rynling: (Mog Toast)
It's time for me to start taking writing seriously!!1! I proclaim here on Dreamwidth, but that's easier said than done. I'm constantly perplexed that I am absolutely unable to motivate myself.

One of the tricks people use to encourage themselves is to set small, concrete, and reasonable goals. I think that, if I'm going to get anywhere with this whole "writing fiction" business, I'm going to have to take things one step at a time.

Let's say that my first goal is to table at the DC Zine Fest next summer. I order to do this, I need to have a zine. I already have several left over back from when I lived in Indiana (during which time I sold them at Quimby's in Chicago), but I want to make a new zine with new material. Specifically, I want to write ten pieces of flash fiction and accompany each story with a small illustration. I'm going to need to figure out formatting and printing, and I'm going to need to figure out what to do about the cover, and I'm also going to need to figure out whether I'll use my own stupid name. The first item on the agenda, however, is to write the fucking stories.

The theme of the zine is going to be "ghost stories," which I think is going to be the title as well. What I need to focus on now is writing ten pieces of less than five hundred words that fit the theme, and I'll worry about the rest later.
rynling: (Default)
I'm more or less constantly editing my more recent fic, but what prompted me to go back to my old FFVI fic was embarking on a deep dive into Vrazdova's archives. We used to be friends of a sort on DeviantArt (where she went by fashion-jerk), and when someone recently sent me a link to her BBC Sherlock story Adagio Lamentoso I recognized her name immediately.

Her writing is good, and I mean like, really good. Flawless, actually.

I'm gradually working my way through her FFVI novel Unbalanced; and, even though I'm very much enjoying myself, it also pains me to see that she wrote this in 2012, especially since the only thing I wrote in 2012 was, well... Anthro Bowser in Leather Pants. In other words, while I was partying Vrazdova studied the blade. This is why she is a fantastic writer and I am still embarrassing myself every time I post something.

I wasn't just drinking and goofing off, though. Up until around 2013 I maintained a fairly steady flow of content on LiveJournal, and 2012 was also the year that I finally managed to establish myself as a professional writer, albeit in an entirely different style and genre of writing. I was working my ass off at the beginning of my career, which is probably why I thought that I didn't have time to write fiction. I told myself that it was something I would do once I didn't have to worry about paying the rent, and in any case I didn't know anyone who also wrote fiction and could have encouraged me or given me feedback.

I think it's probably fair to say that Vrazdova has an innate level of talent that I simply do not, and there's really nothing I can do about that - but also, I should have started taking my writing a lot more seriously much earlier than I did. As things stand, I feel like I'm having to work extra hard just to catch up.

The take-away point here is that, if I want to be serious about writing, I am going to have to stop wasting time and (a) start writing original fiction so that I can (b) start getting challenging and constructive feedback. What this means in concrete terms is that I am going to have to deprioritize writing fic in order to put together a body of work that can be submitted along with applications for writing workshops.

More on this story as it develops, I guess?
rynling: (Gator Strut)
During the past few days I've been editing the fic I've written this year, and last night I came to the conclusion that I'm a bad writer. Like, I am not a good writer, and I'm not good at writing - which is to say that I have neither talent nor skill. I mean, I'm not going to stop writing, but there's really no point in me taking it as seriously as I have been.

You know what I am good at, though? Surfing.

Fuck this "working hard" shit, I am going to Hawai'i. I've got some friends who've been pestering me to visit, and I owe myself a nice long weekend of sitting on the beach while eating shrimp and reading other people's fic for once.

And maybe I'll get drunk on the plane (as one does) and write another cracktastic Peach/Bowser story, that might be fun too.
rynling: (Celes Chere)

I love Genshiken so much. It speaks to me.

Also the character expressions and paneling are perfect.
rynling: (Terra Branford)
I'm working with Lightsintheskye on a series of illustrations for my Zelda/Ganondorf fic The Legend of the Princess. She did the cover illustration a while ago, and yesterday afternoon I posted her illustration for the first story arc.

