rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
Lightsintheskye just sent me a comic based on a scene from the sixth chapter of my Zelda/Ganondorf fic The Legend of the Princess, and words cannot describe how fantastic it is. She also sent me a gag version, which I want to share here because it is made of gold.

Read more... )

My post of her last illustration only ended up getting about three dozen notes, so I decided to ask for the artist's advice about posting this one. I understand that the attention any given post gets on Tumblr is random, but there still have to be ways to skew the odds. Is there a day of the week or time of day that gets more traffic? Is there a good set of tags to use? I know there are marketing strategies for things like this (for example, this is an interesting infographic), but I've never sat down and compared notes with another actual human being. And it never hurts to ask for advice, right?

ETA: I'm glad I asked!
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)
Ganon: I am pure power and rage incarnate! My fury is enormous, and so is my body!
Zelda: I am sixteen and innocent, and I will endure my captivity bravely.
Ganon: I come from a matriarchal culture and would never rape you, but I will touch you all I want.
Zelda: I don't know why I'm so aroused, what is going on, did I mention I'm only fifteen?
Ganon: I will now proceed to turn into a literal animal with a dick longer and thicker than your arm.
Zelda: I don't understand how that's physically possible, but I love you and my vagina is ready!!
Ganon: I am actually a sweet and sensitive person and not a monster at all. Surprise!
Zelda: As a fourteen-year-old woman, all I have ever wanted is to have your babies.

. . . . .

This seems like it would be a very specific fantasy, but... My fault for going on FFN, I guess.

I'm not here to judge people's sexytimes (although that is totally why I'm here), but I'm considering getting back into Ganlink, a true and pure pairing that I adored back in 2010, so much so that a dear friend created this delightful illustration for me...

Read more... )
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
Yesterday I posted the first chapter of my new Zelgan story, The Marriage of Lanayru. I've got most of the plot in my head, and I'm getting new ideas all the time. I'm not sure how this "short chapter" format is going to pan out, but I'm very excited!

I'm already thinking about finding an illustrator, so I sent out a message to an artist named Kathryn Layno (@denimcatfish on Tumblr) whose work is beyond phenomenal. Even if she doesn't get back to me or isn't interested in the project, I still fully intend to back her on her Patreon, because she does good work and deserves support.

As I watch both my writing and my art improve in tiny increments, what I'd like to do is to begin to draw more fan art of other people's stories and maybe work with artists on art/story mashups (wherein I write something for one of their drawings).

This year is just getting started, and it's important to remember that things take time. Although I still feel disheartened by the lack of a fandom community, I'm going to enjoy myself, allow my work progress naturally, and hopefully find and strengthen a few friendships along the way.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I said I would stop writing fic for a while, but I lied. Now that I have the formula for romance, it would be a shame not to put it to use.

I've started writing a new Zelda/Ganondorf fic based on Twilight Princess. At the end of the game, instead of having Link kill Ganondorf, Zelda decides to marry him. Hyrule is falling apart because the Triforce has been broken for so long, and Zelda's political position is unstable. She sees an opportunity, and she takes it. Ganondorf still wants to burn Hyrule to the ground, but he returned to the kingdom to find it already mostly in ruins. He needs time to reassess the situation and regroup his forces, so he accepts Zelda's offer.

I'm calling the story "The Marriage of Lanayru," and each chapter is going to be very short, about 1,000 to 1,200 words. Each of the twenty steps in the romance formula will be seen from both Zelda and Ganondorf's point of view, so there will be a total of forty chapters with alternating narrative perspectives. It's been helping me to envision this project as something like a webcomic, with each chapter being a page and each paragraph being a panel. If I put about fifteen minutes into this story every night, I think I can put out one "page" every week. This isn't a huge investment of my time or emotional energy, and the fandom is very quiet right now, so it's not like I have anything to lose by performing this experiment.

I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the theme of sexual menace. Maybe I can just skip it?
rynling: (Default)
This is dibeediboop's finished illustration of The Modern History of Zelda, which she posted along with the character designs on her Tumblr.

It's incredible, right?

Read more... )
rynling: (Default)

I'm still working on the design of Zelda from "The Modern History" with dibeediboop, and things are coming along!

There are still some kinks to work out with this design, but next up is Ganondorf. The character is more of a personality than an actual physical presence in my mind, so this is going to be tough. For some reason, male characters are always way more abstract to me than female characters.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
I commissioned dibeediboop on Tumblr to do character designs and an illustration for The Modern History of Zelda, and she just sent me her rough sketches for Zelda.

This is exactly how I imagine Princess Zelda in her twenties: cold, proud, magisterial.

Because this artist is a boss, I also got four different versions of her clothing, which is pure Victorian military chic. The artist is so ridiculously talented, and I am so excited about working with her.

