clhollandwriter: (Default)
It's that time of year again, when everybody posts up what they've been up to for the last twelve months.

I haven't been keeping track of words, but here's the basics:
Submissions: 20 (4 still pending)
Sales: 1

So it's not been a great year, since last year I had 68 submissions and 7 sales. However, at least part of this is because of the way Real Life has shaken out. At the beginning of the year I was going through the final stages of training in my new job, so I took March off writing to just read. Then in April we decided to start looking for a house. The looking, and the buying, and the moving, pretty much swallowed the next four months. Then I moved internally at work (same job, different department), which meant a whole readjustment to being back on the phones and shifts. Things didn't really settle down again until September.

I don't really have an excuse for why I've been so rubbish from September onwards, other than that by this point I was just tired. I didn't even particularly enjoy Swanwick Writers' Summer School this time around, between the terrible food and lack of mental energy to deal two hundred other people. Not having much in the way of real holiday all year didn't help (most of it was spent packing, or moving house).

Things I have written this year:
Stories: 3.5 new (one needs typing up and the end finalising), 2 completely rewritten
Poems: 7 (5 new, 2 complete rewrites)
Miscellaneous: a few bits of random non-fiction (not all of it finished) and blog posts. I've also purged my files and deleted a lot of old work, or dragged it back into the light to be reworked.

It's better than nothing, and I wouldn't say the year's been a complete waste as I've made up for a lack of writing by doing a lot more reading and rediscovering video games - so far I've restarted Dungeon Keeper 2, Final Fantasy 7, and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

We're getting on for evening here. I probably won't get much more done in the way of writing this year, although there are a couple of submissions I'd like to get out the door. I'm making plans for next year's writing, including looking at ways of keeping better organised. Next year (tomorrow!) I have some writing samples to finish up, and I want to get that .5 of a story finished off. I'm also working my way through the rewrites mentioned above, and also thinking of giving either Reunion or Stigma a poke to see if there's anything salvageable. It's been a long time since I worked on either of those.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
In the end I decided on a name for my main character, and mostly cranked out my story in the evenings while listening to the same two Muse tracks on repeat. The story did end up being corny as hell, which I expected, but I had fun writing it. Mostly I was testing out some ideas to see if they had potential for longer works, and I'm getting some positive feedback that suggest yes.

Writing in the evenings seems to be the best time for me, so now I need to decide what to do in the weeks when I don't have evenings. Submissions in the morning is fine, as long as I already have an idea where the stories are going (otherwise it's time to go to work by the time I've decided). I'll probably try to write at lunch and read in the evenings those weeks.

That's pretty much it for the moment. At some point I need to sit down and work out a plan - what do I want to achieve and what do I need to do to get there? - but that requires a bit more time and brain space than I have. Work is busy, and we seem to be battling with failing system after failing system at the moment, which is making everybody very stressed.

One thing I have worked out is I need more play - more time spent doing things for fun, just because. To that end I've finally got around to hooking up the PS2 to the TV for some retro gaming. All my Final Fantasy games run on that console, and I never did finish FF12. You'd think it would be bad for writing, but I worked out recently I actually wrote more back when I spent more time on video games and less on Netflix. I blogged a lot more too. I suspect it's because watching TV shows and movies is a passive activity, whereas reading and playing games require a lot more interaction which keeps the brain active. Anyway, I figure it's worth a try.
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I know computer games aren't books, but given that a lot of roleplaying games concentrate on story I don't see why they shouldn't be held to the same standards of internal logic and consistency. This goes for the ending as much - if not more - than anything else. So let's talk about the end of Mass Effect 3. It's the worst game ending I've come across since the end of Fallout 3 before the downloadable content.

The whole ME franchise has built itself on the fact that choices you make in earlier games impact on the later one. By the time you get to the third game there are people and entire species who may or not feature depending on the choices you made before. In fact, the BF was annoyed when he realised quite a way in he'd imported the wrong save and was fighting a significantly stronger enemy as a result.

Cut for massive spoilers )
Unsatisfying, completely lacking in internal logic, and negates the whole "freedom of action" ethos the franchise had previously been going for. Doesn't anybody think about the consequences of epic-scale choices these days?
clhollandwriter: (Default)

It's been a long week, including getting my thumb shut in a car door and two 200 mile round trips to work's disaster recovery office. And somehow I still managed to get a story edited and out the door. Obviously I need vast amounts of stress and not enough sleep to function.

I was planning to take part in the Short Story Challenge over at Liberty Hall this weekend, but that's not going to happen. The lack of time combined with trying to hit an anthology deadline means the story has hit the back burner for the time being. Maybe next time.

And anyway, the plan for the weekend is for the BF and I to hit the two-player campaign on Hunted: The Demon's Forge. We had a go last night, to figure out the controls, and I doubt we'll be doing much else.....

clhollandwriter: (Default)

Since we’re nearing the end of our second household play through, it's safe to say that Dragon Age 2 is a massive disappointment.



Cut because it's long and has massive spoilers )


Jul. 30th, 2009 01:54 pm
clhollandwriter: (Default)
I've just spent my lunch break playing this addictive but too-short puzzled: Shift!

Back to work now.
clhollandwriter: (Moogle)

Today is the birthday of my kitties! So Happy Birthday to Lucifer and Gabriel. We gave them some chicken as a treat, and now they're sulking because they don't want regular cat food.

Since it's the first day of the Easter weekend, I've had today off. I spent most of it trying to get DOSBox to run retro PC games for the bf, and he now thinks I'm the best girlfriend ever. The rest of the afternoon I spent reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, research for the Shadows of the Emerald City anthology. It's not what I should be working on, since I have a story half-finished to submit to Sword and Sorceress, but after fighting with the PC all morning I felt like doing something that didn't take up quite as much brain.