Despite the incredible quality of her art, the post only got 11 notes.

I was really surprised! I know that this piece will get the attention it deserves when the artist reblogs it later during the peak time for her blog, but I still can't help but wonder why so few people who follow me on Tumblr or track the fandom tags were willing to offer their support for a collaboration like this. (The people who did like or reblog the post are lovely and wonderful and have my eternal gratitude, of course.)

I think this is what it what it means to "create for yourself" - you need to have faith that what you're doing has worth and value, even if it's not something that's immediately recognized by the larger community. Despite the doubts I have regarding my own writing, the artist's talent is readily apparent. Like, what she does is really good, and I'm so lucky to be able to work with her on this project. Even if it's difficult for me to have faith in myself, I can believe in the quality of the artist's work. Along with the artist, I'm creating something interesting and unique and meaningful, and I'm gonna keep going, no matter what...

...if only because the actual process is so much fun. I mean listen, as much as it sucks to get so little positive feedback on Tumblr, I'm not going to complain about how cool it is to get to play around with concept and design sketches like this one of Zelda in fancy princess clothing.

Read more... )
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
About a month ago I mentioned that I submitted a pitch to an essay collection about gender and horror.

Of the three editors working on the collection, the male one just got back to me to say that he would be happy to accept my essay, but that he wants me to make it racist. "Can you tell me more about the cultural context of this piece?" he asks, which seems reasonable until he begins his series of follow-up questions. "For example," he says, "why do the Japanese find women so frightening?" Each question is worse than the last, but my favorite is, "Why is Japan so dysfunctional?" It's like, I don't know, Mr. White British Dude, why don't you tell me why the majority ethnicities of small island countries have weird anxieties relating to cultures other than what they perceive to be their own.

I don't want to be That Writer who is difficult to work with, but... I mean... I would feel weird if I didn't say something, even if it means this essay doesn't get published in this particular venue. I guess, as always, the keyword is "gently."
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
"I really wish I were good at art. It would only take fifteen minutes a day," I think to myself, having just spent the past five hours writing. "It's not that hard. Why am I so lazy?"
rynling: (Default)
"For this year’s Annency animation festival, the students at Gobelins made five 1-minute animations to honor five female animation pioneers."


Each one-minute animation destroyed my emotions, but the Lotte Reininger one especially...

...is misleading, actually, because Reininger never stopped creating, even after her flight through Europe to escape the Nazis.

The moral of this story is to never give up, no matter how much the world makes you feel that you should be silent.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
There's a Big Part of Rural America that Everyone's Ignoring

In defining rural white America as rural America, pundits, academics and lawmakers are perpetuating an incomplete and simplistic story about the many people who make up rural America and what they want and need. Ironically, this story — so often told by liberals trying to explain the recent rise in undisguised nativism and xenophobia — serves to re-privilege whiteness. Whiteness is assumed; other races are shoved even further to the margins.

But the version of The Wire some folks view is totally emptied of its attempt at raising consciousness and compassion and has instead become a kind of Boy Scout merit badge for public good. As if seeing the show were itself a political gesture.
The Problem With Serial And The Model Minority Myth

The problem with the model minority myth — besides the fact that it stereotypes and dehumanizes millions of people — is that by its very nature it requires a “bad” minority to balance the scales. Asians in the U.S. didn’t go from being “The Heathen Chinee” to “The Asian-American Whiz Kids” because white Americans suddenly realized we were good at math. Instead, championing Asian-Americans (including South Asians like Adnan) has been a useful way to denigrate black Americans and deny the continuing existence and impact of racism. If Asians can succeed, the myth’s champions insist, that proves racism is over and black people are responsible for their own failure to thrive. It’s an insidious and dismayingly persistent narrative, one that remains a linchpin of ongoing anti-black racism among whites and non-black people of color.
The 7 Strategies for Defending Your Problematic TV Show or Movie and Why They Don't Work

