comfortably on a 35-ish point diet– basically the allocation for someone my age weighing 220 lbs. At my current rate of weight loss, I will hit that in six months, which would suit me just fine.

  8. No More Afib. Success! Heart ablation surgery was a complete success. Since March, I have only experienced afib twice, both of which were in December and seem to have been triggered by salt. As long as I continue to limit my salt intake, I should be set.

  9. Bernie Sanders 2016. Ugh. Don't get me started.

Now the review post from last year had unexpected things achieved in 2015. Alas, 2016 didn't really have a lot in the way of such things. However, it wasn't entirely bleak. Zootopia was really good, for instance. Also, I got into Overwatch and a fan very kindly built me a terrific computer to run it on, which prompted me to create the Learning Not to Suck at Overwatch series. It didn't exactly set YouTube on fire, but the videos were fun to make and I got to test my mettle in a competitive environment, something which I've never done a lot of. Overwatch also provided my single longest running batch of art commissions, in the form of "Play of the Game" badges. My Overwatchery has been thin since Halloween– other priorities eating my time– but I hope to get back into it in January.

So that leads me to my goals for 2017...

  1. Issues Five and Six, Plus the First Collection. Five and collection should be done well before AnthroCon. Issue Six, we'll see. I’m thinking of taking the comic in a slightly new direction based on the ending of Issue Five, but that's still in the very half-baked stage so I can't really go into detail yet.

  2. Publish That Book! Like I said, still working on this.

  3. Finish Another Book! I am looking at creating a series specifically for self-pub. More on that as the development fills out some more.

  4. Start a Company. This is a big one that Laurie and I have been messing with off and on again all year, but which is really starting to take shape now. Again, I don't want to talk about it in too much detail before everything is set in motion, all the T's are dotted and I's are crossed, etc., but it's a cool, exciting project designed to put the making of money back into our hands, since getting hired by other people doesn't seem to be a thing that really happens to anyone any more.

  5. Move to California. Okay. So. I thought this was going to happen last year, but for various reasons I kept fairly quiet about it at the time, and then it fell through anyway. It's back on the plan now, and I am not keeping it a secret any more. The exact details are still being hashed out, so you can expect to hear more on this as the year goes on. But part of the reason for the Start a Company item, is to enable living where we want, and since Fed jobs are going to all be utter crap for the next four years or more as the assholes-elect try to burn down the country, there's not a whole lot of point in staying around here for the job market anyway. Our families and some of our friends are here, of course, but we only see them a few times a year as it is– Facetime/Google Hangouts and plane tickets will probably take care of that problem. California is not necessarily the only candidate, we're also looking at some spots around New England for instance, but it is by far the strongest candidate and my top choice unless there is a strongly compelling reason to go elsewhere.

  6. Stronger faster slimmer better. 220 lbs by end of September is the plan. 220 lbs by end of June is the stretch goal.

  7. Bring the Awesome! I was just getting through my grief about my parents when Buddha died, kicking it all off again. I spent most of 2016 in a depression deeper than anything I’ve been through since 2001, although instead of manifesting as "feeling bad," it was more like an emotional dead zone, making it hard to enjoy anything and leaving me in a constant state of "peeved and grouchy for no good reason." That shit's got to go. As I said, since the end of November I've been focusing on positivity, and I'm just going to build on that and do more in 2017.

  8. Edit Myself Less. This one is kind of hard to explain without context and it's more a note to myself than anything. There are aspects of myself that I have simply made a point of not talking about for one reason or another; opinions, feelings, or wishes I have kept to myself when it would have been appropriate to share them, and so on. But honestly? It's not doing myself or the people who care about me any favors. I've had people tell me "I thought I knew you..." before for just this reason. And while I'm a lot more myself now than I used to be, I still get into that self-censorship habit when I’m depressed or afraid. This is something I need to work on. Shoving every thought in your head into other people's faces isn't a good idea– but shutting yourself down just to please other people isn't a healthy choice either. I'm not about to start drawing porn or anything like that, but I am going to be loosening up.

  9. Reverse course and mitigate/repair damage to the country. Grassroots action FTW. They're not going to burn down the country while I have anything to say about it. More on this in some other post.

[ profile] jamesbarrett's sister Kimmie said that 2016 was the end of a 9-year cycle, which is why there were so many deaths and endings and so much loss, but that also meant that 2017 would be a year of new beginnings. [1] While astrology and numerology are not my particular flavor of crackpottery, I can’t deny that 2016 sure has felt like everything was crumbling around my ears. Not going to California when we originally planned to, which pushed us into the Maryland move, and the death of Buddha all hit me hard. Seeing the end of the first administration in my life that I actually liked the President was going to be tough; seeing him replaced by somebody so obviously The Worst Possible Candidate For the Job just hurts.

But these things all happened and can't be undone. I've had my disappointment and my grief and my rage. While there may be emotional aftershocks, the end of November made a sea change in Laurie and me, and I am excited and ready for the things we’ve got coming up in the year ahead. If 2017 is indeed the year of new beginnings, let's make it the beginning of something amazing.

