It’s been a month of ups and downs. While I was finishing up the colored insert pics for volume #2 of Atlantis: TVC, the side of my laptop cover cracked! I was just sitting there, coloring, when without warning I hear this snapping crunch sound, and my screen falls to the side! When I looked at it I realized that the screen had been attached to the cover only by a tiny plastic peg, and the stress of bearing the weight of the open screen over six years of frequent use had finally snapped it. Terrible design flaw. There was even a spot for it to have a screw, and it did not!
Fortunately, I am a big nerd and I have all kinds of spare computer bits lying around. [I used to have more, but culled my “collection” when we packed up and put everything we owned into storage this past summer.] So I found appropriate-sized screws, and managed to kludge it back together long enough to finish the book.
The laptop still works, but I don’t want to break it completely. Repairing it would be costly and not worth it for the model it is. It would be more prudent to get a new laptop, but that isn’t an expense we can swing right now, it being the holidays and all. So knowing it has a number of uses left before the stress kills it entirely, I moved all my files off of it and onto my backup drive. I figured I would just not use it during my hiatus, but that’s not something that can be my reality–I wanted to draw, to write, to read articles–and doing that on my phone for the foreseeable future just wouldn’t cut it.
After we returned from dinner at the in-laws on Thanksgiving, I made a decision to pull my desktop computer out of the closet. It was all nicely packed away, but it hadn’t been on since March or April of this past year. Since we are in a small apartment, there really isn’t anywhere for a second desk to go, so I hadn’t even remotely thought about setting it up. But now, I was going to try to set a monitor and keyboard on my laptop table. Couldn’t be too difficult, right? Right…?
Well, turns out my monitor is buried in the far recesses of the closet and inaccessible without pulling everything out, which would take several hours. However, the giant second monitor my husband used when he had a dual monitor set up was sitting right there, within easy reach…
So I unpack my computer tower, and my husband goes, “Hey, I think there is something loose in there.” Turns out there was something loose in there–my heatsink had fallen completely off! After the storage unit was hit by the tornado, the climate control was out for two weeks. I’m guessing that this happened around that time, because otherwise everything was stored in temperature controlled environments. Of course, this is close to midnight on Thanksgiving, we have zero thermal paste in the house, and tomorrow is Black Friday!
I fortunately remembered that Amazon does same day home delivery in our area via their Prime Now service, so I scheduled a delivery of thermal paste. Hooray for not having to go out into the melee that is Black Friday! Long story short, I reinstalled the heatsink and everything is running smoothly now. I still can’t get over this giant monitor though. My very first TV was smaller than this! I’ve always wanted to draw on a giant monitor, but I’ve never had a chance to do so until yesterday. Best. Experience. Ever. Look at this screenshot of the space I have. It’s a thing of beauty! [When I was working on my laptop, I couldn’t get either Achine or Gia’s face to fit fully on the screen at actual pixels–it would have made my life way easier if I had been able to! But look; I can get both in the same frame now!]
Now that everything is up and running again, it’s time to clean out my programs, delete the junk, defragment, and reacquaint myself with some old games. [Not that I haven’t been playing Sim City 4 or anything…]
We finished moving in a few days ago, and there is a mountain of things sitting in my living room, waiting to go into storage or the trash. We accidentally left behind not just one, but both of our dining room tables. [But brought the chairs, somehow.] We have people coming for dinner next week, and no table to eat at.
Excellent start to this whole thing. Then the serpentine belt goes out on the car. Goodbye savings! We once had you!
But at least everything is unpacked now… right? Right?!
The kid isn’t handling this move as well as the last two. Fortunately this will be her last for a while, so I’m hoping the nightmares she’s having now will stop when she settles in. [This is a major part of the reason I am so tired.]
Most of my time not spent easing my kid into apartment life [She’s loud. Thankfully this place seems to be soundproofed well.] has been spent putting things away or cleaning. Now that that’s done I’m eager to get back to editing Atlantis: TVC volume #2! [The story hasn’t been far from my mind these past few weeks. I wonder if that is good or bad…?]
I’m hoping to get back to it starting today. It may be a little ambitious, but I feel guilty that I’ve spent as long as I have away from it. I need to get back to work!
But right now… I’d kill for a nap. Like, twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. It sounds simply divine!
It’s funny how varied the places are from which we look back. Sometimes it’s merely a few months; maybe a few years.
Other times, it’s seventeen years and it completely takes you by surprise.
I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about how Atlantis: TVC was originally conceived while I was in high school, in geography class; because sitting around after finishing a test is boring as… well, staring at a wall. [and if not, you now know.]
I was digging around in my documents folder and I found a stash of old files related to the original concept of Atlantis from the 90s that had somehow survived four hard drive failures, and moving across three laptops! One of those files was a map.