Let’s accept in good faith that you’re being sincere when you say you want to avoid perpetuating an egregious stereotype. And yes, your source material was definitely offensive. But rewriting the character so that they are played by an actor of an entirely different race is at best, not a very creative solution, and at worst, just plain lazy. If you are trying to fix the sins of screenwriters past, why not instead expend a little thought and energy to give the existing character a more considered, nuanced update without changing their race?
rynling: (Terra Branford)
Yesterday afternoon, while driving down to Georgia, I finally found the entryway I needed for my book about women and comics. Instead of approaching the topic through its broader context of history or something resembling a literature review, I'm going to describe my process of writing the book as a personal narrative, with each chapter of the text approximating a chapter of my life. I know this sounds narcissistic – and it is! – but my project aims to draw connections that I don't think most people writing about popular culture have made yet, primarily because most people writing about popular culture don't have my generational experience.

How exactly did we get from Sailor Moon to Steven Universe? I know exactly how that story goes, because it's essentially the story of my life. Each chapter in the manuscript draws on a ton of research, but I want the introduction to be more personal; I want to engage the reader while showing her exactly how everything fits together within a lived experience.

It's a lovely 70° at 10:00 in the morning, which is perfect for taking a long walk and then sitting outside with some iced tea. The South may be a racist and homophobic dystopian hellhole, but at least the weather is nice.
rynling: (Celes Chere)
I just posted the last chapter of A Wise Decision (the Boar Ganon story), thus tying up (almost) all of the loose ends of my fanfic for this year.

According to the metrics tool on AO3, I posted almost 100,000 words of fic during 2016. For comparison, here is a screenshot of my statistics for 2015, followed by my statistics for 2016.

Read more... )

Even though my productivity has increased, and although I like to think that my skill level has increased as well, the numbers of hits and kudos I've received this year have decreased significantly from the numbers for last year.

These statistics are calculated according to the activity on the stories posted during a given calendar year, not according to overall activity. One might therefore argue that the stories I posted in 2015 have had an extra year to get hits and kudos. This is valid, but it also tends to be the nature of AO3 for stories not to get many hits or kudos after they're first posted (unless they've reached a certain threshold of popularity and/or are bookmarked by a lot of big name fans). Basically, then, what you see is what you get, and I just didn't do as well in 2016 as I did in 2015.

I'm pretty sure I deleted the post where I confessed the high level of my social anxiety on Tumblr (ETA: Nope, it's still here), but this is what I meant when I wrote that I haven't managed to build an audience for my work through effort and improvement; rather, I've lost whatever audience I had without managing to win over new readers. If I can be allowed to be self-indulgent for a moment, perhaps it's okay for me to say that this fills me with disappointment and despair. I'm not in a happy place right now.

I did my best, but I think it might be a good idea to take a break from writing fic for a while. What I'd like to do is not to stop writing fic altogether, but rather to cut way back on the time I spend on it and hold off on posting anything for a few months. What I'm going to do instead is to devote my efforts to the Wind Waker project; I'm going to get serious about publishing parts of it outside of fandom as I work on the larger book manuscript.

Just like any other human being, I need encouragement, support, and validation, and the reason I write is to add a different perspective to an ongoing conversation. Although I'm not giving up on fandom, it just doesn't seem like the best place to find a community and achieve my goals at the moment. It's going to be extremely difficult to watch the fandom move on without me and perhaps even experience a resurgence in activity when I leave, but I need to focus on my professional development and gradually ease myself back into a healthy headspace where my sense of self-worth isn't dependent on how many hits and kudos I get on AO3 or how many notes I get on Tumblr.
rynling: (Default)
I figured out how guilty pleasure smutty het romance works!

Before I get to the actual formula, there are three things to keep in mind.

- You have to use omniscient third-person narration, with bonus points for shifting the narrative perspective from the woman to the man whenever it amps up the sexy.

- Neither principal can have any real flaws, or at least not flaws that are treated as such. The woman is going to have to be a little on the passive femininity side, and the man is going to have to be a little on the toxic masculinity side, but that's okay because they love each other (or something, don't think about it too hard).