-The Gneech

[1] This is based on numerology: 2016 breaks down to 2 + 0 + 1 + 6 = 9. 2017 will be 2 + 0 + 1 + 7 = 10, 1 + 0 = 1. Thus 2016 is the end of the current cycle and 2017 is the beginning of the next one.
the_gneech: (Gneechtoon)

Three Good Things For Today

  1. Wrote almost all of a novel summary for NaNoWriMo. Still needs the last act and chapter/scene breakdowns, but I think I may have the workings of a real book here. ^.^

  2. Submitted dealer table application for AnthroCon.

  3. Actually put up a (very small) Suburban Jungle update for tomorrow.

  4. Bonus Good Thing! TwitterPonies fun. :)

Three Goals For Tomorrow

  1. Find and apply for three jobs.

  2. Finish novel summary.

  3. Resolve prescriptions weirdness.

G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. I love ya. <3

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)
So here's the thing. I think of myself as a funny guy. One reason I do so much in the comics medium is because I have an inherent tendency to generally not take things seriously if I can avoid it.

But I have discovered, of late, that I lack skill in just coming up with funny bits for the sake of them being funny bits. This has been a recurring problem with Rough Housing, which was conceived with the intention of having lots of things that were just funny bits. But it also informs a lot of the issues I've had with Brigid and Greg and several other projects. I think I have been fundamentally approaching them wrong.

What I do well (I think) is to put a funny spin on a serious (or at least "played straight") situation. Take for example Ghostbusters (the 1984 one): if you just outlined its story, it wouldn't be that far off from a standard Lovecraftian horror tale [1]. What makes it a comedy is the fact that the characters are all oddballs with quirky behavior. When he witnesses Dana Barrett transformed into a snarling hell-beast, does Venkman descend into madness? No. He busts out a Rodney Dangerfield impression. That's what I mean by funny spin.

This explains, I think, why I keep having big holes in my scripts that say things like "LANGLEY DOES SOMETHING FUNNY HERE." If I was part of a bullpen of writers where someone else could polish up jokes while I worked on character development or something, it would be different, but flying solo I just can't write that way and I need to stop trying. What I need to do instead is focus on the characters and have them do what they will do. It can be a frustrating process, as the characters often want to go off and do things that completely negate everything I've been building towards or whatever, but generally the characters know their story better than I do.

-The Gneech

[1] With the premise inverted such that human ingenuity can totally kick the cosmic horror's ass. But still.
the_gneech: (Kero asleep)

Three Good Things For Today

  1. Got some initial brainstorming done on new book idea.

  2. Had fun playing Overwatch.

  3. Watched first episode of the Ace Attorney anime series and worked out a series queue on CrunchyRoll.

  4. Bonus Good Thing! Yummy dinner at La Sándia, followed by Barnes & Noble and acquisition of new book.

  5. Bonus Good Thing! Caught up with my Good Things posts– including this one. ;)

Three Goals For Tomorrow

  1. Identify 1-3 more agents and pitch Sky Pirates to same.

  2. Examine feasibility of Fortress of Tears as book or series.

  3. Price sign for AC table.

  4. Bonus Goal! AJ cart?

I gotta say, my fingertips are burning for the new PC, mainly so I can have a stable platform for playing Overwatch on. I am actually finding myself quite eager to try to get into competitive play, which I would have never guessed I'd want in on. What has this game done to me??? XD

Anyway, that's it for tonight. G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. I love ya. <3

-The Gneech

the_gneech: (Writing)

Okay, now the moving is pretty much dealt with (again and hopefully for the last time any time soon) and my AnthroCon prep is about as far as it can go until it comes time to actually put stuff into the car, it’s time to get back into the writing groove.

And, I think, time to come up with something new. I’ve got chunks of Brigid and Greg, I’ve got a giant blorp of Michael Macbeth, but honestly my brain wants a break from those. I want something new and different to think about.

What that is, I’m not sure yet. I periodically consider writing a fairly standard genre fantasy book, i.e. elves and wizards and things, but I would like to find a way to put a fresh spin on the idea so it’s not just “Howard McTolkienface and the Etcetera of Ditto.” I also want whatever it is to be a project I can have fun with. One of the things that I relished about Sky Pirates of Calypsitania was that Verity and Tanya were fun characters to write about, because of the chemistry between them. The fun was a bit hampered by the harrowing circumstances they lived through, of course… those poor gals are going to have some PTSD to deal with in the next book I suspect, assuming there is one.

A new thing would also come without baggage, or at least with different baggage. B&G and Michael Macbeth both suffer a bit from having a “what they should be like” thing I’m trying to stick to… a new project I could just open up and let it be its own thing. A lot of the stuff that’s been bothering me about my older ideas, can inform the direction I go with new ideas right from the start. I can also outline with a view towards writing 100,000 words, instead of coming up with yet another 60,000 word idea and then being stuck for another half a book to tack onto it. 😛

So I think for the next week or so, depending on how long the process takes, I’m going to simply play around with new ideas and brainstorm, figuring out what I want out of a book, what I would enjoy writing, and what I think would suit the market, and find something that covers that part of the venn diagram that intersects all three. As much as I like Sky Pirates, my discussions with professionals on the topic all suggest that it’s going to be a hard sell for a first novel. So I might have to tuck it into a drawer to pull out later once I’m already a name, so to speak.

