Wednesday, February 3, 2021

IWSG - Uncertainty



    I ought to be feeling pretty confident right now, considering I finished the new draft of that old novel, and it's light years better than the original.  (Though there's some slacking off, I feel, towards the end.)

    But I am totally not.

    I can't really describe what the problem is, exactly, but I'm suddenly filled with malaise.  (Over the weekend, I ended up spontaneously crying twice.  Which years ago would be a sign my period was coming, but at this point I don't have them every month anymore, plus I had just had one about two weeks earlier.)  Malaise and a sense of futility.

    It's like, even if I go to all the effort of getting this novel ready and out there in the form of interactive fiction, is it even going to matter?

    The first chapter that's out there as a "demo" is getting a decent "click-through rate," according to itch.io's analytics, which means about 2.75% (as of the last time I looked at the analytics page) of the people who look at the game's page also go ahead and click the button to play the game.  But that doesn't really mean much:  they might click the button, read one or two screens of text and get bored and leave.  (Or decide it sucks and leave for that reason.)  That will be an even bigger concern with the full novel version, and one that I can't see any away around; I'm always going to worry that no one's reading the full thing.  And probably most of the people who start it aren't going to be reading the full thing.

    I've been contemplating moving a lot of my Greek mythology related works of writing onto AO3 (partially as an advertisement for the game once it's up), but would anyone actually read them or like them?  Just because I like them doesn't mean anything.  I like a lot of the things I've written about Velvet Goldmine characters, but my fics have some of the lowest hit and kudos counts in the fandom, so I'm obviously the only one.

    *sigh*

    I know I should be posting about how I need a name for the new version of the novel (there's stuff about that two posts back, or was it only last post?) and a name for the series, but I can't even bring myself to care right now.  What's in a name?  More importantly, what good is a name?  It won't make the work it's attached to less bad.  I mean, yeah, a really awful title will drive off potential readers/players, while a good one might draw a few in, but considering the work itself will drive them all off, what's that matter in the long run?

    I'm afraid a lot of my problem right now is extended house-boundedness, which is obviously not a problem that's going to go away anytime soon, with more dangerous strains of COVID likely to get here in the weeks to come, and of course my obesity and asthma puts me at super-high risk of death if I get it, but my lack of a job or anyone depending on me in any way (plus my lack of a physician, my obesity and my asthma) puts me about down with homeless people in terms of priority to receive the vaccine.  And I don't think my confidence is ever likely to recover from losing my job, not unless I can find a new one, which obviously isn't going to happen until well after COVID goes away.

    *sigh*

    Sorry.  I didn't mean to be just unloading all my pointless worries.  That's not interesting reading or helpful to anyone else.  (It doesn't help that I have pretty much no human contact other than my brother and my parents right now.)

    How is everyone else dealing with the extreme sense of being entirely and utterly housebound, now that most areas will soon have entered a full year of this?

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

General Stuff, + Sol Mosier on Patriotism

 So, the last time I posted anything, for my monthly IWSG post, I said this:

Yup, I haven't posted anything this year, so of course I had to start with a "thank god it's over" about 2020.  (Though my hopes are not high for 2021 being all that great, either.  Maybe it will be, but as long as it's better than 2020, I'll take it.)

    Hours later, white supremacists were invading the US Capitol building in an armed insurrection.

    I spent the following weeks alternating between tensely holding my breath in terror of further violence closer to home (the advantage of being in the Midwest is that it's far from anything bad happening on the coasts, but the enormous disadvantage is that there are a lot of white supremacists, gun nuts, and other right-wing extremists) and actively trying to think about absolutely anything else, meaning that I really threw myself into finishing that proofreading job, working on the rewrite of my novel, reading, and playing video games.

    I'm glad to say that last night around 11:00 I finally finished the new draft of the novel, which is now nearly twice the size of the old draft:  the original (well, the most recent version of it, which had had minor edits done from the true original draft) was 134 word processor pages and 79,980 words long (with each chapter having a title), and the new draft is 241 word processor pages long, and 144,730 words long (with chapters not having titles).  Of course, since I'm adapting it not into a new novel version but into a text-based game, there is some extra text involved in the terms of choices to be made by the player, alternate versions of combat scenes dependent on those choices, and of course game over scenarios, but I doubt those added much more than five thousand words, maybe ten thousand at the outside, but there aren't really enough of them to make it likely there's anywhere near that many words involved.  It's not ready for entering into the game engine yet (especially because I realized very late in the draft that my brain kept sabotaging me and defaulting to types of armor that were impossible to make in the Bronze Age, so I have to go back and fix a lot of that text) and I'll need to write up many more glossary entries, plus some post-game information about the real versions of myths I was drawing from (in part because one of the characters most people will assume I made up is actually a very minor mythological figure, though one who met a very different fate), but the hardest part, the redraft itself, is over, so that's great.

