Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category
Let’s see if I can compile all the creative things I’ve done in the past month and a half… oh my.
Writing is, ironically, the one thing I have done the least over the past six weeks. However, I did take the time to reread the rough draft of Everything To Lose and my work-in-progress Egyptian fairytale, When The Sun Bathed In Blood… and renewed my determination to finish the first draft of The Last Devil so I can get back to the other projects. I’m also planning on writing three short stories soon: an Everything To Lose outtake and two retellings of two Egyptian myths, which will be submitted to The Kemetic Storytellers for future episodes. :D
I have done ALL THE ART THINGS. Ever. All of them.
Don’t believe me? Let’s see. In the past six weeks, I’ve made…
- 7 sigil paintings
- 3 myth paintings
- 4 mini-paintings
- 6 hieroglyph paintings
- 5 pieces of jewelry
… for a total of 25 NEW THINGS. Oh my goodness.
An awful lot of those were gifts… but some of them were commissions from my coworkers! My company held a craft fair a couple weeks back, and I submitted this necklace… and won first place! Proceeds went to charity, and the lady who won the necklace commissioned me for matching earrings. Word got around, and I wound up selling everything I’d had on Etsy and getting a handful of commissions in the process! I am amazed and delighted at this.
To see pretty much all of the new pieces, check out the first three pages of the Mythic Curios archive!
Say hello to the critters on your right! No, as per the course, I don’t know what they’re called. But I’ve been happily digging into their physiology and temperaments. They have evolved more slowly than humans, due to less-intense ecological pressure, but they are indeed sapient tool-users.
A couple interesting notes…
For one, they’re omnivorous foragers/scavengers, loosely social (traveling with a twin or joining up with another twin-pair), and wide-ranging in open lands. They’re pretty big – roughly the size of a moose, though their build is a little more rhino-like than deer-like – and tight spaces between trees are not their forte. That trunk you see is forked, giving them hand-like dexterity.
For two, they’re unisexed. Humans would call them female, since they’re all child-bearing, but here’s the interesting part: they aren’t asexual. They’re born as twin pairs, and the more dominant twin becomes the fertile one – the other twin doesn’t produce the proper hormones unless the fertile twin dies or leaves long-term. This makes for a tight social bond between the breeding individual and the other, who becomes the protector. When in heat, the breeding individual will seek out another breeding individual, and – using the handy-dandy trunk – they’ll exchange genetic information; their babies are not direct clones of the parent. During the mutual pregnancy and the infancy of the younglings, the two twin-pairs will stay together for protection, and the two non-breeders serve as guardians and look-outs while the two parents raise their children until they can safely split and resume their more-solitary lifestyle.
…did I mention humans are trying to colonize their planet and see them as nothing but food-animals?
Fun fact: I handwrite Kalash as quickly as I write all-caps English.
Newer fun fact: Thanks to six half-day training sessions at work, wherein which I sat in a room and did nothing but listen to people talk, I have been practicing Kommu, my letter-for-letter cypher. This weekend, when I settled in to try to write a song in Kommu, I found I could translate on the fly… outloud. Without writing it down first. O_O
Now I know why I have such a terrible short-term memory. All of my synapses are busy mapping letters. Oh, brain.
FAWM has started! :D!
For the unfamiliar, FAWM is February Album-Writing Month, a musical peer to NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write 14 new songs in the month of February – no length requirement and no specification of voice/instruments/etc. Recording and sharing is optional, but encouraged.
I participated last year and, let me tell you, that was an amazing trial-by-fire experience. I did not, in fact, succeed in writing 14 songs – I think I only got 10 or 11 – but this year, with the power of GarageBand to supplement my voice-and-acoustic-guitar pieces, I feel very confident. :D
So far, I’ve gotten two songs – you can hear them both right here!
- Create and record at least 12 more songs in the month of February for FAWM!
- Finish The Last Devil before the end of the month!
- Two new hieroglyph paintings: Set and Bast!
- Three new short stories!
IT SNOWED IT SNOWED IT SNOWED A TINY BIT BUT IT STILL COUNTS AS SNOWWW~!!!
I… slacked. I finished one chapter of The Last Devil and started another, but there’s not a ton of progress there. =/
A wee gift painting! The tiny letters spell out “ocean heart” in Kalash.