-The Gneech


the_gneech: (Scar Surrounded)
Today is supposed to be "get everything fixed" day. And by everything I pretty much mean the AC and the internet. I have a dire premonition that in both cases the answer will be, "I don't have the parts I need, be back in a month." But I'm going to stay hopeful until then!

Things are gradually improving here. We're finally getting some sun, which has improved my outlook and energy level. The dishwasher pump is still hosed, but the technician showed us a workaround that will suffice until he gets the replacement part, so we can at least wash dishes. My foot is still a bit swollen and tender, but it can at least support weight for a few moments without hurting. The nasty blood blister that accompanied the broken toe is gone, and the wound is healing up now. [ profile] lythandra has been unpacking like crazy and you can see the beginnings of a home taking shape out of the chaos. Even InkyGirl seems to be fairly comfortable in her new digs, although she's still hesitant about going upstairs (but will pluck up the courage to come up and walk on our heads to get her breakfast).

Since I'm pretty much supposed to plant myself and stay whenever possible, I've been cranking on Suburban Jungle. Yesterday I finished next week's page, which means that today (Gasp!) I actually start getting ahead again! Just in time to only have four pages of this issue left. ¬.¬ But that's okay, I need to get issue four finished by the end of May so that FurPlanet can have June to print it before AnthroCon.

Once that's done, I'm going to return to a) Marketing the Sky Pirates book, and b) Writing Mortal Thoughts. Those two projects will probably take most of my June, with some scripting for issue five done around the edges when I can.

So that's where things stand. Will we have internet today? Will I ever sell my bloody books? Will Susan ever confess her love to Brad? The answers to all these questions and more, on the next episode of... SOAP.

-The Gneech, kidnapped by aliens
the_gneech: (Writing)
For the past several months, but most notably in the past two weeks or so, my friends list on LJ has been populated mostly by posts that begin with things like...

"So I'm going to post to LiveJournal, even though nobody uses it any more..."

"Oh wow, I still have my LiveJournal login! Does anyone still post here?"

"I sure miss LiveJournal. I wish people posted here..."

Well, in the words of the psychiatrist from Local Hero, "I'm still here, Happer!"

For a long time, I made a point of responding to these posts in a cheery "I'm still here! I still read! Keep posting!" But honestly I'm starting to get a little peeved about it now. Like newspaper articles about the death of print or songs about how the heart of rock and roll is still beating, these posts are quickly moving from the occasional wistful sigh to a particularly formulaic and tiresome genre all to themselves.

It's true that LiveJournal isn't the New Shiny Social Media Platform. Any platform older than six months is officially not the New Shiny Social Media Platform. Twitter is ten years old, and people have been saying "Twitter is dead!" for nine years. Tumblr was where all the cool kids hung out for about fifteen minutes, but even that was considered passé once one of its users noticed somebody over 20 had an account. And yet, somehow, there's more happening on my Tumblr feed than I can possibly keep up with, so I end up scrolling past most of it like flipping past 250 channels of cable TV and there's still nothing on.

Despite its 1998-tastic clunky interface, it's still among the best platforms for long-form posts. So I say this to LiveJournal readers: IF YOU MISS LIVEJOURNAL, POST TO THE SILLY THING ALREADY. As they say, "If you post it [and tell people about it, important detail], they will come."

The thing about all internet content, is that it thrives on regular updates, and withers if you let it sit. This is as true of LiveJournal as it is of the Huffington Post. This is one reason why Facebook has its infuriating and seemingly-random interface, to make you feel like you're seeing something "new" every time you log on. LiveJournal just shows you the feed, in blessed sequential order and in paginated form, something precious few platforms do any more because it doesn't make for "good marketing."

In short, LiveJournal, by virtue of still being itself after all this time, has managed to stay in the form of what social media should be like, and frankly I intend to reward that by staying here and continuing to post here. If you like it, and all these "I miss this place..." posts sure make it sound like people do, then you should keep posting too.

After all, that's kinda the point.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)
As mentioned elsewhere, I have been concentrating on writing lately. So far my attempts at landing tech writing gigs have been mostly met with generous offers to let me work for exposure, but I'll get through that well enough.

When not working on that, I have been working on my fiction. I've done the last "pre-submission" round of edits on the Airship Pirates novel and marketing it is the next step there, so while that simmers I turned my attention back to the half-completed Brigid and Greg novel that I was working so feverishly on when the house sale bumped it aside. This led to quite a bit of introspection, and a ramble on Twitter which I've cleaned up, edited and elaborated on here:

As much as I love Brigid and Greg, the novel idea has some systemic problems that I’m not sure it can overcome. The core problem with B&G is that they are at heart an affirmation of and succor to a very specific sort of problematic yuppiedom. If you’re inclined to side-eye at Whole Foods and spit “gentrification” like a curse, you’ll have a problem with B&G.

And while my feelings on the matter are mixed at best, I do at least understand where such opinions come from, and am sympathetic. When you're working two jobs just to stay in debt and being called a "taker" by nitwits who don't know how society actually works, seeing a pair of affluent (or at least comfortable) middle class white people be snarky about their non-problems might very well grate.