    But that's not actually what I wanted to post about.  The main thing I wanted to post was a quote from one of the books I read in the last three weeks.  It's called The Flutter of an Eyelid, by Myron Brinig, and it's one of the many book projects I've backed on Kickstarter.  In this case, it's one of the ones from Tough Poets Press, which finds long out-of-print novels (and plays and collections of poetry) and gets the rights to bring them back into print.  I've backed a fair number of their projects, though most of them are still buried in various places in my constantly growing to-read pile.  Anyway, the main reason I backed this one, I think, was actually because of the description of one of the author's "second novel, Singermann, a semi-autobiographical novel of a Jewish immigrant peddler's family in the early 1900's American frontier.  The novel is notable in that it is one of the earliest instances in American literature of a gay protagonist whose character is portrayed in a compassionate, non-stigmatizing manner."  (Quote from the "About the Author" page in the back of the book, which I believe is exactly the same text from the Kickstarter page, only I'm too lazy to go check.)

    The Flutter of an Eyelid was written in 1933, and it bears the hallmarks of its age in terms of racism and misogyny (though not as badly as many other products of the age do), and frankly some of it feels anti-Semitic to the modern reader, but it sounds like the author was Jewish himself, so it probably wasn't actually anti-Semitism, or if it was, it was merely echoing the attitudes of the era in the increasingly unreliable narrator.  (Or something.)  Anyway, it's a very unusual book, and I don't even know if I want to recommend it, though I did overall enjoy it:  it started out feeling like it might be a less normal, more extreme novel in the vein of Day of the Locust, but it went off those rails pretty quickly and ended up in all sorts of very meta places.

    Anyway, fairly late in the book (pages 244-5 of 298), there's an extended speech (or internal monologue?) from a character named Sol Mosier on the subject of patriotism that felt very appropriate right now, so I wanted to share it:

"If, in school, we had been taught that life is an endless chain of pleasant and grievous futilities, how much happier our adult years would be!  Instead of which, we were taught the beauty of a blind patriotism, the goodness of chastity, the decency of hard work and the importance of conformity.  It is not until we grow up that we learn how patriotism is an emotion that has little or nothing to do with shooting and military drill.  It is only when we are grown that we know how patriotism has everything to do with the picture of a certain street in a small country town, red brick houses surrounded by tall trees and pale green grass in the dawn.  Patriotism has much to do with Fifth Avenue and Michigan Boulevard at two 'clock of a rainy morning; but the saying, 'My Country, right or wrong!' is not patriotism.  When I was a child, the teacher used to make the entire class rise every morning and salute the flag.  I remember it went something like this:  'I salute my flag and the Republic for which it stands.  One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.'  After several years, I began to speak these words as a parrot would speak them, finding no thought, beauty or affection in them.  How much more beautiful patriotism could have been made for me had the teacher spoken of the iridescent plumes of geysers in Yellowstone Park, the varied scenes of hill and plain in Montana, the golden wheat fields of North Dakota, and the Mississippi River as it drifts, with a slow, turgid charm, past small hamlets in Missouri and Louisiana.  But I had to learn all this for myself many years later.  How much better I would have understood patriotism, if the teacher had told me about the radiance in the faces of immigrants when they first catch sight of the Statue of Liberty!  For it is obvious that the most patriotic American is the one who has just arrived, and does not, as yet, know of America's heartaches and disappointments."

     And, with that thought, I'll close out this post in the hopes that January 6th was actually 2020's last horrifying gasp, and that 2021 proper has now started (though certain Senators seem determined to prevent that), and in the hopes that in the coming days, months and years we'll see more of the kind of patriotism Sol is endorsing at the end of the speech, and a distinct lack of the type he rejects in the middle.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

IWSG: Good riddance, 2020!

     Yup, I haven't posted anything this year, so of course I had to start with a "thank god it's over" about 2020.  (Though my hopes are not high for 2021 being all that great, either.  Maybe it will be, but as long as it's better than 2020, I'll take it.)



    Since it's the first IWSG post of the year, this seems like a good time to reflect on what the past year was like for me as a writer, and what my writing-specific hopes for the coming year are.

