2020 Writing Log, Part 25

– I edited (and partially rewrote) the first half of the old short story I mentioned earlier, “Mount Hiei.” I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying this, but I’m surprised by how entertaining it is. I originally wrote it in 2013, which is back before I started seriously writing fiction. I expected it to be garbage, but it’s not bad!

– I saw an interesting call for anthology submissions from a small press I admire; and, before I could stop myself, I wrote the first few pages of a story called “The Slithery Dee” (after the Shel Silverstein poem). Unless I get another sudden burst of inspiration, however, I’m going to put this story on hold until I’m finished editing “Mount Hiei.” I love writing, but I want to keep everything slow and steady in order to avoid unnecessary stress and burnout.

– I took my It Never Happened zine to two local bookstores, Bindlestiff Books and A Novel Idea. The people I spoke with were super friendly, and I ended up walking out of both stores with more zines than I came in with.

– I finished my story for the Multifandom Drabble fanfic exchange. I can’t even begin to describe how much of a joy it was to write this, and I’m eternally grateful to the person who created the prompt. I hope they enjoy the story!

– I signed up for the Press Start fanfic exchange. This is the first year I’ve been able to participate, and I’m excited. I spent the past two weeks thinking up prompts, and I hope the person I’m paired with is at least a little amused. I just got my own assignment this morning, and I am delighted.

– I edited Chapter 8 of Malice.

– I wrote another page of my Legend of Zelda essay. Progress is slow, but it’s coming along!

– I submitted a short entry on “manga” for a handbook titled Key Terms in Comics Studies. This was a lot of fun, and the editor was a pleasure to work with.

– I completed my Summer 2020 sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project and mailed it in. I have to admit that I’m not super onboard with the trend of people feeling compelled to post photos of portfolio-perfect sketchbooks on Instagram, so I really appreciate this program, which encourages and celebrates messiness, experimentation, and artists of all skill levels.

– Now that the Philadelphia city offices are open again, I was finally able to get a Pennsylvania driver’s license. It took a bit of work, but I’m now officially nonbinary on my state ID. I also registered to vote. Hooray!

2020 Weekly Writing Log, Part 24

– I posted Chapter 40 of Malice on AO3. This is probably the last chapter of this story that I’ll write, at least for a few months. Maybe I’ll come back to it, and maybe I won’t. I’ve been lucky to be supported by a group of incredible readers on AO3, but I have almost no confidence in my ability to finish this story right now. It feels silly, to be honest. Some people write amazing, heart-shattering fanfiction, but I’m not sure I’m one of those people. That being said, I anticipate that I’ll feel differently once Nintendo releases more information about the Breath of the Wild sequel.

– I’m incredibly honored that Vhyrel agreed to work with me again on an illustration for this chapter. Speaking of heart-shattering, it’s absolutely gorgeous!

– I edited Chapter 7 of Malice. I’ll probably keep editing a chapter a week, if only for the practice.

– I got my assignment for the Multifandom Drabble fanfic exchange, and I’m excited. I put together a few story notes, and I should be able to complete a rough draft this week. If I have time, I’d like to write a bonus story as well.

– I withdrew an illustration that I submitted to the Ganondorf zine. I’ve learned a lot in the year since I created it, and I noticed a whole bunch of mistakes when I looked at it again. It would be too much trouble to fix everything, so I went ahead and posted the piece on Tumblr.

– I also submitted a comic to the zine, and I put a lot of time and effort into touching it up. I think this piece will still look good when the zine comes out, so it was worth it.

– I ordered a set of mirror-finish stickers from Sticker App based on this drawing of a Blupee (the rupee-dropping moth rabbits from Breath of the Wild). I also ordered a set of samples from the service. I’m particularly interested in their epoxy stickers. I have an idea for a set of designs that I might be inspired to create if the sticker quality is high enough.

– I completely sold out of my It Never Happened zine, so I went ahead and ordered another print run. I’m going to take some copies to various indie bookstores in Philadelphia this week to see if they’d be interested carrying them.

– After doing some research, I think I found a good venue for the original short story I’m going to start working on this week. The magazine specializes in “dark fantasy” rather than horror, which is good, and the suggested wordcount is perfect. If this venue doesn’t work out, I also found a backup. I’m excited to get started on this story!

– I wrote the third page of my Legend of Zelda essay. I intended to pick up the pace a bit, but then there was a new update for Animal Crossing, and… Well, we all know how that goes.

2020 Writing Log, Part 23

– I finished a complete rough draft of Chapter 40 of Malice. This chapter got a bit long, so I’m going to take all of next week to edit and polish it.

– I posted Chapter 39 on FFN.

– I edited Chapter 6.

– I wrote a very short story about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which I posted on AO3. This was such a joyful and healing project.