Another aspect is that the whole gist of B&G’s humor comes basically from them disapproving of (and fleeing) everyone who’s not just like they are. Inkblitzer likened them to Statler and Waldorf, and that’s not a bad analogy. B&G aren’t as toxic, but they are just as insular in their own way. In small doses it can be a “laughing with” look at introversion. But in large doses it starts to look more like xenophobia/classism.

B&G is also very Whitey McWhitebread. NeverNever had the same problem. For somebody banging the diversity drum, I don’t always do a great job. :( The book finally brings in Art as an important character, and retcons Alex as being Chinese, but it’s still hella problematic. (Art, for those unfamiliar, is lifted straight out of my college comic, Whistling In the Dark. He’s a gay black bohemian-type. He has had an oblique mention or two in the Fictionlets, but I don't think he's actually appeared in any of them.)

All of these issues, none of which stand out in any given Fictionlet, become highlighted and magnified when you put them into an extended narrative. What had been "minor gaps" before become a giant pattern stitched together.

The plot I came up with ended up with Art’s disreputable cousin chasing B&G through Brigid’s family reunion with a pack of dogs, who would then be chased off by Brigid's crazy shotgun-toting relatives. It was a funny set piece in my head, but then if you add the race element it suddenly sets off all kinds of red flags. :P

Brigid’s relatives were all based on the sort of people who annoy me IRL; thus having the family reunion trashed by dogs as comeuppance. But then I thought about the church massacre scene in Kingsman, and how sick to my stomach that made me. :-`

It’s like… Brigid and Greg are kinda the same thing, but the difference is degree. A pie in the face is certainly very different from in-your-face graphic violence, but still boils down to "attacking people you don’t like."

But all of B&G is structured this way when I break it down. The core conceit is those two reinforcing their bubble of comfort vs. the world. In that respect, it was quite explicitly modeled on Jeeves & Wooster, which works the same way. But that has a level of removal B&G don’t. J&W is set in an idealized inter-war Britain that never really existed. B&G are in fairly realistic early 21st-century USA. Wodehouse did have a few real-world Take Thats in his stuff, particularly the character of Spode and knocking of A.A. Milne. But he was mostly gentle, non-specific, and very silly. When B&G sneer, they’re sneering at whole classes of real contemporary people.

And realizing that about my own writing, didn’t feel good. :-`

I don’t know if B&G can be retooled into something that actually, y’know, PROMOTES things like diversity and positivity without breaking it. I like the voice of the B&G Fictionlets, and I like B&G as characters. I'd like to turn them into a force for good; but for the moment at least I don't know how. It’s weird that my pulp novel about airship pirates actually tells a story I’m proud of when B&G don’t.

Packbat's Commentary, and the Nature of Farce

A while after my ramble, Packbat (who is on the Beta Reader team), popped up with some comments, which I've transcribed here to preserve them for my own reference later:

Thank you for talking about this so frankly. I love a lot of the B&G Fictionlets, and I'm okay with missing out on a novel.

Which is to say: I don't feel like I'm missing out. I trust your judgment.

(Random: can I make an unsolicited suggestion? Been thinking about what you said a little.)

Like ... it feels to me like most of what B&G detest in their yuppie world concerns entitlement, arrogance, and privilege.

There's parts that aren't - the sacral dimples thing, for example - but Treville? Brigid's coworkers?

I feel it wouldn't take much for B&G to realize much of the idiocy they're disgusted with is hurting less privileged outsiders.

And that they can find a lot of people they'd want to support who never took any Latin classes.

...I dunno. I feel like they could be in a story about figuring out what privileges you have and what you can do with them.

This commentary was timely, as I was at that moment reading up on the nature of farce (which is the closest thing to a single-genre description of B&G) and watching The Art of Love, a comedy film starring Dick Van Dyke and James Garner (written by Carl Reiner) in the mode of Blake Edwards. The movie itself was far less than the sum of its parts, alas, but looking at what didn't work there gave me some food for thought about what does or doesn't work in B&G.

I also found this little gem on my old nemesis the Idiot Ball, on a Christian culture webpage, to my surprise:

“I grow restless,” Ebert said, when the misunderstandings driving a plot “could be ended by words that the screenplay refuses to allow [the characters] to utter.”

This was less of a pitfall in Shakespeare’s day, and even up through Victorian times, when convoluted and capricious mores and manners were understood to prevent those characters from uttering those words. The characters in
Pride and Prejudice were constrained by social norms that no longer hold sway. So for that same plot to work in Bridget Jones’ Diary, the characters have to be constrained by something else — some limitations within themselves. Thus Elizabeth Bennett comes across as a smart, capable person who is prevented from being fully honest — to others or to herself — by the stifling rules, roles and expectations of class, gender and manners that shaped her life and her time. Bridget Jones, facing fewer such external rules, just comes across as neurotic and indecisive.