    There were actually a lot of good things that happened for me as a writer in the second half of 2020.  No, more like the final third, maybe just the final quarter.  Well, whichever.  I not only started into a really serious and heavy re-write of a series of novels I wrote in 2014, but I also started writing video games.  Well, text games.  In fact, technically, the re-write is turning the novels into lightly interactive fiction (mostly you just read them like an ordinary novel, but periodically the two heroines go in separate directions, and you choose whether to find out what happened to one of them or the other (there's an undo command, of course, if you want to see both), and in a few key moments there's much more interaction (when they escape the slavery they were born into, and the novel's three big fight scenes) which can actually lead to losing the game if you screw up.  Although I plan on posting the final game version on itch.io for free, there is at least the possibility of someone donating money to me when they play it in their browser or download it for later.  (Such donations don't happen often, but evidently some people have in fact received money for free-or-donate titles.)  So, technically, I might, in theory, eventually see a tiny bit of money from that.  But more importantly, it's something that I'm working to improve (and improving a lot over its original incarnation!) and then putting it out there where people can actually read it.  And maybe some of them actually will.  I put up the escape sequence as a demo of sorts, and had some people start following my account shortly thereafter, so I think they at least are wanting to read the rest of the story.  Which is pretty exciting, I have to say!  It's also a good impetus to keep me working and get the finished product out there as soon as I can without sacrificing quality.

    And I have all the time in the world to write, since I lost my job to COVID, and as a former museum registrar/curator, I'm not going to be able to find a new one until museums start reopening and getting enough visitors to be able to hire more staff.  (Thus, probably not until 2022...)

    Which brings me around to the writing problems and drawbacks from 2020.  I spent a lot of the year in a writing funk because I was bogged down in one project after another that were just slow, hard going, and which I do want to eventually finish up, meaning more bogging down is in my future somewhere.  (Though thankfully not until after I finish these rewrites-into-games!  And since it's a seven novel series, that's a hefty chunk of time accounted for.)  My mental state has been one of shifting malaise ever since losing my job (and to a certain extent even before that), though the reception to the "demo" has helped to revitalize it a bit.  (Not as much as I'd like, but...)

    Unfortunately, my health has really deteriorated over the past year.  Last year's very first IWSG post complained about having just sprained my ankle, assuming it was going to go away in time like a normal sprain, even though I knew from the feel of it that it was anything but normal.  What happened was that a chip of bone broke off in the fall (not sure how exactly, I guess it's the part some ligament attached to or something?), and when the urgent care center saw that on the x-ray, they told me I should see a specialist.  Well, that specialist said "oh, that's totally normal in a sprain; that's why I tell people never to go to urgent care centers, because they just panic over nothing."  I am convinced that he didn't even look at the x-rays I brought from the urgent care center, because this is not normal.  And yes, present tense:  the bone chip is still slipping around inside my ankle, and frequently decides it wants to move in between proper bones and otherwise muck up the functioning of my ankle, which can make climbing stairs, walking and sometimes just standing an agony.  I have a feeling the only way it's actually going to get better is if I have surgery to remove the chip, but there's no way I'm having something like that happen while COVID is still a thing!  In addition to my obesity and generally iffy health, I also have asthma, so if I get COVID, it's likely to kill me, therefore I'm going to be very careful until the threat is over.  (Unfortunately, I'm likely to be very late to get the vaccine, because I'm not elderly, I don't have an important job (or any job at all), and I don't even have a personal physician at the moment, so I have no idea how I'd even get the shot at all.)  And the state of my ankle is very crucial to my writing because my various other conditions have become exacerbated to the point that on some days, the only way I can be comfortable is to stand up, because my legs have started to react to anything underneath them like it's super-heated sandpaper, and my upper thighs sometimes freak out at any touch of my stomach against them, which makes sitting a very difficult thing.  But I also get back pains from standing too long, and...well, it's very, very bad, and some days it stops me from getting anything done at all.  I'm still trying to develop working strategies to get around these issues, as well as trying to figure out the best way to safely and (hopefully) permanently lose weight.  Some days it doesn't interfere much with my writing, and other days it keeps me from accomplishing anything at all.  (For example, I am now writing this standing up, because I couldn't take sitting any longer.  But I don't know how long I can stand before my back screams me to death.)\

    Whew.  Okay, so...yeah.  2020 was not great for me, even as a writer, despite some promising stuff in the final months.

    But what about 2021?  Well, obviously, I can't know in advance how it's going to turn out.  (Rereading last year's IWSG posts on the old blog really drove the truth of that home!)  I'm hoping to finish with the rewrite of the novel I'm working on right now in time to post the game version sometime this spring, but I haven't made any commitments to or beyond that.

    After I finish that rewrite, I'll probably either dive right into book 2's rewrite, try to finish up some unfinished fanfiction, or...I dunno.  I'm always coming up with interesting new ideas, but most of them never get past the "something I'm idly tossing around in the back of my mind" stage.  It'll of course depend on, among other things, what the world looks like when I get there, and what my particular section of the world is like.