- Unlike most fiction, smutty romance aims to tell and not show. Characters don't demonstrate their feelings and motivations through action and dialog; rather, you need to describe how everyone is feeling at exhaustive length while the characters do everything in their power to hide their true emotions. Basically, your goal is to extend the reader's arousal by prolonging the inevitable climactic p-in-v sex scene for as long as possible.

This is what needs to happen, in a series of twenty easy-to-follow steps:

(01) Some sort of arranged marriage, either figurative or literal
(02) The woman hates the man, but she can't help being physically attracted to him
(03) The man makes a sudden move on the woman, but she resists him
(04) A larger conflict is introduced; it needs to be something simple yet dramatic
(05) The woman is left alone, and she is threatened by an outside party
(06) The man steps in to protect her and then tries to sex her up again
(07) She shuts him down even though she really wants the sexing
(08) Domestic comedy interlude that demonstrates the man is trying
(09) Introduction of a female friend who is happy to talk about the man
(10) The man is called away because of the larger conflict and tells the woman to sit still
(11) She doesn't listen, and so she is sexually assaulted
(12) The man protects the woman, and she begins to love him
(13) Sexytimes are initiated, and the woman confesses her psychological damage
(14) But now it's the man who is sexually reticent
(15) The larger conflict intervenes, and the man must leave again
(16) The woman hates herself and is comforted by her female friend
(17) The woman goes to chase after the man, who is noble, brave, etc
(18) The man is injured, and the woman must heal him with her vagina
(19) The man reveals his psychological damage, and then more sexing
(20) Remember that marriage from the beginning? It's a real thing now, congratulations

There are variations, such as the inclusion of sections that focus on the man unable to sleep and/or masturbating, but that's basically it, I think.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
I'm interested in learning how to write better smutty romance, so recently I've been reading a lot of popular "guilty pleasure" novels and fanfic. I've noticed that a strong thematic undercurrent running through all of these narratives is the difference in power between the two parties. Although the conflicts that arise because of this imbalance are always resolved by the end of the story, it seems to be very important that one partner is repeatedly placed in a vulnerable and imperiled position at the hands of the other. If the two protagonists are of opposite genders, the woman will be physically and verbally threatened by the man. If it's a pairing between two men, the violence that the more dominant partner enacts is even more concrete and pronounced.

I'd really like to know where the appeal lies in all of this assault. I don't mean to kinkshame anyone - quite the opposite, in fact. I feel almost as if everyone is in on some secret that I haven't been told yet, and I very much want to be inducted into the inner mysteries of literary sexytimes.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
I think it's important to remember that it's okay to do things slowly, day by day. Even if I just write a paragraph, or only a single sentence, it's enough.

I don't have a lot of short-term stamina, and I certainly wasn't born with talent, but what I have that relatively not that many people do is the organizational ability and the willpower to keep working on a project for as long as it takes until it's done. This is why I have succeeded in places where a lot of people fail, but... it just takes time.
rynling: (Default)
This year's stories are really good, and by "good" I mean "terrifying."


The one about the abandoned house in Indiana fucked me up.
rynling: (Gator Strut)
I'm writing another "gay dads otp" fic. I didn't mean to, but I was working on something else and my hand slipped.

This story is a Contemporary AU set in the Spirit Tracks universe, and it's about Ganondorf and Daphnes raising Tetra. I'm having trouble getting a handle on how the dynamic works, but I still have to almost physically force myself to do my actual work instead of writing the story. I'm super gross about it too; I'm literally sweating and chewing my bottom lip and being like, Just 200 words and then you have to stop.

I sincerely wish that this wasn't what the universe gave me in terms of inspiration, but it looks like I've found a weird niche where I feel oddly comfortable. I've been suffering from a powerful urge to write more Yotsubato-themed Bowser and Ganondorf stories for the past several months, but I think that sort of crack crossover is only cute the first time around. And honestly, it's so OOC that I'm seriously tempted to file the serial numbers off the characters and start writing original fiction.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

These are a set of repeated lines from the 2011 movie The Help, in which two black nannies serve as Magical Negros to an upper middle class white girl who later goes on to become the journalist that exposes the "secret" racism in the segregated South and "wins" the Civil Rights Movement.