The essence of a romantic comedy is pretty simple: Introduce two characters who belong together, then contrive to keep them apart for about 90 minutes. Again, this is trickier now than it was in Austen’s or Shakespeare’s time. A lot of contemporary romantic comedies are annoying because the only obstacle they can imagine to keep their heroes apart is a kind of mutual immaturity. That serves the need of the plot, but it makes the couple less likable, which means we don’t care as much when they finally get together in the end.

One solution is to find a contemporary setting that still involves something like the kind of stifling social constraints in a Jane Austen novel. That’s what Ang Lee did with
The Wedding Banquet, which ... is more of a farce than a romantic comedy. The complications and misunderstandings that drive the plot in Lee’s story could all be cleared up with just a few honest words from the protagonists. But they can’t say those words — not because an arbitrary “Idiot Plot” screenplay prevents them, but because the story involves a closeted gay man in New York and a visit from his ultra-traditional Taiwanese parents. also provided:

Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Importance of Being Earnest, is one of the best verbal farces. Just like a typical farce that contains basic elements like mockery of upper class, disgraceful physical humor, absurdity and mistaken identities, this novel also contains demonstrates these features of a farce.

What all of this gets at, I think, is that I discovered to my chagrin that Brigid and Greg, rather than Punching Up, were just sort of punching indiscriminately, which included (unfortunately) both punching sideways, and punching down. I also think that shows me the path towards fixing it.

Once more through the outline, old scout.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)
In an effort to find something that will not only make life worth the trouble, but also pay the bills, I have been going through the Oxford Career Program, which is in turn itself largely a vehicle for the Highlands Ability Battery. Although not "Find a job TODAY!" useful, there have been some interesting results.

My personal style tested as "introvert specialist," which is probably a "no duh" moment for anyone who knows me, but which explains a lot of my work history when you delve more deeply into it. Specialists tend to want to find something they really like and get really, really good at it– and in turn they want their skills and expertise to be recognized. They want to be world class at something and to be acknowledged to be world class at it... which is something that's been bugging me forever. I left the graphic design field because it was so sneered at and moved to web design, in which I was doing largely the same job but getting accolades because I knew how the magic black box of computers worked... until suddenly web design started getting sneered at, too. Well guess what, pointy-haired bosses of the world? Design, good design, is hard work. You can't just sneeze something onto a page and have it be "fine." Even if you don't have the discernment to tell the difference yourself, your clients and customers will, and you'll pay for it.

*ahem* Sorry. Old wounds. Anyway.

Another interesting thing is that I came up with very high scores on all of the "Driving Abilities," and my vocab score was so high that the counselor said she'd never encountered anyone with that high a score before. People in the 99th percentile on vocab tend to literally be "world class," top-of-the-industry CEOs, heads of state, and so on. In short, I have a ton of "natural talent" for almost anything.

Which naturally leads to the question, If I'm so smart, why aren't I rich?

Funny thing about that. Most people have one or two high scores, and the rest are middling or low. That means they have a clear path to success: play to your strengths! Having high scores all around... means that my abilities begin to interfere with each other.

High Idea Productivity means I'm creative and come up with a lot of solutions or approaches to a problem– but high Classification means that I get mired in self-criticism and vapor-lock. (Guilty!) High Concept Organization coupled with super-high Vocabulary naturally points to writer– but high Spatial Relations Theory and Spatial Relations Visualization mean I am only likely to be happy if there's a strong visual component and an actual physical object at the end, thus leading me to feel compelled to draw comics even though writing books would be so much more efficient use of my time.

In short, being potentially-good at everything means that I have trouble concentrating on anything, and that concentration and focus is what is required for the specialist style to thrive.

It also turns out I'm super-bad at Number Memory, which is to say, the rote memorization of stuff. I mean seriously bad. 5% bad. All those years feeling like there was just a loud buzzing noise in my ear while trying to memorize multiplication tables? Not my imagination. Combine that with high Idea Productivity, and you've got somebody who can't sit still while trying to do arithmetic.

Combine super-low Number Memory with high Classification and high Spatial Relations, and you've got somebody who can see the vast patterns of the cosmos at work, but has trouble remembering names, dates, phone numbers, the steps required to get all his clothes on in the right order, and so forth. If something doesn't really matter to me, it falls out of my head.

Basically, the classical absent-minded professor. :-`

Now as fascinating as all this is, it doesn't provide immediate help for my current problem, to wit: I am going broke. I keep paying off things... only to have more things come due. :P I am rapidly burning through my savings, spending at a much higher rate than I did back when I had a "day job," mostly against my will. My insurance is simultaneously much more costly than it was before, and covers less, which means that these ridiculously expensive medical procedures are coming largely straight out of my pocket on top of paying through the nose for the insurance. If this continues much longer, my liquid savings will be gone and retirement will be next.

The actual "trying to come up with potential jobs" part is the next stage of the Oxford Program, and I intend to keep going with it, but I don't have the time to just sit around and wait for this cake to bake. So in the meantime, I have started working towards offering my services to the world as a technical writer and editor. Technical writing isn't particularly "sexy," but it is a well-paying gig with good growth potential. It also fits that "introvert specialist" spot nicely. It doesn't do much for the Spatial Relations problem of needing a concrete product to show at the end, but that's something I can still get through doing the comics on the side.

