pocketseizure: (Needs More Zelda)
Lightsintheskye just sent me a comic based on a scene from the eighth 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 actually sat down and compared notes with another actual human being. And it never hurts to ask for advice, right?
pocketseizure: (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.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
Rime (stylized as RiME for some reason) came out this past May, and people have been describing it as a cross between Journey and The Wind Waker. This comparison is apt, as Rime has the aesthetic sense of Wind Waker with a few design elements borrowed from Journey, and its particular brand of "exploration adventure" is clearly influenced by Journey, with a few gameplay elements (such as moving block puzzles) drawn from Wind Waker.

Rime is apparently supposed to be three to four hours long, and I think I'm about a third of the way through. This doesn't include the extra hour I spent trying to get past the first section of the game, an hour that I erased by resetting the game and starting over with a walkthrough. Overall, Rime isn't particularly difficult, but I want to talk a bit about this weird failure in the design of what it's probably fair to call the "tutorial mission."

Read more... )

I frequently have trouble figuring out the internal logic of games that are new to me, so this could just be a consequence of my own relative lack of skill, but I still think exploration challenges with this level of difficulty should not be part of the tutorial mission. This wouldn't be a flaw in a game that is in fact meant to be difficult, but it's definitely a problem in Rime, and it could have been avoided with a focus group of literally one shitty gamer.

My experience of fooling around with Rime has been making me appreciate how good the game design of the Zelda series is, especially Breath of the Wild, which has no artificial barriers and doesn't force the player to use an action before they've figured out how it works in a more natural and intuitive context. That being said, there is more environmental storytelling in the first hour of Rime than there is in however many 100+ hours I spent with Breath of the Wild. After I finish Rime, I want to talk more about the intense Wind Waker feels this game has been giving me.
pocketseizure: (Celes Chere)
- I decided not to participate in the Zelgan Big Bang, so I sent (what I sincerely hope was) an apologetic yet supportive set of messages to the mod, to the artist who offered to be my illustrator, and to the only other writer who submitted a story summary. I feel like a garbage human, but there was no way I would have been able submit my work by the deadline, especially not without community support.

- I went ahead and posted the first chapter of what was going to be my Big Bang story, The Price of Wisdom.

- I'm continuing to edit my Peach/Bowser smutfic, Claws and Lace. It's so awful, goddamn. There are some things I can fix, like small typos and repetitive adverbs, but some things are still entirely beyond my ability at this point, like actually being able to write decent prose.

- I posted my translation of another page from the newly released Hyrule Encyclopedia, as well as some meta providing a bit of cultural context.

- I drew a set of Wind Waker postcards for a friend (the same friend from this conversation).

- I answered a fun ask from a Tumblr mutual with a shitty drawing of Calamity Ganon.

- My Tumblr tag wrangling continues apace, and I also changed the theme of my blog, finally, after five years. I wish I could change my username as well, but Tumblr (unlike AO3, Dreamwidth, or DeviantArt) will not automatically map all instances of the old username to the new one, alas.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
Me: What do we want??

Also Me: SEXY OLDER FEMALE CHARACTERS!!!

Me: WHEN DO WE WANT IT?!?!?1??

Square Enix: ffxii_fran_hd_closeup.png

Also Me: MAYBe we can wait until,, the gaming culture matures,,,, I am not sure this is what
pocketseizure: (Mog Toast)
It's been a busy week, but I've been trying to make time for Final Fantasy XII. Last night I got as far as watching Vayne's speech in Rabanastre, and I was impressed. This is partially because the voice audio has been beautifully remastered, and partially because the voice actor (someone named Elijah Alexander?) does a wonderful job, but mainly because it's a good piece of writing.

I don't remember ever having strong feelings about Vayne, mainly because I've never been 100% clear on what his story arc is supposed to be. From what I understand, he firmly believes that there should be peace in Arcadia, and he wants his little brother Larsa to preside over that peace. Vayne fears that the continued existence of Rabanastre as an independent state will only result in escalating tensions between Arcadia and Rozarria; and so, to shield his brother from becoming enmeshed in a prolonged conflict, he has the king of Rabanastre murdered by someone imitating one of the kingdom's war heroes in order to force a quick resolution. Vayne knows full well that what he's doing is evil, but he takes one for Team Larsa.

And then at some point he goes crazy and becomes the final boss monster, which has something to do with Balthier's Hot Dad. To me, a more reasonable narrative progression would result in a final boss battle against Hot Dad and Venat, but... Maybe I should talk about this later. In any case, Vayne deserved better.