While this isn’t the original map–the true original one was drawn in pencil in the notebook of a former friend along with several early iterations of Achine’s design, and is long lost to me–it’s the closest thing I still have of it. It’s a horrible scan, with the levels screwed around to remove the lines from the notebook paper, then colored sometime in 2000/2001 in Photoshop. I cringe when I look at this. Cringe. Then I remember that I was fifteen at the time, and teenagers aren’t known for their cartography. I redid the Atlantian map last year when I was in the planning phase of Volume #1. This is the current map, the one you see at the front of the books.
Like night and day! You can see where I actually did research into geographical features and map making instead of half-assing it like Teen Mel did. Things moved; were renamed, rearranged. You can even see the original sigil on the first one, and how it has changed too. [It had an arrow in it, and was three-toned for no damn reason. Teen Mel made some bad choices.]
My point in dragging this out is that reflection is good. Keep your old stuff–look back on it frequently. Laugh at it. Cry if you want to. Cringe. Hold it close, because it’s precious.
Yes, it’s precious. There is no way to measure how much we have grown if we have no point to compare it to! I’ve been feeling down about everything lately–and it has started to bleed over into my work, bringing my writing to a halt. But you know what? Seeing that stupid old map [circa 1998, yo!] made me realize that I may feel bad now, but in the future I will look back on this point and feel like I am doing better than right now. It was fortunate that I stumbled upon it, because it reminded me that my future self will always be better than my current self as long as I keep moving forward, practicing, trying new things–improving.
Here’s to many cringe-inducing looks backward to come! Now if you’ll excuse me, I also found an old fanfic I wrote from the same year, and I have plans to read it and hate myself. I’m sure it’s horrible.
When I write, sometimes my mind wanders around. I don’t know if other authors have this problem, but I’ll be in the middle of a scene when suddenly I’ll wonder if the character who is speaking would prefer Coke or Pepsi; whether or not they would read a certain book, or if they would like cilantro. [Trust me–cilantro is a very polarizing topic.]
While doing preliminary edits on Atlantis: TVC volume #1, I started wondering if the Atlantians that Achine spends her time with were to visit her hometown–or even just the mainland in general–what would they enjoy of ours? What would they hate?
Then later I watched an episode of Backstrom [Brilliant show–shame it was canceled. Hulu or Netflix needs to pick that up and continue it, STAT!] that revolved around something called a dream board. [Also called a vision board] In high school I saw classmates use something similar to pick out clothes for important events, or to envision a dream home; cutting things they liked out of magazines and gluing them to cardboard, or a sheet of paper. Often they would end up inside of those binders with the clear sleeve on the front and back–you remember the kind, right? [I filled mine up with a mixture of self-drawn things and anime/manga images, ha ha.]
Anyway, that tangent aside, the idea popped into my head to make a board for each of my main cast members, showing things from our world that they would like or wear. I figured it could be a character defining exercise. Here are the results:
It was so much fun to go ‘visual shopping’ as each character! I was surprised at how easy it was to make the character board for some, and I was surprised by what others liked, such as Gialasa. Her bohemian/Etsy look is not what I would have expected at all, but it fits very well. In fact, the whole project inspired me to do a drawing of everyone in modern clothing! I haven’t finished it yet, and it’s been languishing a bit on my hard drive in the wake of trying to get volume #2 done, [since February?!] but it will be completed eventually.
This definitely helped me to get into my characters’ heads [in unexpected ways], and I would highly recommend it to other writers trying to define a character!
Because the continent of Atlantis is technically in our timeline–and has magic–deciding on what the flora and fauna balance should be has been a struggle. On one hand, I want it to fit in with the rest of the world and have some of the normal things found natively in other biomes, such as squirrels, bears, turtles, etc. On the other hand, I want it to have its own indigenous species, because, well… in a land that still has magic–and races evolved from being near that magic–it only makes sense that it would be home to things you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
But since I want to keep things from becoming too ridiculous, there is a fine line I need to tread between fantastic and… absurd. That means I am overthinking things again. [Which is probably a good thing.] I had a small bestiary in my notes, but I discovered that I wanted to sketch out some of these creatures, to get a better feel for them. This led to the creation of the Bestiarum Vocabulum. I’m doing this mostly for me, but I thought I’d share the first entry with you guys as well, since it came out decently.
Two characters end up facing down a berserk one of these in volume #2. They look kind of cute, right? They’re supposed to be based off of a bear, with a bit of fox added in. [and yes, I realize that with the grey and black coloring it looks like a weird raccoon.] But being able to see other animals in it is what I wanted. I thought it would be jarring to see something completely alien when it’s supposed to be in our own current world.