I don't necessarily think that "tech writer" is the endgame in my career search. Certainly I wouldn't be happy writing software user manuals for the rest of my life. But I do think it's movement in the right direction, and I'm hoping it can be a segue into something better. I could see myself potentially being a research assistant at the Smithsonian or Monterey Aquarium or something like that, for instance, and tech writing could move me that way. The big trick will be to avoid burnout. I don't want a tech writing day job to suck all the passion out of my fiction/comics writing in the meantime!

Wish me luck. :) Also, if you know of any tech writing or editing gigs, a heads-up would be appreciated. ^.^'

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
So, say what you want about 2015, it was better than 2014, and for that I am grateful. In fact, while it's had its rough spots, when I analyze it carefully I find that it was also better than 2012 and 2013, being in fact one of the best years I've had in a long while.

How so? For starters, this is the first year in several in which the number of friends I have at the end is higher than the number of friends I had at the beginning, instead of the other way around. Not only did none of my close friends or family die this year, but I made new friends! And that is worth more than words can express.

2015 was also a very mixed bag news-wise, and I won't pretend it wasn't. But something huge happened this year that I don't want to forget:

It doesn't impact me personally, but it changes the shape of the world for many people I love, and it wasn't something I would have ever guessed would happen in my lifetime. Whenever I start to worry about the state of the nation, I remember that this happened, and hope returns. The U.S.A. can be a great nation, when we summon up the courage.

As for my own personal year, many of my plans were all gang aft agley, and many of the best things that happened were things I didn't expect at all. Looking back at my goals...

  1. Sell the House and Move Already: Did that. Ambivalent about the results. I don't like The Staircase even half as much as I liked The Hobbit Hole, even at half the price and twice the liquidity. But this was always (as Doodles the Great put it) a Rebound House, and we'll be out of here as soon as possible. I'm hoping for spring.

  2. Bring in $13k Income: I haven't run the numbers, so I don't know if I did this or not, but my guess is "not even close" even with the Starbucks job.

  3. Four Issues of Rough Housing: Three and progress. Issue four was disrupted by a novel. More on that below, but issue four is under construction and will start running next week, so this item is still on the boards.

  4. Get Dungeons & Denizens Rolling: Didn't happen. Between Greg and myself both kinda stalling and/or getting caught up in other things, the project has just sorta languished. I'm not sure we wouldn't be better off to just put it to bed and move on to something else.

  5. Continue to Lose Weight: This is a weird one. I got down into the 270's, but have drifted back up to 288.9 as of this morning. But I am slimmer and more toned than I have ever been. Am I gaining muscle mass? I dunno. Unfortunately, last month Weight Watchers ditched their useful and achievable model in order to become just another "live on fumes and exercise 26 hours/day" bullshit plan that is just as doomed to failure as the rest. So I expect I'll be dumping my membership. I'm grateful for what it taught me about which foods were good and which ones were bad, as well as for the progress it helped me make over the past two years, but clearly it's time to move on.

  6. Keep Flossing Them Teeth: This is a pretty set habit for me these days. :)

So what did I achieve that wasn't on my list?

  • Novel and a Half! I wrote the Airship Pirates novel! And in all honesty, I think it's a very good novel. The next step on that front is hunting for publisher/agent. I was planning to devote December to that, but the Starbucks job interfered; once I actually get to work on that, however, I fully expect it to move quickly. The other half novel was the revised outline for the Brigid and Greg novel, which I was making huge progress on until the house sale and move bumped it to the back burner.

  • Reincarnation/Meditation/LoA I don't even know what prompted me to start going down this path, and I've barely scratched the surface of what I've been doing here in my LJ "reincarnation reports," but the experience has been something akin to this:

    Part of the reason I haven't talked about it all is that is it's such an intensely personal experience that I can't really describe it in words that don't utterly fail to get it across. Another part of it is that a lot of it falls squarely into the realm of crackpottery, and I have better things to do with my time than fend off a legion of tiresome snarky and dismissive comments from the usual suspects. So I will just say that over the past few months I've felt happier and more centered than I have at any other time I can remember, and I have been seeing results in the "real world" all around me. I'm very pleased with this development and intend to continue!

So that's the year that was. Although it didn't up being as big a year of going big as I was expecting, it was still a good year and movement in the right direction!

So what are my goals for 2016?

  1. Issues Four and Five, Plus the First Collection. Rough Housing is going to continue, and I think this year it's finally going to come into its own. The first collected volume will carry issues one through four, for which I'm going to go back and do some cleanup of continuity, some revisions of the character design, and some generalized fixing of things.

  2. Publish That Book! I have a terrific novel that only five people have read. This needs fixing. ;)

  3. Finish Another Book! Whether it's Brigid and Greg, a second Sky Pirates book, or even Charlie Providence, we'll see.

  4. Get the Money Sitch Fixed. Some of this is dependent on [ profile] lythandra's new job, which is currently floating just on the other side of a probability wave and should be appearing at any time; but I also want to be bringing in proper money myself and– and this is the important part– I want to be doing it with my real work, the writing and comics, and not with some phony-baloney day job I took just for the cash. My creations are valuable, and it's time they started earning what they're worth!