Speaking of hot dads, Vaan is such a dick to Migelo. I know Vaan is only seventeen, but come on. Migelo deserves all the love. His voice actor (John DiMaggio, who is apparently also Wakka's voice actor??) does this weird cottonball mouth sort of thing, but I would not be surprised if Migelo was a total badass when he was younger. He is a master of social interaction, and the way he bows his head to Vayne after their conversation, like, hurt me.

As an aside, I would recommend that no one go looking for fan art of Migelo, just take my word on this.
pocketseizure: (Celes Chere)
The God of Pre-Orders was kind to me, and I got my copy of the PS4 release of Final Fantasy XII a day early. It's been five years since I last played the game, but I still remembered exactly how long the prologue is, so I made myself sit down and suffer through it last night.

At the beginning of the game, there is an extended exposition dump about military action and political betrayal that then makes an abrupt transition to the perspective of an orphaned teenager killing rats in the sewer. I understand why it's effective that the story be told primarily from the perspective of a representative of "the common people," but I do think the prologue could have been handled more skillfully. Specifically, I wish the narrative had begun with Vaan's personal concerns and only gradually revealed the larger conflict, including Ashe and Basch's backstories. For the first few hours of the game, it's really enough to say that a small city-state was conquered by the powerful empire to the north, and foreign troops now occupy the city in preparation for the arrival of an imperial governor. Although it makes for a dramatic opening cinematic sequence, Ashe's marriage is largely immaterial to Vaan's story, as is Marquis Ondore's lengthy history lesson.

I don't dislike Vaan with the intense burning hatred I feel toward Tidus, but I'm planning on rushing through the game until the point where its real heroes, Ashe and Basch, join the party.

ALSO, NEVER FORGET: http://xii.venusgospel.net/ff12_basch.html
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
- I submitted a book review to a professional publication that requested it. I couldn't bring myself to read more than a few dozen pages of the book, which didn't seem to be proofread or copyedited, but the person who wrote it is a lovely older woman who has supported a lot of young people in her field and deserves to have nice things said about her work. I doubt that many people will read the book itself, as it's out of the price range for anyone except large institutional libraries, so I feel safe in having written formulaic pleasantries that are hopefully still specific enough to satisfy the author and her publisher.

- I finished the second chapter of The Price of Wisdom, the story I'm writing for the Zelgan Big Bang. This means I've still got four chapters to write. If I don't figure out a way to pick up the pace, I'm going to miss the deadline. Someone needs to wish me good luck on this, because I'm really going to need it.

- I wrote a short summary of the story to use as a standard AO3-style fic description, as well as a significantly longer summary to give the Big Bang artists a clear idea of what the story entails. I've been going back and forth about whether I want to participate in this event, but I finally signed up for it and went ahead and submitted my summaries to the mod, thus sealing my own stupid fate.

- I wrote some meta about environmental storytelling in The Wind Waker. God I love that game.

- Some dickbag left a reply on the post that I'm fairly certain was meant to make me feel shitty, but I took the opportunity to write more self-indulgent meta in the form of a civil response. You can always tell when someone has bad intentions when they leave a reply because, when you take the time to respond to them, they don't like or reblog or otherwise acknowledge the conversation in any way. Ah well, that's Tumblr for you. 

- I created a list of "Artists I Adore" on my Fandom Tags page on Tumblr. As I wrote when I started cleaning up my Tumblr tags, about once every five days or so someone will come onto my blog and like and/or reblog everything on a certain tag, which I think has something to do with the way the Tumblr mobile app works (if a user likes one post, it will suggest another). I'm not anything even remotely resembling a BNF, so I can't do much to support artists, but every little bit helps, right?

Equity

Jul. 8th, 2017 01:34 pm
pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
Over the past week I solicited more than half a dozen reviews for my professional blog; and, as usual, only the men got back to me with a positive response. I obviously don't think that women are less professional than men, but I do get the feeling that, for whatever reason, men are far more comfortable than women about getting paid for their writing.

As much as I strive for equity within my limited spheres of influence, it can be a difficult goal to achieve. And honestly, although I welcome content from anyone, sometimes I wonder if I'm not actually shooting myself in the foot by allowing so many men to write for me. Does the mere presence of a majority of male-gendered names cause female writers to feel like the venue is not a safe space? This may seem like a stupid concern, except that I myself have refrained from submitting my own work to male-dominated publications – and, if I had to guess, I might say that "not feeling like it's a safe space" may have something to do with why so many female writers in tech and gaming have started to go by their first initials and use "they/them" pronouns within the past year or two.