I was taken to see The Help by my mother and aunt, who grew up in the Deep South during the 1950s and 1960s and enjoyed the movie's portrayal of their life experiences. As I walked out of the theater, I felt like a plastic container filled with undiluted rage. I couldn't speak, I couldn't write, and I couldn't interact with other human beings. I think "murder" is the word that best describes my state of mind. It wasn't just the ignorance of a Hollywood portrayal of race relations in the United States that bothered me, it was the enthusiastic mainstream embrace of that ignorance on the ten-year memorial of 9/11. I kept reading reviews and editorials in an attempt to validate my anger, and it seemed that any number of intelligent and well-intentioned people were going out of their way to celebrate the narrative of white heroism.

I'm currently writing what was meant to be a fluffy Zelda/Ganondorf shipfic loosely based on a Hayao Miyazaki version of "Beauty and the Beast" set in medieval Japan (link). I thought it would be cool if, as in the Miyazaki retelling, both "Beauty" and "Beast" had their own agendas, which briefly intersected and would then move in parallel directions, the idea being that the reader would be encouraged to acknowledge that there is no real practical difference between "Beauty" and "Beast." I set up literal magic power as the marker of "difference," a kind of female-gendered method of expression that is denied to Zelda in her patriarchal society and accessible to Ganondorf in his matriarchal society. Unfortunately, I've run into an unforeseen complication, which is that Ganondorf's magical "difference" is colliding with the reality of his ethnic "difference."

Basically, I don't want to write a Magical Negro who helps the white girl realize her full potential so that she can then go on to be a hero. Based on what I've written so far, I don't think the vast majority of people coming to the story without ulterior motives would read it that way, as the project mostly involves giving agency and interiority to two characters – damseled princess and monstrous villain – who are nothing more than archetypes in the universe of the games I'm writing about, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. Still, I'm picking up faint sonar echoes of the tropes that drove me crazy in The Help. I don't want to deconstruct these tropes; I want to not ever see them in any context, and I certainly don't want to reproduce them.

But it's hard, and I know that I'm probably going to fuck up.

Regardless, I'm going to finish the story, and I'm going to write through my self-doubt and the problematic-ness of it all. I need to figure out what works and what doesn't, and thinking about this in an abstract sense is not going to solve anything. If I can't learn to write about difference in Hyrule, then I'm going to be hopeless when it comes to writing about the real world.

Game Blarg

Sep. 26th, 2016 03:29 pm
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
I've been editing about four posts a day on my video game blog over the course of the past few weeks, and I'm finally done. I'm sure there are still typos, because that's how I roll, but I think I managed to catch and correct the most egregious errors. I also think I managed to make good progress in the way I think and write about games.

I began this blog last July, and since then I have written 81 posts, with an average of 1,000 words per post. This means that, in the past fifteen months, I have written and edited 81,000 words about video games. Hot damn.

Although it's hosted by Wordpress, which tends to be highly indexed on search engines, the blog receives less than a dozen hits per day and only has six subscribers. This is actually convenient for me, since it means there's nothing holding me back from cannibalizing my own writing. I've got several specific projects in mind, but first I need to submit my stupid manuscript for my stupid book about comics.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
This isn't a hard game to play. Your goal is to get so drunk that you...

• Outline a fic novel and refuse to feel guilty about knowing that you will never write it.
• Go to a fic you love and leave a comment saying exactly how much you love it.
• Announce on Tumblr that you will accept open prompts for fic drabbles.
• Forget how language works as you write, which is okay, language is stupid.

