I am desperate. I don't know what to do anymore. It feels like talking to the walls... and I wonder what I have done so wrong in my childhood in order to deserve this at mature age. I wish that, as so many parenting books exist, how to make a stubborn child obey, eat or take medicine, it should also exist books how to take care of old parents. How to make a stubborn 89 years old eat, or take the medicines according to the posted schedule (and to my phone calls, because I never let it only to the printed schedules, I remind her). And to obey me in general, because she is doing everything NOT how I told her to (and how the doctors tell her in some cases).
I wish I mattered... and yes, I know she loves me, but she would wish me to obey her now, like I did when young. She thinks she knows everything and she is always right, not accepting to be contradicted (when even what she used to know, isn't valid anymore, and I remind her continuously that she is comparing things at distance of 30-50-70 years, and from two totally different social orders - socialism vs. capitalism- so she shouldn't because they are nothing to compare.) She knows better than the doctors, better than me, better than everyone, and she does only what and how she wants to, no matter that it is harmful.
I am green of anger this afternoon, after I heard that she started taking at 3 pm the medicines she had to take starting with 6 pm. I explained her again for the thousand times why the schedule must be kept, why I am always calling her, to remind her to take them when due, then... I am still the bad and disrespectful and crazy one because I shouldn't dare to talk this way to my mother. 😞
I DO care about my site. I love it, and I am glad that our interactive swashbuckling story is already eight years old, and counting, and that I can also count on a few people since six- eight years ago. This is an important achievement.
BUT I DON'T CARE ANYMORE if some people think it's not active enough (it is, just way slower than it used to be). I don't care if those newer members decide suddenly a long time investment isn't worth and they leave. I had to accept the idea that these are who we are, this is our current rhythm and that we won't get new staying members unless our members bring their friends, to stay for writing with them. (Which they don't, because most of our members don't have friends interested in our setting, or writing - at all or in English). And when I see on the resource sites all ask for "active sites, not dying ones"... and that slow = dying for most people, I get angry. We aren't dying, even if our story is progressing way slower than a few years ago. Just that we have other commitments or health problems which don't allow us be as prompt as we used to be. Our main quality is of being reliable. We finish most threads we start (no matter when, but we do). Our story is coherent and consistent, and progressing.
I let it lower with the advertising, knowing that I have to resign with the few members we have and with some of them quitting due to lack of interest, to the site being slower and slower and being able to do nothing to change it. All the advice on the resource sites are things I have tried in vain, one or another time. This is who we are, and I don't care if someone thinks it's a dead site, when we know we aren't. Just posting once at 2-3 weeks on average. We are welcoming. There is always a possibility to interact with a character or another, given that we are writing in liquid time. As for events... it's normal that some plots are for certain factions (nobility only, commoners only, seafarers only). On most sites it is the same. We are also flexible and willing to integrate anyone. The problem is that most people want replies at least every week, if not sooner, and only 2-3 people might be able to post as quickly.
We aren't playing pretend with our characters, and this is also one reason to find less new members interested. Historical fiction is a niche, and there aren't many people who like doing research. In my opinion, the coherence of the plot is a bonus, it is something good, but others might not like that they have to... pay attention (even if it is required for any writer! ). Also I am shocked how little creative are most people. When I ask them, upon joining, "What stories do you feel more inspired to write? What stories have you created this character for?" the reply is usually a variant of "I don't know, anything". (which means "you think it for me, and I am just riding along... or not even).
I used to believe that I, as administrator, have to be an example, to promote the activity I want to see. Now I don't care anymore about it. There had been too many years when I did it, without any result. I mean, I can control only my activity, and "activity begets activity" is not always true. People will post when they have time. And no matter how many replies are piling up into the OWED section, they would reply only when they are available. I learnt it the hard way.
Lately I am in the same situation, having lowered my activity significantly, just because I can't do it as I used to, anymore. I am not flaky, and I still am going to finish everything I started, but it will take more time. I just have difficulty writing lately. Having half a day taken out and returning home unusually tired and mentally exhausted doesn't help. Having to spend some of the other part of the day cooking, shopping for our household or attending literary events adds to the lack of time for writing. And I have to split my writing between novels (and short fiction too, especially for certain contests) and the two RPG sites I am on. So... I do what I can. There are days when I can't write at all, and days when I can do only one writing thing (usually correcting/ editing what was already written). I don't care anymore if I don't meet self-imposed deadlines, because I simply can't.
Sometimes I think (I might be wrong or I might be right) that if I was somewhere in the countryside, so that I could write outside, and have no other daily worry, I would succeed to do it. But as I can't go anywhere, that's only an excuse . Or a dream.
It is nothing new that the world is functioning upside down in various aspects of life. Why not in the writing realm too? 😢
As you know already, and as you can see from the blog image, I have published three novels up to now. Two others and a short stories anthology will follow soon, almost certainly all three to appear this year. I published with small indie presses, because this is what I have the possibility in the current book market conditions. Many writers more seasoned than me published with the same two indie presses, so I am in good company. (And they aren't vanity presses, printing and dumping the books in your arms. No, they assure launching events, participation at fairs, the collaboration of literary critics, etc.)
I am glad that I have started to become a little known among the contemporary writers in Bucharest. If one googles my pen name (despite being quite common internationally) one can find something about one of my novels too. If googling the titles, there are few information about them, but they are, reviews and photos. I had good reviews from the literary critics at the book presentation events, I had my novels displayed at the bi-annual Bucharest International Book Fairs... all these are successes for a junior writer, with only 3 novels published up to now.
What's more important as a success, is the fact that I have a senior writer's support to get in the National Writers' Union (union as in professional association, not what you understand generally by trade Union and we call Syndicates, which is work regulation-related.) It will happen, most likely, in 2019, after I get the required number of publications. My publishers also support this endeavour, and they will rally enough literary critics to get the required recommendations portfolio until then. (It has started building already).
It sounds lovely, but... let's vent my frustrations too, here, not on my public blog, where those who have generated them in a way or another can see them... And this comes with the warning that the Romanian book market, unfortunately, doesn't ressemble the English speaking books market, so most of the book marketing ideas I find online, in English speaking blogs, unfortunately do not apply. While the English speaking market is catering to nearly one billion people (there were, in Internet statistics, 400 million native speakers of English, to which to add 400 million speakers of English as a second language, in 2006, and I assume the population has increased in 12 years), the overall population of Romania was of 19.5 million people, out of which about 4 million are abroad, about 3 million too young to read my novels (below 14)... and from the remaining 12.5 million, about 40% or more are poor, too busy to survive and not reading anything else than an occasional newspaper or religious book. Sad, but true. Of course, from the remaining people who would read in principle (some regularly, some occasionally) not all are fans of historical adventures fiction/ YA, what I am writing. This is a realistic analysis.