Probably I shouldn't worry about this too much, though. The sexism I've faced in my own career has been much more overt, with my work rejected out of hand while editors actively scout male writers with equal qualifications. As long as I'm holding the door open and not closing it in anyone's face, I think I'm doing what I need to do.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
It took me four months, but I beat Breath of the Wild. I... feel so empty inside.

I accidentally skipped through the end credits, so I don't know how many hours I put into Breath of the Wild, but the post-clear map screen tells me that I've only completed 39.48% of the game. And this is after me finding and upgrading all of the gear, finding and finishing all of the shrines, and thoroughly filling out the "Hyrule Compendium" (which is basically an annotated photo album). I think that the rest of the percentage points probably have something to do with collecting all of the Korok Seeds, of which there are 900 (I've found a little more than 200, which is all you need to max out your gear slots), as well as finding and defeating every instance of every monster. Maybe I'll pick these projects back up when there is DLC available... or maybe not.

To be honest, there isn't a lot of story or lore or worldbuilding in Breath of the Wild, and running around and poking Link's face into the various nooks and crannies of the overworld map doesn't really teach you anything. After a while, everything starts to feel a little generic, and actually playing the game isn't helping me get inspired to write fic about it.

I'm not sure what to do with myself now. I'll just wait patiently for FFXII to come out, I guess.
pocketseizure: (Cecil Palmer)
- I posted a new book review to my professional blog.

- I posted the ninth chapter of The Legend of the Princess.

- I edited the first eight chapters of the story for continuity (to retcon things, basically).

- I standardized my chapter posting format on Tumblr and cleaned things up a bit.

- I posted the illustration for the second chapter drawn by Lightsintheskye.

- I commissioned Ganondorf drawn in a shōjo style from Camalilium.

- I drew a shitty birthday present for my dear friend Krokodilov.

- I beat Breath of the Wild, fiNALLY.
pocketseizure: (Celes Chere)


I love Genshiken so much. It speaks to me.

Also the character expressions and paneling are perfect.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
I'm still thinking about why that post I wrote about yesterday didn't get any notes, and I can't help but wonder if maybe gender has something to do with it. Specifically, if I were male and had established a fandom identity as male, would I (and the artist) get more positive feedback for this sort of collaboration?

For various reasons (including the lack of support for that particular post), I feel that, if a woman works with artists to illustrate her fic, she's considered pretentious, while a dude would be "innovative." Female writers working with artists is extra, while male writers working with artists is how actual comics and video games get made. As an ongoing phenomenon created and propagated through Tumblr-based collaboration, Undertale jumps immediately to mind as an example, as does the Zelda fancomic Second Quest. And maybe it's just me, but the majority of professional writers for comics and games still seem to be male, even despite rising numbers of professional female artists. So I wonder, is there a stigma against female writers working with artists that begins in fandom, where many female creators start out?

I put an abbreviated version of this question on Twitter, and I got some interesting responses. A friend of mine who used to be a Harry Potter BNF and now studies fandom as an academic was basically like, "Pretty much." Another friend who writes for a few pop culture magazines jumped in to say that this is exactly how it tends to work with cosplay, where female models and costume designers go by pseudonyms even though male photographers get paid while simultaneously advancing their professional careers. Another friend summed the issue up nicely by saying that "women creatives 'are just playing around' while men 'have projects,'" a statement that is given weight by the fact that she gives panels at anime conventions for free while her boyfriend is always paid by these conventions to do the exact same thing she does.

And then this idiot white male friend of mine from college (the same one I was frustrated with in an earlier post) jumped in to inform me that it's difficult to judge public perception based on gender. I was like, Oh really. I get a dozen notes for my creative work on Tumblr, while you get $50,000 for your creative work on Kickstarter. Is it really so difficult to judge the difference in public perception? The only legitimate response would be "that's a good point," but I knew he would try to argue with me, so I blocked him.

Anyway, if we can run with the hypothesis that the broader culture exhibits a resistance against female writers working with artists on fannish mixed-media creative projects, then perhaps the more specific antipathy toward writers within Tumblr's female-dominated fandom spaces begins to make a bit more sense.
pocketseizure: (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... )
pocketseizure: (Needs More Zelda)
While I was in Tokyo I hung out with a friend who I met a good ten years ago in a semi-professional context and then stayed in touch with through Livejournal and Tumblr. She lives in Central Asia, and she was in Japan partially for business but also to meet up with a fandom friend. When she told me this, I was like, You know their name? And where they live? She was like, Of course, once you become a fandom mom everyone sort of already knows who you are anyway.

