Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Muse Keeps Getting Hit With A Giant Flyswatter...

First off, an update.

Just before my blog went live Phfylburt did indeed give me a "legit" answer as to why he did what he did. I debated going back and editing my last post, but figured it would work better if I used it as an update in this one. It sort of ties in to what I want to say.

I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, sorry if something slips out. Take comfort that it will probably be a good year or so before I get to this part in the X-Future story, and so maybe any spoiler hints I accidentally slip will be forgotten by then.

Anyway, it seems that the underlining reason for Phfyl to do what he did was indeed simply "boredom". On three levels: He felt that with things the way they were he was in a rut, took the tale as far as he could and it was time for him to do what he did, and his number one reason? He was just flat out bored with what he had.

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I at least have an understanding; a reason. However, I'm still royally pissed off, and maybe even more so. Maybe it's because while HE was in a rut with everything and bored with it I was able to see so much more potential. I could have gone off on my own and ran with so many ideas if he had just turned everything over to me instead.

Plus, I'm tired of all the rage-quitting.

Sure, he's still on the boards, but he's just one of many - actually, most at this point in time - that just threw their hands up and said "This is boring me, nevermind."

Granted, for him this might be what he needed to revive his spirit in the game and move forward with more fervor. A way for us all to jumpstart the game again with his added interactions. For nearly everyone else, however, it means dropping out of the game completely and killing our momentum. It's hard to do a role-play-game with only two regular people, one moderately frequent player, and two players that sporadically show up to play.

If we don't get more players - or more players back - we might as well just call the game.

That enrages me more than anything because it would just be about par for the course for me.

As a teenager I started up fanfiction writing, although it wasn't in the traditional sense. I would mentally role-play scenarios that would be fanfiction if I ever got around to writing them down. The closest I got was joining an online RPG like X-Future. It was a Batman RPG.

They already had a player for the character I both really wanted and really knew well: Selina "Catwoman" Kyle.
Thankfully they had an opening for another beloved character of mine: Harley Quinn.

Problem being that this was back when I was still new to role playing, and even newer to role playing online. I don't like stepping on people's toes when I role play. I don't write in absolutes in most cases. While most would write "She punched him" - making it a definite that the swing connected - I tend to spin it as "She swung at his jaw" - leaving the option open for him to dodge or otherwise counter the punch. It actually annoys me that so many on X-Future write in absolutes....

Anyway, since Harley was generally just a glorified Joker Henchman, I didn't like doing too much without Joker's player directing me. I came in mid-plot and didn't want to ruin what they had set up or where they were going with it. Sure, it got Joker a bit mad because back then I could only go on the internet about once a week, and when I updated it would a simple sentence or two, but we got by.

Then the guy who was playing Batman graduated college and couldn't play as regularly anymore due to his work. He passed the character off to someone else who also didn't play regularly. Next thing I knew we don't have a game any longer, just when I was starting to get the hang of it and was able to post significant actions.

Now the same is happening here it seems. Although we aren't dependent on one central character - Batman - we are still dependent on people who don't update frequently at all and hold up the board. Add in the fact that we have fewer and fewer players - mostly due to the same rage-quitting Phfyl essentially did - and we REALLY rely on the handful left to be active. At least if there were about 30players it wouldn't matter too much if people weren't on frequently. There was always someone else to interact with.

So, yeah, Phfyl, I'm pissed at you rage-quitting and shrinking our ranks some more.

Wanna know why else I'm pissed? Why this feels about "par for the course"?

Because whenever I find something that gives me any sort of momentum, any sort of drive, anything that sparks my passion for writing.... it gets squashed. Hard.

I was excited about writing on the Batman board and was thinking of actually writing out the fanfiction I've been mentally writing for years. After the board died I lost the desire to keep going with writing Batman stuff - especially after apparently sucking so hard-core as Harley. Clearly I didn't know the characters as well as I thought.

I was excited about becoming a journalist, and even more so about actually interning at the local newspaper during my senior year of high school. That is, until the editor wanted me to just do police blotters. That's it. My entire internship was walking down to the police station, gathering their reports that were redacted for public knowledge, and typing them up. She put NO effort in to taking me to actual stories in order to show me how it's done. No effort to actually educate me on how to be a reporter.

I gave up on journalism pretty much then and there.

I was excited to be a Creative Writing dual-major, and then I met my professor. No matter how passionate I was with my writing, no matter how excited I was to turn in something, no matter how much drive I had to get my story told... there he was repetitively telling me I wasn't cut out for writing.

While I still had to turn out scripts like a machine for all of my Broadcast Media courses - and then again while with a production company, I didn't write leisurely for about six years.

I got in to Hey Arnold and started writing for leisure for the first time since college. I was passionate about my stories and while What Is Truly Meant To Be is left unfinished, I was still turning out one-shots fairly frequently. Then I moved, and somehow lost most of the DVDs I had of the Hey Arnold series. Then the rights for Netflix to air the show expired. Finally, the drama within the fandom finished off my drive.

I still love the show and do eventually want to go back and at least finish WITMTB, but that desire to write from that source material is gone.

Ali Luke gifted me a slot in her online writing group Writers’ Huddle, and that got me going again too. I'm still a bit nervous about passing anything over to the critique section since it is mostly fanfiction of fandoms people aren't all that aware of, but the community is great. It was welcoming and I was getting great advice.

Then the laptop thing happened, and I don't really read things online anymore. To be fair, this one is on me...

I thought I would be able to solve the internet issue for interacting with other writers by creating a local writing group where we can either meet in person or on Skype. No screen-reading or eye-strain required. But that fell through after just two meetings.

