Category Archives: Checking In

*epic music goes here*

Finished the Switch port of Final Fantasy IX. Man, that “double speed” mode in the remake/port is a lifesaver. I only ground up to about level 55 and didn’t go wild tracking down every last thing — just went through the story, for the most part — but the whole game only took a little over 30 hours. Nice and tidy.

I did not, as I mentioned earlier, remember much of the plot of this game, except for the beginning, the major character designs, a couple of twists, and the very last FMV (which is still adorable). I’d also forgotten how much I’d liked the score to this game.

I have no patience for fighting over which FF is ~the best~, so while I enjoy the cutesy fairy-tale style of IX, that’s not part of any kind of unified field theory of The Old Style Is Better blahblahblah. I was about 11 when I played FF original recipe, 14 when I played FFIV, and 16 when I played FFVI; those were the ones I’d call influential to my nerd upbringing, but that doesn’t make them inherently better. (Except 6’s score /jk)

There’s still a vague background goal of getting to all the non-MMO, mainline entries when possible. XIII and XV are left, assuming I’m willing to eventually bother blowing the dust off our XBox One.

Next is probably Bugsnax, which just came out on the Switch.


Story-wise, edits continue. The timeline fits together, though the characters have a packed month in there. I have the word count down to 145k from an original 152, and my goal is 140 before I turn it over to my one remaining beta reader. (no pressure, hon, you’re all that stands between us and certain doom <3 kidding. sort of) Still feel good about all my story choices, which is very encouraging.

Today is Dash Fixing Day. Does literally anyone but me care whether I’m using proper em- and en-dashes vs. two little ones –, almost certainly not. Nevertheless. A fine Dash Fixing Day to you all.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Still at it. Big Dramatic Scene is done. It’s far, far, far too long, but I will worry about that in the next round of editing.

I think this draft might actually work? It will need some tweaking and edits, especially to carve down its 150K+ word count, add more descriptions (blank white room syndrome strikes again), and make sure all foreshadowing is retroactively included. But… I think it will work. I think we’re actually going to see this thing released eventually.

Huh.

(Yes, epic fantasy is routinely longer than 150K. That’s fine. Books 1 and 2 came in around 130, though, and I don’t want to overshoot that with 3. Even that’s a lot for a series where nothing happens.)

On to the denouement. — Though now I am questioning the very little I know, because the definition of “denouement” I’m getting from the internet is opposite what I learned as a wee sprout. I learned that the denouement comes AFTER the climax, i.e. “ah, at last the kingdom is saved. FOR NOW…” Google is trying to tell me that the denouement IS the climax, which I thought was only the case if you’re writing a cliffhanger.

Can you tell I have studied writing for a total of… like, one elective in high school and comp 101 in college

oops

Still going.

Finally faded out the header image so that the title and subhead are halfway readable. Only took… three years?

Still working on Big Dramatic Climax after a week. It’s long. My plan is to write out all the moving parts I can think of, and then come back and prune until it feels zippy enough. Trying out multiple narrators in sections to try to capture that chaotic, “too many things happening at once” feeling. We’ll see how that goes, too.

Otherwise:

Finished the Perfection run of Stardew Valley. The end content was cute, and I didn’t get too bored in all that time, honestly.

Started the Switch port of Final Fantasy IX. That was the last FF I played when it was new, I have not played it since, and I remember hardly anything about it beyond the character designs and some shreds of plot. It landed in a very… idiosyncratic… period of my life, and I’m trying not to think too much about that. Twenty years is a very long time. If I hardly recognize myself now compared to myself then, that’s a good thing.

[edit: omg though, ~2000-2001 is also when the first bits of worldbuilding and character started to come together for what would eventually be *gestures broadly* all of this. I would lie down but I have things to do]

You know what else is a long time, 6 years, so I’m going to get back to working on book 3 before it’s old enough to vote. Yeesh.

Checking in, signed, Wyndspyral

About halfway through Dear Brother. I’m sorry to report that I have more or less Mariko’s personality [obsessive, disproportionate, passive-aggressive] and Kaoru’s fashion sense [middle-aged lesbian mom on a Saturday] <3

(I’d say I’m a Tomoko, because being Not One of the Specials is a core part of my ThingTM, but she’s too well-adjusted)


In a phase of finding it inexplicably hard to work on any fiction at all. I want to believe it’s a phase, that there’s a way through. Maybe it’s a mild depressive episode. Maybe I’ve just let myself break the habit once, then twice, then all of a sudden it’s fallen apart. Maybe it will come back if I dig back in. Maybe I just need to get the wheels moving. Scenes have started to form in my head again, which they hadn’t been for a while there, so that feels like a good sign. Maybe I need to stop spinning myself up about the next step and focus on the step in front of me.