I usually won't engage with people online unless I am 100% dead sober, but hosting my own private fandom parties from time to time might not be such a bad idea.
rynling: (Cecil Harvey)
I've been reading through the Ganondorf/Zelda tag on AO3 again, and what's struck me this time around is just how many kudos and encouraging comments I left on other people's stories. After three weeks of not checking the tag on Tumblr, I can barely remember the intense bitterness I once expressed; but, now that I've put some distance between myself and the fandom, I find the overt lack of reciprocity truly shocking. In fact, I'm surprised that it took me so long to get upset.

This has made me start to consider the limitations of fandom and fannish spaces.

In an earlier post I wrote that I was considering deleting my Livejournal. The site itself died at some point during 2014, and I can't imagine any reason why I would return, especially since I considered the eleven years of my writing (across more than a thousand posts) hosted there to have no value. I've deleted a number of other fandom-related accounts, so why keep this one?

When I read through my journal, however, I realized that my writing was fairly decent – or better than "decent," actually. I was charming and witty and insightful (who was that person? where did she go??), and people responded to me, leaving thousands and thousands of comments. Why in the world did I think I needed to delete all of this? Why did I think my work was trash that needed to be disposed of?

I really enjoyed writing long and self-effacing and semi-humorous personal essays about my job, my family, my shitty relationships, my interests, and – this is what drew people in, I think – my experiences with fandom. Because all of this writing occurred within a fannish space, however, it was all "fandom" and therefore worthless from the perspective of "real publishing." Although I was getting incredible pageview counts between 2009 and 2012, no one tried to scout me, and no one within my (very carefully) curated circle of connections ever suggested to me that I should try to publish my essays. No one told me that I should get on Twitter to promote myself, and no one ever offered to introduce me to anyone who could help me become a professional writer. English-language Livejoural was a fandom-focused platform, and fandom is something you do "for fun" and "for yourself," as if professional writing generates enough money for people to do it not for fun and their own personal validation (PROTIP: it usually does not).

Basically, when I was in my twenties, I had the time and energy and talent and motivation to become the professional writer I always wanted to be, but I wasted it on the fannish identity "pocketseizure," a shitty not-joke about how stories of the dangers of the Pokémon anime made me realize that I had undiagnosed epilepsy. Because "pocketseizure" was getting so much attention, often from unexpected quarters, I started writing fic under the name "rynling" so that people wouldn't be able to make the connection between me, my essays, and my stories. And then, after I went through so much trouble to fracture my identity, I was for some reason disappointed that I didn't receive the recognition that I probably would have were my writing consolidated into one body of work.

My reasoning was justified by several real-life factors, including direct censure from my graduate advisors for having started a professional blog under my own name, but I nevertheless ended up internalizing the stigma of the anonymity communally enforced within fannish spaces. I wrote anonymously and "only in fandom" because I wasn't ready for the big leagues; I was anonymous because I lacked talent, and because my writing lacked any real value.

I'm not saying that fandom is bad, obviously, but its social mores effectively served to silence my voice as a writer and forced me to relegate my creative writing to the margins of my life, where it still remains. Even now that I receive actual money for my writing (and quite a bit of it, if I do say so myself), I still feel pressure from the sort of "you're not good enough" attitude implicitly enforced by fandom.

To return to the beginning of this post, the lack of reciprocity I've experienced concerning kudos and comments on AO3 is not how professionals behave. Professionals – people who are directly invested in their own success and the success of the people around them – do not ignore or fail to support and encourage their colleagues. When there is no direct payoff and no end goal, however, no one is motivated to engage in behavior that strengthens the larger community. When we're all anonymous, we can't promote or network with each other. When we actively distance ourselves from professional success, our work and voices and ideas remain in the shadows.

As things stand, I'm not sure what the solution is for me personally, or for fandom communities more broadly speaking. Perhaps because "Cease and Desist" letters have for the most part become a thing of the past, visual artists in fandom seem to have reached a good balance of respecting anonymity when desired, allowing fandom names to become professional names, and welcoming people who participate under their real-life names. Writers are still strongly expected to remain anonymous, however, and I can't help but feel that this is gendered – and it's probably gendered, let's be real.


rynling: (Default)
Rynling R&D

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