Drawing 2: The Proposal

Better late than never! I was supposed to finish this for the 14th but I didn’t. I had the first half of the gift (the gifset) ready to post and so I didn’t screw up the exchange. Plus I still finished the drawing within the month so I’m going to take that as a win.

I swore when I was working on this that I was never doing a full room again. It took forever. However, I guess if I do eventually get into drawing comics how I’d like, then I’ll need to get used to drawing backgrounds better and faster.

With this I really tried to think about the lighting sources. I confess I used a reference for the room but I had to adapt it as it was decorated for christmas and had four other characters in it. So I had a leg up with working out the lighting on the background at least. I got lucky with the reference for the kiss as both characters had kissed someone in the show (but sadly not each other). So I made a manip of them kissing and then used that as my reference.

Shading is still hard for me. I tried to be less tentative with the full faces on the kiss and use bolder shading colours. It’s a scary thing. The more I look at it, the more I’m not happy with it, but have to draw a line at some point. The firm deadline for finishing was today. I’ll hopefully learn more from doing more drawings, than I would endlessly fiddling with this one. Plus fiddling for ages makes me totally sick of what I’m doing. Best just to move on.

One thing I do want to praise myself on, and I think I’ve said this before so I’m sorry, is that I do hair so much better these days. Looking back at some of my older drawings and the hair is embarrassing. I can’t believe I actually posted those on the internet! I did one of them for an exchange and I just want to die thinking that, poor person getting that as a gift /hides.

I still haven’t picked my March project. I’ll need to declare it tomorrow when I post my goals for March in my WriYe progress thread, so I still have a little time to think about it.

Blog Circle: Inspiration

It’s February and there’s another WriYe blog circle topic.

What inspires you?
The question ‘what if?’ more than anything to be honest. I mean we don’t like in a vacuum right? So it’s not that controversial to say we’re influenced by everything we interact with. However, it’s probably a bit controversial to say that I follow the maxim of “stealing ideas without actually stealing them”. You see I get inspired when I love something and in general terms I take what I love and make it my own.

For instance I’ll watch something and they’ll be one aspect which makes me go “hello!” and this can be anything but for the ease of this example I’ll go with a relationship. Anyone remember Alias? Jack Bristow and Irina Derevko intrigued me and I knew I wanted to do something with that. In broad strokes they are spies for opposing agencies, Irina seduced Jack to spy on him long term and then committed the cardinal sin of falling in love with her mark (or so I saw it) – it was a tragic love story.

Now I messed around with this and I think I wrote 4 or 5 drafts of a story I called Perfidy. I altered a lot of details, introduced a ton more characters, obviously the main plot was my own. First draft was two years after the betrayal I think, and they had to work together to stop a nuclear bomb? and had to face their feelings because dammit even after everything they still loved one another. One of the later drafts was twenty years later, they had reunited long before and left the spy business, but they got pulled back in by this billionaire who wanted revenge for his brothers death.

As you can probably tell this example didn’t actually succeed in a draft I was ever happy with. However, a few years back I wrote a short story using the same concept. It was set in space, on a sci-fi world where there were two warring factions. I like that angle a lot better to be honest because it avoids messy Earth politics. Then I decided that would work well if I meshed it with some nebulous thoughts of a series I was developing at the time. So two warring factions on a planet, have now become two warring worlds, and there’s also a third enemy and then people from Earth show up (there’s a lot going on).

So I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t think there’s any harm in wanting to play with what is effectively a trope. Rival spies who fall in love and there’s betrayal and stuff is hardly an Alias exclusive. Jack and Irina inspired me but stripping it back to basics means I made it my own, and maybe one day Galaxy of Fire will be a thing.

How do you hold onto that inspiration through less-than-inspiring times?
I try and remember what made me love the idea in the first place, what the spark was that made me go “hmm yes it’s going to be you” and pushed me to develop the story.

Honestly though this is a hard question because holding onto inspiration isn’t easy. Sometimes I feel an outpouring of love but quite often I want to burn my drafts in fire. Writing is hard. Inspiration is fleeting, I try and focus on discipline. That often fails too but “butt in chair” is a phrase for a reason you know?

Is inspiration different than motivation for you?