Maybe I need to figure out what I want to get out of writing right now, because that’s something that evolves over time, and I haven’t checked in lately. A while back, I took down the checklist of goals that I put on my wall back in … ???? … the dim mists of time when I first put Book 1 up. (2014 or something? what even is time?) I had to admit to myself that a lot of the remaining items just don’t matter to me anymore. Maybe it’s a good time to figure out what does matter to me, and let that spur me along.


Also realizing that I need to VERY MUCH FIX a lot of supporting character naming in book 3. I had a strategy to grab names on the fly because it was easy for me, but it’s really not a good idea, and I need to redirect to a new strategy.

I hate naming things, it’s exhausting. You know why there’s no name for my story-world? Why the series name no longer makes any sense for the direction of the trilogy? Why I use initials in my pen name? *gestures*

For a nearly-literal second I had a D&D character who gathered random cool-sounding nouns as names. (no, they weren’t nonbinary; missed opportunity there) I kept a running tally on the back of my character sheet; she was up to about 5 names in about as many play sessions. I wish I had that kind of moxie with writing projects. Just name my OC Wyndspyral Flaymechylde and live in perpetual I-don’t-give-a-crap bliss. Beautiful.

“This could have been a tweet, but no” of the day:

Greatly enjoyed ODDTAXI. Once I could look up details/trivia without being spoiled, I learned that the ending credits ARE fitting in theme lyrically (i.e. dark and offputting), just not sonically. So hey. Correction. However, I also love a chirpy sound / offputting lyric combo, so that’s still up my alley.

Next, I was convinced by the Chatty AF podcast to hurry up and start Dear Brother, a bananapants-level drama!!!!! series written in the ’70s and animated in the early ’90s which was, I can already see it one episode in, a big influence on my favorite series Revolutionary Girl Utena. Apparently the English translation rights aren’t expected to be active for long, so I wanted to jump on that particular slice of history. It’s streaming on RetroCrush here.

Needed a couple of days to recharge my batteries and journal a while before jumping back into the fiction fray, but here we go.

[edit, ~24 hours and 3-4 episodes later: KAORU, who has no time for anyone’s nonsense except Rei’s, apparently. Also watch-through-your-fingers baby goth disaster Mariko. Love ’em both. This should be fun.]

Just noting

If Gumroad starts pushing NFTs, I’m moving to another system. Just FYI. <3 (and yes, Amazon is also evil, I’m aware. But evil + hilariously transparent scam + melting the planet for no reason = I choose not to support that, thx.)

In the meantime, feel free to buy wherever works out best for you. This is a no-guilting-the-readers-as-long-as-they-aren’t-pirating space.

And if you can’t: if this were a professional writing outfit, I’d say get it from the library — libraries are great, and our household uses Overdrive and Hoopla constantly. However, this is not a professional writing outfit, so my stuff is not in libraries.

So: If you somehow heard of the books, want to read them, and don’t have money, just ask me (contacts are on the About) and I’ll send you an ebook. No need to justify it, just ask. No strings. Life is short, and it would be cool if someone wanted to read one of my piles of words. It’s also cool if people want to pay me for them, because I try to use money for things other than melting the planet.

Anyway, uh, watching out for that. Back to working on books 3 and ?0.5? simultaneously because what is focus, really.

In which I rant a lot about Fruits Basket

(Unstuck in book 3. Except this is procrastinating. Haha.)

Trapped in the house by an ice storm, I called off the day job and spent much of today a) finishing a crocheting project (my poor, exhausted hands!) and b) binging to the end of Fruits Basket 2019, which I can’t help but think of as Fruits Basket: Brotherhood because I’m a dork.

The original Furuba was one of my favorite anime series in the early ’00s. Even then I had an inkling of its weak points, which time has not been kind to — but I have to say, I really enjoyed the remake. This series has always been a bait and switch: the initial concept is goofy and it looks lighthearted, but 80% of the original story is a steamroller of trauma, and the main focus of the show is generational trauma and abusive family dynamics. Nearly every character has a Dark Backstory and a boatload of trauma, and most of the arcs are about each of them finding their way through it, both separately and with one another’s support.

