Tag Archives: workinprogress

Crafty Update: May 2017

Now everything’s got there ok, I can reveal what I was crafting for the Big Geeky Craft Swap!

My prompt was “Wonder Woman”, and while I did consider a few useful things (mostly bookmarks) I didn’t have the right fabric to make one that would actually be useful in a book, and not break the spine (Librarian Tut!) So I ended up going with just a cross-stitched piece, and used an image from the DC Superhero Girls as a template. I ran out of flesh thread, which annoyed me (and I couldn’t get any more of the right colour!) and also managed to run out of black, although that was more easily fixed :-/ but it was a fun piece to do! I didn’t have time to fill in the background, but I think it does work.

I’m also getting there with my Superhero and Dinosaur alphabet – I’m just finishing off Robin, and I’ve got the rest all planned out! This one has been super fun, too – can you get all of them so far?

And finally, a picture of my helper…for once, not asleep on my lap!

 

New writing: Speaking Names

Necromancer Allie hasn’t been outside her basement in three years, but when a messenger arrives with an unusual request and a bag of money, her skull forces her to face the daylight. After all, the task of finding the pieces of a rich, dead woman’s soul can’t be that hard…

But there’s more than riches to be had, and more than lives at stake. What is life worth when all that is left are memories, and all that remains are dreams?

A new story, I hope – and one that’s getting plotted! I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but it’s going to be fun 🙂

They say a man is not truly forgotten while his name is still spoken.

The necromancers of ___ take this one step further. If a man’s name is not forgotten, and he is still remembered – then he can be brought back.

Shady business happens at night. The dark hours are best for skulduggery, nefarious deeds and general misdemeanors. However, it was mostly incidental that Allie’s latest visitor had arrived in the small hours of the morning, for it was well know that the streets of ____ never slept. If it was not the chill sun lighting the dank, misty streets, then it was marsh-lights and gas-lanterns, revealing shops that never stopped trading.

That didn’t stop Allie from feeling tired. She had drawn the day and night shift thanks to her partner in the shop being on a trading mission, and she was cursing his lateness for the fifth time when the visitor walked in.

He was so in love, Allie thought. The shady walk. The sneaking. He was trying not to be obvious about coming in, and that just made him stick out like a sore thumb. He was obviously going to get hit on something, soon.

“What a loser,” the skull whispered from behind her. “He’d be perfect for you.”

Settling for ‘Good Enough’

Not in your love life (hell no!). But in writing.

I know the ideal is to always strive for perfection, and to keep working until something is the best that it can be, both for yourself and for the thing. It’s Art, dahling.

Frankly? F*** that. In a general sense, I think that striving for perfection damages you. It will never be perfect. It will never be exactly how you want it to. My choice has always been to get it as good as I can, admit the flaws, then move on. I take what I’ve learned and I do better with the next piece.

However, in a specific sense, I do try to get the best I can. I do aim for some level of perfection. I want to write the best work I can; I want to iron out the flaws, fill the plot holes, make the characters tug at the heartstrings. I want my readers to immerse themselves in a story without getting dragged out by flaws or problems.

And most of the time, I succeed. If it’s three major edits and countless minor ones…or another proofread on top of the one I’ve just done…or a complete rewrite…I do want what I push out into the world to be as perfect as it can.

Unfortunately, for one piece that I’ve just completed, I’ve had to just say f*** that. It’s done.

It’s not perfect. It’s good, sure. It’s ok. It’s probably got some flaws and some holes. But meh. It’s as good as it’s going to get.

Part of the problem is that I’ve had so much criticism of the piece that I can’t see where the flaws are any more. I don’t have any distance or confidence in myself to be able to fight back. I’ve been advised to almost completely re-write it, and that is a bit of a shock when I considered something pretty good. Is my judgement flawed? Am I wrong? Am I truly as crap as I feel when I’m reading the critique? I have tried to take the advice on board, tried to be reasonable, and some of it I have accepted and changed. But…at the point that I’m shouting at the screen? At the point I’m nearly in tears? At the point I’m considering giving up writing, because I obviously can’t do this? No. I can’t do more work on this; I just can’t. It’s finished. And that means that my choice at this stage is simple. I put this work out in a format that’s Good But Not Great, or I scrap it. That’s it.