As far as I heard the publishers say (not only personally to me, but also in interviews on the internet) - and we have our "big fives" here too, plus a whole constellation of small indie presses (the equivalent of self publishing would be here dealing directly with the printing house without a publisher, which is recommended only for professional books which have already the distribution ensured or for people who print one memoir book in their lives to give to 50-100 people, not needing ISBN or anything), in my country a book (written by a contemporary national writer, not translations of international bestsellers and not books required for school reading like our classics) printed in 1,000 copies is already considered a best seller. My novels were, 2 of them published in 200 copies, the first one in 300. It is the level generally the writers around me use.
Now, my sincere frustrations?
- I haven't recovered the costs on any of them. Yes, I have sold some, but the greatest amount was given freely. Now, to be honest, I knew from the start that I wouldn't get rich from writing. I did it from my heart, and I loved when I received compliments about the books (not only from the critics, I appreciate more the readers' compliments and questions, even if I know the critics' are of importance for the accession to the Writers' Union). This is when I felt they got their mission, to brighten someone's day and to transport them to another time and place, offering them an insight on that way of living. But I would have appreciated if I succeeded to recover my costs. Some writers know business owners and get sponsors. (I had sponsors too, back in 1999, for my professional handbook in project management). I don't know influent people who would be able to sponsor me, every cost is supported from my meager savings (given that I am retired now). Yes, I sold books at various events... but the money received covered the expenses of the event, with very little margin (if any).
- I can't reach exactly my target group, the high-school and Uni youngsters. Until now, my novels were bought mostly by grown-up or older people who were nostalgic about the style of novels they use to read, because these were the ones coming to the literary events.
- I had also two interviews in English about my novels (1, 2, I remember one more but I can't find any link, just the file where I replied to the questions) and one other would come soon, but I can't reach the Romanian book review bloggers, despite having seen some other writers getting several reviews. It's not about the novels' quality, it's about whom you know in the field... and I don't. Or, at least, not yet - I am still working on it. And praying for a bit of good luck.
...And everything needs more money. Half, I understand this as in the fact that if I try to expand my marketing network, this doesn't come for free because this is what those people gain their living from - organising things. I understand that some reviews/ forewords/ have a price too, because those critics are famous and listened to, on one side, and on the other side, this is what they are gaining their living from. In the rare cases when I made reviews (I hate making reviews, but I consider that if some people spoke in favour of my books at my launchings, I have to give it back to the writers' community and do it whenever needed from me), I made them from the moral spirit expressed above, and it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask for any benefit. (Well, I received the book free from the publisher in exchange of the review). I am lucky that I don't have to pay my beta-reader/ first editor, because many people have to do it too. She does it from friendship, for free, and I am grateful to her.
But in a world which wouldn't function as upside down as it does, the writer should be allowed to write - like it was before the ascension of social media - and the others should do the marketing part. I am sure that Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas weren't the ones to do much more than writing. Yes, they received their money after the books were sold, but nobody asked them money for publishing, for book launching events organisation and other things. Or, if now shedding money is a must because there are too many books published and no publisher assumes the economic risks anymore in this crisis economy, at least they should want the money from the sales! Not before recovering the costs...
One would say fame has a price. But I still have the feeling that things aren't how they should be.
Sometimes I am feeling cheated of character development. Cheated in my writing, in the story we are writing together, not receiving the same thing I am offering, but only a tenth part. I have said before that Nothing happens if you don't write. Everybody knows it is true, still they don't write even if they all declare they love their characters and they want the plots they have suggested and we have planned for months, waiting for their free time to actually write the story.
In some cases, this leads to "this has happened" decisions between writers, without showing how in a thread, but just mentioning it in passing in another thread. I this case, if I feel cheated of the character development, usually there are remedies for this: some characters have journals and tell their version of the story, with their thoughts and feelings about it. Some characters, for whom it isn't in character to keep a journal, might write a letter to somebody dear and confess there if it is a thing which can be confessed, or can open up to a friend in a certain circumstance. I guess one of these three solutions can be applied unilaterally in most cases, so that at least my characters gain the character development they have been cheated of.
In some cases, after waiting longer than anybody else would have had patience for, the thread starts and continues (from their side) with one post a century, written quickly, as if wanting to get rid of it instead of developing their characters and making them enjoy the story. I receive something emotionless, without letting their charachters develop through the plot, making them less than wallflowers. What satisfaction would they gain from this kind of writing, I can't understand.
I do write my characters normally through the threads, giving them time to feel, to think, to watch, to react and to make the story happen, to take in through all the senses what happens. But by their lack of proper reactions, of a real contribution to a story they wanted/ asked for, I still feel cheated of my character development. They get even less than mine, too, but by their choice, because there would have been a lot to react to and vibrate to in my posts. And sometimes I don't know what to do to fix the story, at least on my side.
I feel cheated, I feel that writing in partnership doesn't attain that partnership feeling, that I am giving everything and I receive just crumpets in exchange, that I am doing all the work and the others are sabotaging their own character development, and mine as collateral damage. That the story isn't anymore how it should have been, because it lacks... enthusiasm? Feeling? Life? And that if I wrote it alone from both characters' perspective, it would have been more pleasant to read, more developed and immersing the readers into the proper athmosphere of the setting.
This was posted more in depth on my personal blog, where I can insert the photos how I want them to look (what here I can't manage. Probably it is possible, but I am too anti-technicus to figure out how. Last time I tried I got my whole gallery linked to a blog post.)
Longing for a real community
The struggle is real, and I am more and more convinced that what I am actually longing for does not exist.
I wish for a dedicated community of writers – as many or as few as they happen to be. The activity, the involvement (including the community feeling) and the number of characters actively written when they are needed, instead of being left to pickle somewhere in silence, are more important than the number of members.