The first animated version dropped off after the trauma just got started, so the balance was off, but this one rolls on right to the end. That last season is a lot of yelling and crying, and all the emotional payoff from all the trauma before it. They get allllll the way through Akito’s often infuriating story. Momiji gets his chance to grow up and be awesome. Rin exists, at all. My dark horse fave Machi exists, at all. (uh, no pun intended w/r/t Rin) The animation is beautiful, even/especially in a series that’s mostly just talking and flashbacks and characters running after one another and passing out in the rain.

However. Yes, the initial goofy-ass concept, covering up all that trauma, still pivots on an annoying hook; and the remake, like the manga, still sets up a handful of characters who might do something interesting with that annoying hook and then pulls all its punches by the end. To put it bluntly, it queerbaits like a show that was originally made in the early ’00s, and only a little less than the original did. Not so much in the shipping sense, but in that some of the characters seem to sidestep the very, very hetero opening concept, but the story never does anything interesting with that. It wasn’t too surprising that the original didn’t, but the remake doesn’t either, in the interest of adhering to the original. And that squandered setup is much more obvious now than it was 20 years ago.

If I may rant about a particularly irksome bit: They ALMOST left Ritsu on a good note. ALMOST. It feels like a lot happened between Ritsu’s second-to-last and last appearances, and there just wasn’t time to cover it, so the character’s motivation is a complete freaking mystery. Dramatic Haircut, giving away personally meaningful belongings, what happened. If the story is suggesting that this had to happen to create a happy ending, fuck that right into space. It would be better to just skip it, or have Ritsu and Kagura hanging out doing absolutely anything else on earth. Including nothing.

[I don’t think I’ve ever read Furuba fanfic, but now I have half a mind to find a nice genfic where Ritsu gets to keep the long hair and pretty clothes and date Mitsuru and the two of them can be chaotic neurotic messes together. <3 I’m going to believe that happened.]

On the plus side, the remake cut out THE most pointless romantic match-up in the endgame. Just one, out of the approx. 8 in the Defensively Heterosexual Hoedown that caps off the series. There’s a couple of lines and a couple of jokes referencing it, but it doesn’t actually happen. They left in the second most egregious and pointless one, though. (Mind you, I can buy the concept of a bisexual/pansexual Ayame, absolutely. But there’s no setup for that ship. Hill, die, etc.)

And yeah, I knew it was coming; this series hits all the right buttons with trauma and squanders every last shred of queer subtext it sets up. Always did. Still does. And I still loved it. I laughed, I cried, I laughcried. It does some things well and some things not-well. Like most stories do.

Now that that’s done, next on my Series to Watch Solo list is either ODDTAXI or Fairy Ranmaru. Which have absolutely nothing in common except that they’re fairly recent, available on my streaming services, and not up my spouse’s alley. (Joint viewing in the anime sphere right now is Aggretsuko. Fenneko remains my favorite, and I really like the slightly loosely translated dub. The end.)

Happy things, scary things

As a reader(tm): T. Kingfisher’s Paladin books, Paladin’s Grace and Paladin’s Strength so far, have me wanting to run around in circles yelling about how awesome they are. I’m only about halfway through Strength, and it is something I have never seen before, in ways that I have a lot of Feelings about. But I’ll leave that to people who can speak coherently about books. I can’t right now. I can just run around in circles yelling. I am so happy these books exist.

[EDIT: There’s a third one, Paladin’s Hope. Bought, read, enjoyed. Absolute corker of a final line. Wow.]


As a whatever(tm): Realizing that I asked both beta readers to read a draft that ended up not being final, and then made a bunch of changes. Now I have no beta readers left. I’m slightly fucked at this point. I could afford to have one book edited if I tapped out my savings, but this is book 3 of a trilogy. An editor would probably suggest well-deserved changes that would drastically affect the continuity/world/etc., so I’d have to pull and rewrite the first two to match. Which I don’t really want to do, even if I should. I’d rather move forward onto new projects when this one is done.(*)

So…

I mean, even if I have to shove it in a drawer and let it die there, I’d rather do so with a finished book. So I’ll keep going. But I don’t know what to do after that.

Well, onward.

(* aside from maybe some extras for an omnibus or something)

[EDIT: To defend my beta readers, they are great and have not gone anywhere. But I have already bothered them, and I don’t want to take any more from them than I already have. If dumping a book that took decades to write and refuses to come together allows me to write another one someday, I will take that bargain. We’ll see; I’m still trying to come up with another way out.]

Numbers! Been a while.