So much as it frustrates me, I have to accept my limitations. I am not perfect, and in this case, I have not achieved the perfection I wanted. It’s not awful, sure. But it’s not as good as I want it to be.

And in this case, I’m fine with that. I make that choice, and move on. I’ll do better next time. I have to do better next time.

And I think that’s what matters: keep learning. Always keep learning.

Coding again: CodeCademy

I’ve been using CodeCademy this week. It’s a web package that lets you learn a whole variety of coding languages by doing exercises and seeing what happens! I was warned that it might annoy me, but it’s also considered a very good learning platform, so – I had a go!

It did annoy me. But it’s also a very good learning platform. So…best of both worlds, I guess?

I’ve got a number of languages on my list; HTML/CSS, Sass (a type of CSS), Javascript, JQuery, Command Line, and also Git & website uploading. Obviously, I already know HTML and CSS – and those were the bits that were very frustrating! Yes, I know how to write a table. Yes, I know how to change fonts, and WHY ARE YOU HARD CODING COLOURS SERIOUSLY DON’T DO THAT.  Argh. CodeCademy also has a mix of practical exercises and then projects, which allow you to use your skills in a more free-form environment. However, the HTML/CSS ones are incredibly repetitive; I like some of the others as they’re more structured to what I just learned, but to be asked to put a background image on for the fifth time…BLEG.

I’m currently on Javascript, which I’m finding hard as my brain just doesn’t get the logic of the language, but I love Sass – it’s essentially a shortcut way of writing CSS and it looks wonderful. I’m also halfway through Command Line, which lets you move around/create/delete files on your computer without using the mouse or clicking through folders, so that’s useful to know even if I won’t use it.

There are bugs in the platform; you can’t vary your techniques (so I got caught out on the HTML/CSS one a few times, as the way I’d do something wasn’t the way they wanted me to do it) and the error messages can be frustratingly vague when it comes to working out what I’d done wrong. I’d really appreciate a crib sheet or some way of just getting reminded about commands, too; if I’ve learned something literally two minutes before, I may just need a reminder of exactly how to spell it – and not the answer given to me! The platform bugs are probably the most annoying part; several of the CSS and Sass pages wouldn’t work unless I had Chrome on 60% zoom, despite a comment from others that they needed it on 100%.

Anyway. Essentially, if you like step-by-step tutorials, it’s a good learning tool. It doesn’t provide useful help – I could really use a crib sheet or a reminder tool rather than the Q&A forum or ‘assistant’ who I’m not sure how to contact – and it has some frustrating usability bugs. But overall, if you want a basic grounding in the languages, give it a try. It’s free for a basic version, and worth using to see if you get on with it!

No Man’s Sky: alpha-read progress!

My wonderful alpha reader has just finished her first read of No Man’s Sky, and I’ve been squeaking with delight. This is how you should feel – when you get comments back, it’s “YES, of course!” or “Ooh that’d work” or “Hmm, how do I do that?” or “Now that’s a good idea…”

Comments should make you think. Make you write. Make you see a different side of the characters. Show you what’s on the page, and make you think about how you’ve portrayed the world or the people or the conversation. Can you tweak it to add more anger? Can you show the hurt? Can you add in a conversation with some foreboding? What happened during that event? Can they go to that place which sounds really interesting?

My other beloved alpha, Ryan, gave me some comments too – and it’s always reassuring when both alphas highlight the same things! I wish he was here to re-read my changes, and I miss his wisdom, his comments, his laughter. But that’s life. He’s got the dedication already, and he knew it. I miss him so much, even when it’s a nice feeling of getting back into something and using his comments and thoughts. I really miss him.

Anyway! I’ve now got a lot of work and a lot of thinking to do. I need to make it faster, give it an additional bit of pace, an impetus to their quest that’s external to both of the character’s internal drives. I need to make Arran more shocked and hurt, and toy with his feelings more. I need to show more of the world.

I enjoyed writing this one, so it’s a pleasure to get back into it and start adding to it.

Ps. The two favourite lines;

“I’m going to be grown-up and then I can do all the things, and I’ll never have to eat stew again!” – this from a six-year old 😀

And, “The goose was unimpressed.” Because…geese.