I wish the members to be involved in the story they are writing together. To be willing to write THE STORY, seeing the whole picture, beyond a character or two. To share characters freely (be they NPCs or other shared custody characters) and to discuss in groups plots and twists, planning the next stories, agreeing on outcomes by meeting half-way after listening to the reasons why a thing should happen or not and how. To discuss literary resources and aspects of the writing craft, to actively exchange experience. Maybe also to read books or watch movies in the same field like the story and to discuss them together, including from the perspective of enriching our story.
A writing community should have been like NaNoWriMo all the time – in respect to the community atmosphere, not in number of words/ competition, neither in number of members. In the smaller sense of a community group of writers, who actually talk about their characters, plots, support each other. And I know RPGs which are a community too, smaller or bigger.
But when I joined one, hoping to learn there how to improve the community feeling on MY site, I haven't succeeded yet to learn this secret. Yes, this one is a community but not exactly (or not yet) the one I am longing for, and, despite the achievements I have been getting there, not sure how to capture and replant its spirit into something I wish for, on my site.
Posting here what I have posted in English, at their time, on my personal blog, on this subject. The other times I did the opposite - first wrote here, then transcribed it my blog.
NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow
The fantastic five NaNoWriMo winners
Yes, I am lazy. Or, rather, tired, both physically and mentally. I am 48 and sometimes I feel 100.
I wish I was feeling and thinking differently, but not anymore. My mother was shocked when I told her that I have another priority from now on than my carreer. She had taught me to hold my carreer the highest, and I have done it. I got a PhD and I honoured it through having well thought projects, through teaching others and writing a book and various teaching materials and contributions. But a carreer is a living thing. It grows, it expands, it gives a certain fame within specific circles, then it gets old. The times are not good anymore for its development, and it starts diminishing. People get other interests, more fullfilling personally, to focus on, and job ceases being a "carreer" and starts being the place you earn money from.
I have worked already for 30 years, and my patience is weaning. Project management is a demanding, high responsibility job. If God and the laws in force want me to retire early, I will do it. If God doesn't want it for me, the law won't be favourable in this direction. Call it laziness, if you want, but I think it might not be exactly this. Just realism and tiredness.
It would be good because I'd end with some stress in my life, not only the work-related part (deadlines, people who don't do what they were supposed to , how they were supposed to) but also, e.g, the yearly physical evaluation and the need to get permissions for visits to doctors who don't have a schedule in the evenings. Itbli would be good because I'll have more time to dedicate to writing, and hopefully I might publish more books. It would be good because I can dedicate more time to caring for my mother and I'd feel less guilty in this field. I will stop worrying what I am going to do with her if in a few months she wouldn't be able to live alone anymore and I'll have to move with her as main caregiver.
At the same time, I am scared of the early retirement (which now seems the most likely thing to happen in the upcoming months). Some people have called it "the waiting room for death". I was told that retired people aren't taken into consideration anymore by those who are still working. I am scared of the paperwork entailing the early retirement, and of the high austerity months I'll have to spend waiting for the decision and the first pensions to come.
But I'll go on without looking back, because I am too tired after 30 years of full time work.
Don't write alone, they say. Involve your members, because RPG means interaction.
Well, it means interaction between characters, and this could be achieved even if they are written by only one writer.
What if the members CAN get involved, but they don't want to? I would have liked to involve them in all threads, to have characters of all kind (not only NPCs) shared, or at least to have discussions among writers even if I have to write some threads alone. They seem to simply not be interested.
In this case, isn't better to write the story alone, than have the chapter missing from the whole story, and "left to anyone's imagination"? Don't we write to let out the story prisoner in our minds, and have it read by our readers, as few as they might be in certain cases?
I am still pondering, in one case, if to write a thread wholly alone or to wait for the potential involvement of two other writing partners. Yes, they can be involved and I'd love them to. I think their contribution would add to the story and it could be also good character development for their own characters, if they care to develop them. This is the main issue - if they care to develop them, if they care to get involved. Because one hadn't written in his ongoing threads for 3 weeks, and I don't know when he'll write again, if he will be available for another thread and if, assuming he'd join, he'd do this thread the same thing (making me wait 3-4 weeks or more for one post). And most of the above could apply for the other too. People who post at 3-4 weeks, and in 3 weeks I can finish the whole thread alone.
Decisions, decisions. I have stopped, though, with an opened thread, waiting for them to see if they want to get involved. If not, I can get ambitious and finish the thread alone in one week-end, some day.
I admit I am confronted with an activity problem on my nearly six years old site. Most of the sites have one, at a moment or another.
I feel it is something wrong with the very slow pace we have progressed with this year, and with people posting, instead of each week, only 1-2 times a month. In one year of writing, we have covered only two story months. In other years, there were three to six story months for a year of writing. If a quicker pace was possible before, and it created more enthusiasm for "the next episode" of the story, why it isn't possible now anymore?
I think some people lose interest because the writing partners take too long to post. I am trying my best to stimulate people to write and be inspired, with everything I can, but it seems I am the only one doing it - and sometimes it feels damn lonely on my own site. This is when I get pessimistic and I think that nobody else cares about it, while I am giving all my best to the story and the community. It feels as one-sided as I am losing inspiration for stories I loved writing.
I think this is my main problem, especially that I know this site used NOT to be like this. The community was bubbly, involved, there were people of all speeds, and the stories were written quicker... Now, they are disenfranchising from us by simply not posting and not being anymore part of our WRITING community. Being active means being connected to the community.
If we, each of us, no longer feel like putting in the effort, then we have made the conscious decision to let our site die. I am always willing to make this effort, but I can't do it alone. And, unfortunately, not recognizing that we have an activity problem means not seeking consciously solutions, both within ourselves and all together.
The inactivity is the problem, at the whole board level. And instead of being stimulated to be more active when others aren't, each one is complacent that "the others haven't posted either, I can procrastinate as well." Some do not even acknowledge it is a problem for the site, in order to seek solutions - both inside them and together with the others. When we can't get more writers (because, let's admit, older sites seem to be less attractive for newcomers, despite the reassurance that they are more established and less prone to disappear in a whim), the solution to keep going on is to be more active ourselves - and it is a collective endeavour. A person alone can't bring the needed activity, when the story is collective, needing various crews.
Being needed is a nice feeling, and it should be one more motivating reason to find inspiration and time. (This is exactly why I am always writing more for others than alone; because I know that other people are waiting for the "next round"). I am thinking ”My posts are needed, people are waiting for me, so I’ll make time as soon as I can”. (Which may mean instead of watching a movie or of doing something else which is for free time).