    I'm glad to say that my biggest worry on the rewrite right now (other than being able to find a position in which I can actually write it) is what to title the novel/game/thing.  The old title was The Vessel of Athene, which makes no sense until you get really late in the book and suddenly realize it's a massive spoiler.  Then I was going to call it The Walls of Troy, which is pretty much meaningless as a title, since although most of the book takes place in the partially rebuilt Troy, there's no much time spent talking about the walls of the city, and no time at all spent on them.  My current plan is to title it either Ties of Blood and Water or Bonds of Blood and Water, since there are a lot of kinship themes in the novel (the trio of heroes are cousins, or rather both of the other two are cousins of the main heroine, though only very distantly related to each other by their small inheritance of divine blood), and also a lot of talk about people descended from watery divinities, since our heroine is the granddaughter of the Nereid Thetis, and the new king of Troy is the grandson of a river god on his mother's side, and distantly descended from another river god on his father's side.  It also rather ties into the finale, too, which is good.  But it's kind of a weird title and doesn't signify "Greek mythology-derived", so...still not 100% on board with it.

    I also need to figure out a series title, so that the thumbnail summary for the game on itch.io will both indicate right away that it's the opening of a series (Book One of the *cough* series) and also give a hint as to what the main themes of the series are.  Which is where it gets really complicated.  Because I want the series title to indicate Greek mythology, first and foremost, and preferably something that suggests immediately post-Trojan War.  (My initial thought for the series title was "Scions of Troy" but that implies the children of the Trojans, not the children of the Greeks who were fighting against Troy.)  But two of the novels are spent primarily outside the traditional Greek myth region (they go to Babylon in one, and in the last one to a mountain range that's not really specified where it is, but my plan was for it to be the Alps, possibly the Swiss Alps, even), and one of the biggest themes throughout the series is the fate of gods whose worship has fallen by the wayside as its people moved on or died out.  There's also a subtheme of how the more gender-equal ways of the Bronze Age were being abandoned by the misogynistic patriarchy of the culture we know from the historical period of ancient Greece, but that's not really something I want to have imparted in the title of the series!  But how does one imply "dealing with fallen gods" in a series title without giving that away?  Because that...the villain's plan in the first book is basically to take down the Olympian gods, because he feels they've overstayed their welcome, and so he's trying to reduce them to the fallen gods that they ought to be by now in his estimation.  It's not until book two that we start meeting the actual "already fallen religions" theme, so I don't want it to be too obvious in the series title.

    The original plan when I wrote these novels back in 2014 was for them to be a Young Adult series, but one in which the teenage leads do not pair up by the end of the series, having somehow met their soul mates before turning twenty.  (Surprisingly, it wasn't until a year later that I realized that I was aromantic and asexual.)  I'm not sure if the end result is going to be at all YA in tone or more adult than that.  (Though the one heroine being asexual, the other heroine being unwilling/unable to accept or admit that she's in love with the first heroine, and the male lead having a girlfriend who is rarely present and who he would literally be killed for sleeping with (she's an Egyptian princess) does help to at least prevent there being any chance of sex to worry about!  (Except in the prologues taking place during the war. *cough*))  Anyway, I'd kind of like the title for the series to be one that could fit the kind of YA books that I read growing up, like the Prydain Chronicles, or...um...okay, actually that's the only YA series I read as a kid, now that I think about it.  Some individual ones, but mostly I kind of jumped right to regular fantasy early on.

    It's a very complicated situation, and titles are something I really, really, really suck at.

    Still, overall, I'm hesitantly optimistic about how 2021 will go for me as a writer.  And I'm hoping it'll be good for me in all other ways, but...not daring to be optimistic yet.  Hopefully by next month's IWSG post, I'll be optimistic again.  (Hopefully there will also be posts in between this one and that one, but the way I've been going, who knows?)

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

IWSG: Reflections on (Not)NaNo



 So, the same as last year, I didn't take part in the official NaNoWriMo this year, because I am still disgusted by the changes to the website.  (Honestly, I could have dealt with the hideous design scheme and the purposeful destruction of the forums if they hadn't mutilated our past project pages.  But that?  No, I was not going to do anything to give even the slightest tacit sign of approval to that.)  And I did my own thing, keeping tally on my blog.

Unlike last year, this time I went by hour count rather than word count, since I was working on multiple projects, one of which was a rewrite.

I think the biggest thing I learned from the process is that hour counts don't really work for me.  They're hard to keep track of (I kept forgetting to stop or start the timer when I had to get up and do something else for a few minutes, or answer the phone, or whatever), and they just don't feel very satisfying in the end.  In the future, I'm just going to have to try and make sure not to have this kind of project going on when I'm doing one of my off-the-books NaNo equivalent things.

Or rather, these kinds of projects.