– My short story “Don’t Order the Fish” was rejected from the body horror anthology. I went back to the story and decided I really like it. I edited a few bits, and I’m going to send it to the online magazine Strange Horizons when their submission window opens on Monday.

– I finished the illustration I was going to submit to the Path of the Goddess zine. Since my artist application was rejected, I didn’t put as much effort into the piece as I originally intended, but I still had a good time working on it and learned a few things in the process. I’ll post it on various social media platforms tomorrow. (ETA: Here it is on Tumblr!)

– I wrote the second page of my essay about gender in the Legend of Zelda games. I intended to write more, but you know what? Two pages is better than zero pages!

2020 Writing Log, Part 22

– I edited Chapter 38 of Malice and posted it on FFN.

– I edited Chapter 39 and uploaded it to FFN. I’ll post it next weekend.

– I edited Chapter 4 and Chapter 5.

– I wrote the first five hundred words of Chapter 40. This one is going to take a while, but that’s okay.

– I signed up for Multifandom Drabble, a low-pressure fanfic exchange. I requested and volunteered writing about a handful of video games, and I think I managed to describe myself fairly accurately: I specialize in humor, horror, worldbuilding, and character development, but I’m happy to write romance as well. There’s no pairing I prefer or am averse to. I don’t have much experience writing kink, but I’m willing to make a good-faith attempt at just about anything.

– I wrote the first page of my Legend of Zelda essay and revised the abstract. Getting started is always difficult, but it feels good to be on my way.

– I posted a very short review (of roughly 300 words) of a fantastic academic monograph called Magazines and the Making of Mass Culture in Japan. It was nice to work in such a concise format, and I’d like to write more of these super-short reviews of academic work in the future.

– I finished putting my reviews from 2019 and 2020 through another set of edits, and I posted a few abbreviated versions on Goodreads.

– I posted about a dozen zine reviews on Etsy, and I finally responded to all the lovely and wonderful comments people left on my stories on AO3.

There’s no need to write about this at length, but I finally realized why I feel so self-conscious about leaving comments on other people’s fanfic. Even though I figured out what happened to make me feel this way, it’s going to take some time to work through it. Still, next week I want to challenge myself to leave one comment on someone else’s story as I continue to work on my own. I can do this!

Summer Writing Plans

Between on thing and another, I’m in something of a difficult place right now. Thankfully, I finally have room to maneuver, so I’ve been trying to take a step back from “productivity” and figure out what a healthy and sustainable workday looks like. I think that, for the time being, I might like to experiment with less work. Specifically, how would it feel to focus on fewer projects?

I think I’d like to have two “tracks” in a day. I don’t want to say “a morning track” and “an evening track,” because I’m not that big on set routines, but something like that – two sustained periods of writing during the day, each devoted to a different project.

Here’s what I’d like to spend the rest of the summer doing:

Track One

– I’ve been invited to contribute a 6,000 word essay about The Legend of Zelda to an edited volume on JRPGs. If I write 2,000 words a week, this will take three weeks, plus another week to edit.

– When I’m done with that, I need to return to the essay about the Hiromi Kawakami story I translated. It’s mostly finished, but it needs more research. Assuming that I write 1,000 words a week and edit as I go along, this should take about two weeks to finish.

– Once those two projects are squared away, I should get started on a public lecture I’m supposed to give about The Legend of Zelda in the fall. I’m aiming for this to be around 5,000 words, so I think the rough draft will take about three weeks.

Track Two

– I’m going to write Chapter 40 of my fanfic novel Malice. I’d like for this to take two weeks, but it could take three. There’s no need to rush, after all. After this is done, thus concluding the fourth (of five) story arcs, I’m going to put the novel on hiatus. I’ll leave a note at the end of the chapter saying that it will be back in the fall, which is probably true. I’d like to have the novel finished by the end of the year.

– I wrote an original short story a few years ago that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I’d like to return to it and see about submitting it somewhere. My style has changed significantly, so I’m going to say that it will probably take about two weeks to edit properly.

– I want to write a short horror story based on The Tale of Genji. I’ve already got a rough draft, but it’s a mess. If I write 1,000 words a week (emulating Heian prose is not easy), it should take me three weeks to reach a solid length of 3,000 words, and then I’ll give the story a week to rest before I edit and submit it.

And after all of that?

WIND WAKER BOOK! WIND WAKER BOOK!!

2020 Writing Log, Part 21

– I posted Chapter 39 of Malice on AO3. This chapter has a cool illustration from Meiaushzz, who has created an incredible gallery of digital paintings, including some fun video game fan art.

– I did another set of edits on Chapter 3 of Malice.

– I put a fair amount of admin work into a Ganondorf zine I’m helping out with.

– I know I said I’m done with Legend of Zelda fan art, but I saw a meme and had to draw it for myself.