It’s interesting too that there are no dogs or cats as pets on Atlantis, so I’m probably going to have to make up creatures that would be considered as domesticated in their place. I imagine birds are a popular pet, [in fact the new character has an avian companion] and some other kind of small mammal would probably fill in for the feline… maybe something similar to a ferret? And what kind of animal would be a shepherd’s companion if not a dog? It’s something for me to think about.
World building is a lot of work–but it’s satisfying work.
Well, it’s not so much a “happy” Friday for me–the whole family is sick with a head cold, so we’re all cranky and stuffed up and generally miserable. Boo. I am dead tired but can’t sleep due to congestion. This means I finished a picture I’ve been working on for the past week or so.
[Seriously though, WHY can’t I post these side by side? I don’t get it.] I totally had to do it in the text editor. Arg!
[Characters from Atlantis: TVC–from bottom to top: Achine, Eruni, Idane, Gia]
You guys are special; I posted the finished version on DeviantArt, but I only posted the sketch here.
I feel like I don’t draw like myself with the tablet, and it’s just weird. I enjoy my sketches–sketching with the tablet is amazing now that I am used to it. Very smooth and flowy. [Oh yeah; not-real-except-colloquially word. Bam. Shut up spellcheck. You know nothing.] Line art has been a bit of an uphill battle, but I’m tweaking some settings and improving it. Coloring is nice except for long stretches of things where you need a long runway to make a long line. Like hair. Like all the hair in that picture up there.
I still miss the mouse to a point, but the tablet has programmable buttons and I programmed them to undo/redo and zoom in/out. Oh. My. Gods. Suddenly I don’t miss my mouse as much. [Sorry mouse. I still think you’re tops for graphic design though!]
I’ve also been working on volume # 2 as well, so don’t think that I set it aside or anything! I ended up writing an unexpectedly good [well, I think so anyway!] scene, despite the fact that it may be a bit information heavy. [I like that kind of stuff, so it pops up occasionally. 99% of it was important information, so it’s not like it was rambling, right?]
Ok! I’m going to leave the kid with the husband and see if I can’t regain feeling in my face with a nice hot bath. [With a few drops of rosemary oil in it! So awesome for stuffy noses!] When I get out I may go to sleep, but if I can’t, then back to writing I’ll go!
Well, maybe not an actual block. More of a… writer’s insecurity?
I’m already working on volume #2 of Atlantis: TVC, but all the research I did for editing volume #1 has done something to my brain. Everything I write looks wrong. I seriously re-wrote the same scene eight times, and deleted a whole scene outright–only to regret the decision and revert the chapter to get it back. I seem to be tripping over the same thing, and I can’t figure out why. I’ve never second guessed myself like this, and I can’t tell if it’s a good thing or not. All I know is that it is annoying. [I also haven’t been getting much sleep lately on account of having bronchitis, so there’s that. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll blame that.]
Instead of continuing to beat my head against this wall, I decided to beat it against a different one and practice using a tablet. I have always drawn on the computer with a mouse, and there has always been a disconnect between myself and tablets, no matter how hard I’ve tried to use one. But now I have one, and I’ve made it a personal goal to fiddle with it every so often in the hopes that through sheer force of will, I’ll someday be able to use it. Because I can’t leave well enough alone–even when I give up–I decided to draw the characters from the scene I couldn’t write.
It’s getting a bit easier, but I keep wanting to turn the damn thing like you would a real piece of paper, and half of my errors are from subconsciously tilting it about ten degrees.
The funny thing is that I have a Galaxy Note 3, and I can use the S Pen to draw just fine on it. Here’s a sketch I did last night of birds [and the tail of a species of Atlantian bird] based off my brother-in-law’s pet bird.
I don’t know what makes them so different for me. In a way, it feels like volume #1 was the S Pen, and volume #2 is now the tablet. I really want to work on #2, but I wonder if I’m simply not far enough removed from the editing process of #1. Maybe it’s the cough syrup clouding my brain. [Which is funny, because things that addle your mind are supposed to make you more creative, right?]
I’ve also been putting off working on the e-book conversion of volume #1, so maybe this ‘block’ isn’t even a block at all, and is guilt from me knowing there is something that I am leaving undone. I’ve been avoiding it for the past week because everyone has been sick with the plague, but now that we’re all feeling better [or in my case, not outright dying] I know there is no excuse and I’m stalling in the face of tediousness.
Of course, there is also the fact that I’m releasing some of the chapters here [leaning towards all of them, eventually. Trying to decide on a schedule…] so I know I have some extra time I didn’t have before that decision.
I work best putting things off until the last minute. Isn’t that ridiculous?