I was working on a total of four projects over November:

  1. Polishing up, adding images and a glossary to The Cousins, a game expanding on part of the first chapter of a novel I wrote back in 2014.  Most of the text for this game was written prior to the start of November, so all I was working on really was the glossary, edits to the text, all the image stuff, and some coding issues.  I posted the game to itch.io on the 12th.
  2. Adding a glossary to my previous game, Are You A Better General Than Agamemnon?, and fixing the various coding errors in the game.  I got the updated version uploaded on the 17th...though I doubtless still missed some coding errors because it's actually much too complicated a game for my minimal programming skills. :(  (Well, I am a writer, not a programmer.)  There may be something wrong with one of the images, unfortunately, but I can't figure out what...
  3. Love Allergy, a parody of the otome dating game genre, in which rather than playing a straight girl being offered the opportunity for a romance with one of typically about five handsome men, you're playing an aroace girl trying to avoid being pressured into a romance with I think it was four handsome men and one attractive character of uncertain gender.  I wrote the basic synopsis of the scenario and some bare bones character profiles, and part of the first couple of scenes, just the "setting the stage" material.  I wasn't really feeling it, so I pretty quickly set it aside and moved on to...
  4. The Walls of Troy, or whatever I end up calling it, the full rewrite-as-interactive-fiction of the 2014 novel that The Cousins came from.  (Or rather, that The Cousins should be considered the demo of, since its whole text is wholesale part of this other project.)  This one I've been working on pretty consistently, and have gotten a pretty good length of text into, though I'm nowhere near a good chunk of the way through the story:  the villain hasn't even shown up yet!  (And he'll be making his appearance much earlier in this version than he did in the original version!)
Anyway, my initial hour count goal was 60 hours, but as I started falling further and further behind, I dropped that down to 45 hours, which I only barely met on the last day.  (Total was 45 hours and 18 minutes.)  However, I'm glad to say that if I had been worried about word counts instead, I'd be good!  The glossary for Are You A Better General Than Agamemnon? runs 17,733 words, and what I have so far of The Walls of Troy is 38,826 words (much longer than I thought it was!), which add up to a total of 56,559 words, and I forgot to see how many words I'd written for Love Allergy; I suspect that was probably another 5k or so.

So at least I managed to get 50k without that even being my goal! ;)

And I'm feeling good about how The Walls of Troy is developing...although I want to change the title, because that's really not a good title for it.  I want it to be about kinship somehow, but I'm not sure specifically in what way.  I also want to make sure as I go along that I put in enough hints about the scale of the bad guy's plans along the way, because in looking back on it, I feel like the "ha ha ha my plan will kill the gods and then i'll become the father of the new gods" nonsense kind of comes out of freaking nowhere.  Admittedly, he's more than a little crazy, but that's no excuse for failing to provide setup for what's actually going on.

One thing that's bothering me, though, is that I'm starting feel like I'm not "really" being a writer anymore.  I mean, I never counted as a professional writer, since I've never been paid for anything I wrote.  (I'm not sure who it was that set out that qualification.  I'm wanting to say it was Hemingway or someone like that, but I could be totally wrong.)  But it's like, do I still get to call myself a writer in any way if I'm writing a video game, no matter how text-based the game is?

I think this was especially bothering me in the matter of the hour count for this Not-NaNo, because I was sometimes having to count time that didn't contain any writing at all, but instead consisted of me in PhotoShop trying to make the photographs taken on modern day Lesbos look as much as possible like they could be ancient frescoes.  (Sadly, they do not look like frescoes.  Like, at all.)  But it's a problem for me overall, as it makes me feel even more like a fraud than I usually do.

It also feels kind of like a colossal waste of time, since it's not going to get me a new job, but then again nothing is, and I just have to somehow remember what it was like in the days before I got my job at the museum in the first place.  (I would feel less useless if they would at least let me come back in as a volunteer, but they won't even do that!  That really annoys me, considering that I was volunteering there for five years before it turned into employment.)  I mean, at least I have a proofreading gig now, but it's not a paying one, so...well, it's a credit I can put on my CV, so there's at least that; it might lead to a paying gig later.  The writing is never going to lead to anything with money involved, and it never was, so it doesn't matter if I feel "genuine" or not.

Ugh, this has descended into self-pitying drivel now, so I think I'll stop before it gets worse.  I hope everyone else had a good November, and has a great December!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Not-NaNo Final Day!

 Uh...well...yup.

It's the last day of November.

Not sure what else I can say.

I did at least get a little writing done today.  Some of it was actually pretty good, in fact.  The cousins have arrived at the port in Troy now (one major flaw here is that I have zero idea what kind of port and/or docks various cities had in the Late Bronze Age, and I've just kind of flubbed around on the assumption that there was something kinda/sorta like what was present in the historic era in Greece, which may well be completely wrong), and I had some fun with the port official who greeted them and tried to intimidate them with his officialness...until Eurysakes (who is this enormous guy in full armor and carrying a shield as big as he is) let him know that he was the son of the #2 Greek champion from the war.  Then the official got kind of pale and frightened and yet was still trying to yap intimidatingly.