Continuing from the last question because it sort of blends together. Yeah inspiration and motivation are different for me. As I said inspiration is often fleeting, and hard to pin down. It’s the bubble of “ooooh” I get when the story idea first strikes, or when I have a breakthrough when planning and details start to fall into place. The whole story then sort of spreads out in front of me and I bask in all the glorious potential.

Once I start writing inspiration often vanishes. Like I said I try and remember why I was keen on the story in the first place, but really the actual writing is all about perseverance. Motivation is always there because I do want to finish stuff, I really really do. Sometimes I think it seems like I’m not motivated because I don’t do things but that really isn’t true. I’m not doing things because of my mental health, not because I lack the desire to do them. I always want to write and complete my projects, it’s just reality isn’t that easy.

Drawing 1: At the Club

Alright! Already doing better than last year because I did in fact do a drawing in January and this is it. It’s an illustration of James Watson and John Druitt from Sanctuary, at a dance club, which pairs with my fanfic James Watson and the Curious Case of the Jarnul.

I tried to add some lighting effects to simulate strobe lighting for the club, not too sure how successful that was. I did better with likeness here because I cheated and managed to find some references of the heads in those positions. That isn’t always possible which is why likeness is a bit hit and miss and I really need to work on it. I don’t want to be so reliant on exact references, as I want to be able to do whatever pose I like.

Speaking of pose this was a tricky one. I wanted it to look like they were kinda dancing together (as I’d described in my fic) but google would not kick back two men in this kind of pose. I’m not at all confident I got the proportions right and John’s hands look a little weird. I made a reference for those myself from a selfie but as I’m only one person, I couldn’t obviously do the actual pose so it was a guess as to how the hands would be.

I think I did the skin blending slightly better than the last drawing but ehhh I’m not sure. Their noses certainly don’t look very good and I have epic failed on facial expression again. This is a much simpler drawing as there’s no background. I think there is still a narrative to it which gives it a bit of energy but expressions would have made it better. I really need to work on those.

February’s project is going to be Bering and Wells and I have a deadline of the 14th for that (the Bering and Wells exchange) so I really need to crack on.

WriYe: Goals and Plans

January and a blog circle topic!

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2021? Why did you chose it?
Technically it’s 75k at the moment. However, I put on my progress thread “starting small, dreaming higher” and that’s precisely what I’m doing. I picked 75k because it’s the length of a full novel draft. At minimum I want one completed drafted full length original novel. So those two goals are compatible BUT I’m going to be writing other things. I’m continuing with the fanfic and my first original project in 2021 is a novella.

Basically I hope very much that I will far exceed 75k. I have secret dreams about smashing past 75k in February if I’m honest. However, given how last year went I thought picking a low goal wouldn’t be intimidating, and then when I smashed it (thinking positively here) I could increase it and then feel good about that.

What are your writing/editing plans for the year?

As I said above I’d like at least one full length novel written. I’m starting with this novella and there’s fanfic. To be honest I haven’t thought further than those goals quite deliberately. I don’t want to scare myself off. I’m focusing on January and what I’m working on now. When I finish my current projects I’ll focus on February, and what I’m going to write then, and not look too far into the future.

I’m feeling like if I take it a month at a time, a project at a time, then that might work like NaNo which went really well last year. I had my project, I worked on it all month, and I wrote ‘The End’ on the 30th and it felt great. So I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I have a lot of different possibilities about what I can work on but I’ll pick when I get there. For now I’m focusing on the novella (Fall of Camelot) and my current fanfic (Choosing Fate).

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Smashing my goals? Haha oh I don’t know. I’m trying to be positive here. Seriously, what I want the most from 2021 is to make progress, to move forward, to finally get somewhere. There is nothing I want more than to get to the end of December in 2021 and type up a yearly review, and to list all the things I accomplished.

I want that glow of satisfaction, of being able to feel like yes I did something good. Not that I’m saying the writing will be good (although I’m trying not to make myself panic about being good enough right now!). What I mean by good is, I don’t want to get through another year and feel like I wasted the time again. Like I said I really want to feel like I made progress.

So yes, that is the only answer I can give really. In 2021 I’m most looking forward to (hopefully) feeling accomplished, to being productive and getting words written.