I'm a bit worried about how to describe Ganon to her, though. I more or less imagined him as Frantz Fanon, but that's not really something you can come right out and tell someone.
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.
rynling: (Default)
This is the dream I mentioned in my post yesterday...

Zelda is a policy wonk. One day she's called on to deliver a report at a Senate hearing, and the reception she receives is chilly. Instead of going back to her office, she visits the National History Museum next to the Capitol Building, where she randomly joins a special tour led by Ganondorf, one of the museum's curators. It just so happens that his talk corresponds with the area of her current research, migrant labor in Hyrule.

Afterward, she comes up to him and says she noticed that a certain item on exhibit resonates with the strangeness in her historical data, which indicates that there is a dark underground even within the shadow economies of the immigrant workforce. Ganondorf doesn't want to talk about it, but he finds himself drawn to Zelda, and he takes her into his office to tell her that yes, she's right. In fact, people from the more magical races have long been used as slaves and then quietly disposed of in Hyrule, a process guided by both imperialist anxieties and a deep prejudice against magic. Zelda can't handle this information, but she's just as attracted to Ganondorf as he is to her, and they kiss before she rushes away.

Since this is so close to my own experience, I can easily write this story with all the serial numbers filed off. It would have four "acts," with four chapters per act that would follow a repeating pattern of A Plot -> B Plot -> A Plot -> Smut. The B Plot would involve the antics of Zelda's interns Link and Malon and Ganondorf's bosses Nabooru and Aveil (with, you know, the serial numbers filed off).

If I were to fashion this story as a short novel - my model would be Lev Grossman's Codex - I'd need to drop out of fandom, which is taking up entirely too much of my creative energy. This would be a hard call to make, since I'm already making steady progress on three separate fic projects. I think a more sustainable transition would be to write a pilot for the novel as a four-chapter fanfic, aiming for maybe 2,500 words per chapter. No one will read it, of course, but so much the better.

I'm super excited about this story right now. I wish I could take a week off from work to write it, but that's not going to happen. What do other writers do in this situation? Do people just not sleep?

rynling: (Mog Toast)
This is what the emotional process of creating a story has become for me: 20% is the exhilarating freedom of writing, 20% is the intellectual challenge of editing, and 60% is the crushing depression of being ignored.

I'm getting fewer notes now than I was when I first started posting fic more than a year ago, and fandom has started to make me feel angry and bitter and lonely. Each time I post a new chapter of my current story it's like facing down the barrel of a gun, and that gun shoots every bad thought I've ever had about myself: You're not good enough, you have no talent, you have no friends, people don't like you, you're just embarrassing yourself, everyone is laughing at you, your writing is shit, your personality is shit, and you can't even pay people to work with you.


I just edited the outline of "The Legend of the Princess," the Zelda/Ganondorf story I've been working on since April, and I now have 23 chapters planned. I had originally intended the story to be complete at 13 chapters (and 20,000 words), but I took too long writing it and the focus shifted. What I need to do now is crank out about 300 words a day, keep each chapter capped at 1,500 to 2,000 words, and try to post a chapter a week. At the rate of four chapters a month, I should be done in four months, which means that I will have completed my second novel in two years. I mean, sure, this is a FANFIC NOVEL that I will have published ON THE INTERNET but it has a well-defined conflict and a detailed plot and two whole chapters of smut, which is all anyone could ask for really??

Still, it's worth acknowledging that this takes courage. I think it's also worth acknowledging that, once I'm done with this story, I need to figure out a better way to move forward with my writing.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
One of my favorite artists on Tumblr just opened commissions, so I sent her an email asking if she would be interested in doing an illustration for The Modern History of Zelda.

I used to feel an acute sense of shame about paying people to do fannish work in what should be a gift economy; it's like I'm the rich kid who has to give money to people to get them to hang out with her. Being friendly has gotten me nowhere, however, so now I'm just going to do whatever the hell I want.

I work super fucking hard, okay. I deserve nice things.
rynling: (Celes Chere)
You are one of a small handful of people who writes for the Zelda/Ganondorf ship, and you have published at least one story or chapter of a story (and often both!) for the fandom every month for the past sixteen months. Your work is original and fairly well written. Think of where you were when you finally decided to start setting aside time for writing in the spring of 2015, and look at how far you've come since then.

You've always been supportive of the other people in the fandom. You leave dozens of comments on people's fic and art posts every month, and you give real actual money to the fandom's artists on Patreon. You respond to people's shitposts with silliness of your own, and you send lighthearted asks that people seem to have fun replying to. When your mutuals post about bad things in their lives, you send them private messages to let them know that they're still awesome and you're on their side.

You never leave concrit, you never create drama, you never cut people down with "well actually" responses, and you always defend your mutuals from trolls. Sometimes it's hard to stay positive and send good feelings into the world, but you always do your best. Even if you don't feel like anyone notices, the atmosphere you help to create benefits everyone.