I think it's kind of cool how, once you reach a certain age in fandom, you stop caring so much about whether people can connect you to your real-life identity. To me, this actually seems like a much healthier social system than community-enforced anonymity. As someone whose job responsibilities include hiring both interns and salaried positions, I can say from firsthand experience that most potential employers are already overworked and aren't going to dig that deeply into your background as it exists as the result of a Google search; and, as someone who got balls-deep into the Gamergate nonsense a few summers ago, I can also say that anonymity isn't really going to protect you from the crazies on the internet. Real world action, whether it relates to social justice or literary and artistic movements, is based on real world communities, and anonymity within fandom precludes the possibility of such action among groups of people who are primarily female and/or minorities.

On the other hand, Super Mario Odyssey is giving me intense Peach/Bowser shipping feels, and I'm overwhelmed by the compulsion to write fic in which Peach, in full bridal gear, forces Bowser to strip until he's got nothing on except the white lace panties she's made him wear under his wedding suit.

They're both such awful pieces of shit, and I love them so much, and no one who knows me in real life can ever, ever find out about this.
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
After the hot mess of my recent Peach/Bowser smutfic, I've started to realize how truly dysfunctional my editing process is.

I'm constantly editing as I write a story. Not only will I begin each writing session by editing the previous day's writing, but I'll also write the same damn sentence multiple times. I think this helps with plot cohesion, and it means that I'm always saying exactly what I want without a lot of filler. Unfortunately, it also means that sentences and paragraphs tend to exist in multiple states at the same time, which results in technical errors like a lack of subject-verb agreement and stylistic awkwardness such as repeated words. In other words, the stitches holding together the seams are visible.

Once I finish with a unit of writing, I generally let it sit for a day or two before reading it over at least two or three times. I catch a lot of inconsistencies this way, but I also tend to get bored and impatient to move on to the next thing. I'll go ahead and post whatever it is on AO3, and then I'll eat lunch or take a walk or something.

After an hour or so has passed, I'll take my car out of my building's garage, park it on the street somewhere, and then sit there with my laptop and my iPad. I will read the story out loud from the AO3 page on my iPad screen while pausing to make any necessary corrections.

I will then copy all the text from AO3, paste it into the text field of a Tumblr post, and go through the whole thing again. Oddly enough, this is where I always end up finding the most errors. If I had to guess, I think the drastically different dimensions (specifically, the narrowness of the column in the Tumblr text editor) shake everything up just enough for me to be able to see things that I had previously glossed over.

This process takes a long time, and it also means that the initial post on AO3 is going to be messy for two or three hours. And even after I clean everything up, I generally return a week or two later and find even more things that need fixing.

The best thing for me to do would be to have a beta reader who could look over my work in stages, the first of which would be catching stylistic errors, and the second would be asking difficult questions about things like word choice and character motivation. Finding a good beta reader is more difficult than perhaps it should be, however, especially for someone like me, who needs a relatively long time to be able to trust and open up to someone. Over the past two years I've actually tried to ask two separate people I know in real life to be my beta readers, but neither worked out for various reasons. Writing is a skill, and so is editing; just because you're good at creating your own work doesn't mean you'll be able to give productive feedback to someone else.

In the end, I think it's worth remembering that I only started getting serious about my writing in November 2014, and it's really not fair to expect that my work will be perfect after only two and a half years' worth of practice. I've made a lot of progress with my writing, and hopefully my editing will continue to improve as well.
pocketseizure: (Mog Toast)
This week consisted of a nice vacation in Tokyo in which I took a lot of long walks and ate a lot of delicious things. I got back in to DC yesterday afternoon, and I have been awake since 1:30 this morning. What is time, what is space, do these concepts even mean anything. I don't dislike traveling, but it messes up my writing schedule, and I hope I can get back into a good routine again soon. Still...

- I wrote the first chapter of the Zelgan Big Bang fic. Since I wrote a lengthy story outline so quickly, I thought it would be easy to write the actual story, but... nope. If I don't pick up the pace, there's no way I'm going to finish by the deadline.

- I finally finished writing the Peach/Bowser smutfic, god have mercy on my soul. This is probably the trashiest garbage I have ever produced in my life. It needs (a lot) more editing, but Sunday has somehow become my designated Day of Posting, so up it goes.

- I put up a new post on my video game blog that is essentially a clarification and expansion of my short essay on Seymour. I thought I would put some actual work into this and submit it somewhere, but honestly, who even cares about Final Fantasy X anymore.

- I worked hard on Instagram this week, I really did my best.
pocketseizure: (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."

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