Archive for November, 2013

On Sexuality and Cop-Outs.

Posted in Grumblings on November 28, 2013 by chemiclord

Recently on Exiern, I starting pulling the threads together on a story line that my predecessor Drowemos started early in the strip’s development.  Tiffany (Typhon-Knee’s) sexuality and preference was frequently hinted at, toyed with, teased, and skirted around.  At this point, it’s now clear, and I’m ready to discuss it in more detail.

From the beginning, my interpretation of Tiffany’s actions was of a repressed homosexual in denial.  I never liked the idea of Faden’s “curse” changing Tiffany in any fundamentally mental or emotional way.  This is labeled as a “cop out” by some.  To be honest, I felt the “cop out” was to alter her mind along with her body. To me, that makes the change too neat; too clean.  The curse then becomes a clean break from what Tiffany was and what she now is.

The thrust of this “Wild North” storyline is to pressure Tiffany into accepting what changed and what didn’t, forcing her to confront her past so that she can move forward with her life.  It doesn’t entirely resolve the issues she has with her identity (in fact, I could argue the disconnect between her and her body is worse than it was), but it’s the first of many steps Tiffany will make in coming to terms with her place between two cultures, two ways of life, and where her life goes from here.  The events that led to her exile had haunted her, and the guilt is still building.  This is just the beginning of her resolution.

Does that mean there weren’t other valid interpretations?  No; of course there was.  There’s no doubt many more complex and interesting roads that could have been taken.  But to me, her sexuality and/or her gender identity is not the twist in this tale.  That she wasn’t “normal” in some fashion was rather obvious.  This “reveal” is the context for the real “twist” that’s coming next week.  Remember those recollections into the death of Raviner-Behr and the boy’s exile?  This reveal is what pushes Tiffany to finally set the record straight on what she saw that fateful day.

The reveal is for the sake of the story; the story is not for the sake of the reveal.

I do apologize if this element of the story disappoints some of you.  I apologize if the part of the story that most engaged you was not the primary motivation for the story I am trying to tell.  I can only hope that you do find that story to at least dampen that disappointment.

Thank you for listening; and thank you all for reading.

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On Dragging…

Posted in Grumblings on November 27, 2013 by chemiclord

Here’s something really interesting, and for a moment I got myself wondering, “Am I a hypocrite?”

Guild Wars 2 is a game that I spend maybe an hour or two a day playing.  I’ve mentioned it occasionally on this blog, but by and large have tried to avoid critiquing the writing staff too much.

But I rather hit my limit when trying to discuss the character that is Scarlet Briar.

For a better part of roughly six months, GW2 players have dealt with a really slow moving set-up (or at least I presume it’s a set-up) for the motivations of this character.  It’s a consequence of their two-week “Living Story” updates and not wanting to dump so much content that casual players get left behind.  Nonetheless, this REALLY long slog has been taking its toll on an increasingly larger segment of the player base that the forums are beginning to sound like a Monty Python Segment.

Get on with it!

And honestly, at this point, I’ve joined those masses.  I mean, I get what Arena.net is trying to do… they’re trying to get us thinking, speculating, then “wow” us when all the pieces fall into place.  But it’s not working.  There’s not enough meat every two weeks to keep people interested.

And that’s where I kinda froze up.

Because that was a complaint that popped up on more than one occasion as I’ve been putting together “The Wild North” for Exiern.  And, it’s true that I’ve made (and am still making in some ways) a very slow play of story elements, which probably isn’t resonating with every reader as it’s on a 2-page a week schedule.  Yes, I was hearing “get on with it” too.

And perhaps this is rationalizing on my part, but as I gave it some thought, I decided at the end that I can criticize Arena.net’s progress with Scarlet Briar while maintaining my own slow play.

Why?

