Thursday, January 28, 2016

Productivity Up 300%, But Still Nothing To Share....

This past week has been both productively awesome, and complete fail. I'm going to start with the complete fail so that I can end this thing on a high note.

As I mentioned last week, I had completely lost the writing prompt that the local writing group had given out. I had read the result of a prompt that Phfylburt had given me instead, and had some nice critiques on it. I then wrote down the new settings writing prompt, and had every intention of working on that, the previous prompt, and/or the new challenge that Phfyl gave me.

I ended up doing none of the above. It kept me literally until midnight on Sunday for me to send Phfyl the resulting work for my challenge. Even then, it was only an outline of what I wanted to do. Not a bulleted one, I wrote each paragraph out so that all I needed to do was add detail, dialogue, and some polish. Still, the outline was about four pages long, I didn't really hit upon the actual prompt until the last two paragraphs - which lead Phfyl to believe that I just tagged them on as an afterthought just to say I followed the prompt - and the four pages that I had were pretty craptastic.

I was kind of all over the board. The problem with the prompt was that it was semi-vague and on a topic I'm sort of obsessed with: "Link finally breaks the silence about Zelda and Ganon." A fun prompt, for sure, but I don't think Phfyl understood how broad of a spectrum he painted for me.

First of all, which Link would be part of this expose? Between all of the games, only some of them have the "same Link" in another adventure. The rest are either reincarnations, descendants, or some weird combo of the two. All in all, there are about a dozen different Links I could use, and each one has his own thoughts on the matter. In some games, Link is clearly in love with Zelda, and Ganon is the embodiment of all things evil. Some of them, Link and Zelda are best friends, and Ganon is an evil that Link must stop before he actually fully forms; meaning Link can't really HAVE an opinion on Ganon aside from "He's someone I wanted to make sure I didn't meet." Other games, Link is simply a very loyal knight to the crown, and Zelda is little more than his sovereign that he'd do anything to protect. There are games where Zelda is a damsel in destress, and I'm sure Link is probably just as irritated with having to save her as Mario gets over Peach. On the other hand, there are games in which Link couldn't have defeated anyone without Zelda's help. Some games Ganon is a dark shadow in the background, pulling the strings, but doesn't interact with Link enough for him to form an opinion. Other games he's simply a power-hungry thief from a semi-troubled background.

So, which Link is going to "break the silence"? How do I choose?

Then there's the tone of the story itself. Do I go dark and serious? Having it written like it's a true expose after crawling along in the dark, seedy underbelly of Hyrule? Do I have it set up like a talk show in which his opinion of Zelda and Ganon are just "hard hitting" questions the host asks? Is Link at a convention-like discussion panel, and he actually keeps dodging the question when the fans ask him about Zelda and Ganon? Are Link and Zelda having a nice dinner at the castle and Link just snaps?

Then there's the tone of HOW he breaks the silence. The running gag in the fandom is that Link is a "silent protagonist" because you never hear him say more than his famous grunts; with the exception of a few games where he'll say simple commands such as "Come on" or "Stop". This is done in the programming portion of the game to have the player connect more with Link, as well as speed up the game because you don't have to listen to him relay over things you played through. Eventually, I'm sure the programmers purposely kept the games that way just to keep the gag of Link being "silent".

However, the characters in the game DO learn things from Link. They found out his name, his mission, and answer questions that will help him figure out his quest. Sure, some of the time it's because Link's companion does most of the talking to get the information across, but more often than not, it's because the player already knows the answers/questions that lead to the NPC's response, and so it's just skipped over, commonly by a quick fade to black to skip over Link relaying things over.

So, Link clearly ISN'T a mute, he's just a man of few words, and the few he does have are usually stolen by his traveling companion taking the conversational lead. Now the question becomes, does Link just speak with no problem and makes a straight joke about not holding his tongue any longer? Is he a man of few words, and so his thoughts on Zelda and Ganon are quick and to the point? Does he attempt to speak his mind, only to be cut off by his traveling companion - and if so, which one? Same issue as "Which Link" above. Does he not have to say anything at all because the traveling companion does all the talking for him; knowing him and his thoughts on the matter so completely after their journey together?

Part of me wanted to go semi-humorously by having the whole series of traveling companions that Link had ever had switching off interrupting him as he tried to speak about Zelda and Ganon; each one THINKING they knew his answer, and he'd be in the background getting angrier about each interruption. Eventually he'd explode, tell them to shut up, and that he wanted to speak for once. Then he'd conclude with something short and sweet, such as "Zelda is a great friend, strong person, and fantastic ruler. Ganon - on the other hand - is the embodiment of evil, and I hope he just stays gone for the rest of time!"

Hubby suggested that it would be fun if the interviewer(s) would ask Link a question, and he'd simply answer in shakes of the head, head nods, shrugs, coy glances, and finally his signature "Hyah!" The best part would be the interviewer(s) accepting these as legitimate answers to the tough questions, and move on to the next one.

Like I said, there were SO MANY POSSIBILITIES with this prompt, and I just couldn't narrow down which one I liked best. So, at about 10pm Sunday night, while already exhausted from being up since 7am the day before - I had a 2hr nap or so sometime in there, but I ended up covering for someone on the overnight shift - and I hadn't written a word for this prompt.

