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Writing is Difficult!

Writing is actually not difficult.  The problem I have is that it’s difficult to get started.  Once I do that, then I can just keep on rolling through until it’s done.  Well, assuming I don’t physically get tired, hungry, or have to use the bathroom.  Obstacles!

I’m struggling with the Dark Brotherhood write-up for Clever Musings right now.  With the Thieves Guild, I approached it from a narration angle—I’d tell a story about how I went through the quests.  This was an ill-advised move considering that when I finished, I hadn’t actually done very much criticism.  I was going to wrap the post up by going through point by point and just listing off all the places where the quests failed and where they succeeded.  It was then that I realized, wait, if I had done that from the beginning, then I’d have an entire criticism of the guild the length of an article.  In essence, I’d be writing the criticism twice.  I couldn’t do that, because I had already written both parts.  Worse, Part 1 was already posted by the time I thought of wrapping Part 2 with the point-by-point breakdown.

I vowed to not repeat that mistake with the Dark Brotherhood.  The problem with that is I can’t go through the Brotherhood like that.  One reason for this is that the Brotherhood quests are written so much better.  It uses Skyrim’s mechanics more.  It doesn’t have an awful plot.  Everything works.  Doing a point-by-point breakdown just isn’t possible because there isn’t any room for improvement.  The only option is to approach it from the narration angle.  The other, bigger reason is that my notes are sparse.  These are my complete notes for the Dark Brotherhood:

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January was awful

January was an awful month for me. I got sick (and then got better). I didn’t get much done for Clever Musings. For this month, I only finished two articles. In the last two days, I wrote two articles.

I haven’t been keeping up with my drawing practice. I haven’t worked on that novel. I haven’t worked on the webcomic. I haven’t exercised at all. I’ve spent too much time on the internet. All of the things I said I’d do, I didn’t do. It’s hard to break habits.

Worse, I’ve spent far too much time fussing over PAX East. It’s currently looking like I won’t be able to go. It’s something that can happen, but it’s also something that requires the intervention of other people. I hate depending on other people. Introducing more people creates more opportunities for failure.

So that’s January. A bunch of unfulfilled goals and too much stress. February will be better. More than two articles on Clever Musings! Blogging here more often! Webcomic! As for PAX East? Well, there’s always next year.

I am Ill

Late Tuesday evening/early Wednesday morning, I came down with a cold.  Y’know, sneezing, running nose, and a sore throat.  On Wednesday, I spent most of the day lying in bed, sneezing, blowing my nose, and feeling awful.  I could barely move, I had no desire to eat, and I didn’t have very much to drink, be it water or juice.  By Wednesday evening, I was completely sore.  Neck, arms, head, legs, back… everything everywhere was sore and just being was agony.  Worse, I had developed a fever.

Today, my throat is no longer sore, it doesn’t hurt to move around, I am no longer feeling nausea when I do move around, and my nose has stopped running.  I still sneeze, on occasion.  The cold came as quickly as it passed, and it’s duration was hell.  But there’s some good news coming out of this ordeal: left alone with my thoughts, I had plenty of time to reflect on the last few months, and what I expect from the next few months.

I need to focus all of my energy into writing.  I can’t afford to spend several hours a day browsing the internet.

Planning January 2012

2012 has been great so far.  January has been great so far.  But what lies in store for the rest of 2012?  Don’t know, and I don’t want to think about it.  So instead, I’ll plan the rest of January, because it’s better to make small steps.  But first, let’s review what happened in 2011!

What happened in 2011:

Stuff.  It wasn’t all that great, to be honest. I gave up on my dreams, made a great personal discovery, and joined Twitter.  Yeah, joining Twitter is notable enough to be listed, because that’s how not-great 2011 was.  There is also some other stuff that happened, but it’s not worth mentioning because reflecting on it isn’t going to make me a better person.  Mostly because there isn’t anything worth reflecting on.  I live a rather boring life.

What’s happening in January 2012:

More stuff!  Great stuff!

Okay, not really.  I’m going to work on my first novel.  Really work on it.  I started this novel back in November, for NaNoWriMo.  Obviously, I didn’t finish it.  I hope to have it 80% complete in terms of content by the end of the month.  The remaining 20%, and editing the whole thing, is something that will have to wait until February.

I’ll also be continuing my work on Clever Musings.  Expect to see articles on Skyrim coming before the end of the month.  I’m also going to tackle Metroid: Other M, because I don’t have any money to buy new games.  On that note, I’ll likely be looking at Mass Effect, Final Fantasy XIII, and other old games with narrative components.