Arena.net’s audience had to drop $60 up front for this slog.  Exiern remains completely free-to-read.  As a result, I really am under no obligation to answer to my customers… because at this point, I don’t have any.  I know that there IS a store and a secondary site involved, but I have nothing to do with either, and I see no profits from either.  They are of no concern to me.  I am more than comfortable telling my story at my pace.  I will remain to see $0 from it until the story is completed and is (hopefully) published for sale.

As such, my end goal is not immediate satisfaction.  I need to compose the best complete story I can, and this particular story I am trying to tell I feel best comes together over time.  It honestly won’t feel nearly as long and drawn out when it’s all in front of you to be consumed at once.

Arena.net, on the other hand, has an obligation to those who gave them money to entertain them, and their slow play isn’t cutting it.  Sorry guys… you better wrap it up.  Quickly.

On Support

Posted in Grumblings on November 7, 2013 by chemiclord

It’s hard to make your “big break” in this business.  I know this all to painfully well.  I celebrated my 35th birthday just a couple weeks ago, and even at this point I would still have a failing grade on the Internet Celebrity report card.  A major reason I’m where I’m at is because of the professional and personal relationship I have forged with Fred Gallagher (a man who at this point doesn’t need his resume listed).  Our Endgames short story was no doubt one of the influences that earned me the contract writing Exiern, and the reason Amazon gave me a bit of an accelerated process to get my first book to print.  I would still be nervously scrawling my manuscript, terrified to show anyone, without his influence.

So, it felt like a low blow when I got this e-mail earlier today:

“I’ve followed your work for some time followed your updates, read your free content. Haven’t bought your book yet but I’m getting to it.  Don’t have much money.  But there’s one thing that kinda upsets me and I wonder if it upsets you.

Does it bother you that Fred Gallagher doesn’t support your work?

The Endgames story went nowhere even as people wanted more.  Was he scared that people liked it more than his solo content?  He hasn’t said anything publicly about your novel or your own webcomic; I had to learn about those from others.  I was at Youmacon when Mookie and Sonny Strait wanted you to join them on the webcomics panel, and it was your supposed patron who nixed it.  Now I get that you don’t want to burn any bridges, so you can just make it our secret.  Does it bother you?”

In short; no.  In reverse order –

Clearly, whoever saw this scene play out wasn’t close enough to the action, because they obviously didn’t hear my words to Ray Kremer, who was sitting right next to me.

“Bullet.  Dodged.”

Perhaps I should explain something about myself that people might have gotten the hint on based on how rarely I make posts here.  I have a mild social anxiety; not a crippling disorder, but enough that I can become unsettled in public, especially when surprised or put on the spot.  Mookie and Sonny didn’t know, and I certainly don’t want them to think that I am chastising them here.  Fred does, and knew that it would have been a bad idea to put this deer in front of those headlights without any advance warning.  The end result of me being on that stage would have been me clutching the table in fright, effectively deaf mute.  Entertaining for some, perhaps, but not for me.

As for not saying anything publicly about my other work, personally I prefer his actions.  At the convention last week that he supposed “nixed” my promotion, he was also giving me half of his booth space to sell the book that he supposedly wasn’t supporting.  That’d be a little odd, don’t you think?

Finally, the Endgames issue;  yes, I had a preview for the first full length light novel at Youmacon 2012, and that nothing came of it in the end.  It was an unfortunate set of circumstances; Fred’s heart trouble and recovery followed by the success of public funding the Visual Novel, which as a result has taken priority.  We are both very busy people, with other projects to juggle (and a full-time job in my case).  Would I like to go back to the Endgames world?  Absolutely… but it’s something that will only be able to happen down the road.

At the end of the day, I feel supported just fine.  Any “failure” for me to succeed is on my shoulders, not because I’m not getting “plugged” enough.  I’d been trying to get my voice and story out there for the better part of a decade.  Only one person listened, and that’s the guy who is getting snide e-mails sent to me about.  Maybe you should ask the publishers who started ignoring me those questions first.