When I am sad, bored or tired of numbers or of drama in real world, I am starting to write, in order to get immersed in a different world. And I keep writing. But if one person not posting, doesn't lead to inactivity and site dying, when most persons on a small site aren't posting, the 2-3 who do... can they really make a significant difference, no matter how often they post? Because it is just a little part of the plots, and usually not the important ones, which get forward, and the others get waiting and waiting.
I have seen this elsewhere in the past. Sites once busy, then one left, another stopped posting, if those two weren't anymore, others stopped posting too, either waiting for the others' posts, or just because - and in 2 months the site was a ghost town. And it is something which would naturally lead to the death of the site, if nobody stops it somehow. But how to stop it? What more can I do in order to make the plot running smoother, better?
I really am trying my best. And maybe from here a big part of the lonely feeling... Don Quijote fighting windmills, misunderstood by the people around? I do care - about our writing community together, writing because this is what gathered us together. I can't do everything in this world, but I am doing as much as I can, and I am searching for what else to do in order to keep the community together, to keep the story going. And nobody else admits that inactivity might be a problem.
I understand people being busy for a while and people having lost interest (in writing in general or in this story in special). It doesn't mean I am not regretting their good characters, their writing style, their warm presence and their interesting ideas. I do. But I know I can't fight something which belongs inside each person. If they don't have motivation from inside, to write, I can't give it to them with any outside intervention. And, in exchange, I start losing mine if my writing partners don't care about the story anymore, because I feel I am doing everything in vain, for no readers and no writing partners.
How can one overcome frustration and regret?
Yes, I know, one would say "be happy with what you have/ actually is, instead of focusing on what you don't have/ what should have been". But is it so easy?
It is again tied to the frustrating missed opportunities I have been blogging about almost two years ago, to the fact that nothing happens if you don't write and to me claiming that I don't care anymore, as advised above... just that I actually do and I just pretend I do not.
We do have some amazing stories going on "Before the Mast". But they could have been better, and I can't escape this thought.
There are threads which are going on in 3-6 characters and NPCs, written by 1-2 people, when they should have involved 10+ characters and NPCs, written by 5-6 people, just because there are people who keep away their characters from threads where it would be natural for them to be a part of (or post 1-2 times then vanish). Their characters whom they keep away from the story won't leave a mark on it, when for the character's personality and/ or role in the story it would have been normal to do it. Nevertheless, even if they aren't explicitly involved, they still are involved "somewhere in the background", ie passively the outcome of the story the writers didn't want to introduce them into will affect them too. If the whole ship is taken prisoner, they would be numbered among the prisoners, as long it isn't written that (and how) they have succeeded to escape believably. They can't be two days later happily chatting in a tavern scene, as if nothing had occurred. One doesn't live in a time bubble.
But most often, they aren't chatting two days later. Those who are counting their number of threads and don't take more, even if it would have made sense for their characters to be involved, at least are good at keeping track of what happened and this doesn't happen. What happens more frequently is that a writer's hiatus (or vanishing without words) is usually lasting longer, and the characters are nowhere to be found when they are needed. I keep imagining how the ongoing adventure threads would sound if everybody was there, as they should have been, and it makes even lonelier the endeavour of writing it alone or with only one writing partner. And the "It shouldn't have been this way!" gives a bitter taste to stories I actually enjoy, the taste of the the frustrating missed opportunities. (Then others come and say that roleplaying is an activity which should have been done with others, not alone... as if I preferred it alone vs. with others!)
I keep wondering how to deal with it... How not to think anymore at how the story should have been developed and what chances the others were missing.
It seems that people have interest in writing only certain characters, or only certain aspects of the characters' lives, while a story implies writing several character types in several circumstances which make sense for their lives.
E.g. a Navy officer has in the story not only the role to charm ladies at a party, but mainly to take part in battles or to lead work scenes as well... to show only a few aspects. He should interact also with his superiors, with allied officers, he can lead an exploring team, enforce the law under his competence, etc. And among the Navy officers, if they were chosen for example, there can be (and should be) a diversity of personalities as well: the ambitious perfectionist, the drunkard/ gambler who can be blackmailed or can blackmail others into betrayal or extorsion, the womanizer (or soft lover, because he can be sincere too) who spills a secret to his lover by mistake, the one wh o isn't professionally good but he has the right upbringing and patronnage and power thirst in order to advance stepping on corpses....
So if the story needs these aspects/ scenes/ characters and nobody else is willing to write them... somebody has to. We are all here, first and foremost, to write an interesting story together, immersing ourselves in the right setting through this. it seems I will always be this 'someone', because I could never say/ think 'I have no interest in writing this character/ scene.' if it is a part of the story i love and it makes sense in our setting, then I should clearly do all research and everything possible to make the story happen.
...And this is how some people get with more temporary characters than others, and with writing for more NPCs than others who don't have interest in them or who see them less of a character because they have less writing time. They aren't less.
There had been a while when I was regretting everything others didn't do, just because I was convinced that, since i am writing with others, everything should be shared. Now I don't care anymore about this, neither about other people's rants that people shouldn't have so many characters or NPCs. They are there because they are needed in the story and nobody else was willing to write them. That's all, folks. Somebody has to do it in order to have a well-rounded story, a well-rounded portrayal of the world we are writing about.
Once I believed that there is one truth in everything, and all the other perceptions are wrong. This was how I was educated, and how my mother still believes. (But she also believes she is right in everything, when she isn't, and often what she knew isn't applicable at the current society).
As I grew up and gained experience, I understood that there is no absolute truth, everything being various shades of gray. Whiter or blacker, but still gray. And that, unfortunately, everyone has his own truth, his own perception we can't fight. We can give arguments towards our version of the truth. We know sometimes we did this, we wanted (or sometimes even harvested) these results... but to some people they are seen completely different. Some of our efforts and deeds are missing, some results are seen totally different, and the arguments don't hold because... simply their perception is radically different, and they are conviced it is the correct one.
The problem is that feelings and perceptions are something personal, and they don't take into account the others' realities, the others' different perceptions. So people who would have cooperated, can't, remaining each one in his own world. Ultimately, the two people with irreconciliable opinions would part ways, each one holding to his own piece of reality, to his own perception, both feeling wronged or disappointed by the other. And unfortunately it is nothing to be done with it, even if I wish it was.