When was the last post, October — well, my year hasn’t gotten any worse since August, so that’s nice. Still here, thankfully. Still working on Book 3 and trying not to stress about it. It’ll happen.

Otherwise, signed up for backloggd.com to keep track of my woeful video game backlog. It’s one of a few sites that function more or less like Goodreads for video games. Current backlog: 39, most of which are indie games from Steam or itch.io that I bought in bundles over the last couple of years. And so far I’ve found 213 games that I’ve played for any length of time at any point in my life. I started out on a console that isn’t even on the database, the Intellivision, which was basically the Betamax to the Atari 2600’s VHS. (Uh, that analogy is for old people too. It was a competitor that time forgot, in other words.) It would be amusing to include those games on the list too, but that’s okay.

Current TBR, by the way, is around 10. That’s one-zero. I spent most of 2021, when I had the focus to read at all, striving very hard to read down the TBR and quitting a few books that I just bounced off of. Still slowly poking through a year’s best sff anthology from I’m not even sure what ancient year.

So anyway, since it’s the end of the calendar year and I haven’t done this in an extremely long time, I thought I’d do a numbers post. Why not. I think it’s kind of interesting, because I’m going about this in a way that I don’t see often (or at all, ha), and therefore, you don’t hear about this scenario much.

Continue reading Numbers! Been a while.

In my defense, I barely knew what time was in the Before

I spent last night journaling about what I did during September, and I still don’t know where it went.

Hello. What’s up. Here are some unorganized thoughts.

  • Changed the blog category “proof of life” to “checking in”, because for me it crossed the line between “ironic overstatement” and “hmm, no thanks”.
  • Got all of those great notes back from the beta readers, identified some large elements that Book 3 was missing (more motivation for the “antagonists[ish]”, some logistical changes to the second half, commitment on the shipping question), ignored them for the rest of the summer.
  • Vowed in October to write something every day, whether that’s a bit of the story, some journaling, or this here procrastinatory blog post. I want to make it a habit again.
  • I want to not be scared of finishing Book 3, of doing a bad job, of writing something that some undefined someone doesn’t like. I want to write something that I like. I want to bring this storyline to a close and switch gears. I can do it. I just have to keep moving and keep my motivation in mind.

And what’s my motivation?

I read this tweet recently by the truly original Chuck Tingle, and it really struck me. I’ve tried to force sincerity out of my work and become more of what I feel like I’m supposed to be: better plotted, more marketable. It doesn’t work for me. It’s great if you can; I’m not talking about you. It doesn’t work for me, though.

I felt really bad for a really long time because Some Undefined Person Didn’t Approve of Something I Did, and many things in my personality make that just unthinkable. But it’s at the point where to keep doing something I love, I have to put up with that feeling.

I choose the story. I choose to keep going. Not out of spite; I have nothing to prove to anyone. Just because, well, I want to do this thing, and only I can stop me.

So I want to bring Agna and Keifon’s story to some kind of conclusion. I think after this point, if I come back to write about them, it will probably either be a short story or as side characters in a book narrated by another character. But hell, who knows what the future holds.

At the start, I assumed that I’d follow up Agna’s first book with one about Rone, her mentor, because he’s A Guy with a Sword and everybody loves those, don’t they, that’s important, isn’t it. After a while, I assumed I’d follow up Agna’s third book with one about Lina, her sister, because Lina is closer to the political upheaval in their home country, and political upheaval is Exciting and everyone loves Exciting Stories and Plot and that’s important, isn’t it.

I had a story framework on the back burner for a lot of this. A scenario, a setting, two narrators: more Academy graduates, former classmates who can’t stand one another and get assigned to a posting in the same small town. It takes place before Agna’s story, it has nothing to do with the political upheaval (I think), and I’m still not fully sure what Happens in it. The psychological themes are chewy, there’s the kind of drama I love, absolutely nobody was asking for this story and nobody gives one solitary crap about it. Except me.

And I’m writing for me.

So maybe it’s next. Maybe I’ll jump ship from fantasy and write that sociological science fiction idea ricocheting around in my head, about what happens down the road if nightmare capitalists actually do start a space colony where the poor colonists’ descendants are indentured servants. But by the time I do, nineteen other people will have already written theirs, so I can just read theirs.

I hope to write with love, even if I’m writing about unlikeable assholes or nightmare capitalists. Because that’s what motivates me. Not money, which is fine if that’s your motivation. Not approval, even though I feel like I’ll die if I don’t get it (which is fully asinine, I acknowledge that). I like writing. That’s why I do it. That’s all.