On Feedback

Random, Writing

I’m heading into the final stages of editing my overgrown story Firestorm, which means I’ve had someone read it and give feedback. This is an important process, I know. And it helps improve the final outcome, especially when one is self-publishing. Being a solitary writer can sometimes feel like shouting out into a vacuum, wondering if anyone will ever hear. At least that’s how it feels to me.

But this time the feedback made me realize it might be easier to go it alone sometimes. Wow. Made me feel like the shittiest writer ever, some of it, because I got the distinct impression that the reader wasn’t even reading my manuscript, but rather something completely different. Some of the comments had me going “Huh? What do you mean, being surprised by X? There was a whole friggin’ chapter about X earlier, how could it blindside you so bad?”

And yet, at the same time I want to forget all about other people’s opinions and just write for myself, I’m still happy I sent the sucker off to be picked on and misunderstood. Check it out. Every single time the person asked a clueless question, it pointed big shiny arrows at a flaw. Because if the area in question wasn’t boring or poorly written, then the person wouldn’t have asked questions about it. Right? Right. Plus, it made me think of something a friend said ages ago, about movie critics. Paraphrase: You don’t have to agree with the critic. If you know what they like or dislike, it can still give you a good idea if you’ll like the movie or not. So, and this is my interpretation now, if the critic hates lighthearted, silly space operas, but you love them, a bad review might be a nice indicator that you’ll love the movie. Especially if the critic rips on the character for wearing a spacesuit that looks like pajamas, but you love the cheesy pajama look on a bridge crew.

So I applied that manner of thinking to the feedback, and it helped a bit. What? You didn’t like that I left four millennia of history out of the action scene? I must have gotten the action right, ’cause I know you love slow, in-depth, detailed explorations of history. And you can’t figure out why a character would do something Not Nice? Awesome, I gave the character a flaw.

And yet, there’s that whole “shittiest writer ever” feeling… Argh. I’ll just keep telling myself it’s okay, the shittiest writer ever wouldn’t bother trying to find and fix the flaws.

 

Advertisements

Sometimes I Can Be A Bit Slow.

Writing

I just figured something out.

Ages ago, I had a friend read my current WIP, Firestorm, the one that’s galloping towards its release date, 08/13/18. And some of the comments left me scratching my head, because I just couldn’t figure ’em out. Well, I get it now! This person was griping because my characters have… wait for it…

Character flaws.

Oh, man.

The complaints boil down to “Why would he do that? It’s not nice!”

I feel better now. I don’t like writing perfect characters. I want them to screw up, to make wrong choices. Perfect characters are boring as anything, and haven’t got lives interesting enough to write about. If you doubt me, go look up Mary Sue online. She’s perfect. She’s almost universally hated by readers. I’ve been viciously guarding my work from Mary Sue for years now.

So yeah. There you have it. My characters are not perfect. And, in fact, they do some pretty shitty things to each other.

And I, for one, am one hundred percent okay with that.

Not Dead Yet

Random

Okay, wow. I haven’t posted since October 30. So much for being more active on this blog. Here, have some excuses.

November’s easy enough to explain away, that’s NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month to the uninitiated.) Won, 50008 words. Also worked my ass off at my day job.

December? I remember December. Barely. Busiest month of the year for dog groomers, took a break from writing after NaNo, made some simple New Year’s resolutions that should be easy to keep. Even went to see a movie.

And then… the world exploded.

(Warning: TMI ahead!)

I have a stupid, nasty disease, called adenomyosis. It’s disgusting, painful, and when it acts up, I get sick enough that I feel like dying would be a vast improvement. I’ve had this crap for six years now, and it just keeps getting worse. And this time around, it knocked me flat as a pancake. I seriously thought I might be dying.

Come to find out, I wasn’t far wrong.

I don’t have health insurance, because it costs too much. But this time I got so freakin’ sick I had to go to the doctor, even though it cost wads of cash and maxed out all my credit. But I found out I had blood clots in my legs and lungs, and acute anemia, and that either one of those things could kill me off.

Great.

So, long story short, I’ve been, quite literally, deathly ill. More than once, even. My creative life has fallen by the wayside, although I am currently fighting my way through Camp NaNo. (That’s Camp NaNoWriMo, the easier version of NaNo where you set your own goals.) I haven’t been able to do crap as far as 3D art, which sucks major butt. And to make life even more exciting, my computer’s starting to feel its age, so even when I do try to render something there’s no guarantee it’ll work. I even had a BSOD last night, trying to render a scene. A BSOD! On my wonderful computer!

