The conflict is conflict

I am conflicted by conflict. (There’s a sentence for you.)

As a person in my daily life I am not fond of it. I don’t seek it out, and I don’t want to try encouraging it. As a writer I enjoy it, but that’s also a much more controlled situation for me. Even if I don’t have everything planned out, I am at least able to make adjustments. And if worst comes to worst there’s always fixing things in the revision process.

Yesterday, a small group of my friends got together to play a round of Fiasco. It’s a tabletop-style roleplaying game where the general gist is to come up with — to quote from the website:

“FIASCO is an award-winning, GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It’s like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it’d take to watch one.”

This is the second time my friends have played it, and my conclusion has ultimately been that while it’s a lot of fun to watch, it’s not really the sort of game I want to play a lot in. If there’s something I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I don’t generally enjoy taking part in escalating drama, even in the safe situation of a game. And again, it’s not that it’s a bad game; far from it! It has been genuinely entertaining to watch, and my friends have been enjoying themselves immensely. It’s not a knock against the game, and it is hopefully not a knock against myself.

I suspect in part it’s because my stress levels have been high in general for a while now — I am a naturally high-strung person, really. I get excited and then I over-commit and then I exhaust myself. Or maybe I just get worn out even before we hit the commitment stage; whatever the reason, I get worn out pretty fast as a result.

Which I suspect ties at least partially into something I’ve talked about before, both in this blog and just with friends in general: I am so tired and sour about this prevailing notion that a “darker” story is somehow the “better” one. Stories where characters are ground down and broken, where everything is bleak or things just keep going wrong and keep going wrong, or stories where things are bitter and unresolved — these all certainly have their merits and fans! I’m not trying to say that they’re all bad. I just continue to be… not resently, precisely, but perhaps low-key irritated at the attitude that the opposite is somehow boring or trite.

Yes, a story requires conflict. It’s not much of a story if it’s just some happy little scene — but it’s not really much of a story if it’s just a bleak crushing one, either. To me, there has to be some sort of movement, whether forward into the positive or backwards into the negative, to distinguish writing a scene for the sake of the imagery one wishes to convey.

But forward motion in a positive setting doesn’t need to be a boring thing. A happy character with a good life is not somehow inherently a worse protagonist — it’s just a matter of personal taste. It’s so easy to assign objective value based on one’s subjective tastes. I’ve done it; even being aware, I’ll continue to do it. It’s not any less true for being a subjective opinion*, after all; for me, personally, things I like in fiction are good and things I dislike are bad. There’s always going to be that conflict, and the defensiveness that comes when one’s own point of view is disparaged. Thankfully my friends have never actively tried to make it its own conflict (haha), and for that I’m grateful.

(* I want to clarify, even if it’s unnecessary, that this is all about things in fiction only. Obviously there’s a lot of stuff in fiction that skirts into real life issues as well, the bad and the uncomfortable. There is a difference, I think, between fiction that uses ugly and horrible real life things to tell a story, and a story that uses those things to get off, and to encourage others to get off. That line might be thinner for some than others and it’s all subjective, but still an important distinction.)

What it all ultimately boiled down to is the fact that I enjoyed being the audience to the disastrous “movie” my friends created yesterday (involving demon penguins rising up from a fault line in the Antarctic and the douchebag bro becoming the Penguin God and– well, it was pretty spectacular), I’m not sure I would want to participate much myself.

But for anyone who would be into that, I do recommend giving Fiasco a try.

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Thoughts on good-byes*

(Just to clarify, I’m not going anywhere. The good-byes are more abstract, for me.)

I’ve been thinking about good-byes a lot lately.

Not just in a sad sense, though obviously there’s a huge element of that at play most of the time. Even temporary good-byes are sad.

(Full disclose, my girlfriend has been out of town this weekend, and while I wouldn’t say we’re completely codependant, she is also one of my best friends, so things at our household have been kind of quiet for the weekend.)

So maybe it’s a little bit of that. Maybe it’s because I’ve had One Last Time from Hamilton stuck in my head off and on since we got to see it live. It could be because they’re ramping up to do a new adaptation of a show I have a lot of fondness for, in spite of its weaknesses and faults.

(That would be the anime Dangan Ronpa 3, which my friends who are fans of the franchise as a whole tell me fell down a lot with regards to its story and messaging compared to the first two, which were video games. And I can admittedly also see where some of the cracks exist, though as someone brand-new — if not unspoiled — I think I had a better time with it than most of them, to be honest. The point is, spoiler block, I had three favorite characters, two of whom died and the last one is grimly obligated, through both the narrative and his own need for atonement, to live on and bear their burden.)

We could go both deeper and wider and look at a picture of the world as a whole. Things are pretty grim! As much as I felt better coming into 2018 a lot of that has faltered or soured. I’ve almost completely given up on Twitter because there’s so much news on my feed. And I don’t begrudge that of the people I follow; this is our shared world, and it’s important to know what’s going on. Everyone has their own comfort levels and desire for engagement, and for me, I hit that limit a while ago.

So there’s another one of life’s small good-byes: to Twitter. I’d like to go back eventually, though I’m admittedly daunted by the idea. For now, at least, I’ve mostly bowed out there.

I should note that while I am terribly anxious about a lot of this — hence the issue with my Twitter — I am not interested in bowing out permanently. I’d hazard a lot of my anxiety is because I’d like very much to keep on keeping on, though I worry about what the wider world landscape will look like as one does.

Good-byes have been on my mind. Those that come deliberately planned, the ones that happen entirely by accident, and the ones that come so slowly and drawn out that you don’t even realize it happened until it’s long over. Even with the short-term ones there can be a bittersweetness that’s hard to shake. It lingers. Like any sort of grief, there’s an ebb and flow. Things flare up and they fade, but they never quite go away. And maybe that’s part of why it’s been on my mind.

It’s a strange feeling too, because I’m not really one for the bittersweet or the angsty. When it comes to fiction, I don’t mind a harrowing or unhappy story so long as it has its brighter moments and a happy ending. The continuing attitude that the only “worthy” or “realistic” stories are the ones where things are grim and dark and struggling is anathema to me.

Of course there are definitely good and worthy stories along those lines. There are some I’ve enjoyed! (I mean, I’m also a fan of the horror genre, and there’s not a whole lot of “overall lighthearted” to go around.) But as an overall trend and preference when I am consuming new media, I want to look for things that are happier in tone.

Maybe it’s true that harder stories are more realistic, but that doesn’t mean I have to want to consume more of it in my fictional media. I want the version of the story where the good-byes become hello-agains; I want to see the story where instead of being crushed by grim obligation, the characters live on because there’s something better that exists within sight — a goal that can be worked for, instead of some ever-distant impossible ideal. I want more sweet than bitter in all things.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it.