  5. Move. We need to live in a place we like. This is not negotiable. I'm still California dreaming, but I'm not going to fixate on that. I believe in incremental improvement, so even just being in an apartment/house with enough room and some sunshine will be considered a success. A roomy craftsman rambler in Santa Cruz would be a slam dunk, tho. ;)

  6. Get Back to Conventions! This is something of a sub-set of the money thing. I only worked two conventions this year, AC and MFF, because my plate was so full of other things. (Technically I did attend FC this year, but I always think of FC as being part of the year leading up to it. So, FC was a 2014 thing, even if it did happen in 2015.) But we're already on lock to go to Dragon*Con next year, and of course I'll at least be doing AC and MFF again. I'd like to do AwesomeCon, and I want to find more cons to go to.

  7. Stronger faster slimmer better. I don't get this whole "weight staying the same waistline shrinking" thing, but I'm not going to complain about it. While I'm in considerably better shape than I was last year or the year before, I'm not quite ready for Speedos yet. I want to get there this year.

  8. No more afib. Heart chakra's opened up. My "love being blocked" problem is opening up and going away. If the afib was a physical symptom of that (and I suspect it may have been), hopefully that means I'm done with it as well.

  9. Bernie Sanders 2016! Workin' on it. :)

For the moment at least, I think that covers most of it. If I've forgotten something, please let me know!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
Today was defined largely by writing and work, with a brief but intense burst of Uno at the Rathbun house. Very productive, but I need to be careful and pace myself so my ticker don't go all wonky, especially as the pharmacy is having trouble with the heart meds refill. I need to call Virginia Heart on Monday and get a followup visit.

Three Good Things for Today

  1. Fun present in the mail from T.K. Dye. Thanks, buddy! :) I'll let you know how it turns out.

  2. Hanging with friends for a bit.

  3. Second draft is 6,000 words up from this point in the first draft, and I got to revisit my favorite scenes today.

  4. BONUS GOOD THING: Received tips for last week. :)

  5. DOUBLE BONUS GOOD THING: The kitties got some fresh catnip and were adorably goofy about it.

Three Goals For Tomorrow

  1. Check out the book Thomas sent me.

  2. Try to get at least one more scene written in the second draft.

  3. Relax in the evening, as I've got a long shift again. :P

That's all for tonight. G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. :)

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
Tried to draw Sunday and yesterday, and it was painful. Don't know what's going on there, but I need to let it be for the moment. On top of that, I suddenly got poked by multiple beta readers about the airship pirates book yesterday, so combined with the difficulties drawing I'm going to take that as a sign that's what I should be working on instead.

The first step will be to beef up the backstories and world creation. For the first draft, I came up with just as much as I needed to write the scene I was in and no more, but now I have to go through and make sure all that stuff is up to scratch. The next step will be to look for thin spots in the first draft and see where I can flesh it out. The first draft came to approximately 69,000 words in 19 chapters, but the fantasy market as it currently stands regards that as being unsellably short (I'll rant about that some other time). If there's another 30,000 words to be found in this story, it's going to be in breathing more life into the supporting cast.

Thing is, when I was outlining this book, I was aiming for "60,000-80,000 words" and I hit that target spot on, not realizing that the fantasy market had moved the goalposts since last time I looked at it. I sorta wonder now if it would be easier to start fresh with a new outline based on a new target of 100,000 words, than to try to graft 30,000 more words into the manuscript I've got. I'll ponder this as I work on the backstory stuff.

Even if I end up going that route, nothing is ever wasted. The first draft of this book is the longest item I've written to date and also some of my best work. So I'm not worried about that! It'll find its useful place.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)
Back at the end of July, I was in a severe emotional crash, trying to resolve several contradictory ideas (a thing that happens to me with unfortunate frequency). I was spinning my wheels about wanting to continue Rough Housing to the exclusion of everything else, vs. wanting to be able to work on other projects, vs. the looming crisis of Mrs. Gneech's and my mutual unemployment. Finally, after some less-than-dignified LJ entries, a bad day at home, and the subsequent trip to my counselor, I basically said "To hell with it!" and wrote a book.

I poured a lot into this book. I mean, you wouldn't think so just to read the manuscript– it's essentially a potboiler adventure story on the surface. But like Wenton Delaney turning his divorce into a crime thriller, so much of this book was shaped by my weird traumas, life observations, and particular neuroses– chopped, channelled, and with spoiler fins welded on– that there was a lot of catharsis involved.

And credit to [ profile] rowyn, she was absolutely right. I got more storytelling done in a month and a half writing this book, than in two years of Rough Housing. For all its blockbuster nature, this book is deeper and more intellectually satisfying (to me, anyway) than just about anything I've written to date.

So where do I go from here? Well obviously, the book is not ready for public consumption yet. The first draft weighs in at around 68,000 words, which was once "just right" but is now considered "uncomfortably short" by most of my target markets. (One publisher requests a minimum of 80,000 words, while another won't even look at anything below 100,000. Good grief.) A common motif among comments from the beta readers has been that it's a fast read ("a wild ride" was another), which is a fine feature in an adventure story, but I also don't want people to just tear through it in one sitting and then forget it a day later. So it needs expansion, it needs building out and revising.