Others succeed to make the effort to see the other perspective too. To agree with it or not, but to extend a hand, together with an acceptaince that the other point of view can be sincere and valid too, even if it doesn't invalidate his own feeling.
Do you believe there can be different realities, different perceptions for the same facts or results?
My father died on the fourth day of Hannukah, 3 weeks before turning 93. May God rest him in peace!
He is in the photo, at his 90-th anniversary, with the granddaughter who ressembles him the most, Raluca.
93 years of life means a full, accomplished life. Three daughters from two wives, four grandsons and two granddaughters from the first two (as I can't have children), and he lived long enough to play with three grand-grandsons and two grand-granddaughters. A new grand-grandson will be born soon, and I am curious if they will give him my father's name too.
I feel close enough to him to care and be affected... Not as close as a father and a daughter (even divorced) should have been though. There are things in the past I resent him for. I had sought for other father figures in my life when he wasn't around, in my childhood and teen years: my mother's cousin, a work colleague of my mother's, then the fathers of two of my friends were also a bit like my fathers. And these ...absences can't be erased from my soul. It is something I grew up with, since I never knew a father in the house, and I had to come to peace with. With the children's questions and wrong assumptions. With my feelings of something lacking when everybody mentioned their fathers in a certain context. But I know I wasn't the only one to go through this. And I am glad I knew him, even if later, and that I have memories with him, to cherish now.
There are things I admire him for too. He was strong of mind and optimistic, even if he was doing dialysis for the last 1-2 years three times a week. Stronger than my mother, who is 86.
He used the computer as long as he could see on it, when I have colleagues my age who can't adapt to the modern technology. He wrote his memories in MS Word, he copied CDs, listened to music and watched movies on the pc, talked with me on yahoo. More than some younger people are able to do.
And he was an extraordinary man, living through extraordinary times - he had been Jewish during the Second World War, he chose to be a communist since young, when they were outlawed. He had learnt as much as he could - both in technical field, where he was a... junior architect, I think it's called in English the one who has only the architecture college, not the full degree, and in the economics field, where he got to be a renowned economist with several books and publications. He had been an expert in his field, prices and tariffs. Even after retirement, people called him for expertises in court, when there were trials related to this. He had talent at drawing, at cooking... which I haven't inherited from him, unfortunately.
I used to say that I don't love him, even if I don't hate him either. But maybe I do love him still. Or at least, I care more than I expected to. Maybe in my own, strange, convoluted way, not like everyone. But I didn't expect to cry for him as much as I have done it since I heard about his passing.
It feels stranger and helpless because I am at so much distance and I can't go there now. I can't be with my sister (OK, halfsister... does it matter how much percent one has the same blood? I don't think so.) And as I told her at phone, words are useless. How to say "Condolences" when it's more than this. One says this to somebody stranger, but when it hurts the same... there have to be invented new words. And when they aren't invented, then tears might be enough.
And here... I can't do anything significant either. I don't know even what mourning customs to keep, since we don't share the same religion. Me, Christian Orthodox, he and my halfsister, Jewish. I had the same dilemma when my eldest halfsister died in 2003. Then, it was my father who understood and helped me in his own style. He made a sort of memorial book for her and gave me one copy as well. It sort of made up for not being there. And when I succeeded to arrive there, in 2008 and 2011, I went to the cemetery too.
Ultimately, after a long consideration, my husband and I decided to keep mourning for him for a few weeks. Until New Year's Eve. But he will be in my soul forever, for the memories we have got together. It is just right. And the candles have been lighted in my house for him ever since. There will be some other things I want to do too. Both some Jewish and some Christian Orthodox, because this is how I know to deal with death.
Some time within this month, I want to go to the Jewish Community when the Kaddish is said, and to read it with the others. I am not sure if I'll go to the Synagogue or maybe only to the Community, which seems less intimidating for me. When I read the Kaddish for my halfsister, it was also at a community event.
As for how I know to deal with death, yes, he'll be on the lists of prayers for the dead, together with my deceased sister and the others of his family, as my prayers list for the deads has three rows for three different families, and I would never admit to anyone who might not understand, that the people listed on the middle line are not Christian Orthodox. Some people said that prayers are good no matter in which faith; this is how it got to be like this. I'll give for charity in his name, according to the Orthodox traditions. Including to a young man who has somehow a part of his name, even if not his sound, practical mind...
And I am sure I'll find more ways to express my feelings. Probably in written, since this is what I can do better.
Farewell, my father! I am glad I knew you, I am glad we have some beautiful memories together. The hurtful part will efface in time. Death brings forward the happy memories. I am glad I am the mix of two different nationalities and cultures. I am glad I had the opportunity to know yours too, and that you and my sisters have helped me with this.
I DON'T CARE ANYMORE
(Or so I say in this moment; tomorrow I might discover that I am actually caring, and just attempting to grow a shield around myself).
I want to write with everybody, and I see lots of character opportunities which remain unused. No fault of mine; I have shown them to everybody, they have been invited into threads, for certain plots the NPCs and characters for adoption had been publicly advertised, together with their plot opportunities. If nobody is interested, even if there are plenty of interesting opportunities, then what else I can do than writing them alone? I don't see anything bad in writing a story alone; I'd see it as bad if others wanted to join and I didn't allow them. When I keep encouraging them but they don't, then it is up to them, not up to me.
Some promise they would write. They show their interest, in some cases they even post 1-2 posts... then they stop writing. Sometimes they stop any communication, not knowing if they ever intend to return or not. Sometimes they are still here, lurking... but not writing. Sorry, but if you have characters in the story, it means keeping them active, showing initiative, involving them in various plots (eventually without being prodded and invited, but by your own initiative), answering with new ideas when I am asking, in plot threads, "what story twists would inspire you to write more consistently? Which is the story you want to tell?" If you keep silence, it means you don't want anything to happen. And in that case, sorry to tell you, but nothing will happen to your characters whom you keep away even from threads where it would be natural for them to be a part of.
Do you remember the words you have witnessed at the weddings shown in movies? "If any person here can show cause why these two people should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace." You didn't speak when asked. If you kept silence then, it simply means the time to object has passed. You missed the opportunity to be a part of that story. Most likely, deliberately. Then... why complain, when you avoided it and stayed away?