I ended up - in my tired haze - writing some weird combination of all the options; see which one would stick. It was a daytime talk show, and Link was cut off from answering a question by his fairy traveling companion answering for him. This lead the hostess to bring out all of the other companions Link had ever had - which ended up being something like eight characters - I then had them all argue among themselves, and wonder why Link didn't recognize them. However, with such a large ensemble, it was hard to give really any of the companions enough dialogue or action to warrant them being in the story. It was just a jumbled mob of a mess. Eventually, it was revealed that Link didn't recognize anyone aside from the first fairy - there were four fairies in all - because this wasn't the same Link that had traveled with each of them. Link was then given the Fierce Deity Mask from the game Majora's Mask, and it sort of channeled all of his past lives - going with the reincarnation fan theory - until it arrived at the Original Link; the one whose soul would eventually be trapped in this reincarnation cycle of  "Save Zelda/Hyrule, eventually die, become reborn only if Hyrule/Zelda will be in peril again in the near future."

Original Link - who isn't truly in-game canonical, but is introduced in a manga in the back of the Nintendo-sanctioned book Hyrule Historia - talked about how he died to save his country - "his" like how Americans say the United States is "our" country; Original Link wasn't the king - and its people from destruction, creating the floating island Skyloft, which is featured in the first chronological game Skyward Sword. He's a bit bitter about the whole thing, and he keeps referencing to Zelda as her original form:

He still cares for, and respects Zelda, as well as the land he once called home - originally called The Land of Hylia - and so, while a bit bitter about only being reincarnated and called upon when the land is in danger, he is also a bit glad that it is him that can insure the land will always prosper.

As for Ganon? Well, Original Link again only really knows the man in his original form: a monstrous demon that eventually reincarnates as the male Gerudo Ganondorf. He also knows Ganon to not only be corrupted by the demon's powers returning in attempt to seize the Triforce, but also as the entity that eventually corrupts others while waiting to be reincarnated or released from his trans-dimensional prison.

The story goes from light-hearted and a bit jumbled to quickly dark before an abrupt end. Needless to say, Phfyl had some concerns about the story.

I reassured him that I was fully aware that it had no focus, and so I've been periodically using the week to try to figure out what to do with it. I think I'm going to stick with the darkness of Original Link and his thoughts on reincarnation and the like. I just need an explanation as to how the interviewer is able to talk with Original Link, who has been dead for Hyrule's equivalent of probably 2000 years - if not longer - and who has been reincarnated about a dozen times.

It's Thursday, and I again have nothing. Phfyl tried to have me go on hiatus while I figured this story out, caught up on my two writing prompts for the local group, AND work on my six-week challenge for Writers’ Huddle. I wouldn't let him. I was determined to stick with his prompt challenges, as well as challenge him too. I just didn't expect his Legend of Zelda challenge to be so simply complex that it took me over two weeks to figure it out....

Needless to say, because it's kept so much time and effort to try to figure out Phfyl's challenge, I haven't given either of the setting prompts from the local group any sort of thought. Further fail.

But what about those positives I said I had?

Well, I went on to my online friends writing group - Struggling Writers Society - to ask them their opinion on what to do for the Writers' Huddle challenge. I gave them the same list of options I posted here last week. Cyhyr suggested I do a combination of all of them. There were six open writing projects, as well as an option to write x-amount of words per day/week. So, she proposed that I aim for about 500 words per day during my daily writing hour. She also offered that I work on the first open project I listed, but only for the first week of the challenge. By the end of the week, I would have roughly 3500 words added to that project; a decent push forward. Then the second week of the challenge I'd do the same thing, but with the second project on my list. So on and so forth until I had 3500 more words for each project I listed.

It would give me a chance to push each project closer to completion, allow me to work a variety of stories to keep it fresh, as well as have me figure out which story is calling out to me the most. That way I know which one to try to tackle and complete in the months following the challenge. Plus, it was a happy compromise so that I wasn't stalled while trying to figure out which direction to go in.

I had a few more suggestions from a couple other members, but I think Cyhyr's advice was the one that stuck out the most for me. However, Phfyl did had a valid point when he advised that I don't try to compromise by working on all six projects more-or-less at the same time. It would be hard to switch off from one project, and get my mind in the proper place for the next one. It might work well for Cyhyr's husband Ronoxym due to people with ADHD thriving in multi-tasking projects, but Phyfl was right, I don't think I could switch between story concepts so quickly and still be inspired to write something of value by the end of the week.

Besides, two of the projects consisted of me world-building, and so I'm not entirely sure WHAT I would write to total 3500 words by the end of the week. Most of the world-building would consist of research, map-drawing, scribbling down notes, and possibly a character profile or two; like what I did over the summer. MAYBE I would add more to The Divine Legends or The People of Gyateara while working on the Gyateara world builds, but there was no guarantee. Plus, with only one week to work on the project, I had to be certain that I could get inspiration to strike during my daily writing hour. Otherwise I'd spend the hour trying to figure out ANYTHING to work on for the build, and then get annoyed with myself when I either didn't get anything accomplished, or I had to take up even more of my already stretched-thin time.