Then after he went away, the captain of the boat (who had fought in the war, as I feel like maybe I mentioned at some point before?) helped identify some of the foreign visitors they were seeing on the shore, and when he spotted some Ethiopians he changed the subject to tell them about the former king of Ethiopia, Memnon, who was the most beautiful man who fought in the Trojan War, and how there were whispers (when no one important could hear them) that Achilles had actually killed him out of jealousy because he'd never met a man better-looking than himself before.  I was also able to mention what most accounts don't, that Memnon had a brother, who was now ruling Ethiopia in his place.

So that was kind of fun.

I probably would have gotten a lot more done, but then I heard someone messing around on my porch, and it was someone from the water company, I saw as they drove off again, and I was suddenly afraid that I was behind on my payments and they were going to shut off my water (even though I had paid my previous bill on time), so I had to turn off my good laptop and turn on my internet laptop to check and see that no, I was had no payments due at this time, so whatever the heck that guy was doing, it wasn't about that.  (I still kind of want to know what it was, but...I have no idea who the heck I could ask!)  In any case, then I started looking at Cyber Monday sales, and there went most of my day.  (*sigh*)

I was going to turn in the first ten pages of my proofreading work, only when I went back to have a look at them to make sure there weren't any errors in my own text, I noticed some spots where I missed the original author using the wrong tense, so I have to go back and fix that before I can turn in the work.  (And I can't do that on this computer, because it would put the wrong name on the comments, as I am doing my proofing work under my pen name not my real name, and I can't find a way to make the modern Word change what name it uses on the comments.  Which sounds like a dumb reason, but...)

------------------------------------------------------

Anyway, my total time in November spent working on my various writing projects turned out to be 45:18:10.98.  Which is not the least bit cool, but...hey, at least now I can close the timer app on my phone without worrying it'll erase my hour count! ;)

I wanted to calculate my rough number of words (though they can't be totally accurate since there was a lot of coding and stuff), but due to the panic over the guy from the water company, that didn't happen.  I'll calculate that by IWSG on Wednesday. ;)  (I'm pretty sure The Walls of Troy got up to about 23k, and then the glossary for Are You A Better General Than Agamemnon? was over 17k, pre-coding, so that's like 40k, so I actually got pretty close to hitting the official NaNo mark even though I was going for time rather than words.  That's something, right?)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Not-NaNo Day 29: Oh boy...

 *cough*

Wow.  I skipped from day 25 to day 29.

Admittedly, due to the holiday, I ended up not writing at all on the 26th, and I'm not so sure I wrote on the 27th, either.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't?  No, wait, I must have?

Ugh.  Something's just gone wrong with me on this.

(Although, let's be honest, I miss the nice keep-track-of-it-for-you angle of the official NaNo site.  Y'know, before they butchered it.)

I just haven't been able to do much the last few days.

Part of it was the holiday, part of it was panic over my basement door (the new guy who came to look at it promised to send an estimate on Tuesday...you know, after four nights of below freezing temperatures), and part of it was general problems that are plaguing me in everything (mostly to do with my weight issues, ultimately), and part of it was distraction by having gotten addicted to a particularly time-sucking video game, but there's definitely something else going wrong, too.

I think maybe part of it is because this rewrite puts me in a weird place, and not because I'm trying to change a novel into interactive fiction.  The problem is that some scenes I am keeping all but unchanged, other scenes I'm keeping with modifications, and other scenes are being entirely discarded for new ones.  Just when I'll get into the groove of writing something new, I end up having to change to merely modify a different scene, or copy another whole-cloth.  It's very disruptive to my rhythm.

But I think it's also because I'm starting to really need to work again.

And I don't mean "work on my novel" work.  I mean, I need a job again.

Which is a problem, considering that my old job (which it was implied I might be allowed to resume when the museum's finances allow them to start hiring people again) will at this rate not be available again until sometime late in 2022...maybe.

And with my minimal employment history, I'm not really qualified for...well, for anything really, but particularly not for anything unrelated to my previous career.  Because yeah, my MA is not in historic preservation or anything closely related to it, but I do have the experience of five years employment in a position that eventually grew the title curator/registrar (without its functions significantly changing, meaning I was doing that job all along, just without the name), plus five further years before that as a volunteer doing basically the same thing.  That experience might be enough to get another museum to hire me (if they don't mind my broken social skills), but with the pandemic, no museums are open, and therefore cannot possibly be hiring right now.  So getting a job outside the house is currently off the table.

And yet a job outside the house is, I think, exactly what I need right now.  In general, and in order to help me focus on my writing.

It's a problem, one without any solution I can see.  (Without any solution that does not involve magic and/or time travel, anyway.  Or benevolent aliens.  Or rifts to other dimensions.  Basically, anything sci-fi or fantasy.)

Ack.  This went sideways into crazytown.

Sorry.