All whining aside, right at this moment I feel okay. Tired as hell, but whatever. I’ve been writing all day, I cleaned up nearly three weeks of mess, and I have a scene rendering. So I’m going to quit whining and feeling sorry for myself, try not to drop dead, and get back to the things that really matter: writing, 3D art, and creating some content for this damn empty blog. Not to mention frantically saving cash so I can build out a new, far more powerful computer, even if it means I’ll have to abandon my faithful old Windows 7 Pro.

Woo-freakin’-hoo!

The Agony of dForce

3D

(For anyone who’s not immediately up on obscure references: check out the beginning of the Wide World of Sports from the ’70s. The title is a variation of “the agony of defeat.”)

Okay. So, a couple days ago, Daz Studio released the new version (4.10 if you’re interested). It includes a new feature, the dForce engine, which allows actual dynamic cloth right there inside Studio, without having to buy anything extra. And everyone’s been playing with it and posting their results, which has had me extra-bouncy and excited, waiting for the weekend. Aka today.

A little note here: I have terrible bad luck with dynamic fabric. Like, I don’t know if I’m terminally stupid or what, but I can almost never get the stuff to work right. So I started out with pretty low expectations.

And oh boy, did I ever meet them!

First, I set up a scene. Then I ran out of time, saved it for later, and went to work. That sucked.

Fast forward a bit to today. I forgot about my original scene and set up a new one. I made sure there wasn’t a bit of poke-through anywhere to be found. I made pretty hair, nice lights, good skin, the whole nine yards. See? This is what it all looked like before I pooched it.

1

Okay, doing good so far. I used that particular hair because a friend of mine from deviantArt said dForce works better on older hair models without loads of strands. Fine. No problem. I’ve always liked the Radiant Jaguar hair, it’s pretty.

So… add the dForce modifier. (Actually, spend a freakin’ long time looking for the damn thing, because as you can clearly see from the screenshot, my Studio looks different from anyone else’s on the entire planet. Found it, though. And if you’re looking for it too, right click the Simulation Settings tab.) Blithely assume it will work. Click “Simulate”.

And… freak out!

1.5

I forgot simulations start from the default pose. *blush* Oops. Thought I’d already screwed something up.

Which, of course, I did.

2

Yeah, that looks like shit. Right. On to the next thing. I’ll fix the hair later, time for the dress.

CRASH!

Yeah. Blew up my computer. Daz Studio and Photoshop both went kablooey.

Okay, fine, I don’t expect this dForce thing to work with every piece of clothing out there. So I pull up the other file, the one I started immediately after upgrading my Studio.

3

Crap. Forgot to give her a lantern. I get the scene all fixed up and ready to go, although I didn’t bother with any fancy materials or lighting. I add modifiers, make sure the dress will ignore the lantern, hit Simulate, and…

Not a crash, but still swear-worthy. Studio suddenly can’t locate any OpenCL device on my computer. I have one. I have a very nice one, in fact. But apparently it’s gone invisible.

Crap, crap, crap.

So I do the usual stuff. Restart, blah blah blah. I even updated my graphics driver. Why the hell not, never hurts, especially when you’re doing crazy 3D stuff.

Crash, crash, crashity crash crash!

Fine. You want to be a piece of crashing shit? I’ll fix you!

New scene. G8F, the clothes they sent out specifically for the dForce update. Boring. Mundane.

4

Hey, look at that, it’s doing it! Wow! It’s working! Even past the point where it crashed before.

5

Success! Too bad it’s a freakin’ boring, mundane, utterly uninteresting image. Bleah.

But I got it to work. So… back to the cool stuff.

6

Much more interesting outfit. And look at that, no crash yet!

7

I can see her butt.

CRASH!

Aw, hell. Here we go again. Finnegan, begin agin.

8

By the way, this is what the scene looks like before the sim runs.

And…

9

This is what it looks like after the sim runs. *sigh*

I guess I really need to spend some time with this thing, figure out what exactly is making it blow up. But for now, no more. I’m in the middle of an Elder Scrolls experiment, and must go play Skyrim.

If you’re curious, the experiment is this: Can I determine which game is better, Oblivion or Skyrim? To test whether this question is answerable, I started new characters in both games. So far I’ve completed the main quest in each, built a nice home in each, and am about to embark on the mage guild/college quests. And guess what? I ain’t got an answer. I love ’em both!