– I finally got access to a photocopier, so I made a scan of the Japanese-language text and sent in my translation of Hiromi Kawakami’s short story “Summer Break” to Samovar.

– I my original short story “Don’t Eat the Fish” to an interesting body horror anthology. (The blog run by the editor is really fun, by the way.)

Submitting my first original short story for potential publication is a major milestone for me, and it felt great to put my nonbinary name on the manuscript. I also changed the name on my email address and website. I still feel a bit of residual pressure from the notion that it’s “too late” to get started on where I want to be in my life, but fuck it. Today is a good day.

2020 Writing Log, Part Twenty

– I wrote and posted Chapter 38 of Malice. In this chapter, the person who was initially set up as the villain turns out to be not such a bad person, just someone who was forced to make an awful decision when he was younger and has had to spend the rest of his life trying to justify it to himself while dealing with the consequences. I’ve been gradually (and subtly, I hope) building to the reveal that there’s an actual antagonist in this story, and this chapter is where that reveal happens. I hope I was able to pull it off successfully.

– I edited Chapter 37 and posted it on FFN. According to the site’s statistics, this story has an ungodly number of hits, but I’m not sure what that means exactly, especially given that it has so few followers and reviews. If I had to guess, I would say that FFN still gets a lot of traffic even though actual fandom engagement has moved elsewhere.

– I also edited Chapter 2. I hope it’s not pretentious for me to say that this chapter feels much less dependent on tropes than I remember it being. I went ahead and edited Chapter 3 as well.

– I ended up writing about two thousand words of the story based on The Tale of Genji that I mentioned in the last writing log, but I decided not to submit it. I also decided not to write to the anthology editor to ask for a deadline extension. I realized that this piece has the potential to become something much more interesting if I give it more time to develop. I think it would be cool if there were a frame story in addition to the Heian period diary that contains the core of the narrative, and I also think it would be cool if the narrator of the frame story had my actual name and was in fact my actual self.

– I actually wouldn’t mind being a recurring character in my own fiction, come to think of it. If Stephen King can do it, and if Andrew Hussie can do it, then there’s no reason why I can’t do it too.

– I posted a review of a light novel called Overlord, which – to be super honest – sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. I still had a lot of fun reading and writing about the book, though.

– I really enjoyed working with Frankiesbugs on a comic about Ocarina of Time, which is posted on Tumblr. It’s so gratifying to meet someone who shares almost my exact taste in horror, namely, an appreciation of both classics and trash and the desire to pet, hug, and/or be bffs with the monsters. Basically, I love horror, but I don’t take it too seriously. So when I wrote a comic about all the spooky monsters in Ocarina of Time, but I also wanted them to be cute while at the same time making fun of Ganondorf, it was such an amazing realization that I could actually work with an extremely talented artist like Frankiesbugs instead of having to take three or four months to draw the art and try to make the joke work all by myself.

– I said earlier that I commissioned an artist to illustrate the climactic chapter at the end of the fourth story arc of Malice, and that the illustration would more than likely be amazing. That artist is my best and most excellent friend Krokodilov, who managed to create an actual living masterpiece when I wasn’t sending them rambling bits of speculation about the apocalypse via DM. This painting is so good that it makes me re-evaluate my relationship to art, and this artist is only getting better with every piece they create. Seeing something like this come into existence right in front of my own eyes has filled me with determination!

– I moved to Philadelphia and unpacked everything. Now that my desk is set up, I can get back to the illustrations I’ve been working on for the past few weeks.

– I did what I could to amplify voices speaking out against police brutality and support protestors within the Black community. And you can too!

I’m starting to be able to see what my life is going to look like now that I don’t have to spend seventy hours a week working for a horrible neoliberal institution, and the view isn’t bad. May we all be powerful and brave as we look forward to a better future!

2020 Writing Log, Part Nineteen

– I posted Chapter 37 of Malice.

– I edited Chapter 36 and posted it on FFN.

– My writing style has changed since I began the story, so I decided to start editing the chapters again from the beginning. I took care of Chapter 1 this week. I also updated the story description and tags on AO3 and FFN.

– I commissioned a big illustration for the fifth story arc!

– I edited the stories in Haunted Houses, put all of them into a PDF document, and sent it to the cover artist. I’ve been friends with this person for a few years, and I’m really looking forward to working with them.

– I started editing my recent posts on my book review blog. I intended to do this earlier this year, but I was derailed by various unpleasant circumstances. I’ll continue this project next week. I’d also like to update some of the blog’s side pages.

– I began working on a short story that I’d like to submit to an anthology of short horror fiction based on public-domain literary works. My piece is a twist on The Tale of Genji, and I’m having a delightful time writing it. The call for submissions was only posted earlier this month, and the deadline is next weekend. I hope I’ll be able to make it.