Current projects: finish Reunion chapter, finish S&S story, read the rest of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Other than that, just generally chill out and make the most of the long weekend.

Happy Easter!

clhollandwriter: (Default)

I haven't gone out much this weekend, which has left me with the end result of not feeling like I've done anything even though I have. I made a batch of what amounts to doughnut muffins (baked with jam in the middle), which the boyfriend has decided I can make again even though he didn't want me to try them in the first place. At the moment I'm roasting leftover tomatoes to turn into soup.

I'm also two thirds of the way through Monkey Island 3, and still managed to get a polish of "The Empty Dark" done. Take that, procrastination! I also had one of those weird dreams that you can turn into a story, if only you can work out the underlying reason behind the weirdness. On top of that, I had the "eureka!" moment that let me work out what was holding up a novel. Unfortunately it wasn't one I'm currently working on, rather one that's been stalled in the back of my head for four years and now has several others ahead of it in the queue.

clhollandwriter: (Default)
So first off, happy Equinox for yesterday to all those who celebrate it and Happy Easter for Sunday to all those who celebate that.

A lot of my writing time recently has gone on playing the first two Monkey Island games. It's been a great kick of nostalgia - I haven't played on them since we had an Amiga back when I was a child. And to add to the retro fun, I now have the first seasons of Knight Rider and The A-Team to watch. All of which is very bad for writing.

In fact it's been a couple of weeks since I worked on anything new, mostly I've just been editing. Currently I'm partway through "The Empty Dark" (still not having decided what to do about Koryx's name) and Chapter 8 of Reunion. Other than that I can't pin down an idea long enough to write it, so I may have a go at the next flash challenge and see what happens.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Today I submitted "When the Harlequin Dances" to Strange Horizons, so I now have something out in the world again. It's weird how little time it's taken for me to not feel right if I don't have something submitted!

I've also put up chapter 7 of Reunion at Notebored. I'm not happy with it, but then I don't think I'm likely to be, and there's only so much tweaking I can do without getting an outside opinion. I hope people aren't too disappointed....

Unfortunately I've also found a new project - trying to get SCUMMVM to run the Money Island games on my PC. So far there's no music, which is far far better than nothing.
What am I saying, unfortunately?! Long live Guybrush Threepwood!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Well, I'm over the cold, finally. If the boyf gives me another one anytime soon I may have to bury him under the garden. ;) On the plus side, I got to be off work for two days - and I didn't feel guilty about taking time off sick, which is a first! I think my work ethic has finally realised that I'm no good to anyone exhausted.

I've spent a glorious two days sitting in playing on Worms and Diablo 2. I think Worms has to be the best game ever: even 12 years after the original release it's never been bettered, and it has more lastability even than Tetris. Diablo 2 is OK but the stream of non-stop killing gets a bit boring after a while, which is why I've never got off of the second act. I prefer my roleplays with some roleplaying.

The down side of the cold is that I haven't done any writing in four days, I haven't even thought about it, but the up side of this is that my over-active imagination has settled down and so now I'm back writing Reunion. Or at least I will be when I get started again. I've read non-stop over the last few days. One Anita Blake novel, Obsidian Butterfly, because it's the only one in the whole series I still gave a shit about reading after I stopped reading. That didn't make it any better though. It was one of the worst written pieces of trash I've ever encountered. There was too much *telling* of things that really didn't need to be told - and you could make a drinking game out of the number of times Anita mentions Edward's cold, chilly, dead, or otherwise creepy eyes. He's scary and dead inside - we get the point, there's no need to go on about it! She also goes over things twice. When Anita picks up her temporary "see everything in Technicolor x-ray vision" she makes a mental count of where Edward is wearing all his weapons, and then preceeds to tell him where they are. Did we need to read that twice? Once, when she's impressing Edward, would be enough.

The other thing that really bugs me about Anita Blake is the constant use of deus ex machina. One of the things that is constanty drummed into aspiring writers is that if your character can't get themselves out of a situation then they really don't deserve to be got out of it. Certainly not from as many life-threatening situations as Anita has got out of - through no skill of her own - as it seems that at least once in every book someone else, or their mystical power, gets her out of trouble because SHE'S JUST SO DAMNED SPECIAL!!! Plus, of course, every man who doesn't automatically hate her for being a) female or b) a necromancer, automatically wants to get in her pants. And in this one someone who hates her wants to get in her pants too, so her "fuck me" aura must be spreading.

There was also one moment that I found extremely distasteful, and that was the rape of a fourteen-year-old boy that Anita and Edward are forced to watch. My main problem with it is that it simply wasn't necessary. OK, it shows that the bad guys are bad, and must all die for being so evil, but it doesn't advance the plot or tell the reader anything they don't already know or find out in the same scene. We know the bad guys are bad, because they are also at that moment breaking the fingers of a five-year-old girl who's crying for her mummy. The rape doesn't add anything to that. It also doesn't add to the impact of the following massacre as Edward and his cronies proceed to wipe out the whole crew of evildoers. The reader already knows this is on the cards, as Anita spots Edward giving his "kill them all" codeword.

The last niggling problem is loose ends. I don't remember that they were all tied up. I hope they were, but that I don't remember is in itself a bad sign.....

Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike all of Laurell K. Hamilton's work. I like the Merry Gentry books, despite them being little more than porn with fairies in, because they don't pretend to be anything else. But Anita Blake started off promisingly and then degenerated into a (literal) orgy of bad writing and slutty behaviour. It's porn masquerading as regular trash fiction. It's built on the kind of writing that would-be authors are told to avoid at all costs, and to see writing that bad being published makes me want to give up. Because if the bar has been lowered that far, what hope do those of us aspiring for quality have?

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