And in these cases, where people join and vanish, or lurk but don't plot and don't write (well, I guess plotting but not writing to make it happen is worse, and it had happened many more times)... why are you wondering that I am writing alone, and that I find more ideas for plots involving my own characters than yours? Simply because I am tired of empty promises and unfinished stories which, ultimately, still my other characters have to save from the graveyard and lead to completion...
So, yes, I am writing. And I keep writing. I don't care anymore if you do or not. I know I am giving you the right example - it is up to you if you follow it or not, but don't tell me you didn't have the opportunity, because you did. You could have done exactly what I am doing. With me, with others, or all together.
I don't care anymore if you badmouth me for writing alone, when you know my first preference wouldn't be to write alone, but with you and with others. However, don't expect me to trust you again after you have let me down and you have made me to put my creativity on curling pins in order to apply damage control to several abandoned threads and give them a proper ending.
I had another entry on relationships a while ago. This is a spinoff on it, based on the creative writing articles at http://www.springhole.net/writing/relationships-romance-and-shipping.htm
I fully agree with the writer, and I know I have found these concepts before, in other creative writing books and articles. Some of the rules of writing romance are:
1. The characters need to communicate with each other, not only to gaze silently and sigh. To engage their love interest in meaningful conversation. How are they supposed to bond if they don’t even communicate?
2. The characters need to be aware of each other’s emotional needs and boundaries and one shouldn’t hate a major trait of the other (unless willing to overcome that hate, because this is possible too), because one can't actually love a person without accepting what the person actually is.
3. Don’t rush or take shortcuts in showing the relationship develop – show them in detail. Glossing over important relationship developments doesn’t do the story any favour. It makes it impossible for the readers to believe in the characters’ relationship or friendship, because it doesn’t create that emotional experience.
4. Don’t drop in a romance or crush out of nowhere, without a logical explanation and a gradual approach.
All these are true - however, how many times one has seen the opposite in their stories? How many times one has picked up somebody's request for a lover... just not having them thread enough together in order to develop said relationship? How many times characters are avoiding effective communication and apply to offscreen shortcuts which make the relationship feel flat? And how many times writers (and therefore characters) vanish mid-story, leaving the other character in the air, and trying the best to glue back the shards into something to allow them to go on?
How can a character go on after several such misfortunes, especially if they happen in a short story time? And how believable can be such a progression? Or, by contrary, if seeming unaffected... how it is possible, either? Why don't all the writers keep into consideration the creative writing rules and don't want to keep consistency in their stories?
I feel like the strangest exhibit in the window
Yes, I do, every time I read certain posts on a resource site - be it this one or another. As if I am the oddest being among the others.... who think in a hivemind. And I am still trying in vain to find a writing buddy to match my way of seeing things. It is impossible to be the only one, since my opinions weren't created in a void, but after reading enough creative writing articles from various writers.
It is impossible to not find somebody who is also story-oriented, who loves discussing plots and characters alike, who sees challenging himself not as stressful, but as the natural way to evolve as a writer, somebody who isn;t flimsy, but dedicated to finish a story once started... They should be somewhere in the mist, but how can I meet them and let the mist courtain fall?
Is everybody saying "just a hobby" as if a hobby shouldn't involve the desire to evolve, to improve, to meet the same standards and rules of creative writing and to integrate in a collectivity, be it a virtual one? (And of courtesy too, since we are not writing alone, but with others, so we should be more accomodating and less selfish).
Also, for me, challenging myself is not stressful, but inspiring, mobilizing me to achieve something. I need challenges to overcome. It just means a goal more to strive for, ie an achievement more after a while. The satisfaction of having overcome a challenge and to have learnt something new.
(Exactly how some people have found that having a deadline is stressful and determines procrastination. By contrary, for me setting myself deadlines if nobody else does gives me structure and direction. If I know x thing has to be ready in x days, I know how to plan to make it possible and I avoid procrastination, while if it should be ready "whenever you have time", it is too vague and I might procrastinate to never make time for it...)
I am setting myself goal after goal, challenge after challenge to overcome. I think, for the analogy with video games (which I don't play) it is... unlocking a next level. This comes with the satisfaction of having won - but having won against a computer is nothing vs. having won against yourself. The satisfaction is much more. If I like something, I do it with pleasure and I strive to be better at it. Researching and learning more about creative writing, practicing, experimenting and challenging myself are part of the fun of having writing as my main hobby.
The fact that I like writing and I like immersing myself in other centuries and countries, with their adventures, doesn't necessary mean that I want to escape my life and this is why I am writing. I like returning to my regular life, even if it has a different kind of challenges (which I don't necessary like, because I don't like everything I have to do in my daily life). I am writing because I can't live without writing. And I like to have the readers immersed in the environment and adventures I am describing.
Still... there aren't any people like me, and everybody looks at me as if I am the oddest being, totally different from them. Really, am I? Have the others like me just vanished, and only published writers, famous in their circles, have remained to share these opinions and characteristics?
It comes with being on the site for a while, and with actively writing. It comes with character's goals too, no matter how time and concrete conditions might twist them.
After a while, characters can switch factions, and it is all right.
It took a while for me to understand that it is all right, but now (and for a while, not only now) I understand it. In the first two years of roleplaying, I didn't understand it because I was thinking only at the freshly reopened slot in the initial faction, seeing it as a sort of betrayal to the faction. And when one of my characters had to change factions, I said that it was OK only because I had another character in that faction, so the faction wouldn't remain deprieved of one character.
Now that somebody wants to change factions... it makes sense for the character. I know it is a good character development. I know that the faction he is leaving would manage without him... We'll be all right. He might be all right as a civilian on an island too, starting a new life. And maybe it is interesting to explore this side of the story as well.
Still I feel sad and a bit betrayed, even if I know I shouldn't. I resent his departure from the faction, and I am as sad for his leaving as his captain and crewmates would be, in the story, when hearing about it. And this, because the writer has only one character and no intention to make more. Something will be enriched, with the price of tipping down the other scale of the balance, And this feels sad. But it is a sadness which will pass The story goes on, and it will be equally interesting. Characters do evolve and change paths in their story life...
You say you like your character. OK, then maybe you know that no character development can happen unless you post regularly and get involved with him in the story. That a character grows through interaction with other characters, while doing his duty, while partying or while fighting. There can be (and are recommended to be) individual plots too. But, again, just planning them and not actually writing them doesn't count. He has to be actively part of the story if you want exciting things to happen to him, to grow, to develop, to make friends.