I don’t have anything clever to say about this week. It’s been a nightmare, but I was finally able to (hopefully) conclude the ongoing saga of my messy divorce from the university where I worked for the past six years. I’ve also been taking care of all the prep work for packing up my apartment and moving to Philadelphia. It might be possible that I own far too many books for my own good. I know how pretentious this sounds, but that doesn’t make it any less true, unfortunately.

2020 Writing Log, Part Eighteen

– I edited my chapter outline for Malice to streamline the story, and I cut three of my planned chapters. Each of the remaining story arcs will now have six chapters. I think I might take a long hiatus from posting the story after the fourth arc. I want to wait until we have more information about the Breath of the Wild sequel, and I think it might be worthwhile to hold off until another trailer comes out so that I can benefit from renewed attention in the Zelda franchise. I’ll see how I feel when the times comes, I guess.

– I went ahead and posted Chapter 36 of Malice. This is a short chapter that serves as more of a transition than anything else, but I enjoyed myself. I’m super grateful to the marvelous and talented TheRVStar for providing an illustration!

– I wrote super rough drafts of Chapter 37 and Chapter 38, and I wrote a bit of Chapter 39 and Chapter 40. I also commissioned an illustration for Chapter 41 that I’m pretty sure is going to be amazing.

– I edited Chapter 35 and posted it on FFN.

– I left reviews on a handful of zines on Etsy. I’ve been trying to figure out what I like about zines, and I think it probably has something to do with the pleasure of reading things printed on physical paper. In any case, Sarah Mirk’s anthology Year of Zines was a wonderful discovery that I made this week.

– I got some stickers back in stock on my own Etsy store, and I mailed out a lot of orders this week. I went ahead and raised the prices of my zines by a small amount. I’m still not making money, but I think it might be better in the long run to match my prices with those of other sellers so that I can at least break even.

– Speaking of zines, I finished the super rough drafts of all the stories for my Haunted Houses horror-themed flash fiction zine. During the coming week I’ll put together a PDF document to send to the artist I’d like to create the cover illustration.

Onwards and upwards, friends. Stay safe, and stay sane.

2020 Writing Log, Part Sixteen

– I posted Chapter 35 of Malice on AO3. I’m glad I gave myself an extra week to edit this chapter and add an additional section. There’s some good character interaction, and I think I was able to clarify and strengthen the central conflict.

– I edited Chapter 33 of Malice and posted it on FFN. Since writing this chapter took forever, I’ve been dragging my feet on putting it through another round of edits, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

– I commissioned Ositia to draw a character sketch of Zelda and Riju from Malice. This artist also created a gorgeous illustration of the canonical characters for a short Breath of the Wild postgame story I wrote called “The Seven Heroines,” which is continued in a two-page comic I worked on with Mjoyart. I’ve written a few short stories about Zelda and Riju being friends, and it’s been a lot of fun to explore their dynamic in greater detail in Malice. What can I say, I am very emotionally invested in gals being pals.

– I commissioned Thousandwrecks to create illustrations of Balthazar and Ceres from The Demon King, and they did an absolutely incredible job. I met this artist at one convention or another in 2015, and I’ve been following them since then. I keep running into them at cons, and I think I must have chatted with them briefly at least once or twice a year. This artist is one of those people who has such good taste that I end up getting into any fandom they create work for, and at any given time I’m probably using about half a dozen of the bookmarks they’ve made. This might be cheating a little, but I put aside some time this week to make one-off bookmark-style prints featuring their gorgeous illustrations of my ridiculous OCs.

– I wrote the first two thirds (probably) of “Don’t Eat the Fish,” the story I’m going to submit to the body horror anthology that I mentioned last week. I’m really enjoying myself! It’s funny, though. Although I would never in a million years use first-person POV in fanfic, I’ve found that a vague Murakami-style first-person “boku” is the easiest voice for me to use in original fiction. It allows me to bypass a lot of issues relating to gender and appearance, to begin with, and the boundaries of the narrator’s subjectivity allow me to impose concrete limits on the range of the content (and the wordcount).

– I finished the first two stories in my next horror fiction zine, which I’ve decided to call “Haunted Houses.” I’m going to save the title “Philadelphia Doesn’t Exist” for a potential fourth zine that I might? write after I actually move to Philadelphia next month.

It Never Happened has done surprisingly well on Etsy, so I reprinted my first horror fiction zine, Ghost Stories. If it doesn’t sell, I can take the leftover copies to Philly Zine Fest, which might?? still be happening in November.

Although who even knows what “November” means at this point. Even though March lasted for roughly five years, I have no idea what happened to the month of April. If I didn’t have a digital log of “active days” on Animal Crossing, I wouldn’t believe that April happened at all. For all I know, November could be three weeks from now. Does time still exist?