Anyway, on Friday I did manage to get about two hours writing done.  And then yesterday I managed about five minutes. :(  I mean, I did spend longer than than that reading over what I'd done to remind myself of where I was and what was going on, etc, but I'm not counting that time.

Thankfully, I had long since decided (though I'm not sure I ever officially said so on the blog) to reduce my hour count goal from 60 to 45, so I'm still good as long as I can manage to get some writing done today or tomorrow.

Which will probably be tomorrow, because I've set today aside to check my email, which can take all day if it's been too long since I last checked it (I think it's only been about a week this time, so hopefully it won't be too bad, esp. since the election is over...though I do keep getting email about sending financial support to the two Senate run-off elections in Georgia...), plus I am determined to actually get some proofreading done today, because the last three days I've opened the file, looked at the next paragraph and just kind of noped out of there for the day.  Which is not cool.  Not cool and not professional.  (And it's not like the paragraph was any worse than some of the ones I'd already done.  In fact, it wasn't as bad.  I've just been incredibly tired lately, and that makes me unwilling to face challenges like working or cleaning my house.  (Oh god, does my house need cleaning!  I need a magic wand and/or a robotic maid...)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Not-NaNo Day 25: Behind in my posts

 I'm behind in my posts about my Not-NaNo, but not in my actual writing.  I just haven't been posting because...honestly, because I didn't feel like booting up this computer just to write a blog post.  (That was at least one advantage to staying with Wordpress, in that it had an app and I could just write the post on my phone, but there doesn't seem to be an official app for Blogger.)

Anyway, I've been continuing to work on the rewrite of The Walls of Troy, though I have only found one very minor place to add any interactivity to it.  (Then again, the interactivity in The Cousins was also very minor, so maybe that's all right.)

I'm posting first thing in the morning not because I've already done today's writing (lol, haven't even thought about it yet) but because I had to boot up this computer in order to look up a phone number for someone who would actually fix my basement door before all my pipes freeze, unlike the handyman who's been promising to fix it for two months now, and responded to my text yesterday with a rather dismissive promise to do something that wouldn't even remotely solve the problem, because evidently he'd forgotten what the problem actually was.  Ugh.  So now I'm waiting for an actual company to call me back about fixing it, and hopefully I won't have to turn off my water on Friday before the temperature can drop below freezing.  (Hopefully.)

I'm trying to think if I had anything to say about the way the rewrite is progressing, but I think I said most of it last time, really.  Because although I had gotten to Eurysakes' first appearance, I still had to write their entire first conversation with him, plus several conversations (practically a negotiation, really) with the captain of his ship, an older man who had fought with their fathers in the Trojan War, and followed Teukros into exile after the war ended.

Ooh, that brings up an interesting point, though.  See, I'm writing this novel from a perspective of intimate familiarity with the myth and its various tangential myths, but most people who will  be reading the novel/game are coming from a point lacking in that familiarity.  So, when I mention Teukros going into exile after the war, I know the whole story behind that, but most other people do not, and it's really hard to know when to insert the explanation into the novel.  Some of what needs to be explained (not just about Teukros, but about various portions of the larger Trojan War myth) can be explained in the work, because the girls wouldn't know the deep dark secrets of various royal families, but other things are going to be common knowledge.

Take Teukros, for example.  At the time when this novel is taking place, he is the founder and king of the city of Salamis on the island of Cyprus, and he's the half-brother of Aias of Salamis.  That much is common knowledge in-universe, and the girls cannot possibly feign ignorance of it.  Given his name, they must at least suspect that his mother was Trojan (Teukros was the name of one of the three legendary figures at the origin of the city, the others being Tros and Ilos), but they probably don't realize that his mother was Hesione, one of King Priam's sisters.  Which is important because that means the current king of Troy, the son of Alexander, is actually a cousin of Teukros, which makes it rather awful that he's been refusing to have any official dealings with him, I only just now realized.  (Thankfully, that wouldn't be something that any of Teukros' people would bring up, but the king will sure as heck bring it up, which he had not done in the original version!)  I can't have the girls feign ignorance about who Teukros is or the fact that he's the ruler of Cyprian Salamis, because you know that there would be chatter about him in a royal palace on Lesbos, so they would have heard all about him.  Or at least, that much about him.  (Realistically, at least one of them should probably have heard the rumor that his mother was a sister of King Priam's.  Ariadne, after all, had been singing to entertain at royal feasts for several years, and that's the sort of thing that might come up around the royal dinner table.)