And as for Please, Let Me Explain? Well, as I mentioned last week, I feel like I'd be stealing the story from Ron if I just went and wrote the rest of it without him, especially since we agreed that the part he added on to the back of the outline - in other words, all the stuff that still needs to be written - needs some reworks first. If I were to just go ahead and write the ending the way I picture it based on what he wants the story end-game to be, I feel like he wouldn't have any input at all. Just me slapping my own ending on to his work. I dunno. It doesn't feel right. I need us to at least jointly finish the outline until it's something we agree is best for the story. From there I'd be less hesitant to write out the ending and then send it to him for notes. Then again, as I pointed out last week as well, I'm still waiting on notes for the last thing I sent him for this story.

I guess that's karma for ya, considering my average beta-read-notes-return turn-around is like a year....

Alright, so three out of the six projects were pretty much a no-go. There was still the option to now spend TWO weeks on each project, so I went to Hubby for advice. Do I spend two weeks each to knock out roughly 7000 words towards the next few chapters of What Is Truly Meant To Be, X-Future: The Second Generation Begins, and X-Future: Snippets?

His advice was to stick with the 500-words per day minimum while keeping my daily writing hour - which he has made sure I followed through on - but to also listen to Phfyl and focus on one story. Since out of the three remaining projects - the final one actually having three sub-projects in and of itself - the only one I was truly ready to work on again was TSGB, he suggested I just stick with that.

So, as of right now, that's my aim. We have two new members to the X-Future board, and they promise to be VERY active players. If this board takes off again like it did in the "good old days" then I have no hope of catching up.

Therefore, my goal for the Writers' Huddle challenge is to write every day for an hour, making sure that I don't stop - even after the hour has past - until I get at least 500 new words written. So far, so good. Starting Monday, I've written every day from 4-5pm, and I've averaged about 650 words per day. However, I was completely in a groove yesterday or something, because I jumped from about 1300 words to over 2400!

I'm also focusing solely on TSGB, with the aim to have a new chapter written each week. If I break the scenes down enough, none of them should really need much more than a week to write, even if it means writing more than 3500 words per chapter. This shouldn't be much of an issue, given my current week, which should have the 3500 words written by the end of tomorrow's session.

It won't be much in the grand scheme of things, but I would be about six-chapters closer to closing the gap between TSGB and where we currently are on X-Future. At the very least, I should get tantalizingly close to the major event that caused the two-year time skip. Then the fun will be to continue the next TSGB book - I'm planning on ending the current one just before the time skip so it's not 100 chapters long - as well as Devon's spin-off story.

So, while I am complete fail when it comes to the "weekly" challenges that the local group or Phfyl have given me, in regards to continuous writing and the Huddle's challenge, I'm on my A-game! This also means that I've been able to start up that chain of "No Zero Days"; double win!

I also managed to get in some more reading time this week. It's down to the wire in regards to completing a book this month, but I should be able to make it. Especially since this is an "off" week for football while everyone prepares for the Superbowl next week. I could use my normal football-time to read! Whoo!

I still haven't read a piece of fiction that would qualify for any of the 2016 Reading Challenge categories, but I did read Ali Luke's self-help mini-ebook a few weeks back. For now I think I'll qualify that as my "read in one day" book. Hopefully later in the year I'll be able to crank out a novel in fast enough time to truly read a "read in one day" novel as well. Which would then give me a baker's dozen of books I read, since "The Throne of Fire" doesn't qualify for any of the challenge's categories. Still, I was determined to finish this dang thing! Even if it almost literally kept me a year to do it!

If anyone wants a refresher on the challenge, it was presented by Modern Mrs. Darcy, and the challenge list is as follows:

I have to say, while I feel weird keeping myself on a semi-strict schedule, Ali's suggestion to do just that has really helped me out. I still give myself a little bit of wiggle room by having my work schedule and writing hour be the only things I actually have strict time frames for, I have kept myself on a timer. No more than 2hours on any given activity.

Even if I feel like spending 10hours actually scrubbing my home down ceiling to floor, I know I'll then exhaust myself, miss snuggling the husband, and be mad I didn't read/write/Facebook/do something with the finances.

So, no matter what I am doing, I cut myself off usually after an hour, but I allow up to two in order to finish up any loose ends.

Facebook: hour, next. Figure out finances: hour; next. Watch TV with Hubby: two hours; next. Write: hour; next. So on and so forth. Granted, it's also been a chaotic week with me outside the home doing a hundred errands, and so the apartment is a sty. Still, my writing and reading are up, I have a bit more energy, I don't feel like I'm slacking off a lot, and imagine the time I will have for cleaning after the out-of-home chaos settles!

Speaking of, I have been working on this post for nearly two hours, so it's time to move on to a new project. Sorry I didn't have a new story for you guys after all this week, but I'm well on my way for a new "The Second Generation Begins" chapter, so there should at least be that next week. Perhaps I can end the chapter a day or two before my deadline and use those days to work on the other prompts I've got backed up. We'll see.

Catch ya next week!

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