Equally, logging in and lurking on the site without actually writing doesn't count; your characters still don't get the development you want. There is no other magic solution than get to actually write.
One hears it so often from RPG partners - "If you don't like it, go write a novel (or fanfiction) instead!" But is this really the solution, instead of talking with the writing partners and finding by negotiation and compromise a solution matching everyone's writing needs, halfway?
Writing a novel? Been there, done that (in my mother tongue) - several novel-length stories. (The list is somewhere here, in this blog, but given that it doesn't allow me to past links in words anymore, I give up searching for it. Breaking my blog entry with http links splashed as such isn't an aesthetic I prefer.) And yes, I do finish what I start. But writing a novel is a lonely endeavour. Just me and the computer (or notebooks before) and the research sources. Then, it stays somewhere in a corner of the computer and this is it. If in the past some people were curious to read the manuscript, even when it was handwritten on paper because nobody had a PC (and the existing PCs were writing on colourful cards, not on paper at that time) now people don’t read as much in general, I have noticed this.
Since I discovered that RPGs do exist, ie one can write a story together with other people, and get it published on the internet for more people to read it and to discuss about it, I have no more interest in writing alone. (I might return to it some day, I don’t dismiss the possibility. But maybe something would change in order for me to return. Maybe at that moment I’d have around me a support group interested in reading and discussing characters, plots, motives, literary techniques).
I like more writing with others instead of writing alone, plotting with others instead of doing it alone, making come true both my stories and the others’, negotiating and finding a midway for aspects where the expectations are radically different, so that it keeps being fun and interesting for all of us, discussing what’s behind the story and the research process, gossiping and discarding several alternatives after choosing the one with the most ripples for the plot. Finding online likeminded friends of any ages, places, cultural, social and national background, interested in writing and reading, when there are none around me.
So yes, this is the answer why I wouldn’t write a novel alone, but one with others (a RPG, how writing with others is called) but still applying the rules of creative writing to this writing endeavour, planning included (just planning together, no more alone, and writing together, no more alone).
I understand that not all the characters are religious. However, if a religion is mentioned in a character's bio, one should use it at least a little - even if it means to highlight that he has evolved and doesn't believe anymore, and that his current beliefs aren't the same with the ones he was taught in childhood. Not to have it written in the bio, then act as if it was never mentioned. Why bother then to mention it in the first place?
This is twice as valid when it is about somebody hiding his religion. There might be the desire to blend in, to seem unconspicuous and to deliberately not show any trace of the hidden religion. It makes perfect sense - but in the character's thoughts, there has to be this deliberate choice; an inner conflict, from time to time, between what he had been taught initially and what he has to do now. Or minor, delicate little things which still pertain to the hidden religion, even if they can't be directly traced to it.
For example, there are two NPCs, one muslim, one Jewish - in a time where Inquisition still existed and... burned.
The muslim one still believes in Allah as he had been taught, just that he can't say it in the open. He doesn't pray all 5 times a day, at least not visibly, but he surely says the prayer in his mind when he can. He gets up earlier than the others he lives with, for the ritual ablutions. This means he is cleaner than others, and a little teased for it, but nobody makes the connection between a strange (for that time) desire for cleanliness and religion. He does abstain from eating pork as much as possible; but when he crossed the sea (and not as a passenger) to the colonies, he had to eat what the others did. Salt pork and hard tack was the general menu. As he is isolated from any other Muslims, he doesn't keep any holidays because nobody can tell him when they are (moon-based religious calendar).
The Jewish is a sailor; again, he does abstain from eating pork as much as possible; but when at sea, he can't. He eats with the others, so the notions of kashrut had to be forgotten. Even so, I think he'd never mix dairy and meat at the same meal, and he'd prefer drinking strong drinks or ale instead of wine (which, according to kashrut, is sacred and should have been only grown and harvested by Jews according to kashrut provisions). He also doesn't gamble, because he remembers from his bar mitzvah (the only torah studies he had ever done) that it is forbidden. He doesn't know much more than the basics about his own religion, so other precepts he might infringe in good conscience, without knowing. He also tried to avoid medical control aboard the ship whenever he could. At the transfer to a new ship he couldn't anymore, so he trembled what would happen when the doctor would discover the pledge of Abraham carved in his flesh. Fortunately for him, that particular doctor didn't care and didn't report.
These aren't much. Just little details to flesh up more a character over time - and taking into account that these are NPCs, even more than needed. But still something to make the characters more rounded and more believable. I wished others would do the same. The Jewish sailor's sister never had a moment of thinking about God, of conflicting thoughts or anything.
My Catholic characters, more or less believers, show their religious thoughts (or contempt towards them, for one who doesn't believe anymore). There is one who was once Catholic but turned Anglican because it was bad for business to be Catholic. He isn't much religious of any nature, still there are some inner conflicts within him between what he had learnt in his first school years with the monks and what he is doing now.
My point is that if you gave your character a religion, show it a little in his thoughts, deeds or habits.
I wrote them on pictures and kept them as motivational posters. And it doesn't matter that one mentions a site, since said site closed in 2013:
Everyone has high and low moments. These help for the low moments.
Another site I have been writing on, gone.
Another time I have been among the most devoted members, left, together with a few others, to switch off the light.
I feel hurt and sad because this happened... and at the same time, somehow relieved that it's a place where I don't owe posts anymore. But the petty relief is trumped by the sadness.
I am sorry, Morrigan, if you are reading this, because the gif I asked was for this site, which during this week-end announced its closure. Many administrators, confronted with a lack of activity, decide to close the site instead of doing more advertising, being themselves more active and rallying the remaining devoted members around them, besides trying to get more members. It is easier to throw the towel instead of fighting for what you have created.
It feels sad and lonely to have the world you were writing in, the story you were building, crushing under your eyes. Especially when it was much more to the story to be told... and when the administrator was making plans for the story too, from her point of view. This was why I didn't expected a sudden closure, no matter that the activity was lingering for a while.
I know, not the first, nor the last site to close this way, suddenly. It's more of an exception when people fight to keep a site floating, and when a site resists for more than one year.
But this time it might be different for me. This time I might continue the story offscreen. Yes, I think I'll have the courage to finish it alone, in my own time. Still in English, since half of it is in English.