Your fic posts may not get as many notes as those of other people in the fandom, but that doesn't mean that your work isn't any less interesting or compelling. Those writers do their thing, and you do yours. They've managed to attract the attention of popular artists, and that's fantastic. What you can do that they can't is make your own art – and your craptacular MS Paint drawings have gotten a surprising amount of attention. You should post more of them!

It's okay if you feel discouraged sometimes. It's okay if you don't enjoy stories with certain themes, and it's okay if you don't want to reblog art drawn in a style you don't find appealing. There are people who are never going to follow you back, and there are people who are never going to give your work the same sort of positive feedback you give them. Don't feel like you need to spend your time on these people. They're getting enough attention already, and you're not doing them any favors. It's totally okay to save your energy for your mutuals. It's also okay to distance yourself from fandom when you need to recharge your creative batteries.

You're doing good work, you big nerd. Hang in there!
rynling: (Default)
I'm structuring the Zelgan fic I'm currently writing like an adventure game, which means that I'm devoting an inordinate amount of attention in the early chapters to setting up clues that will be important to the plot.

In the second chapter, the major clue is a scrap of paper that will later function as a linguistic palimpsest. Basically, instead of Chekov's gun, I'm setting up Chekov's research question. ISN'T THIS EXCITING.

I commissioned one of my favorite artists in the Zelda fandom to do an illustration of the first chapter, and she has been very patient and supportive as I try to describe the background. I don't know whether she's genuinely interested or just curious to see how pedantic I can get, but she has prompted me to write detailed descriptions of the architecture of Hyrule Castle and the plants in its garden. I'm like, LET ME TELL YOU, ABOUT THE PHENOTYPES, OF THE MORNING GLORY, WHICH CAN BE POISONOUS, WHEN,

Honestly bros, writing plot is hard, especially since the only thing I care about is the fucking.
rynling: (Gator Strut)
I've written and deleted a number of posts about my strained relationship with Tumblr, but I think it's finally time to bring out the handsaw and cut off the part of myself that's experiencing so much anxiety.

When people get upset about Tumblr, what they usually complain about is getting too much attention. Namely, something they posted will get the wrong sort of attention from a group outside of the post's intended audience. What people don't talk about is the pain of making a concerted effort to be a part of a community and failing to get any attention at all.

I had this experience on DeviantArt, specifically with the Final Fantasy fandom. My own art was shit, but I left hundreds of comments in which I tried to be supportive and insightful. I got no almost no response during the entirety of the five years I was active on the site, which was only to be expected. The community of Final Fantasy fan artists on DeviantArt was huge, and it was common for any given piece by a known artist to receive over a thousand comments.

The Zelgan community on Tumblr is completely different. From May to December of 2015, there were about fifteen people who were consistently engaged with the fandom, of which I counted myself a member. What this meant was that, for eight months, I tracked tags and individual blogs closely, liking and commenting and reblogging and sending asks and private messages, as well as leaving dozens of detailed comments and countless kudos on AO3. My own writing is of uneven quality, but I was sincerely devoted to producing what I considered to be interesting and original work. If nothing else, I can write better than I can draw.

Because I am an adult with a job, I can't be on Tumblr (or AO3) all the time, and I'm a hardcore introvert, even online. I therefore understand that I'm not capable of being at the center of the fandom, but what's surprised me is that I've always felt like an outsider. If I posted something, it would get ten notes if I was extremely lucky. Meanwhile, if someone else posted to one of the relevant tags their note count would start at a dozen and continue to rise from there. I didn't expect reciprocity, but the complete lack of it was mildly disheartening at best and emotionally devastating at worst.

I've since distanced myself from the fandom, gradually untracking tags and unfollowing blogs of nonmutuals. In less than two weeks, however, there's going to be a Zelgan Big Bang on Tumblr, and I'm scheduled to post first. Although I've devoted something like sixty hours of my life to this story, it probably won't get more than a handful of likes. Afterwards I'll find myself in the uncomfortable position of needing to appear happy and supportive as I watch everyone else's stories get dozens (if not hundreds) of notes.

Of course, the problem could be me, and it's possible that I'm too awkward and clueless to understand why. I doubt that's the case, however, and I've come to see the relative lack of attention I've received from Tumblr fandom as a symptom of the relative lack of attention I've put into Tumblr fandom. As a platform, Tumblr rewards quantity of input over quality of input; and, as with Twitter, one does not simply take a day off from Tumblr. No matter how friendly and creative someone may be, she will never succeed on Tumblr if she's only a casual user.

I'm going to stay on Tumblr because it's useful to me as a public image hosting service, but I need to make an effort to limit my interactions on the site. It takes far too much of my energy, and for someone like me there's very little payoff. For what it's worth, I don't harbor any ill feeling toward anyone in the Zelgan fandom. I love every single one of those nerds, and I still consider them my buddies regardless of the strange ways in which Tumblr has mediated our friendship.