And of course, I’ll be drawing daily in preparation for my upcoming webcomic.  I haven’t been blogging about the drawing practice that I have done so far (aside from the first day) because there really isn’t much else to say.  I probably shouldn’t have said it’s #1, because that implies there is going to be more.  Maybe there will be, but that will probably come about in February, which is completely outside the scope of this month.

Speaking of the webcomic, I’ll also be writing more about that.  Not here on the blog, but just notes and things, to get that first story arc nice and ready, so that I may hit the ground running.  I said I plan on updating Saturdays and Sundays (still going to do that), but then that’s only 104 updates a year…  Seems like a rather low number for what is going to be a story-driven serial.  I’m thinking of bumping that up to be either a three-update week (SWS) or a four-update week (STTS).  That’s something I’ll be thinking about when I sit down to actually draw the thing; if it takes me too long (several days) to produce a single update, then I’ll have to limit myself to the aforementioned Saturday/Sunday schedule.

Drawing Practice #1

I practiced drawing the female form for an hour today.  I drew three full-body women and an assortment of upper torsos.  None of them were proportional!  That was to be expected, though.  I haven’t drawn the human body in 8 years.  Back then, I had reference materials to work from.  Even so, I thought it was more important to be creative than to learn anything about human anatomy.  Ah, the ignorance that comes from youthful arrogance!  (I drew the various body pieces as if they were some sort of bio-mechanical contraption.  I’m sure it all looks really cool (if I recall, my teacher commented as much), but I can see now that I completely missed the point of the lessons.)

Anyhow, I know that I can’t draw the female form in proportion now.  I know it, if that makes sense.  All I need to do now is fix what is wrong, and then I’ll be set!  If I had a scanner (or even a decent camera), then I would post these sketches online for evaluation.  For now, all I can do is look at these sketches, see that they look wrong, and then tweak some things until I get it right.  In other words, practicing through trial and error.

I also drew my battle.net authenticator from Blizzard.  I went by sight to draw the basic shape, then by reference to get the details in.  To my surprise, I got the size of the device down perfectly.  I think it’s important that I drew something by reference, though.  It was probably more valuable than the female figures!

You know how when an artist is depicted in film or animation, they’ll raise their thumb and compare it to the subject they’re drawing?  They’re doing something with perspectives and proportions or something when they do that.  Anyway, that’s what I did with my authenticator! I used my thumb as something of a ruler.  Is this where the “rule of thumb” idiom comes from?  (If Boondock Saints is to be believed, then no.)

Tomorrow, I’ll work some more on human anatomy.  I’m really bad at drawing people, but it was actually really fun to just sit down and work on whatever for an hour.  It was time better spent than just mindlessly browsing the internet.  That’s a reward per se.  (Per se means “in itself,” right?  I’m trying to use it atypically.  I’ll look into this later.)

Tomorrow is going to be great.

Webcomic Status Update

Yesterday, I said that I would get my webcomic ideas written down so that I wouldn’t forget them.  And I did!  I now have 800 words worth of character notes.  I thought these characters were more fleshed out and there was more to say about them, but apparently not.  The main character only has 170 words devoted to them, and they’re supposed to be the most well conceptualized of them all!  How could this have happened?

Well, it’s actually very simple…

In my head, I have the whole webcomic planned out—well, not every strip and scene and things like that.  I had an image of what the characters are going to be doing, where they’ll be, and things like that.  But when I sat down to turn all of this into typed text, I discovered that I only had an image of one character, surrounded by a faceless cast.  There was supposed to be a grand ensemble of characters, but all I had was one character and some supporting roles to fill.

Those roles?  Well, aside from “Main Character,” who doesn’t even have a name yet, there are:

  • The Love Interest: who the main character gets with.
  • The Rival: the character who gets in the main character’s way because thats just what antagonists do.
  • The Best Friend: who the main character runs to when they need a shoulder to cry on.

There are a few more, but they’re more of the same.  They’re more cookie-cutter characters that have no purpose other than to prop the main character’s story up.  What does this say about me as a writer?  Am I really that lacking in creativity?  Hmm.

In related news, I also said that I would actually do some drawing practice today.  I did not.  However, I did look into the basics of human anatomy.  I have a very pathetic idea of how human bodies are proportioned now, which is much more than I had yesterday.  I intend on sleeping on what I’ve read, and putting it to good use tomorrow.  (Granted, none of that changes the fact that I intentionally procrastinated to blow off drawing practice.  I’ll be better prepared, though!)