The good-byes stay with you.

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Cherry tree thoughts

(Or maybe I should call it cherrypicking? Sorry. Sorry.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about fairytales again.

Weird as it sounds, I’d blame the weather for it. Spring is a time of transition in my mind. Maybe it is for the collective unconscious of the world — I would assume so, given everything, though I haven’t done enough reading in this category to be certain.

Here in my part of the pacific northwest, it’s been seesawing between jacket-wearing cold (the low 30sF) to light cardigan weather (mid 60sF) and undulating between gray rainy overcast and bright clear sun. In spite this, there are cherry blossoms in bloom all over the place. Around every other corner is a tree that looks innocuous and staid for most of the year, but right now — for this rolling one-month period — they’re covered in delicate little pink to white blossoms. There are places around my dayjob office where the sidewalks are carpeted with tiny petals. The trees outside my condo window, while not blossoming, are covered in tiny persistent pale green leaf buds.

Flowering fruit trees are some of my favorites, just to look at them, though I always find myself thinking about the stories that are connected to them. (All of this is Asian in nature, though I do know the story about the Virgin Mary wishing for cherries while she was pregnant.)

They’re tied to life and death — there’s the most prevalent one about how Japan views them as a symbol of the briefness and fragility of life, and the association with both fallen samurai and kamikaze pilots. Several stories talk about spirits that inhabit cherry trees, whether naturally being the spirit of said tree, or being a ghost that has taken up residence within it. A Japanese story that has reached some degree of urban legend status postulates that the pink color of the cherry blossoms come from blood spilled on its roots. (Some variations go as far as to state that a corpse is buried underneath a particularly red-blooming cherry tree.)

There’s a definite association with femininity and romance. You’d be hard-pressed to find a shoujo manga series that doesn’t utilize cherry blossoms to some degree throughout. Why not? They are lovely even in the middle of an urban landscape. I have friends who go to view the cherry blossoms at the university every year, and when as a student I saw plenty of couples canoodling, not to mention a decent handful of wedding pictures being taken. Not everyone knows the stories or the symbolism, and that’s fine. They’re still beautiful.

But the route I take home from work goes through parts of the International District that stand further removed from the downtown core. It takes me away from the former Amazon building and the big brand grocery store, where the shopfronts are weathered and worn down rather than glossy and bright. More cherry trees grow in this area, planted in street medians, along sidewalks, and in tucked-away little urban parks.

Most of these bloom very dark pink.

Not all of them, of course. There’s still plenty that are a more ethereal pink, that faint saturation point that tips between white and some other color. But compared to the trees I find on my walking breaks, I see a lot more darker pink trees.

Now, I’m not a gardener. My mom is. If one asked, she could talk a lot more about the composition of the soil, or the health or species of the tree. Maybe she’d know why this happens. It could be that they’re a completely different species of cherry tree. All I can tell through the window is the color, and the magnitude of petals on the sidewalk and street. Maybe the soil is different six uphill blocks away from my office. It could be differing amounts of light, or that people are pouring (or placing) different things on the roots of these trees. Honestly, it could just be idiosyncrasies in the tree’s own genetic makeup, the way that most living things aren’t exact copies of their fellows, even under the same growing conditions.

There are dozens of reasons why this could happen. But me, I keep finding myself looking out the window as we slowly roll by these trees and wondering, how many bodies? How deep down? If the color stays true year after year, does the supply need refreshing? Do the people under the trees simply fade away, absorbed into the tree’s life entirely? Or could it be that they maintain their own independence — as much as one can, at least, being a ghost and tied to a specific tree?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

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Oops

Just a quick update to say I’m not dead!

I’ve definitely been having some on-again off-again health things (and the attendant anxiety that comes with said health things), but I do actually believe it’s all under control at this point. Hopefully for real things are back on track now. (Knock on wood.)

Last week I didn’t have much of an excuse; it was Sakuracon weekend and I had a bunch of friends from out of town visiting. We were pretty busy the whole time, so it was only after some decompressing and getting back to my regular schedule that I realized — aha, I have been slacking off here.

Anyway, I honestly don’t have much to update in general; I’ve spent most of the past couple of weeks trying to make the lifestyle changes I need for my health and getting used to that as the new normal. I’ve been dealing with a couple of other unrelated issues as well, but it all ties down to “I haven’t done a lot of writing and I’m terribly sorry about that.”

More excitingly, my publisher, Less Than Three Press, turns nine this month! They’re having a big ol giveaway and everything for it! There’s a raffle where you could win a kindle (two of these available), nine e-books of your choice (two of these), or a $9 gift certificate (nine of these), with an entry for every book you buy this month.

Which means (drumroll shilling), if you’re interested, why not check out my books? Everything’s on sale for 29% off, which is a pretty nice discount, I’d say.

For the curious (or the lazy), you could always check out:

Ravenhearth (m/m), which was my first novella, and which I have always in my heart thought of as “Beauty in the Beast meets Bluebeard.” A young orphan wants to learn magic and is willing to become the companion of the mysterious Keeper at Ravenhearth Castle in order to learn. Not everything is as it seems.

Simon’s Cat, (m/m) which is Puss in Boots, but with a catboy. Because listen, catboys.

• I also contributed a short story, “The Fox-Bride,” (f/f) to Fairytales Slashed, volume 8. A girl saves a fox, who in turn gives her a hand when she needs to help her ailing brother. I like foxes and I like fairytales; it worked out pretty well.

Hold Fast the Knight (f/f/m), which is a short novella about a young man who very much wants to be a Knight Of The Kingdom, with all the prestige and honor it brings. He’s told that he might have a chance if he rescues the kingdom’s prince from an evil witch, but quickly learns that everything he’s heard so far might, in fact, not be the real story. He adjusts accordingly.

Forward The Hunt (m/m), which just came out at the end of February! Super exciting!! It’s the story of Haruki, a young man who’d like very much to fully and properly be considered one of the citizens of Salfea, the city-kingdom where he grew up. But as the son of immigrants with very conflicting beliefs to the rest of the city, he’s always had a hard time with that. With the advent his first yearly Great Hunt as an orphan, though, he just might have a chance… you know, if he can resist the dragon he finds.

So yeah, if you’re interested, please check it out! And anyone else you might encounter there — LT3 has a lot of great stuff available, so you’re pretty certain to find something there that you’ll like. (ノ^ヮ^)ノ*:・゚✧

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Another quick update

For various reasons, this has to be a quick entry. (Well, quick as I can usually make things — which, when unedited, is not very.) Most of this is related to health; I went to the doctor for a general physical for the first time in [embarrassed mumble] years, and the doctor has been vague about the results, which of course means I am catastrophizing in my mind. Paired with a couple of other emotional blowouts, this whole week has been a wash in terms of me trying to think of anything at all, whether to write about for a blog entry or to write about in general.

(Also: seasonal allergies. They’ve been pretty bad this past week.)

I’ve been trying hard, mostly, to get myself back into the habit of things. I’ve had multiple friends tell me that they’ve always seen me as a person of routine, which honestly I’m pretty glad for. It’s not like I can see how this could be bad for someone who craves adventure and excitement and lots of upheaval, but I’m not that person. I was very aptly named. Terra likes to put down her roots and follow patterns for good habits.

Or at least, I do most of the time. I’ve been pretty bad about it for longer than I care to admit. Some of it is in reaction to bad political climate and trying hard to stay involved without being so involved it wrecks me, some of it is the weather, and some of it is just, I think, sheer human laziness. You get used to a routine, then you think you can give yourself some slack, and then suddenly it’s ALL slack, no discipline.

And there is a part of me that does feel like, I should be allowed to do what I want (within reason, of course) with my life! Let me eat whatever I want, sleep when I want, and enjoy my free time away from my deskjob how I see fit!

But the sad truth is, if I do give in and just indulge in that, I end up feeling pretty bad. It’s not just mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, or eating that second slice of pie — it’s the fact that I fall down on other habits that I feel make me a better and happier person. Going to bed at a regular time, even if it’s earlier than Teenaged Me ever enjoyed, or eating a lighter breakfast, or keeping up with my hobbies in an orderly fashion, rather than being scattered all over the place. My writing has slowed, and even my other hobbies are slower than I’d like. It feels silly because I have plenty of time after work, even accounting for daily chores, but it also feels like I’ve been in a pretty slow holding pattern.

My hope is that with the better weather (pollen and other allergens aside), I can take advantage of it to accomplish more things. I’ve never thought of myself as someone affected by SAD, but the longer I live up here in the Pacific Northwest, the more I suspect that even if I don’t get outright depressed, I DO feel a lot less energetic and willing to put in effort.

So that’s the goal going forward: to get back into the good routine habits, and to try and get those established by the time winter rolls around again, so that they’re at least ingrained. Cut out soda almost entirely (once in a while I hope is fine, but not as much as I have been), eat smaller portions, and generally be active more. With all that, hopefully I can pull back on health scares, and actually keep myself as a more balanced person.

(Of course, I anticipate it won’t go perfectly. I am certain there will be setbacks; mostly I hope that I can get myself back into the routine enough that I can have an easier time swinging back into it. I’m old enough that a lot of my bad habits are set, but hopefully young enough that changing them will work, even if it takes time and effort.)

And hopefully NEXT week, I can actually get back to less general rambling and more talking about fiction. I’ve been reading again lately! I’ve been looking at open submissions and thinking about my options! That’s even with all the other craft stuff I’ve been working on, so hopefully this is all a change for the better.

Onto next week!

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Another weekly catchup

So, in true vacation style, I only got a few of the things done that I meant to. In review, I’d say it was about 50% successful in terms of “getting non-dayjob stuff done at all.”

I managed to write every day! Which is pretty difficult when you’ve set up shop in the busiest spot of the house and your parents are eager to see and talk to you after having not seen you for a year. It wasn’t as much writing as I’d like (just my bare minimum per day, most days), and some of it was just trying to write an outline for another story, but I’ll take those as victories regardless.

However, I did get some progress done on bead and craft-related things, much to my mother’s amazement. (“They’re so small,” she said, as she watched me. “How can you tell where the holes are?”) I had to work with a limited palette, since there’s no way I could — or would even want to — cart my entire collection down for a weeklong trip, but I got a couple of pieces done. We also discovered a nice little store about 20 minutes away from where my parents live, with some incredibly good deals (I’m amazed at what I came away with), so that felt pretty good. Beadwork is something I can do while listening to podcasts or audio books, so it’s much easier for multitasking during a conversation.

And there were a lot of those. There’s nothing really like coming back to stay with your parents for a short while, after you’ve been away for a year. I could definitely see a lot of my worst habits reflected in them; I can only hope I have some better ones available as well. But that’s probably a topic for another day.

Coming home to Seattle didn’t really help much either, in terms of being a productive person. Friday I mostly spent trying to do small errands and recover from 6 solid hours of travel, and also comforting my cat, who spent half the day being aloof and annoyed, and the other half glued to me. I didn’t even cook! We delivered a care package to a friend and then went out to eat, and I have to admit, I enjoyed having that day to unwind. (I did do my writing to the bare minimum that day as well, as I worked on the writer’s reading edit for something that has been long finished.)

And then Saturday, yesterday, we had a cat health scare in the morning. My roommates had bought some flowers to celebrate my homecoming, because the cat had shown absolutely no interest in any other displays we’d had in the house… and then, Saturday morning, we catch him chewing on a plant that looks an awful lot like lilies.

Which of course are incredibly toxic to cats. The articles I found suggest that if they were day lilies (like we’d suspected), he would very likely be dead within a day or so.

So cue a flurry of phone calls to the local emergency vet (thankfully only a few blocks away, though all uphill) to rush him in. I signed papers and agreed to let them induce vomiting if they needed to, and then… the tech came out and assured me that they weren’t lilies, but a lookalike cousin. I started crying a little at that point, paid the bill (hooray for unexpected bills!) and then took him home. Other than being annoyed and yelling at us for it, he’s no worse for the wear.

I spent most of the day after that alternating between trying to focus on any sort of creative project and fussing over him. He enjoyed the attention up until the point he decided to sleep in the closet instead.

Then in the evening, we went to see Hamilton. Which I might write about later, because for all that it’s a fictionalized presentation of real historical events, and we’re in such tumultuous times in the USA right now… it was still an amazing performance, and it gave me a lot to think about in terms of the staging and the choreography; I loved how the set itself never super changed, just the pieces being utilized, the lighting (and colors of lighting), and the props. I already want to see it again, though the shows are sold out here for the rest of its run (and I mean, rightly so).

But now that I’m back in my proper city, in my adult home, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things — more writing again, walking more, and otherwise trying to handle myself and things better. The weather’s getting nicer! I still have a lot of plans and ambitions!

And hopefully next week, I can start blogging about stuff that isn’t just mundane weekly catchup, haha.

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Home again, home again

You can, in fact, go home again.

(That’s where I am right now, in fact: my parents’ home, my childhood home, on the other side of the country from my usual home. My parents and I agreed a long time ago that trying to arrange traveling during the actual holidays was too much of a pain; and given that they live in Texas, it’s preferable for us to avoid the summer months, of which there are many.)

I only do this once a year, and every year, there are so many things that are the same — the old Walgreens that’s been there as long as I can remember, my favorite local-only sandwich chain, the wide streets that are still so cramped because of the constant, unending construction. The redbrick exterior of my childhood home looks untouched: there are some cosmetic changes to the yard, reflecting my mother’s whims with her gardening projects, but outside it looks exactly the same.

Inside, it’s a little different.

My parents are older and it’s showing; they’ve made updates and changes to the interior to reflect some of that. A year and a half ago, they ripped up all the carpet that’s been in this house since it was made (nearly 30 years ago, whoosh) and replaced it all with hardwood. They installed a new sound system and remodeled their kitchen to update everything. My bedroom is stripped of a lot of what I left behind — there’s a handful of my old books, a couple of stickers I slapped onto the walls when I was 6, and a handful of clothes in the closet.

Even with all of that, the house still looks the same. Every time I walk in, it’s not like walking into a stranger’s home; I know where everything is. I know where Dad keeps the giant baggy of free toothbrushes accumulated from dentist visits; I know where Mom keeps the spare trash bags. I know how life goes in this house, where my parents live in their retirement, where I grew up.

But it also doesn’t really feel like “my home” in the same way. It is, but it isn’t. It’s a lot of house for two people — to be honest, it was a lot for three people, when I was growing up — but my parents have held on for various reasons. Initially, Mom wanted me to have a familiar place to come home to, when I was back from college. Then it became about the garden (it might have always, in some ways, been at least partly about the garden). Mom’s put so much work and money into it over the years, and it shows. It’s practically a sibling to me, in some ways. I know where the little walkways are, where she has the vegetables versus the flowering fruit trees; I know where the little stone Buddha is set and where she’s planted her roses.

I know where everything is; this is still a home to me, even if it is not my home anymore. There are spaces here for me, but they’re the ones left for me, whether by time, familiarity, or a deliberate attempt on my parents’ part.

(I love my parents, but by now it is quite apparent we’re very different in our tastes and preferences in life. I get a lot of the very bemused, “we support you but we don’t understand why you make your choices, and because we don’t understand we’ll be inadvertently pretty insensitive sometimes about the matter.”)

These are not spaces I made for myself. This isn’t the home where I choose to live. Austin is not “my” city, in the same way Seattle is; I’m not familiar with its roads and layouts. I barely know what downtown looks like, because my parents live out in the suburbs. I grew up detached from the city, even as I was considered part of it. People are friendly, but also do things like openly speculate about my race to my face like it’s any of their business, or speak to me slowly and over-enunciated, like they expect me to not understand what they’re saying. Walking through the airport, I am one of maybe ten Asian people period.

That’s not necessarily a fault of the city. People live where they live, whether by circumstance or choice, and Austin has been good to and for my parents, who continue to live comfortably in the home that they built.

But for me, I can go home again, but it’s not really home in some ways. I don’t live here, I just visit.

(For one thing, it’s actually pretty hard to get anything done, because my parents keep hovering even when I’m trying to focus and get things done and talking to/at me. I haven’t even been here for 24 hours and Dad’s made me watch 4 trailers and Mom keeps asking me about what I want to eat as soon as I’ve finished eating. Parents.

Wish me luck in making it through this week without getting into at least one fight.)

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Characterization serendipity

While chatting with my roommates last week, we ended up discussing the idea of character serendipity — which we defined as that moment when a character (or characters) in a story have a consistent and interesting arc and personality, and even if the worldbuilding and plot don’t live up to their promises, the(se) character(s) “reward” someone looking with a great and memorable personality. These are the characters that stick with you even if everything about their greater narrative is forgettable.

And obviously, everyone has a different set of standards for what makes a character memorable and what makes a story forgettable. That’s why serendipity, because it’s all chance and circumstance in the end. I have a friend who’s into strong, tough fighters with buried trauma and a soft spot for a chosen few… and bonus points if they’re missing (or lose) an eye or an arm. It actually happens more than you’d think.*

* The whole losing eyes and/or limbs thing seems to be more prevalent in Japanese media than US media, but we did watch Thor: Ragnarok last night, and there was definitely a point near the end where I laughed inappropriately due to a certain turn of events.

In our conversation, one of my roommates called making this happen partially instinct, which I liked and agreed with as a phrasing. It’s that sense that comes from our experiences with ourselves and others in our lives, and from other characters we’ve seen with story conclusions that have made meaningful sense to us as an audience. One develops a certain sense of what are “realistic” or “understandable” directions for a character to progress.

Again, everyone has a different idea of what makes a good or compelling character. There’s a whole battalion of female characters in big-name franchises who have suffered because their male writers felt that taking their arcs in a certain direction was right, only to create an awkward teenage-boy fantasy to be put into her place. I’ve seen a similar argument made about women writing m/m fiction. There is plenty of discourse on the subject, and I’d rather leave most of that to the people who’ve done their proper research.

The point is that most everyone does have a certain “feel” for how character arcs should go, or how pieces fit together. Writers make their careers, paid or otherwise, in refining that instinct for sharing; it’s their responsibility, so to speak, to keep a consistent traceable characterization throughout the course of a story. And as a writer, I’ve always tried my hardest to do that. Of course my success is variable, because there’s no such thing as a perfect writer or story, but I have at least tried to stay consistently true to the story I am trying to write.

On the flip side, as a reader, it can be quite rewarding to see a character have a nicely-released and fully fleshed out arc that comes together without needing explicit explanation. And for me, at least, a character with their own strong story can bolster or even outright save their larger framing canon.

I’ve definitely fallen prey to overthinking it, too, on both sides of the process. One of my worst habits as a writer is to have something so solidified in my head alone that I forget it hasn’t been translated, even subtly, to actual words. If a character’s arc is a mystery explained by their story, then it doesn’t help to leave out any of the key clues. And as a reader, I’ve definitely grabbed onto little throwaway bits and comments in order to justify why I would characterize someone the way that I do. Of course the character snapped, look at these scattershot hints here and here. Of course they’re in love, look at how they treat each other in this one particular scene. It’s the serendipity of the moment.

Sometimes that’s embarrassing (honestly it’s more when I do it on the writer’s side, and then my girlfriend has to gently remind me that people cannot, in fact, read my mind), but sometimes, it’s just fun. I’m not one for devil’s advocacy a lot of the time, but having a conversation (or two, or many) with someone who either is likeminded or at least open to the ideas you present can get a lot of fun conversation mileage. Why did this bright-eyed idealistic young man fall so hard and fast, but still manage to claw his way back to balanced sanity? Did this character who seemingly died as a villain actually have some sense of her sanity back before the end?

Maybe they’re not things explicitly explained within the context of the series itself, but as far as speculation goes, I am all for it.

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Productivity recalibration

Phew, what a week!

I slacked off, writing-wise, for most of this week. Partly because I had a belated Valentine’s Day date (we went out on Friday instead of Wednesday), but also because I was involved with some stuff with the dayjob that I am both very hopeful and very cynical about. That took a whole of time and mental energy, and it remains to be seen how well that will all come to pass. I have my last pass of reviews to do for Forward the Hunt before it comes out on February 28th (if you preorder, there’s a discount!), but to be honest, I’ve been in such a tizzy over the dayjob stuff that I’ve neglected this.

I’ve still got a few days, though, so I’m not too worried.

We also had a minor scare about the cat’s health, since he stopped eating for a couple of days, but he’s since bounced back into demanding his meals about half an hour before the scheduled time. Even if it’s irritating when I want to sleep in on a weekend morning, I’m grateful that he’s feeling better.

So between all that, trying to teach myself how to properly use my new camera, and trying to both keep up with the news and not go insane with despair over things, it’s been a very productive week! Just not for writing. Technically I did have the raw time for it throughout the week, but I spent most of that decompressing by reading new things and watching art process videos. And I’ve definitely felt bad for this “slacking,” though perhaps not as badly as I “should,” or normally would.

After the slowburn disaster that was my productivity last year, the worry about “not being productive enough” has definitely weighed on me. I’ve talked about it before, but I still both envy and admire the people who managed to continue maintaining a steady output throughout 2017. The idea seems foreign to me. Even now, I’m definitely not back to my own personal height of productivity. After all, the world remains in a terrifyingly uncertain state; I might not be obsessively picking at the anxiety like a scab, but it lingers. The awareness remains that we live in those proverbial interesting times.

But I’ve been trying to forgive myself more if I’m not on the ball with all things at all times. My girlfriend has been pretty key in helping with this; even if she can’t change the world at large (unless there’s some really big secrets she’s keeping from me), she remains a steadfast and practical bastion of support. So I am trying to give myself passes — not so much that they become constant, consistent excuses, but enough that a week with plenty of outside influences and circumstances can take precedence over just being a steady stream of output.

I do this, and sometimes it’s more effective than others. But this has definitely been a week of letting myself roll with those punches. While I still wish I could balance things better, one of my ongoing goals is to work on not blaming myself for being human. Balancing priorities happens.

Some of it feels genuinely difficult because I am not a “fast” writer, at least not by my own standards. On a very good day, when everything perfectly falls into place, I can write about 5000 words in three hours. And I know that’s nothing to complain about, but getting everything to fall into perfect alignment is more serendipity than anything I can control. Most days, I make it to a standard 750 words or so in an hour (give or take distractions both legitimate and lazy), and call it good. Writing a short piece of story every day has helped, but not I’m still envious of people who can make more of their time when they have it.

…On the other hand, one thing I’ve heard over and over is that everyone writes at their own pace. Someone writing 300 words in a day can be just as, if not more, impressive than someone else’s 3000, depending on how they write and their circumstances. It’s one of those things where applying that logic to others is a lot easier than applying it to oneself. At least I am still feeling more positive than last year!

With this upcoming week, I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing. I’m still trying to work with and learn more things to eventually get an etsy shop rolling, but I’d like very much to get working more on the writing goals I have for 2018. Or maybe it’ll continue to be a week where I have more input than output; at this point, I honestly can’t predict.

Either way, fingers crossed it’ll be a good one (and that I’ll hear good news sometime next week!).

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Romantic tropes (to name a few)

If the timing could have been worked out, I would do a post on Valentine’s Day itself to talk about romantic tropes that I enjoy in fiction, both in reading and writing. But I’m trying to keep this blog on a regular Sunday schedule for my own sake more than anything else, and the belated date day my partner and I had set up had to be postponed due to an interview. Certainly we COULD still go on the 14th itself, but we’re old ladies who don’t like dealing with the throngs that are certainly going to be present.

And since Valentine’s Day falls on Wednesday this year, right smack dab in the middle of the week, if I wanted to talk about romantic tropes (spoilers: I do), doing it the Sunday before or the Sunday after doesn’t change things up much.

So since next Sunday I’ll probably be a decompressing mess after my interview, now’s a good time. I’m absolutely not going to cover everything here; I (like most people, probably?) have a lot that I enjoy to varying degrees, and what I remember immediately isn’t really indicative of favoritism or lack thereof. There’ve been plenty of times where I try to make a list, only to come back later — as soon as minutes, as late as months — to be like oh! Why didn’t I remember [x]?! Jeeze!

Therefore I’ll just stick with three. Again, not necessarily my top three, but three that I could talk about, and three that have come to mind while I’m writing this post.

1. Loyalty(/dedication), sometimes to the point of obsession.

This is one of those things that I always feel I have to caveat — of course in real life, between actual people in a relationship, while loyalty is important, there is a certain point where it goes too far. I have had friends stuck in relationships where there’s too much blind acceptance going on, where everyone BUT the person involved can see how toxic the situation has become, and yet that person refuses to hear anything wrong about their partner. As far as a thing that happens to real people, this is one that I’d take with a grain of salt.

But in fiction, where there is the freedom to explore and dig in deep without hurting real people*, I love it. My favorite characters tend to be the ones who are faithful — devoted — sometimes to the point of their own personal detriment. These are the people who wholeheartedly commit themselves to a person, ideal, or position. Maybe they suffer for it, and certainly some of them are punished for it, but ultimately (because we ARE talking about this in a romantic context), they are rewarded.

(* Of course, I also feel I should disclaim that I know sometimes fiction can hurt people. Maybe it’s intentional; maybe it’s not. But I would still argue that overall, fiction is meant to be exploratory, not weaponized. That’s something to discuss another day.)

I like characters who are intensely, incredibly in love with something or someone. It’s one of those things that I can point to in a variety of media and say yes, this character, that’s one I like.

2. Mutual understanding

This one is surely straightforward enough, though — to tie it into point #1 — I do like it when the audience isn’t immediately aware of this, either. And again, there is a fine line between a relationship where it’s mutually destructive and unhealthy and disastrous, and a relationship where the people involved understand each other and don’t need to justify that connection to others… even if “others” in this case is the audience.

Obviously this works better if the balance between the characters is made more apparent in the text. It doesn’t need to be blatantly spelled out, but if the context clues are there, such that a reader (or viewer; I’m not limiting to just written media here) can pick up and put together. Maybe the ice-cold closed-off director treats everyone with apparent disdain, but always checks on his right-hand man first in times of trouble, to make sure he’s okay — or he relaxes some of his posture around this person, even if only a little, in private.

And yeah, that does smack up against veering into “staying with your abuser” territory, which is awful. At the same time, I think that a skilled writer can pull it off — and sometimes one just serendipitously creates a relationship that works out. But when it does work, I have to say, I am honestly all for it.

3. Domesticity

Maybe it’s because I’m a homebody myself. Given the choice, I prefer to stay home rather than go out. Restaurants over bars, home over restaurants. (Especially living in a big city, where the delivery options are plentiful and varied.) But I want to see characters interacting the way they would if plot weren’t happening. I want moments that aren’t fueled by high octane circumstances, internal or external.

If a relationship can only exist in times of strife, where there are forces propelling the relationship, then that’s honestly not a relationship I want to read much about. I want to believe that characters can have quieter moments together — even if it’s not something that I personally would do, I want to see how they’d come together afterwards. I want to see signs that these characters can stick it out and last even when their main story is over. It doesn’t have to be intense — rather, I’d like to see the defusing of that tension, instead.

But when all is said and done, these are only three of many romantic tropes I enjoy in the fiction I pick up, and neither of these are a make or break scenario, either. I’m not going to be upset if you don’t have characters who have intense loyalty as a defining trait; I’m not going to disbelieve in a set of characters forming a lasting relationship if I never get to see them in those softer moments.

I hope that people who are planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day, whether with romantic partners, friends, or taking advantage of chocolate says, have a good and fun one! But let’s be honest, Wednesday is the midpoint of the week for most of us in office jobs, so maybe that’s cause for celebration in and of itself.

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Blowing Bubbles

Here’s a series of convoluted thoughts for you: commentary about Seattle weather led me to thinking about how social bubbles are so, so easy to fall into.

The weather for the past week has been gray and overcast when it isn’t raining. Not hard, nor intense, but it’s definitely wet out there. And yesterday, on an errands-and-shopping outing with my girlfriend, I heard another girl exclaim to her companion, “this is just so Seattle!”

But to me, in my perception, Seattle isn’t nearly as rainy or gray as it gets portrayed. It does have a lot of overcast days, but it’s not all the time. It’s not eternal, like some stories would have you believe. (In fact, as I’m writing this post, the sun has come out for the first time in a week, and everything is beautiful and golden outside my window.) So I boggled a little at the idea that someone would think that.

And that puts me in a minority, I think: my own little bubble, floating along until it bumps up against another. It’s not a bubble I consciously put myself in, but here I am, as easy as breathing.

This isn’t really a new or groundbreaking statement, but it’s one that I periodically find myself reminded of all over the place. The internet especially makes things a lot tighter and a lot looser; you find people all over the world who share your opinions to form an echo chamber, or else you find yourself smacked in the face by dissenting voices when you expected to find a neutral opinion, if not outright agreement. Of course politically this is a big thing in the United States right now, but even on the everyday mundane level, I’ve run into this a lot.

And it does make sense on that social level, too. You find likeminded people through a shared interest and you stick to them. Some people trickle out, but others flow in, and a bubble grows as you share similar opinions and find new media to consume together. At this point in my online life, I think Meredith is the person I’ve known the longest — we’re talking almost 20 years at this point. (Wow.)

You get to know people, and they get to know you, and a community grows around familiar opinions and thoughts. And like any community, outliers exist, but those get ignored, reconciled, or else they move on. Sometimes your bubble bumps up against a different one, and there’s a clash. You’re reminded that even though “everyone” you know has similar (or at least compatible) opinions to you, the world is much, much larger than what you’re accustomed to.

Sometimes this makes a community difficult to break into. If only social bubbles were as easy to break into as real bubbles!

I’ve definitely run into that trouble. And certainly a lot of the blame is on me, because I am often shy and awkward. It’s easy for me to say my pieces in my own space, like this blog, or on plurk, which is my personal social media network. In areas where I am trying to cultivate connections with new communities (like Twitter, which I have been exceedingly bad at keeping up with), I end up stumbling and faltering.

And I think part of that is intersectionality coming to play: obviously, a lot of people who write and read(/consume) queer media are interested and concerned with queer issues. That is 1000% legit and I don’t mean to imply that this shouldn’t be important. But for me, who identifies more with my heritage (Korean-American) and my favorite activities (writing and crafts), and then as being bisexual — as someone who gets more excited to see a Korean person in media rather than a queer one (which I should stress, I’m not not excited to see the latter, just more for the former), it’s difficult to figure out a way to connect with the people I would like to get to know.

It’s just easier, ultimately, for me to be able to say, “hey, so, the new episode/chapter of [series], wasn’t it great?” That’s me as a person.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year about being more social outside of my comfort zones and usual circle. I did decide I wanted to be a better friend to the people already within my bubble, because I do think I fell down on that over the course of last year. But maybe, if February isn’t too late to revise these things, I should try to be more open to trying to meet new people, too.

(Though not right away. Small steps first. There’s still a lot of year left.)


Also eyyyy friends, a final last shilling note that I have a new novel coming out at the end of this month! It has dragons and one of my very favorite protagonists I’ve written, so I hope you’ll at check it out! (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧

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January Retrospective, February Prospective

2018 is (almost) one month down! Good job everyone, we’ve made it this far.

(Or, I mean, I’ve done my best to muddle through. This has been a month of a lot of ups and downs, though at least nothing on a dramatic or troubling scale.)

And because we’ve hit the end of the month, I’m going to try and use this time to assess how well I’ve been doing with my resolutions thus far, as well as look ahead to what my February plans are. It’s almost like housekeeping, though honestly I have an easier time with this sort than the actual act of trying to keep my home tidy. That’s also something we’re trying to work on as a household, but I’ll get to that.

I’m more of an organizer than a cleaner, so if allowed, I’ll let myself categorize and compartmentalize things to ridiculous degrees. In order to cut down on that for the sake of these posts, I’m sticking to four major categories: personal (my own health and mundane everyday), financial (whether or not I’m keeping to my budget), writing, and my journey to an Etsy shop.

So with that in mind! The January retrospective and February prospective!

Personal

Seattle implemented a sugar tax starting this month, and honestly I’m glad for that. I like soda, but I’m trying really hard to keep off the wagon for that, and make it more of an occasional thing — something that I can have sometimes when I go out with friends, but not to the point of drinking it regularly, like I have been doing. I was getting better for a while, then kind of slipped back into very easily. But with the extra cost now (even if it’s not THAT much) as well as my finance goals, I’ve been getting back on the iced tea horse. And I like it a lot, it just ends up being extra work. But I can overcome! And I have been.

Other than that, my roommates and I have instituted a weekday “productivity time,” where we pick a few necessary daily tasks and spend the time doing that. Everyone does it, so it’s a sort of peer pressure thing. But honestly, I do need that push, so it’s been helpful for me.

Other than that, I’ve mostly focused on trying to get to bed at a reasonable point, so that I don’t drag myself around so much trying to get out of bed in the morning. That one’s still more of a work in progress.

So January has been mostly hits, and in February I will hope to continue on that same path. Not bad, overall!

Financial

Due to various reasons, my income was cut a bit this month — nothing bad, and not anything I can’t handle. My account is fine, and there’s no danger of me overdrawing or anything like that. It does mean that I am technically “over” budget, because I spent more than I earned… but given that this was an off month and I don’t actually foresee there being an issue with my income in following months, I’d say that I’d count this as a success. More than anything, I want to be more mindful of what I’m spending, with less frivolously buying things on a whim. It’s been an adjustment! But I’m in a comfortable position, and I want to be more grateful for that than trying to outlive my means.

February will be more of the same for that! In these first two categories, I’m not pushing terribly hard for dramatic changes. I’m satisfied where they are.

Writing

Oh boy. So, I have continued my habit of writing a short 1000-word story a week, and I actually compiled all of them into a post on this blog. I’m trying to utilize both my tubmlr and this blog more frequently, so my hope is that as 2018 goes on, I will be able to crosspost more, and actually keep up with maintaining posting these shorts here in their fully compiled form. You can find those here!

I also have submitted a new story to my publisher, Less Than Three Press. It’s one I’ve been sitting on since about June last year, one victim among many of my general downswing during that year. It’s a fairytale, naturally, though a bit more literally than before: the story of a girl whose prince is kidnapped on their wedding day, and her challenges versus the fairy that took him. I think it’s a fairly cute story, so fingers crossed that Less Than Three will think so as well!

Also in very exciting news, I have a new story coming out in February! I’ll be talking about that some next week. I’ve mentioned it here before, but we’re sliding in closer to release time and I am super excited.

I’ve also been looking into the Fantastic Beasts And Where To Fuck Them open call from Circlet. That one is… finished, but needs a read over from my usual beta before I send it out. I have until January 31st, so hopefully I’ll get that done in time! …But even if I don’t, I am hoping to tidy it up so I can post it here and to my tumblr. Even if I can’t manage it as a professionally submitted thing, I’d like to share it. I hope that either way, it’ll be a fun read for people!

January-wise, I managed to knock out a little bit of my yearly goals with the submission piece, so that’s pretty exciting! If I can get the Circlet submission done by Wednesday, that’s two out of six done! Which is incredibly promising to me, but even if I don’t get the Circlet piece down, that’s still one done. And I’m proud of that. A+ for myself.

For February, since it’s a shorter month, I’m a bit more at odds. I will obviously be continuing my weekly stories. Less Than Three currently has an open call for nonerotic stories of poly families which I would really like to take a shot at, though that deadline isn’t until the end of April. But if I want to do it and get it betaed and tidied up by then, I really should spend February working on that, outline and writing, so I’ll start working on that once the Circlet deadline passes.

Other than that, I have my finished-but-in-dire-need-of-reread stories to work on. My hope is to make some good progress on the one I’ve started; 10K words of reread at least, though who knows how much rewriting. It’ll be a bit of a crunch, but I do have some confidence that as long as I don’t goof off, I can easily hit that goal.

The Journey to Etsy

In the best news, after hearing about what I wanted to do, my mom offered to buy a camera for me! If I did the research and found a decent one in a reasonable price range. That was one of the things that I was waiting on, since I wanted to take better photos of what I’m making, and not just rely on my camera phone. (Not that it’s a bad camera by far, but I want something a little more professional than just those phone snaps.)

Other than that, I’ve got several bracelets ready to go, and am hoping to finish up a couple more by the end of the month. They’re all easy, but they do take time and concentration to keep up with their particular patterns. It’s been a very soothing way to spend my evenings.

And then yesterday, I spent some time experimenting with making paper flowers. I’ve honestly been very happy with the results, and the preliminary responses have been very positive. I do need to find a way to make these flowers waterproof (given that I live in Seattle — which is not as rainy as advertised, but still pretty damp — this feels like a must), though I’ve got a few ideas for that. That’ll also have to wait until February, though, when my budget refreshes.

To be honest, I’m really excited about all of this. I’m also incredibly nervous — the Etsy market is just as (if not more) competetive than the writing market, and I’m starting from scratch here. I’ve got a whole lot of imposter syndrome going on, but I’m also enjoying myself. So far I’m still determined to power through this, just maybe a little more shyly than usual. In February, I hope to get a couple more bracelets done as well as get my camera, so I can hopefully start an Instagram to share more of my work.

Overall, I feel pretty good about what I’ve gotten to do this month. With luck, February can be more of the same. Good luck myself! And good luck everyone else!

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2018 Weekly Stories: January

Spinning Dreams | Vanishing | Darkness | Salvation

Back in October 2017, I started writing one short story a week, 1000 words a week, and posting them in 200-word segments a day. I’ve been pretty bad about crossposting them from my tumblr, which is where they will continue to be posted daily, but I am resolved in 2018 and onward to be better about crossposting the whole things once a month. If you enjoyed any of these, please feel free to leave a comment! If you’d like to support me (for which I would be incredibly grateful), I have a Ko-Fi account.

But either way, I hope you enjoy!

Continue reading

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Anywhere but here (and back again)

The other day, a friend asked what one’s favorite and least favorite setting tropes in fiction. Just casually, the way one does on social media.

And to be honest, that’s not something I think about very often or hard — when it comes to media I want to consume, it’s a lot easier for me to get drawn in by character and plot tropes instead. Tell me that there’s a pair with unhealthy loyalty issues that they are either addressing or running away with, or about the closed-off character that is reluctantly learning to connect and make friends, and I’ll be there. Drop a hint that there will be villain families or a mystery involving supernatural aspects, and I’m definitely going to be listening. I have dozens of pings (some of which I don’t really think about until they pop up) when it comes to characters and plotlines.

But settings? I rarely think specifically about “I want to read something that’s set in a specific location.” When she asked the question, my first thought boiled down to, “anywhere but here.”

My secret, inasmuch as it is one, is that I’m not a fan of contemporary settings.

Of course there are definitely exceptions! I’ve definitely consumed media that takes place in “our” world with nothing strange or supernatural to it, and enjoyed myself. I won’t dismiss something immediately out of the gate just because it’s contemporary fiction… but I will be less enthusiastic about it. I always want something a little more, something that’s not going to be familiar except through the writer’s ability to convey that comfortable feeling. Contemporary paranormal stories are closer to my preference, because I enjoy that extra element. How does a werewolf handle a dayjob while juggling the full moon? How, if at all, have the fae adapted to this modern world of iron and steel? Do these otherwoldly creatures coexist amongst mundane humanity, or alongside it, a step away without everyday direct interaction? Things like that.

And maybe some of that is just how I, personally, interact with the world. I have a busy and involved social life, but it involves hanging out at apartments and homes or going out to eat. I’m content with my everyday life, but it isn’t anything I’d brag about as exciting or dramatic; it’s a nice sort of story to live, but not really one I feel compelled to write about.

When it comes to consuming media, I prefer an extra element of escapism. I like a world that has taken a couple of steps away from my normal, where parallels definitely exist, but I couldn’t namedrop a city like Seattle and have the characters know anything about it. I want to see a different society exist in the worlds of someone else’s story, whether it’s humans that have built themselves a different world, humans living aside some sort of supernatural or alient one, or a story set completely within a nonhuman society.

None of these things really fit into the idea of a “contemporary” story, as far as I’ve ever experienced. There’s nothing I think is inherently wrong with the subgenre, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my preferences; it really is just solely a case of different tastes.

Within my own writing, I never think about setting first. Instead, I start with the characters. Usually it’s the one who becomes the narrator and their partner, with the rest of the cast built from there. And often by developing the main characters I can figure out the plot (which may or may not be directly tied to the conflict between the characters; I’d consider myself foremost a romance writer, after all). Sometimes that’s easier than not; Simon’s Cat is explicitly a retelling of Puss in Boots, so that was done “for” me, as it were.

Everything else, though, tends to move in an outwards spiral. Only once I have those down do I start building the world around the characters. Ravenhearth began because I was turning around the idea of “Beauty and the Beast meets Bluebeard.” And while the final story didn’t quite follow that (though I think it came close), that was the seed that I build the rest of the story around. And since then, the world itself has stuck in my mind; I know exactly what caused the miasma and the events that led up to that, as well as some of the immediate fallout when that occurred. I’d like very much to go back to that world someday, when I’ve got more concrete ideas in mind.

In the end, to answer my friend’s question, I did say “anything but contemporary” as my least favorite (though I didn’t really have a favorite to mention, either). But I’ve been mulling over that ever since; even if the answer itself is straightforward, I’m not sure how satisfied I am with it.

With 2018 being the year I want to try stretching myself further, I do think that I’d like to at least try branching out into this genre I have such little experience with. Both in consuming media and in writing, I do think it’d be fun to try.

(And of course, if anyone has recommendations for the media, I’d be happy to hear them. °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°)

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The keyword is try

So far (knock on wood!) my resolution to write more in 2018 has been holding up!

“It’s only been two weeks,” you might say, but considering how poorly 2017 as a whole went, I’ll take it. There have still been hiccups — getting sick for five straight days over last weekend notably — but I’m still doing my best. I no longer sound like a series of tortured cracks and squeaks when I try to talk, for which I’m glad. In the deepest throws of my sickness self-pity I did wonder if I’d ever get over that. My worst melodramatic tendencies come out when I’m physically ill. Thank goodness for my very patient girlfriend coaxing me to remember that not everything in our lives is doom and disaster and yes, the coughing and sore throat and headaches will eventually go away.

This week, to celebrate feeling better, I started working on a submission for Circlet’s “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Fuck Them” open call. A friend of mine linked me a while back and I do enjoy some mythical monsters, though this means trying something completely different for me. Once upon a time 10,000 words seemed like a very long story; now I need to do my best to keep within 7,000 without leaving anything out. That part I feel a little shaky on, but I am enjoying my characters quite a lot. They’re kind of throwbacks to one of my most beloved old fandoms in terms of what they are (a human and a supernatural being, a cynic and a performative optimist, a soldier and a writer), but they’re still uniquely themselves. I’ve been working on figuring out character quirks and voices as I slowly shake off the fog of sickness, and it just feels good. While a lot of 2017’s fatalistic ennui still feels like it’s weighing on me, I’m finally feeling good about writing again, and I can’t help but be happy for that. It’s only been two weeks, but whatever! I want to believe this is a good sign.

Honestly, I’m both excited and nervous about this whole process. This will be the first thing I’ve worked on for submission in over a year at this point; a lot of what I worked on last year was almost strictly all editing, both for a story already accepted and for two separate stories I would like to submit to Less Than Three. One of these has a lot left to work out (including some pretty serious rewrites later on in the guts of the story itself), but one of them is pretty much ready. I just need to format it and do the actual submission… which to be honest, is the hardest part for me. But I’ve got this short story rolling to, as a brand new thing to a publisher I’ve never worked with before. It’s scary! But I want to at least try, because I am nothing if extremely good at kneecapping myself for opportunities.*

(* I have also decided, however, in the event that the story does not get picked up, I will still post it here on the blog. As it stands, it might not fit the anthology’s call or the editor’s specific preferences, but as far as the story and characters are thus far — the piece is only about half-finished at this point — I’m very fond of it. One way or another, I’d like to share it. Either way, I hope that people will enjoy it!)

I haven’t forgotten my other writing resolutions, either. Three pieces specifically to Less Than Three, three pieces for self-pub, and then whatever other things I can write in between. I don’t think this is an impossible thing for me to do, either. I’ve got some things I need and want to follow up on that I let slide last year — maybe I’ll need to restart the process, but at least I want to be able to give things a shot.

Ideally this year can make up for last year in terms of productivity. Maybe that’s too big of an expectation to set for myself, but I’m hoping to ride this positivity wave as long and far as I can. I want to actually try this year, and maybe I’ll only make it so far. I don’t know yet. I can’t know yet! But if I can bounce back from being pretty unpleasantly sick to optimism, then my superstitious self wants to take that as an indicator for the year to come.

In the meantime, I decided to take a few steps about some other things. I juggled my finances (and I’ve been sticking to my budget strongly, of which I am very proud — it’s difficult, when you live in a bustling city and you and your best friends live together and like going out for food), I’ve got a couple of commissions done, and I went ahead and signed up for a Ko-Fi. I have no idea how successful this will be, or how noticed, but like so many things whirling through my head right now — I wanted to give it a try. So if you can, or if you’re willing, please consider clicking and helping me out.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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