I had a spark; an almost ITCH to write when I had that back and forth with Ronoxym, but then he fell off the planet.

And now the board. X-Future. My last drive to keep me writing. It's dying too, and Phfyl's post last night is just killing it all the faster. Especially since the only real dive for me to keep going with Lia was to interact with Phfyl's characters more. Actually, Willow just had a nice connection too, and Crystal was heavily involved with Phfyl's characters. So, essentially his big play last night stopped my ability to do that much more on the board. Whole plotline potentials lost.

My only drive left with X-Future is to drop the board entirely and just focus on it as a webcomic. Reboot it. Start it over. Don't transfer anything over except for the characters and maybe some of the more key plot points. Maybe just converting it completely in to our own universe, like I've been slowly working on.

The only thing THERE is that it feels a bit like cheating. Even if I do have Hubby, Phfyl, or even Ron join in on the collab, there's still about fifteen characters that aren't ours. I'm sure my friends wouldn't really mind, but it feels like cheap fanfiction. You're taking someone else's characters and creating your own story with them, but the characters are designed from your friends' imaginations; not a well-known piece of work. So, it's fanfiction, but with the drive to call it "original work"....

Oh, and then there's that whole "I can't draw" thing stopping the webcomic process....

So it might be unfair to Phfylburt that all my anger gets pooled and then spilled over on to him, but he's just the latest out of a long list of writing opportunities lost and muses murdered.

Then - on a more personal level - there's the fact that I don't really have that large of a social circle. I'm getting older, and while most of my friends are younger and the whole "they're getting married and starting families" trope isn't true quite yet, they are still not visiting as much.

The Bard spent the past weekend with us, but except for playing the LARP we haven't socialized with him for MONTHS before that... his birthday I think. Sucks since he and Ronoxym apparently talk every day.
CelestialTyrant has always been a bit "flaky" due to his job, but we see him even less after he had to more-or-less "reboot" his career. Once a month if we're lucky.
Omnibladestrike frequently uses the "I'm exhausted after work" excuse. Understandable; we've used it too, but still....

Cyhyr doesn't visit without Ron, and he doesn't visit due to working two jobs. I'm still a bit bummed that we somehow missed his one day off a few weeks ago...

So Hubby and I are more-or-less isolated except for any online socializing we do. In other words: Facebook and X-Future. So the possibility of losing X-Future is super hard on me. It's not only a large source of writing muse for me for nearly two years, but it's also one of my main social networks. A bit pathetic, I know, but there ya have it....

The final thing that I think affected me so much was Phfyl's writing itself. Two fold here.

On the one hand I have to admit how envious I am of him. As I mentioned in my last post, I have to give him credit for making me care so much for his characters and loving every plot he came up with. Nearly everything from this man was gold to me. He'd come up with a character and I instantly was like "MY NEW FAVE!" He'd come up with plot devices and twists, and I'd be beyond excited for him and Hubby to enact them. As much as I'd hate the trauma he'd put Kinney and Lincoln through, I still loved the updates. I loved seeing the character development. I loved going "OH SNAP!" as his tale took a new direction.

Then he shocked and kind of disappointed me. As I said in my earlier update, it felt lazy and cheap. He had a great opportunity he could have taken and didn't seem to even think of it. Actually, it may have been hard to remember since the role play has dragged out, but in-game something major happened a week or two earlier that he never explored. There was an interaction with Willow and some character development that he ignored.

The fact that he said he was bored enraged me because there was so much there that he could have worked with and he didn't seem to see it.

Here I'm struggling to come up with a muse of mine own and he ignored so many of his. If only I could have written for HIS characters or using HIS plot lines I'd be set. I guess that's the fanfiction writer in me.

Which brings me to the second reason why Phfyl's writing affected me so much.

What if all of this means I'm really NOT cut out for writing? I mean, seriously? Every time I have something that inspires me, something that drives me, something that is my muse it dies on me. I can't seem to be inspired unless there's an outside catalyst of some sort, even if its just a source material that I can write fanfiction for.

Think about it. I was inspired to write again by getting in to fanfiction. My "original" stories based in Gyateara are birthed out of source material I have to now manipulate: Legend of Zelda, Fable, D&D, Inu Yasha, and Vision of Escaflowne. My greatest drive to write something was the X-Men forum. Even then, a lot of the one-shots I've written were my characters interacting with another player's character based off of what recently happened on the board. Then there's the story where I'm literally just converting the board in to a narrative. Even on the board itself I need an outside source to inspire me; a catalyst such as Hubby creating an event, a character interacting with me, or something another character does somehow affecting mine, etc.

The strong "itch" to write was because something Ron wrote sparked my muse. Even now I'm using HIS story to rekindle my writing.

So what if I can't do this alone? What if I can't find a story that is wholly mine that grabs me and drives me to write? What if the fact that my muse is killed so frequently means I don't have the passion to write that I thought I did? If I was really meant to do this why can't I seem to push myself to do so? Why don't I have the discipline Cyhyr or Phfyl have?

Even if I could find a way to write without an outside source or catalyst, would I be able to write characters as compelling as Phfyl does? Plots as engrossing? Would I ever be able to evoke emotion as strongly as Phfyl did with me? Would a reader hate me as much as I hate Phfyl if I had pulled the same stunt he did?

I guess this whole blog post just sums up to one thing:
I'm sorry I dumped so much on you, Phfylburt. I'm sorry I'm so enraged at you for seemingly no reason. I'm sorry that I've made you feel guilty for your decision - even if I do still think it was a moronic one.
Clearly I have some of my own things to try to sort though and figure out.

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