Drawing 0: Christmas 1887

About this time last year I did a post – Drawing 0: Pirates – because it was my intention to draw every month in 2020. Alas like almost everything that plan went down the drain. To be honest my 2021 goals are basically “same as 2020 but I really, really mean it this time!”

This was an illustration of a christmas flashback scene in my Sanctuary fanfic Our Darkest Hour. John/James/Helen ship obviously. Now there’s quite a few things that I’m not happy with. For a start I still need to work on likeness, and skin shading and facial expression. Lighting sources/appropriate shading for the lighting very much too.

BUT

This is my “art timeline” over the past few years. I know it’s hard to see small but for the most part there has been an improvement. I’ve definitely got better at doing hair! In some of the older drawings I can pick out things that I think I did better. I’m particularly pleased with the belt sash thing Myka’s wearing in the pirates drawing for example, and I think I did the clothing on Jedi!Belle pretty well.

Now likeness is a tricky one because yes the two Bering and Wells drawings look a lot more like Bering and Wells, than the above Sanctuary drawing does of John, James and Helen. BUT that likeness was achieved by finding and copying an exact reference which meant I was limited on pose. The biggest leap forward with this Sanctuary drawing was in developing the pose.

The 2016 and first 2017 drawing were straight tracings over a reference I found on google. The other two 2017 drawings, the 2018 drawings and the first 2019 drawing were straight referenced from 3D modelling poses. I think I used 3 different programs in that time. The two Bering and Wells drawings were just done from photo references. Again very specific, no deviation. I could only do what I managed to find.

With this Sanctuary drawing I had a picture in my head that I wanted to bring to life. I tried to do a 3D model reference and gave up pretty quickly. Instead I found some references that were close (a starting point), and then I found more references and I even took some selfie photos of myself for arm positioning and stuff. It was all very hacked together. I’m pretty pleased with it to be honest.

With the last drawing I did (the Pirates one) my primary criticism was the lack of narrative. It was basically just a portrait, there was no action, which I think added to the lifeless/emotionless feel of the piece. That isn’t a problem with the Sanctuary drawing, it’s a much truer illustration. However, the trade-off with drawing more from my imagination, is I don’t have such specific references – which has hurt capturing the likeness. Same with clothing folds and the like but I very much believe though that it’s a step forward.

I have January’s project in mind already – an illustration of John and James dancing at the club from the fic I’m currently writing. Cross fingers that by this time next year I’ll have at least 12 new drawings for an art timeline, and hopefully showing considerable improvement over the course of the year. That’s the goal!

WriYe: Year in Review

The blog circle on WriYe has been absent since March but quite frankly it’s been that kind of year. I just went back and read my 2020 January post detailing my plans for the year… oh we had no idea did we?

A real gem here: “It’s going to a brand new decade. I really hope it’s better than the last one.”

2020 is almost over (yay!). In a very unpredictable and unstable year, sum up your year of writing.
Did you meet your goals? Did you survive? Barely hung on?

Right my goals were as follows:
“150k target. I want to be consistent with my writing. 4thewords – I intend to use it everyday next year. My aim is to maintain the 444 word streak on the site to make incremental progress everyday. I want a couple of drafts by the end of the year – I want to feel like I made progress ultimately!

In 2020 I intend to move forward with my writing, with the goal to being in a position to start publishing in 2021, and I also want to leap forward with my drawing if I can and do a drawing a month and complete the ‘How to Draw the Marvel Way’ course that I was given ages ago.”

Did I meet them?

Bwhahahaha yeah no. Not even close, not even a little bit.

My 4thewords streak is technically intact but that’s only down to rampant cheating. I’m not sure how many days I actually wrote for but it’s possibly in the region of about 50, if that and only then if I include planning days probably.

I have zero novel drafts. In fact I have zero progress on any original work whatsoever. You see what happened is (well I’m going to quote myself again). I wrote in that 2020 January post: “I know how rusty I am and that everything I write to begin with is going to be even more shit than normal. However I’m not going to get past that and write anything ever potentially decent if I don’t forge on.” but unfortunately panic doesn’t understand logic.

Even before 2020 took a turn for the crazy I wasn’t doing well. I spent a good chunk of January planning out an original novel and I was all set to start, I sat down and kept having panic attacks. I think I wrote 500 words and hated them all. I couldn’t get over how awful I felt it was and I just felt like I would never be good enough.