I’m also going to offer up the excuse that I couldn’t practice drawing because I realized I have no idea who my characters are going to be.  Will I need to practice female anatomy, or just male anatomy?  What are these characters going to be doing, and how will that influence their character design?  What facial expressions will I need to practice?  So many things to ponder!

But I have 13 characters down now.  And a host of minor background characters.  That seems kind of daunting to think about, so I’ll dial things way back.

My goal for tomorrow: practice generic human anatomy, for both males and females.  Default standing pose.

Yeah.  That’s good.

Tomorrow is going to be a good day.

So much for my resolutions!

I listed off my 12 resolutions for 2012.  2 of those items are to do things daily: to write something of substance daily; to practice drawing for an hour every day.

One day into 2012, and I’ve already failed.  I wrote nothing today (today is the 2nd, despite it technically being 1AM on the 3rd).  I didn’t even draw anything on the 1st.  I’m pretty bad at this whole “resolutions thing,” it would seem.

So what did I do today instead?  What was so important?  Uh…

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OpenOffice is horrible (and iTunes, too)

I hate having to jump through hoops just to configure software.  I hate having to jump through hoops just to make the software work the way the built-in options claim to configure it.  I just spent 2 hours fixing two programs today.  It is as if modern program developers have forgotten the basic tenet of “keep it simple, you fucking assholes.”

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Resolutions for 2012

New Years Eve, eh?  Good a time as any to list off my personal resolutions.  However, over the years I’ve noticed that many of the resolutions I’ve made have failed.  Of course, I’m not mentioning that I never really understood the concept of a “New Year’s Resolution” to begin with.

When I was a child and in elementary school, I thought a resolution was something that people did to welcome in the new year—my resolutions would then be to watch the Star Wars trilogy and 5 James Bond movies (each family member’s favorite); these resolutions were easy to keep, but technically failures with regards to “what is a resolution.”  My teacher gave us an assignment to list off our resolutions; I turned in the list of movies above.  I was given an F as a grade.  The teacher so helpfully pointed out that I didn’t know what a resolution was, but did not do anything to correct my mistake.  Later, that same teacher would call my parents in and claim that I was a retarded child and would need special education.  Looking back, maybe I should have called the principal and claim that my teacher was a retarded adult because she didn’t understand what teachers are supposed to do, but I digress.

Anyway, that incident made me never put a list of resolutions together.  When someone asked me what my resolutions were for the upcoming year, I just made something up on the spot; these resolutions were vague and I had no intention of ever committing to them.  They were designed to fail!

In accordance to the guidelines set forth by this article on Cracked.com, here is my list of resolutions for the year of 2012.  And, it’s online so it will be easy for others to hold me accountable.

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Lunch at Wendy’s

It’s noon time, I’m four hours on the road, and we’re stopping to eat at Wendy’s.

Fast food burger places have little cardboard containers for fries. Wendy’s puts their burgers into these containers sideways. It’s neat, because then you can see the side of the burger and then determine how big it is at a glance.

But it sucks.

They used to have foil wrapping for their sandwiches. Now they have some sort of paper. Maybe it’s butcher paper, or maybe it’s just a low-grade wax paper. (Does wax paper come in grades? This paper wasn’t very waxy, if it was waxy at all.)

This means the paper is going to be a greasy mess when you grab it. You don’t know if this burger is the one without mayo or not. The new stuff is great for presentation, but terrible for function.

Speaking of mayo, the sandwiches are drenched in it. Worse, the mayo is all on top of the sandwich, with the lettuce and tomato and onion. So everything just slides apart. Mayo should be on the bottom of the sandwich, so that the bun isn’t greasy to hold. It creates very distinct layers instead of a sloppy mush. With the foil wrappers, this wasn’t a problem because everything is stacked upright. With the new sideways containers, things are just built to fall apart.

So Wendy’s is kinda sucky now, is what I’m getting at.

And the woman working the register, she couldn’t have been any older than me, got my order wrong. Not wrong, but wrong. I ordered a quarter pounder (single patty) with cheese, and then she tried to ring me up for a #2; a double patty combo meal! Quarter and double are both two syllable words, but the sound of them is very distinct. I mention this because I am typically described as being soft-spoken. But my mother ordered a quarter, and the woman tried to ring her up for a double as well!

Maybe double fits the trend. Maybe she’s trained to try to capitalize on people’s rush. Maybe, despite her young age, the woman is hard of hearing (the poor dear, if that is the case). I don’t know what the problem could be, but it most certainly was not my normal soft-spoken voice. My mother is most definitely not soft-spoken, so there could be no mistake of communication there.

And now (at the time this was written) I have 4 hours left in this road trip and I already feel bloated 20 minutes later.