However I am not sure what to do, because... I think I will have to write for other characters too, and I know some people would consider this wrong. I don't consider it wrong, because the relationships were built in time, were agreed with the writers... and it can't start again as if it hadn't happened, as if my two characters were alone in the world and nobody else existing around but them. If mentioning other friends instead of the existing ones, where have they been taken from and why haven't they been shown until then? Complicated. For this I have no exact answer yet, but I'll think until I'll find one.
I am annoyed with fangirling over playbys, especially when it happens in the c-box (or in the messengers where I want to discuss plot twists, not how cute/ hot/ etc is one or another actor). I thought I wasn't doing it... But it seems I am wrong, and maybe I am annoyed because I have different tastes.
Still, I prefer fangirling over plots, characters and writing techniques, not over playbys. Over the action per se, the story twists and the character motivations, because these should be of paramount importance in a writing community. We are gathered together to write jointly a story, aren't we?
I wouldn't say that a character/ playby is "hot", I would never say a variant to "my ovaries are melting" or "I'd want him in my bed", how I have heard from others. And no, I am not even thinking this. I don;t understand this kind of fangirling, and some of those comments made me uncomfortable.
I am not reblogging endlessly only certain characters (and I think the writing advice reblogs and the ships/ Age of Sail inspiration and history tips, clothing and weapons are more than the characters on my tumblr). Yes, sometimes I have the same characters from time to time, but this not necessarily because I like them more. Either because I saw more photos of them on my dashboard, to reblog, or because the characters have done something (taken a prize in a contest, got spotlight of the month, etc.)
Nevertheless, I have been caught guilty of fangirling too. (Yes, this is a scene from the Christmas tree of this year). Even if I don't think I meet the definition in the picture. I am not obsessed, and dying for the actors/ actresses/ singers I admire.
I can't deny that I have Alain Delon's photo under the glass on the coffee table for 8 years or so, since I took it from my mother's (where I had it under the glass of my desk for 20+ years). It doesn't mean I am looking at it all day long. I had even forgotten it was there. But yes, I like Alain Delon since I was 8 and I saw him first in "Black Tulip", then in "Zorro". I had at home (at my mother's) several photos with him (and with many other actors and actresses. In my teens, I used to collect not only stamps and foreign coins, but also postcards with landscapes, postcards with actors, with ships and with roses).
I can't deny that I have Pinterest and that, for some of my characters, I have photos and videos of the playby beyond the character. But I am not sure it is the same kind of fangirling that I despise at others. I don't think I am a hypocrite.
Yes, I think that the playbys I chose for my characters represent them well. Some are more beautiful than others, but all are representative (in the chosen photos; because the same actor/ singer/ etc. can be not suitable for the character in other movies/ photos). And some are not beautiful, and chosen on purpose so. Because in life not all people around are beautiful.
I do like Alain Delon, but I chose him for my character Andrea Costa because, in the movie "Rocco e sue fratelli" he had the angelic look I was searching for. You wouldn't hear me though saying "how beautiful he is!". I might say I consider him beautiful if asked, but otherwise I wouldn't say it. And I wouldn't have wanted him as boyfriend or anything... He is just a pretty actor who matches my idea for a character.
I do think Sarita Montiel was one of the sexiest women in "Carmen, la de Ronda" and in "Veracruz", and she matched my idea for Maribel Vargas the innkeeper. I have on Pinterest also lots of videos with her songs, because I like her songs a lot. But only rarely a link with a song would appear in the C-box or on my tumblr, without any other comment. (Well, on tumblr with the link to the character bio, how it is for all characters spotlighted). I like her songs more than her acting.
Nikos Xilouris is not beautiful, but he has a good voice and he was appropriate for the character to envisage, Leftheris Vounos. I like his songs since I had got a tape 20 years ago and I didn't know how he looked like. I knew only that it was a good voice and that he was already dead. And when deciding to make a Greek character, I said he had to be from Crete and have his face. I have on Pinterest photos with his children and his brothers too... but it simply gets to the fact that, learning more about him, I admire him more for what he was and for what he brought to the Greek musical world and to the Greek history than for how he looked. And his brothers and their children and grandchildren are still in the musical world, and now with the Facebook I am following them for their music. It's like... Strauss family on several generations.
Does it make sense what am I saying? Am I a hypocrite to despise fangirling and still be into it?
It just has to come sooner or later, in a painful or natural and serene way.
Why now? Because the bells were tolling. Why now? Because the new moon in Sagittarius is the moon of unexpected changes. And I have to open to them, no matter what they would entail.
To mourn my losses, to gather the remained pieces... and to go forward. I had moments of hesitation, when I thought I'd give up. But I can't. There is no turning back, ever.... just forward.
"Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar!" - Traveller, there is no road, the road is made by your steps.
And so do I now. I arrived to the conclusion that some people want always what they can't have right now, and lose interest when they can have it, just to have always something to complain about.
It has happened every time when I did my sort of activity check - it happens about 2 times a year on my site, and it includes ideas for further inclusion in the story in the next story months - "what would inspire you the most in order to write more consistently? What story is growing inside you and you want to tell it?" I do keep in mind the proposals, I combine them in consolidated adventures and I tell them when they will be implemented. But usually the ones who post ideas in the "activity check" council threads are the ones who ultimately don't write in the threads to implement the ideas when they happen.
I honestly don't understand their attitude - if they want things to happen, why aren't they writing and making things happen? It is always easier to complain than to act constructively. Why do they say they want battles, then don't write in them when the time comes for the battles? Why do they always find an excuse and not post in the said battles?
I myself have flat out no time to devote to a thread where nothing will happen to any of my characters (or any of my partner's characters) like this thread. - was the newest excuse I heard.
Well, but it is the battle you (and others) had stated you wanted to happen... and there are things which might happen to your characters or to any writing partnerâ€™s characters if you make it happen. This is valid for each of you â€“ be active, make things happen and they will! The problem is that everybody said they wanted a battle, they wanted to write their characters doing heroical thingsâ€¦ but now once this battle happens, they decide not to write, thinking that nothing will happen. Sorry, it is up to you all to make things really happen, and there are plenty of opportunities for this. There are Navy guys aboard the privateer ship, in an exchange of forces; there are new guys and old guys, there is a battle to write and enemies to fight and be heroical. It all takes you all to want it to happen, and it will happen.