I haven’t done a single drawing this year. I’m working on one now (in December) but that will be my only 2020 drawing. I didn’t touch the course. I basically achieved NONE of my goals.

Give us your biggest triumph and what you are most proud of!

Well I survived the year. So there’s that.

I’m going to end WriYe with about 70k and that’s entirely down to November. I did the Sanctuary fanfic and I smashed it. Almost 67k and The End. That is my singular success story this year. I suppose that proves that I can write, just in a limited fashion. It wasn’t original work so I managed to bypass the paralyzing panic/fear that stops me from writing normally.

I’m glad I managed to write something, even if it was fanfic, because something is better than nothing. I mean I said that in my NaNo post, “this might as well happen” because nothing else was happening. It was fun writing that in November. I liked writing again. I liked completing the quests on 4thewords. I want to do more of it but I’m just not sure what right now. I need to have a think.

It’s that time of year

Ok let’s be real writing has been a disaster for me since November 2016. I tried to keep writing after it but within six months I’d ground to a complete halt. I’ve not successfully completed a single story, and definitely not NaNo, ever since.

2017. 2018. 2019.

All gone, didn’t happen, I don’t think I even attempted it last year at all. I had big plans for this year but well it’s 2020 – the year of the unexpected. I’m trying to not be too hard on myself for it.

Anyway, I’ve been going back and forth over what to do. NaNo used to be the highlight of my year, it used to be magical and I miss that feeling. I had some time to think this morning and I came to some conclusions:
1) not doing NaNo isn’t an option. I need to try. It matters to me.
2) whatever I write has to reach the 50k or I’ll feel like it doesn’t count.
3) I love my ideas I really do but I’m too scared to attempt them and if I try I won’t get very far.
4) I remember Her Happy Ending (yes it is story time).

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Avenger’s Game

This game has been on my wishlist since I learned of its existence. I was disappointed when the release date was pushed back from May as I was planning on getting it for myself as a birthday present. This past weekend there was an open beta and so I tried the game out and I’m so glad I did.

It’s bad.

Like I’m the target audience for this game probably. I’m not very critical because I’m pretty useless at games and I love Marvel. Getting to play as my favourite characters = instant success, right? Well normally but with this game? Yeah not so much.

Ok so why do I think it’s bad?

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Revision vs. Editing

Anyone that knows me knows I have a thing about the terms revision and editing getting mixed up. It’s petty and ridiculous but we all have things we’re stupid about. To me revision is about story, it’s what happens first to turn a first draft into a draft for others. Editing comes afterwards and is more about polishing it up, getting the commas in the right place, checking for typos and perhaps adjusting word choices.

They are different things in my head and I just want that distinction to be clear.

What is your main struggle with editing?  Is it getting started? Rereading your own work? How do you handle it?
This is the question asked for March’s WriYe blog topic. Now if I took the question at it’s word then I would be talking about ‘editing’ aka the polishing of grammar and punctuation. The answer for that is different than the answer would be for revision. My main struggle with editing is lack of knowledge/ability. I tend to punctuate by feel and I make errors in my writing grammatically – I need an editor. I have got a course to try and learn how to be a proof-reader but I’m really struggling to apply the concepts it’s trying to teach. Editing is hard.

Revision on the other hand is something I quite like. It’s analytical and there’s a process to it because it’s dealing with something of substance. I find the actual writing hard because I’m making something from nothing. With revision I’m dealing with something that already exists and that’s a massive help. Years ago I took Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course and most of my process is drawn from that.

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Talking Trek

I have now seen all of the Star Trek movies and varying amounts of all of the TV shows (bar the animated series). I’ve seen all of Picard, Discovery and Enterprise, a handful of episodes of TOS and the first seasons of TNG, Voyager and DS9. I should probably wait until I have seen more of the shows (they do have seven seasons after all) but I feel like rambling about this now.

This post started off as an attempt to rank the various movies and TV shows in order of how much I like them. However, I ran into problems with that. In a lot of respects it’s hard to compare the shows against one another because they are different. I was just talking with a friend about trying to do this and we said that we like things for different reasons – so how can you put one above another?

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