But there's the matter of his exile.  That they don't know about, because it pertains to the death of his brother, which I've already established they don't know about.  What happened, for those who might happen to read this who don't know the Trojan War very well, is that Aias and Odysseus both claimed the armor of Achilles after Achilles finally died.  After much debate and argument on the subject, the armor was awarded to Odysseus, despite that he wasn't as good a warrior and despite that in most post-Homeric versions, Aias and Achilles were first cousins.  This situation was intolerable to Aias, and he kind of snapped, and decided he was going to go kill Odysseus, take the armor, kill Agamemnon and a few others who also made the decision, and then go home.  Athene didn't want anything happening to her boy, so she cast a veil of madness over Aias, and he slaughtered the herds instead of his comrades.  About dawn, her veil was lifted and he saw what he had done, and was horrified by his own actions, throwing himself on his sword as the only way to preserve what little honor he had left.  Sophocles' play on the subject is really brilliant, and I absolutely recommend it.  (Especially since it's a rare example of a version of Odysseus on the Athenian stage who is not the epitome of evil.  He actually shows remorse for having unintentionally caused Aias to do this, and he convinces Agamemnon to allow Aias to be buried.)  As this was all quite scandalous and distressing, the assumption in my take on the immediately post-Trojan War Greek world is that most of Aias' fellow princes did not want to spread the tale, and thus it is still relatively unknown, so the girls know he died about the same time as Achilles, but they don't know how.  (The problem with that is that it's actually important to the plot of the second novel, so I can't put it in the actual text, but I'm not sure if it's important for the readers not to know, so I'm not sure if I should put it in the glossary or not.  Not like my not putting it in the glossary will do jack-all, considering things like Wikipedia and Google exist.)

Anyway, when Teukros returned to Salamis at the end of the war with his brother's concubine and the son that concubine had borne him, and with the tale of his brother's ignominious end, his father Telamon was outraged at Teukros' failure to prevent the tragedy, and banished him.  (Here's where my version diverges from the real myth:  I misunderstood the single sentence that was the entire summary of a lost tragedy (I think also by Sophocles) about Teukros and his nephew following the death of Telamon, and for some reason thought it meant that Telamon had rejected his grandson as well as his son.  So in my version, Telamon wouldn't allow the concubine and her son into Salamis, either, though in the real myth he did.  (Though Plutarch also mentions another son of Aias, without saying where he came from, so I make it that Aias had a pregnant wife when he left for the war, so Eurysakes has an older brother, and that's why Telamon felt he didn't need his legitimate son's illegitimate son.))  In his banishment, Teukros ends up in Cyprus, where he marries the daughter of a local king, and sets up his own kingdom, which he names after his erstwhile homeland, Salamis.  The fact that he named his new home after his old one the girls know, but why he did so instead of just going home, they don't.  And I can't count on my readers knowing that, either.  Admittedly, that's one of the reasons I was liking the idea of going with this as a text-based game (or rather, a lightly interactive piece of fiction), because then I get to have a glossary to explain all this stuff, but...the question is always how much to try to put into the main text (since one cannot count on people looking for this stuff in the glossary) and how much not to bother with.

Though my more immediate concern is how much I want to try to salvage of the original version, and how much I want to just write from scratch.  My first task today (now that I have an appointment with someone to look at the door) is to go over the first version of the novel and see what needs to be kept, what I would like to keep, and what needs to be just tossed right out, and then make up a bit of a plan for the order of events.  I mean, I know I need, for example, the fight against the brigands which in the original version was how they first gained access to the palace, because they were being rewarded for having done so, but I need to keep it because it gave them their first chance to have a major fight scene together as a trio (actually, it's their first major fight scene at all period), and because it let them meet several people who had key knowledge that was going to be important to them later.  But now I need a reason for them to go out and hunt down these bandits, and I can't just have the king ask them to do so, because that's really rude behavior for a host.  And I know I need the scenes in the various temples within Troy itself, but do I also need the scenes in Thymbria, where they meet Chryseis, her husband and her daughter?  I feel like the only major callback to that entire sequence later on is the fact that when they stay the night there, Atalanta has a dream in which Apollo comes to speak to her (and no, she's not just dreaming that Apollo is speaking to her; he actually has entered her dream to speak to her) and that gets referenced a lot in the later books, but Chryseis and her family not so much.  (Obviously, I can remove or rewrite any later references when I get to those books, but I want to see if there's any important character development potential there, that kind of thing.)

I think I just had an idea of how to get them out there to deal with the bandits, but I'm not sure how well it will work out.  I don't know how any of this is going to work.  I have to walk a very dangerous line dealing with Korythos, since he has some secrets which are probably going to be pretty freakin' obvious to the reader no matter how I handle them (one of them being blatant,  because no matter how much I only speak of the instigator of the war as Prince Alexander, everyone already knows him by the name Paris, but I can't reverse those, since Alexander is the name that is historically one that was part of the Trojan royal family), and I feel like if I try too hard to obscure some of those secrets, I'll just be insulting the reader's intelligence.

That's a worry for later, though.  Right now I want to jot down my ideas before I forget them.

Laters! :p