And what about SJ? I gotta admit, after a project like this, SJ feels very lightweight intellectually, even though it's just as time consuming. It's kind of a drag to pour two months into creating a comic that'll be read in five minutes and tossed on the pile with the rest, which was something I was already wrestling with before the fact that it's not exactly a money-maker was part of the equation. Novel-writing, assuming I can get rolling and am good at it, at least would help pay the bills. I can do SJ as a downtime project on the side between bouts of writing and revision, but then is it fair to hope for continued Patreon support? I feel like I've neglected my patrons for the past month as it is, and need to do something about that.

I'm still working on it. The good news is, Mrs. Gneech has been having some success in the freelance arena and has been getting calls back for permanent positions, so hopefully stable income will shortly be a thing again. I have been holding off on breaking down and getting a job as a barista or something, so I could devote as much time as possible to these projects while we still have our heads above water.

For the immediate future, I need to put the book down and let it set a bit before going into revision mode. My next immediate set of projects will be to work on commissions and get those Dungeons and Denizens pages done that I meant to do in August. My guess is that once those are completed I'll start working on revisions, which means SJ may not get into the queue before November or December. By then, I expect I'll know which direction I need to go.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
So, without wanting to go into too much detail, [ profile] lythandra's job is pretty much going away, for reasons beyond her control (or anyone at her company's for that matter). This is going to be happening soon, like "in a week" soon.

The good news is, we have reserves to draw on for a while, so it isn't cause for immediate panic.

The bad news is, the income I make from my art and writing projects is not enough to cover even our most basic expenses.

So, long story short, upon coming home from AnthroCon I shall be looking for full-time employment again. Doing what, I'm not entirely sure yet: my web design skills were already rusty when I left the industry, and it was not exactly a "growth sector" by that point anyway. Right now my best prospects look like help-desky sort of work.

As for what effect this will have on my creative projects, honestly, I'm not sure. Being working on them theoretically full-time has not made me that much more productive than I was doing them on the side. And honestly feeling pressure to show something for my efforts (pressure put there almost exclusively by myself, but still) has had the paradoxical effect of making it harder for me to actually get anywhere.

Laurie has been resistant to the idea of me going back to the daily grind, for which I'm grateful; but in the current climate, even with her impressive skills it could be weeks or months before she finds anything, by which time our reserves could easily be devastated. I would rather go back to work now, while it's still a choice and I can turn things down, than to be forced into it later and end up trapped in a situation I can't stand.

My hope is that after an initial hiccup, the comics and such will continue and even (dare I say it?) improve, as getting out of my echo chamber and out into the world again will hopefully open some new vistas for me, or at least get me more socialization again. There is, however, a less pleasant possibility that this could knock comics out of my possible pursuits, leaving writing with my only option.

I don't know yet. We'll have to see how it goes. In the meantime, AnthroCon is still GO, and issue three will be there!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)
It's been some eight-plus months since I posted a Fictionlet and at that point they were already running few and far between. There were lots of reasons for this: stress, grief, trying to concentrate my creative efforts on Suburban Jungle, and so forth, but there was also the relatively straightforward "nothing was coming to me." The snarky adventures of Brigid and Greg were always largely inspired by my interactions with the world and observations thereof, and for the past year I've largely been a hermit, for better or worse.

But as I was thinking on Terry Pratchett's death and the whole "wanting to do something that's meaningful to people," I decided to indulge myself in a little Wodehouse, and a magical thing happened: the plot roadblock that's been bugging me about the potential B&G novel suddenly evaporated. "Uncle Bob's subplot causing trouble?" my muse said. "To hell with him then, consider him kicked out. How about this instead?"

Suddenly... poof! The structure of the book fell into place. As I was at a "hurry up and wait" portion of moving, I spent yesterday bouncing back and forth between Snowflake and Scrivener, creating a five-act outline, working up a list of scenes, and generally working it all out. As if patiently waiting all along, Writer Brain just kicked into gear. When I demanded of Writer Brain, "Where were you when I was trying to come up with Short Story X, Anthology Submission Y, and Other Novel Revision Z?" it quite innocently blinked at me and said, "I beg your pardon? You must have me confused with someone else."

Undisciplined punk. :P


So while SJ is on hold for the move anyway, I'm trying to strike while the iron is hot and get what I can done on this. I hate to think that I might have to choose between writing and doing comics, because I love them both, but if nothing else, NaNoWriMo showed that if I really put my mind to it, I can get a major writing project done a lot more quickly and efficiently than a major comic project– and when I look at successful "career" creatives, the first thing that is notable about them is their volume of output.

For the moment, however, such big-picture thinking is premature. I'm in the middle of a major upheaval and I have way too many half-finished projects floating in the air like so many spinning plates to make "forever" choices. Right now, I'm going to work on this thing, and see where it takes me. But one important thing that jumped out at me: when I mentioned on Twitter that I was working on B&G, responses indicated that people eagerly interested in it. Brigid and Greg, for all their snarky silliness, speak to people, in the sort of way I'm looking for. This is significant.

-The Gneech

April 2019

14 1516 17181920


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 19th, 2019 01:02 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios