Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 4 – Omfg, Plot Your Fight Scenes

Hi. Oh man, it’s me, your favorite chronic late-poster.

I’m keeping it pre-e-e-etty short this week.

Because I am . . .

. . . exhausted.

If you don’t know, I have a bad leg that’s been acting up for the past few days. That coupled with a much needed reset to the diet I’m on (now totally cutting sugar) has me absolutely wiped out.

And so does Memory.

I’m still writing it, of course, and my protagonists are on the cusp of entering the third act / endgame.

But man, some of the sessions this week were like pulling teeth.

In particular, there was one encounter Memory and Kole had with a bad guy. An encounter I thought would be a breeze to discovery write.

And I. Was. So wrong.

Full Disclosure: I spent at least three days on that one encounter.

Which wound up being about five pages long?

It was terrible. One of those instances where I wrote the encounter one way, then realized it wasn’t working, wrote it again, realized there was a whole other angle I could take it in and finally settled into an “okay for now” version that I know is gonna get heavy edits.

Just the worst.

I don’t know why I thought this wouldn’t be a problem for me, but the real tragedy here is that this encounter was the second out of three encounters I didn’t outline! The next one is the very end of the second act, which I’m going to get to by the weekend.

In my defense, I was convinced Future Louis would love writing these fight scenes. Unfortunately, it turned out Past Louis was an idiot.

On the plus side, another huge lesson learned: it’s not just okay to detail fight scenes in my outline, it’s kind of essential.

Setting descriptions? I can handle ’em on the MS.

Dialogue? I can discovery write it all day.

Fight scenes? No.

I am not the cartoon-loving cherub I once was, who collected video game boss music and wrote twenty-page-long fight scenes. That just isn’t me anymore (except for the collecting-boss-fight-music part) and I’m grateful.

But I also have to remember going forward that fights need to be plotted out every single time or I just get lost in the possibilities.

That said, please, wish me all of the luck for this weekend.

Because that last fight scene I didn’t outline has a pretty extreme power imbalance between characters, so I just know it’s going to be an absolute nightmare to write.

Godspeed, Future Louis!

~~~

That’s all for this week. If you want to find out how incredibly hung up I get on that last fight scene–or if you want to find out how long it takes me to finish this NaNoWriMo novel, Memory–you could always give my blog a Follow. And if you liked this post, I’d appreciate it if you gave me a Like because it’s the only means I have to gauge the content people like to read on here.

Until next time, take care, stay safe, and you should think about what you’re gonna Mandela Effect. I know it’s a long shot, but if you ever get godlike powers, you gotta Mandela Effect something. For me, it’s “bunana.” If I get god powers, the first thing I’m going to do is make it so half of the world thinks it was always spelled “bunana” while the other half remembers “banana” . . . So, long story short, don’t give me god powers. Things would get real annoying real fast.

Bye! Have a good weekend!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 3 – A Time to Chill

Fun fact: I did not remember that A Time to Kill was a movie until I wrote the title for this post.

Was not a pun, is not a pun: I have just come to terms with the fact . . . that I really need to relax.

Week 3 was fine. In fact, Week 3 was wildly productive–I have been averaging 2000-3000 words a day for the past few days, and my protagonists are halfway through the second act of their adventure.

However . . . I have come to some super important realizations in the past few days.

Thing the First: I Am Not Going to Win
Camp NaNoWriMo 2021

I know that sounds terrible, but I am in no way saying that I’m giving up on Memory.

Seriously, I’m going to finish the novel–in part because my process works so well for me that I now find it harder not to write for the day? It’s a weird feeling, but I just naturally think of how I’ll start the next scene and then–with the same energy I used to have when opening Twitter–I just pop open my MS like, “Man, I wonder what Memory and Kole are up to?”

That said . . . I am definitely not reaching 50,000 words by the end of the month.

It’s absolutely because of those days off I took earlier in the month. Lesson learned: if I didn’t take days off and just stuck to the 1,666 daily word goal, I definitely could’ve hit 50,000. But, I did take those days off on the first two weeks, and the result was a quota that kept getting steeper and steeper.

Until today, the first day where I needed to write at least 3000 words. Which would be followed by six additional days, in a row, where I also needed to write 3000.

And, full disclosure: I tried to hit that 3000. That’s why I’m posting so late.

But I ultimately realized . . .

Thing the Second: I Don’t . . .
. . . Need to Win NaNoWriMo?

I’m laughing as I write this because, when I wrote the first version of Memory, this same thing happened.

I took days off, fell behind, “lost” NaNoWriMo 2014, and then finished the book anyway a week later.

But here we are, seven years later, and it’s going to happen again.

The important part being: yeah, just like last time, you bet your ass I’m finishing Memory regardless.

It’s just going to take an extra week or so.

And.

That’s.

Fine.

If it’s happened twice now that I just needed days off and taking them didn’t stop me from finishing a WIP, then I guess the occasional day off is just part of my process now. The same way belting out a novel in (roughly) a month after outlining it for (roughly) a year is my process, so are the days when I wake up, look at the ceiling, and just say, “No.”

I don’t know why it took me so long to accept this. I guess I got caught up in the gaminess of National Novel Writing Month. But I just don’t need to satisfy the win condition of Camp NaNoWriMo 2021. Especially because I knew from the start that Memory was going to run longer than 50,000, as I said in Week 1 post. I guess I just wanted to be able to say that I won?

But I think being able to say, “I tried to win NaNoWriMo twice with the same story and I failed both times the same exact way,” is significantly funnier and more on brand for me. It’s a story and I like those.

And also, I like being able to breathe. This whole air-in-out thing is oddly comforting.

~~~

That said, yes, I’m going to keep these posts running until I finish Memory, because I’m staying honest about it.

If you’d like to find out if it’ll take me one or two extra weeks to finish this WIP, you can give me a Follow via the button on the left sidebar on PC or the upper right drop down menu on mobile. Likes are also always appreciated as a way to gauge what posts you guys enjoy and what content I should focus on.

Until next time, stay safe, stay hydrated, and if you’re struggling to do something in a way you think it needs to be done, accept that maybe it’s okay to do it the way you want to.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 2 – Oh Yeah, I Jinxed It

I’m still writing.

That’s the important thing.

But . . . man did I take a few hits this week.

Hit #1 – Saturday

I smacked right into another logistics question about a location. Basically, once again, I didn’t thoroughly plot out the floor plan for one setting. Not because I didn’t realize I should, but because Past Louis thought that Present Louis would have fun designing that setting in prose.

. . . Nope.

Dear Past Me,

Never again with that shit, please.

Seriously, any logistical worldbuilding I have to do while writing the novel absolutely destroys my flow.

I got back on track by Sunday, but spending Saturday fumbling with set design sapped an entire day’s worth of Write Energy.

Lesson learned.

Hit #2 – Tuesday

I have to set this up by admitting that, on Monday, I made the total, honest mistake of just taking a day off. That was my bad; I had a rule in week one that I’d save days off for when something really, really wasn’t working, not for leisure.

But I was exhausted from Saturday and Sunday’s bullshit, so I took Monday off.

And then Tuesday hit amazingly hard.

Not writer’s block, but pure, genuine depression stemming from my personal life.

And, of course, I am aware that personal drama can significantly influence my writing–in fact, my entire writing career is about five years behind because of how often depression dominates my time. I have experience with it–I’m almost used to it–but something that had been building all weekend hit extremely hard on Tuesday and I spent . . . about 98% of the day in bed, staring at the ceiling. If you’ve dealt with genuine depression, you know what I mean.

Here’s the good thing though: I still wrote on Tuesday. 1000 words, belted out in the remaining 2% of the day. Which is as good a test as any for my process; if I wrote on Tuesday, I can write on pretty much any day.

And that’s going to be my approach going forward: I’m upping my daily quota to 2,000 words (because I can get to 2,000 pretty easily and 1,666 isn’t going to cut it with the way I’ve wound up writing this draft) and I’m writing every day unless I am genuinely unable.

I have a lot of catching up to do, but even if I finish 50,000 words by July 31st, the stone cold truth is Memory won’t be done by the end of Camp NaNoWriMo regardless. At 18,323 words, I only just got to Chapter 6 out of 21.

That means–with some quick, terrible math–that from here, there’s roughly 50,000 left to go.

I’m going to do my best to keep at it, and hope that nothing terrible happens in the next few weeks.

And I’m also going to end this post here.

If you want to follow my progress, feel free to give this blog a Follow.

But either way, take care, and stay hydrated, especially if you’re drinking tonight–like I am.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2021: Week 1 – I Can’t Believe It’s Working

Hi.

And also, seriously, I can’t believe the Promises Outline approach is working as well as it is.

If you’re new here, I’m Louis Santiago, a writer from New York who’s been trying to perfect his writing process for sixteen years. Before that, I was in the Post-Its phase of writing (all worldbuilding, no actual writing–outside of a few embarrassing short stories).

But in 2005, I started my first novel, which was extensively worldbuilt and very heavily outlined. It didn’t work; the outline was so detailed that it fell apart the moment I veered off course in prose (the terrible ripple effect of, “Well, let me alter the rest of the outline so it works with this change I just made–and now that I’ve taken 2 days to do that, let me go back to the novel and . . . what scene was I writing again??”). The end result was bad, even after a bunch of edits and a 2010 rewrite.

In 2014, I went the total opposite direction and tried discovery writing a novel. Which was a lot of fun . . . but ultimately very, very messy. I felt like I was getting somewhere, and even submitted that 2014 novel after a few edits, but after a handful of tries, I stopped, because something was still off.

Now, on July 8th, 2021, you’re joining me right at the point where I actually think I’ve figured out my process. It took listening to class sessions that a highly successful, published author posted on his YouTube (Brandon Sanderon is a saint), and a bunch of sessions with my private writing group, but I think I’ve finally got it.

And it’s such a positive, optimistic moment in my life that it’s actually scary.

The answer appears to be both pantsing and plotting. Kind of.

The pantsing part of my brain is sated by worldbuilding and (I know this is going to sound weird but) outlining; I still write detailed outlines so I can hit all of the same dopamine highs, but I also leave those outlines wide open to change.

So the plotting side of my brain can follow a roadmap of possibilities to a finished product (although I’ve discovered that part of my brain loves to just have details cleanly laid out so he can just knock out scenes).

And that is the part that I cannot believe is true, because I was so sure it would be a massive hurdle.

I thought I would get to the first scene and be like, “No. I want this to be completely different,” thus falling into the trap from my first, 2005 novel.

But, even though that has happened . . . I still managed to make the outline loose enough to totally allow for it.

As of right now, I am 11,278 words into Memory, a really heavy rewrite of my 2014 novel. And, yes, the fact that it’s a rewrite makes it easier to belt out–totally.

But whatever. Let me have the giddy disbelief that my excitement from last week’s post didn’t die 20 minutes into July 1st.

Especially considering there have been those tough moments:

On Day 2, I got crazy over-zealous and wrote two day’s worth, absolutely burning myself out for a day, which has made me hyper aware of and respectful to my internal reserves of Write Energy (it sounds less weird than “Write Juice”).

On Day 4, after a break, I struggled with a scene that had a strange flow in outline; I assumed I would be able to use some elements from the original novel, but they really didn’t fit the tone of the rewrite, so I had to make a bunch of tweaks.

Day 6, was an absolute nightmare because I didn’t clarify the location where a scene took place (to specify, not the immediate setting, but where that setting was located in a city). I spent the entire day contemplating extremely esoteric details of a scene that amounted to two pages.

I cannot believe that went through that gauntlet of momentum killers, and I’m still in it. That I have a functional process. I didn’t just give up on Day 6 and turn on video games. I didn’t convince myself I needed a week away just to come back having forgotten every last plot thread.

Sixteen years and I finally found a way to reliably write something whole–in roughly 2 years.

I am so goddamn excited for the next steps. The goal is going to be making that 2 years canon (with worldbuilding, outlining, writing, and editing).

But I’m also going to have to work out an outline for the rest of the Memory series. And then Aixa. Hand and the Tempest.

Just naming those projects made me starry-eyed.

I’m going to end this post here.

And hope that the next time I write to you, it won’t be to report that the other shoe dropped.

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2021, Feels Like Fate

I know that’s a little dramatic . . .

. . . but I just finished editing my outline. Not rushing or stressing. Just at my normal pace, I just so happened to finish editing my outline an hour before July 1st–giving me exactly enough time to write this post.

And that outline didn’t need massive changes–the finale was just good.

And the tweak I made to an earlier scene yielded a significantly better scene.

And there was a thunderstorm as I edited the last bit (and, seriously, if you don’t know, rain and thunderstorms are my ideal setting for writing because of Jurassic Park [a major inspiration for me as a baby writer]).

And a heat wave just ended–on the eve of Camp NaNo.

I don’t know if that’s the requisite amount of things to qualify for auspicious, but it sure feels like it to me.

I would have nerves . . .

. . . if I wasn’t so goddamn pumped to write this novel.

My Camp NaNo 2021 Info

My name on nanowrimo.org is “LouisSantiago.” Feel free to add me if you’ll also be toiling away on a project this July.

My project for this Camp is Memory, a rewrite of a novel I originally completed in 2014. I spent the interim seven years working on other projects, learning more about my novel-writing-process, and outlining the rewrite.

My word goal is 50,000, the lowest total you can select because, at this phase of my writing career, I am extremely concise. There is a chance I won’t write a full 50,000, but we’ll see.

My daily goal is going to be 1,666 words, which would be a bad omen but, ha ha! Fuck you, world! I was a Goth in high school! Your supposedly evil numbers mean fuck all to me! Ha ha!

My weekly total is going to be roughly 5 chapters (the outline tops off at 19), which is probably less lenient than it feels. But, hey, I will at least accept the shoulder-tension-release I’m getting from that potential wiggle room.

~~~

That said, I’m ending this post here, because my ritual lately has been waking up super early and getting to work right away, and I refuse to break that–especially tomorrow.

This will be my post for this week because I want to give Camp NaNo and Memory all of my attention. I figure for this month, I’ll switch to Thursdays, and then go back to business as usual in August.

Until next time, stay safe, stay hydrated, and, please, no matter what happens, don’t let other people slow you down. I don’t mean that in a weird, lone wolf way. I just mean that if there’s anyone in your life who’s constantly telling you not to do the things you want to do, or manipulating you into second guessing yourself, fuck them. Your dreams don’t have to conform to what they want–ever. Be yourself. Live your truth.

And let’s fucking do this.

I Finished the Outline for Memory

Finally.

I can’t explain how good it feels to finally get over that hurdle. To finally be one step closer to writing anything else.

I love Memory, and I’m excited that I have ideas for its sequels, but man am I ready for the next steps in my process: making a few tweaks to the outline, and then using it to write Memory next month for Camp NaNoWriMo.

And, after that, moving on to a new project for the first time in six years.

There’s some additional tweaking and retallying I need to do between now and July—in particular, I need to bolster the one plotline and add additional stakes to the finale—but I am still in what I’m now calling “forced celebration mode.”

Which means I’m continually loading up my outline, staring at it, and realizing that I can’t work on it because I’m knee deep in what I call Recovery Mode, which is when I’ve just written a bunch and I know from years of experience that, if I push myself to do more, I’ll just be writing nonsense that I’ll have to delete later (no shame if you can push yourself, and I’m not advising anyone else to do this, but I have a finite amount of Write Juice [or whatever you want to call it] and I know to respect when it runs out session). Usually, that dearth of Write Juice (I like it) just means I stop writing for the day, but when I hit a milestone, I usually like some breathing room for a few days.

Which mean I keep telling myself that it’s okay—that I don’t have to work this weekend—and then I just kind of . . . wallow? No—wrong word. It’s not a sad thing.

“Not-work!”

Not-working is what I’ll call it.

Never in my life have I experienced it, but yes, I am in a perpetual state of not-working, where I just kind of roll around my apartment, lying and sitting in different places, thinking about the outline, excited to get back to it, but also accepting that I need a break.

Things I have done in my determined quest to just fucking relax for a minute:

Watched Escape from L.A. for the first time.

Played through Superliminal for the first time—in one sitting.

Read a ton of Ultimate Spider-Man, which I’m trying to catch up on after finishing Spider-Man: Miles Morales. There’s something addicting about experiencing all of the different iterations of Miles in succession (I just finished Spider-Man: Miles Morales recently and I watch Spider-Verse all the time). Every version of Miles’ story does some things better than others. For example, the video game version of his mother, Rio, is the only version with an actual personality. Video game Uncle Aaron is also the best. The comics have the best version of Ganke (the video game version of him is such an over-the-top, app saavy genius, that the moment he suggested monetizing the app he made–so people could contact Miles and ask him for help–I couldn’t get over the idea that he’s a silicon valley monster waiting to happen). When it comes to Miles himself though, there is no beating Shameik Moore’s smooth, reluctant-nerd Miles from Spider-Verse; I love comic book Miles’ reluctance to be Spider-Man, and I appreciate video game Miles consistently speaking Spanish (the only one who actually feels Afro-Latino), but cool, confident (eventually) Spider-Verse Miles is such a departure from Peter Parker’s routinely-beaten-down-little-guy, that he’s definitely my favorite of the now many, many Spider-People out there.

Anyway, I also suffered through Tenet (which I might rewatch to do A Writer Watching—I have so much to say).

I tried Goat Simulator, which I played for longer than I thought I would, but got tired of pre-e-e-e-etty quickly. The weird thing about being me and taking forever to play / watch / read anything is experiencing trends out of sequence. So, to me, Goat Simulator is just bad Untitled Goose Game. I know Goat Simulator came first—I know it birthed both the trend of wacky animal games and the trend of intentionally bad sims, but it is impossible to divorce myself from Untitled Goose Game.

I started Rime, which is absolutely beautiful so far. Having just finished Superliminal and intending to move on to Okami (which, yes, I’m playing for the first time), Rime turned out to be the perfect transition.

But the thing that I’ve done most recently to celebrate is ending this post here. Just keeping it light, possibly going back to sleep for a bit while it’s still cool. I have this last day to relax before rolling into edits and Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’m just gonna kick back.

And, yes, I will be posting here about my Camp NaNoWriMo run. I’m not going to write a series like I have in previous years, but, at the very least, I’ll share my profile name here so anyone else who’s doing Camp can friend me. We can cheer each other on!

Anyway, if you enjoyed this post and want to know when I’ll be posting an absolutely fierce, needlessly brutal takedown of Tenet, you can give this blog a follow on the left side bar (on PC) or the top right drop down menu (on mobile).

Until next time, stay safe, and I’ve been saying it for a while, but seriously, stay hydrated for the Summer. You can absolutely do that however you choose to, but I’ve found that, since going full Summer Mode (no coffee, just ice water and caffeine-free iced tea) I’m so much better at dealing with high temperatures that it’s insane. Seriously, I feel like an idiot: for two years, I lived in AC that facilitated me chugging iced coffee, not realizing that doing that made me a Grass type Pokémon; anything over 80 degrees was super effective against me. Kicking caffeine takes some work, but I’m so much more functional in hot weather now that I’m like, “Ah. ‘Summer Mode’ is going to be a rest-of-my-life type thing, huh? Got it. Cool.”

Anyway, bye!

A May Break – I’m Sorry, but My Weekend Was Dominated By D&D

And, to put it into context, two things:

First, I haven’t played D&D in years.

And my character was a Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Penguin.

Yeah, I pitched that idea to my DM and he was like, “Sure, you can make that character.”

So, yeah, my weekend was dominated by making that character and having an all-day D&D session yesterday.

And just . . . zero regrets here.

I’m sorry that I don’t have a post and that I wound up publishing this super late, but to be totally real, I didn’t have anything to write about and my brain just totally overshot the point where I realized I had to post. I have made huge strides on Memory, my current WIP, but not such huge strides that I felt comfortable writing about it here. I would’ve at least written a “Something to Read / Watch / Play” at the very least, but I haven’t played, watched, or read anything new that was so amazing I wanted to recommend it.

So, all I will say here is please forgive me.

And also, my character was the Michelangelo of his group. Seriously, it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing D&D.

I will be back next week, possibly talking about how excited I am to be writing prose again.

But until then, take care, pet a cat and/or dog, and–for the love of God–play D&D. If you never have, seriously, try it–with the understanding that it just gets better with time. Seriously, your first character will be a super serious OC–an Elven knight betrayed by his king or something–but eventually, you’ll be like, “My new character is Hornswoggle. She is half gremlin, half cat, 100% Rogue, and she only drinks White Russians.”

Process in Progress #3 – My Villain Isn’t Palpatine (and, Seriously, Thank God)

I had to do my taxes this week.

They just got away from me. I was definitely spoiled last year, able to get to them at the point I naturally would have (in June), so when I learned that they were due earlier this year, my brain just kept hearing “Not yet though,” until days before they were due.

Cool.

So I busted my ass to do them and managed to finish before Resident Evil: Village and Subnautica: Below Zero came out (because the true hell would’ve been owning but not being able to play two of my most anticipated games of 2021 because I had to finish extremely tedious paperwork), but, as you can imagine, this week was still a major pain. Which is also why this post is a little late.

That said though, somewhere in the mix, nearly lost, was a super important triumph:

I finally finished the backstory for my villain.

And, to frame that success in the most accessible light I can imagine, I have to add that–thank God–he’s not just Palpatine.

That Easy Palpy Goodness

I don’t know if it’s just me . . . but the reflex to make villains like Palpatine . . . is weirdly strong.

I don’t mean that I make them look like him or act like him; none of my villains has ever criticized the protagonist for their lack of vision and shot lightning out of their hands.

But, because I grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy, and the prequels came out while I was in high school, Palpatine’s backstory stands out more than any other backstory for any other villain I love. Pro-o-o-o-obably because no other villain I love has full movies devoted to their backstory.

Well, I mean, Darth Vader obviously does, but I always choose to forget that his backstory is “he hated sand a lot.”

Okay–jokes aside, I never really think of Vader as a villain of Star Wars; in my eyes, he’s more of a puppet used by the real villain: Palpatine.

Anyway, my point is, I watched Palpatine become the Emperor in my teens and early 20’s, so whenever I think about my own villains, even if they’re a floating mask that looks like an eye and attaches to people’s faces, forcing them to do its bidding (yes, one of my early villains was basically Majora’s Mask), when I try to dive into their backstory, it is always super duper easy to imagine that they were a politician in an ancient era who fomented civil war that allowed them to gain power.

The villain for Memory, who actually is an old, male emperor, really re-e-e-e-e-eally challenged that reflex.

Thankfully, a totally different problem with his backstory helped me shake off that case of the Palpies.

A Forced Restart

I absolutely hate scrapping massive blocks of worldbuilding and starting over. It’s just soul-crushing every time, especially if it’s tangible pages of writing you’ve already done that you literally have to delete.

And even though it was written in outline form, my first run at my villain’s backstory was many pages long. Wa-a-a-a-ay longer than it should’ve been.

The thing is, I was forced to restart it because it was built around a discrepancy with my magic system that didn’t make sense–a super esoteric plot hole that would only be visible to me on the back end . . . which meant I just could not let it stand. Because I just obsessively hate plot holes so much that it’s borderline dysfunctional.

Anyway, I smoothed out the magic system, went back to restart the villain’s backstory, and realized that one of his major drives (learning how to wield magic better than his siblings so he could make a name for himself like his father stressed all of them should) just wouldn’t work anymore (because, post change, no one can wield magic except for gods). That meant I couldn’t go the route of him just being power-obsessed.

Which was, ultimately, such a blessing that I’m here writing about it. Because, without realizing, I’d slathered on a little bit too much of the Palpy on the building blocks of my villain. I didn’t go full Palpatine, but the dude was an old man who manipulated different political parties to fight while hiding he had crazy powers . . . Definitely too much Palp.

But being forced to find a new, more unique motivation yielded a backstory that feels weird and interesting. I can’t share it here, but the major thing is that my villain wasn’t an insane narcissist who manipulated his way into power. Instead, he was just a guy who had pretty intense issues, put in a variety of world-specific situations that ultimately made him a monster.

And I guess that’s the key term here: world-specific.

This is, in no way, an instructional post. If anything, this is just me venting about how I’m still learning how to fight bad reflexes when it comes to my creative process.

But I think the most important take away here is that my new villain’s backstory is world-specific; the things that made him who he is are only possible in the world of this story, and that feels so integral to making him unique that “How are their motivations world-specific?” is going to be in my villain-design tool kit from now on. Because that alone will force me to think more creatively about the world as a whole, and that just feels right to me.

Whether or not that’s right for you is totally up to you. I’m not here trying to preach today. I’m just a man freshly done with his taxes, venting.

And celebrating. Cause my WIP got several degrees less typical this week, and that’s always a good feeling.

And, more important than anything: because I finally finished the villain’s backstory, I can finally finish the outline this week.

Which means I’m just a week out . . . from finally writing prose again.

I’m so stoked I could open-hand slap a cake right now.

~~~

To be clear, I’ve never open-hand slapped a cake before.

But I absolutely could right now.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I post here every Sunday. Full warning though: this is just an aspiring Fantasy writer’s blog, and, as you can see, I post whatever weird, sometimes entirely self-centered bullshit I decide to write about each week. I just do not cater to algorithms; in fact, I usually don’t write about new fads until literal years after they’re popular. Example: I watched Terminator: Dark Fate for the first time the other day. I just don’t care about being timely. I care about writing, and experiencing stories outside of their hype windows. So if you’re down for reading the perspectives of a guy who cares a lot about storytelling but doesn’t give a single shit about what’s happening on the Epic Games Store, well, hey, there’s a Follow button on the side bar on the left side of the screen (on PC) or the upper right corner drop down menu (on mobile).

Until next time, stay safe and try making resin jewelry. It’s a relaxing, easy hobby. Just sit somewhere pretty; pop open a window; wear safety goggles, a face mask, and gloves; mix up some resin with whatever colors; pour it and leave it for a day. Come back, see what worked out and what didn’t, try something else.

Just allow something fun and uncomplicated to exist outside of your control. Because, especially if you’re a writer, you deserve to enjoy some chaotic beauty in your life.

Something to Read / Watch / Play – May 2021

I’m getting this post out a bit later than I normally would . . . for about the exact reason I decided to take a break this week.

I had . . . a weird week.

Not terrible, but definitely exhausting. I got my sleeping schedule in order, which is cool, but every night since, all of my dreams have involved different people from my past?

As if I’m a character in one of my own goddamn books, I go to sleep, dream about a character from my backstory in a friendly, intimate scenario that never happened, and then I wake up like, “Why?”

Whatever. Point is, I wasn’t feeling it this week.

But, I started doing a new thing last month where, every day, I have to do something new. Watch something I’ve never watched, eat something I’ve never eaten, etc. I kinda love it.

And, since starting that, I’ve wanted to make a series to talk about the new things I’ve enjoyed the most.

And I figured, “Why not make my ‘Break’ posts into that?” so here we are.

Keep in mind that this is going to be an extremely laid back post (because I still want it to feel like a Break).

But with that said, let’s kick off this new “Something to Read / Watch / Play” series with . . .

Something to Read:

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie takes a bit to ramp up. But when it does, it really does.

I will spoil absolutely nothing here. I feel like I can’t talk about it without ruining some part of the experience.

So all I will say is, if you’re down for reading a Fantasy novel that presents an extremely interesting take on gods, interwoven with a political mystery / intrigue plot, and written with a masterful use of second person perspective, check out The Raven Tower.

No lie–kind of embarrassing–I hugged my copy for ten minutes when I finished reading it. So good!

Something to Watch:

I . . . am still shocked by how good HBO’s Watchmen series was.

It is nothing like Zack Snyder’s adaptation; all the ways that movie completely missed the mark of the original comics, this show does not. Clearly created by someone who read and loved the source material.

Actually, speaking of the source material, you will need to read Alan Moore’s original Watchmen series before watching this. If you haven’t, the Watchmen comic is still really good (a gateway drug the same way A Game of Thrones was for Fantasy), but if you’ve already read it, you can jump right in.

I was a little let down by the finale, but in the end, when I tried to guess how this story came to be (a game I play with all fiction), I assumed it was a plot someone lovingly crafted for decades after reading the graphic novel, and then fought for years to get it published somewhere. No idea if that’s true, but it feels true.

If you’re looking for a superhero show that dives head first into really heavy issues and fleshes out nearly all of its characters, check out Watchmen. As a nerd out of time, perpetually watching / playing / reading things years after the hype has died down, I’m telling you that Watchmen has my vote for Best Comic Book Show Ever Released.

Something to Play:

I almost don’t want to write this, because I just want to keep it for myself.

But . . .

Spiritfarer . . . is beautiful.

Beautiful in a way that no other game I’ve ever played is beautiful.

And, man, I’ve written this section so many times, deleted it, and started over because if I say exactly how I feel about it this game, it would color your experience with it, and that would be absolutely criminal.

So I will just say Spiritfarer is important to me in a way other games aren’t. It perfectly balances its story and mechanics, something that games that try to be emotionally impactful usually struggle with.

I recommend playing it. Specifically though, I recommend experiencing Spiritfarer alone, without looking anything up.

Just do what feels right.

And I hope that it helps you the same way it helped me.

~~~

Alright. I’m gonna go relax and mentally prepare for the dentist appointment I have tomorrow.

Until next time, stay safe, hug your animals, and eat your oatmeal.

An Essential Reset

I’ve been saving this one for a while, because, total honesty: I’ve just been recovering and processing a lot of stuff.

But, to finally break some news, I moved out of that terrible room I was living in. The place with the neighbors downstairs blasting music all day every day. The neighborhood where I was totally present for a gas station getting robbed.

Yeah. I moved out of there.

To the only place I could move during COVID and unemployment–back with the family. It’s a little depressing, but it was an essential reset. And it is out of this world how much better my living situation got the moment I moved back in. Like, we’re talkin’ “Wait–why did I stay at the other place for so long??” level.

Because, on top of the downstairs neighbors starting with the all day parties again, stereo blasting directly under my room, my roommates started with incense–the kind that’s made with benzene (which, if you don’t know, some incense is made with harmful chemicals, like benzene, that induce headaches and fatigue). Seriously, the first time they burned incense, I nearly lost a full day because, at 5pm, I got really tired, lay down for a nap, and woke up the next day at 2PM. It’s pretty bad.

So, in late February, there came a day–the fourth day in a row–where the downstairs neighbors turned on their four-song playlist. And I decided to take a shower to hopefully drown out the music for a bit. But when I stepped out of my room, I immediately got hit with the benzene–extremely strong, like my roommates had been burning incense all morning and walking around the apartment with it. And I just remember walking to the bathroom with an immediate ache behind my eyes, shutting the bathroom door . . .

And there was just shit in the toilet.

Like, no toilet paper. Just shit.

To this day, I don’t understand the logistics. But I don’t want to.

I definitely didn’t try to figure it out in that moment. I just blinked and said, out loud, “I’m moving out of here.” Like it was a realization of an empirical fact. “I’m just gonna go.”

I’d been determined to stick it out and find a new job and get a new apartment during COVID, all while staying away from the old apartment because I didn’t want my mother to potentially get sick from me going outside. But I’d just texted my mom about NYC Vaccine List and she already had her first shot scheduled.

And I just couldn’t anymore.

As if the world was egging me on too, I started watching Steven Universe Future, not expecting its main theme to be, “Stop torturing yourself–it’s time to move on,” the same week I watched the finale for WandaVision. Seriously, it almost felt like an audience somewhere was like, “Finally! We threw every goddamn hint at him but he just stood in that room for so long!”

I want to tell you that I gave a heartfelt goodbye to that place–my tiny room high up on Fordham Road.

But I really, really didn’t. I didn’t even sleep there for the last few nights I was renting the room; I just kept hauling stuff on the bus to the old apartment and sleeping here instead. The move was a surgical six hours where I was in zero-fucks mode, determinedly moving my property as quickly as I could to ensure the nightmare was over. Even when I walked around Fordham asking for spare boxes at stores, trying to drum up some emotion for a place I’d lived for nearly two years, I just couldn’t.

But . . . there was one thing that I knew I had to do before I left.

One thing that I liked about the room so much that I wrote about it here.

One thing that I wanted to contribute to the neighborhood.

Yeah. Yeah, that’s right.

It was so old that it wouldn’t even turn on.

And I’m exactly the kind of Loki who couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Cause, seriously, can you even imagine when someone woke up the next day, made coffee, looked out the window and was like, “Wha . . . Wait. There’re two PS4 controllers out there? Who the fuck is throwing these controllers out there!?”

I mean, there’s every chance that no one will notice or care.

But I’d like to imagine that, in May, someone like me is going to move into an apartment over there.

And they’re going to look out their window, at the one roof across the way, and say, “Huh. There’s a PS4 controller out there. I wonder who–Wha–! There’re two!”

And maybe they’ll be so intrigued–by the fact that they’re the same color and facing the same way–that they’ll spend an afternoon thinking about them, the same way I thought about the first. Best case: they come up with their own story for how those controllers got there.

Or, even better case: they contribute their own controller.

Seriously, I’ll die happy if I go back one day and there are 300 broken PS4 controllers on that roof.

~~~

Thanks for reading. I didn’t want to fall back into life updates, but my other post ideas weren’t gelling and I couldn’t take the usual extra day to decide on something else.

That said, this will probably be my last life update for a while, because things are going to be calm for a bit (seriously, I moved nearly a month ago and I’ve been able to sleep, write, and think whenever I want, every single day–it’s been amazing).

But that means I will be back to writing-talk next week Sunday. Feel free to stop by then, or if you’d rather read the most recent thing I’ve posted about Fantasy writing, it’s my last post, which was about realistically messy worldbuilding.

Anyway, until next time, take care, stay safe, and Thin Mints come in two sleeves. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. This is a warning: a single box of Thin Mints has wa-a-a-a-a-ay too many Thin Mints in it. Like, a dangerous amount of Thin Mints to be surprised by.

Bye!