Although is friendship really even a thing that exists? I don't know, life is strange and we all die alone.
rynling: (Ganondorf)
For the past two weeks I've been staying up until after 2:00 in the morning to work on my Wind Waker fic for the Zelgan Big Bang on Tumblr. The deadline was last night, and I just barely made it.

The story ended up clocking in at a little less than 20,000 words, which was about 50 pages when I posted all the chapters together into a single document. I know some people sneeze and 20,000 words come out, but this is the second longest piece of fiction I've written, and I began writing it immediately after completing a 56,000 word novella.

I think I'm done with this ship; I've said everything I wanted to say. It's so weird - I feel like I've been dreaming and just woke up. I started writing in May, and now somehow it is December. What happened? Where did that time go?
rynling: (Ganondorf)
Since about two months after I got into the Zelgan ship (so for about half a year now), its fandom on Tumblr has been obsessed with babies. How many babies, what to name the babies, what the babies are going to look like when they grow up.

I don't get it. I don't get it. I don't get it.

I mean, I sort of get it. The babies of major characters are an opportunity to create OCs in a universe that wouldn't otherwise accommodate OCs while showing the canon characters as older and more mature versions of themselves - as adults instead of screaming teenagers, basically.

I'm working on a "shitty dad Ganon" story right now in which Ganondorf has to babysit Tetra while they wait for Link. Ganondorf is canonically a grumpy fucker, and Tetra is canonically a little smartass, and it's cool to play with that sort of dynamic as they gradually learn to tolerate each other. It's also fun to yank them out of their canonical roles as villain and victim and to put them into a situation that neither of them has any idea how to handle.

The variations on the "Ganondorf makes half a dozen babies" story I've been seeing popping up have been somewhat more difficult for me to process, however. And yet somehow everyone seems to have jumped onboard the concept of babies. There's even been some gorgeous fan art dedicated to people's personal headcanons.

Is there some sort of biological drive at work here that I'm genetically unequipped to understand?
rynling: (Mog Toast)
It's been twenty days since I posted the last chapter of the Zelgan fic.

During those twenty days, I've line edited each of the previous chapters along with all of my other fic. In addition, I've standardized everything across AO3, FF.net, and Tumblr. It's difficult to describe how much time and labor this has involved, but let's just say the rest of my life has suffered.

I've been working on the most recent chapter quite intensely over the course of the past two weeks, trying to tie all the themes of the story together with a huge dramatic climax followed by an extended sex scene. I've been planning this chapter for months now, and it's gone through countless outlines and drafts. I think it's really, really good.

When I post the chapter later today and it gets maybe seven or eight likes on Tumblr, it is going to hurt. It's not an exaggeration to say that I'll probably cry at some point.

At some point this stopped being fun.
rynling: (Mog Toast)
I'd like to get meta about the Zelgan fic.

I've been working backwards from the ending and doing my best to create narrative balance, so that the foreshadowing at Point A will turn into a plot development at Point A' and a conversation at Point B will be mirrored at Point B' and so on. I've been laying out everything carefully (probably too carefully, with weeks passing between updates), but there's still one thing I can't figure out. Does Link die?

Link is relatively unimportant to the story as an actual character, which was intentional. The point I was trying to make with this was that he never shows up until most of the events driving the plot of any given Zelda game have already occurred. I had intended for him to die from very early on, as his death seems to be the only way the legend trapping Zelda and Ganondorf can be broken. Now I'm wondering if that's really necessary.

If Link dies, Hyrule will become more "modern," which is not unambiguously a good thing. If he lives, Hyrule will still be partially under the control of divine powers that don't necessarily have the best interests of the people who live there at heart. I wonder if there's any way to resolve this...

In the meantime, I need to remind myself to ignore people's comments and keep moving forward.
rynling: (Needs More Zelda)
I am borderline obsessed with the steampunk Zelda fic, which by this point is no longer precisely steampunk nor even precisely Zelda. I have no idea what happened.

Anyway, the Twinrova witches in Ocarina of Time are named Koume and Kotake, two extremely old-fashioned sobriquets that used to be given to geisha and other entertainers and are now given to set meals at onsen hotels.

These names are derived from the "four gentlemen" (shikunshi) of Song Dynasty Chinese painting, which are the plum blossom (ume), the bamboo (take), the chrysanthemum (kiku), and the orchid (ran).

I thought about naming the Twinrova characters in my own story Kokiku and Koran, but that isn't going to work for obvious reasons.

The Latin name for the chrysanthemum family is Asteraceae, and the Latin name for the orchid family is Orchidaceae, so maybe I could call the two characters Astera and Orchida?

The point of this story is that I am very clever. Go team.


rynling: (Default)
Rynling R&D

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