I’ve begun the process of using GarageBand for full-length, with-lyrics songs. It is considerably more challenging than making entirely random go-with-the-flow instrumentals. BUT I SHALL CONQUER.
- Still working to finish the rough draft of The Last Devil before J and I go visit family for Christmas!
- Crafting Winter gifts for family!
- Four Egyptian mini-paintings! Yes, still.
My goodness. I came off a lovely, luxurious Thanksgiving vacation-weekend and back to work… and then a sudden influx of additional freelance work on Friday that will last me probably until next Thursday. But I was still creative!
Work continues, much more slowly without the pre-50k momentum, on The Last Devil. I find myself wanting to start a new project before finishing this one, but I’m fighting the urge and have planned out my progression over the next several projects. Now if I can just stick to the plan…
I made shiny objects! :D (Click to see more, and to buy them if you’re so inclined!)
I did another word study post over at my Uhjayi microsite! :D
My first Hometaping is over, and I created 20m13s of new music during the month of November! That is pretty huge, guys. :D :D :D
- Still working to finish the rough draft of The Last Devil before J and I go visit family for Christmas!
- Redoing a few of my FAWM songs in GarageBand.
- Four Egyptian mini-paintings!
I got a four-day weeeekennnnd~ *dance* Happy Turkey Day to those who celebrate!
I aimed to hit 50k on my NaNoWriMo novel before the weekend ended, and by golly, I did! :D :D :D
This is my tenth NaNo, my ninth win, and the ONLY time I have ever been ahead of the daily wordcount quota every single day! I have set a new standard for myself!
I also rewrote my NaNo profile to have some substance and got all silly-proud of the list of novel projects from 2003 on. :D
I maaay have taken advantage of the Black Friday crazysales to order some beads. *ahem*
Nothing actually put into form yet (or onto paper/canvas) this week, but I’ve got four mini-paintings upcoming for four Egyptian gods! Have I mentioned that painting detailed hieroglyphs with a toothpick onto a 2×2″ canvas can be a little… nerve-wracking?
I also took the time to update our Mythic Curios archive with photos of past paintings and jewelry!
As has been the pattern this month, while I’m writing a humans-only novel, I keep getting flashes of non-human worldbuilding ideas in my head. They come and go in the span of five minutes, zipping in throughout the day. Should probably start writing those down…
I did a word study post over at my Uhjayi microsite! Etymology is fun, kids – especially for conlangs. :D
My partner and I acquired a used Martin backpacker. It is pretty sweet! Kinda like a hybrid of a guitar and a banjo-mandolin-bazouki-somethinglikethat.
- Just because I hit 50k on The Last Devil doesn’t mean the story arc’s done. I’ll still be writing that, with a goal to wrap up the rough draft well before J and I go visit family for Christmas!
- The aforementioned four Egyptian mini-paintings!
- BEADS BEADS SHINY BEADS
Working heaaavy overtime Thurs/Fri sort of shot my energy levels in the waduh (that was a terrible Indonesian pun, forgive!), but I still did things! This post proves it!
Weeeell, I have not written much at all (just a chapter) since last Monday. HOWEVER, this week is a three-day week with a four-day weekend, and since I won’t have family guesting at my house for Turkey Day, I will have a TON of time to write.
Although I did squeeze out a few random shorts to satisfy the majority of my muse that really, really misses writing non-humans.
I crafted a bracelet! No bead is repeated, and I even cross-matched the silver/gold metal on the magnetic clasps and the jump rings. I am… super-happy with this, honestly. =3
I believe my Everything To Lose universe is getting a touch bigger. Not only do we have a human and enman accidental co-colony on a world that fell out of the network of both spacefaring species, we have humans and the xin in the past… and now, perhaps, these entensha and humans in “modern times” (i.e. the same era as Everything To Lose) or even a bit in the future.
Entensha are highly-evolved quadrupeds, and there is some world they share with humans, in peace, cohabitating… but they don’t converse. Neither species knows the other’s language. Human scientists and doctors don’t know much about entensha technology and physiology and, hell, even psychology… and vice versa.
The trick to making this setting successful and believable will be finding a reason for the mutual peace and silence that isn’t sinister or false. And I’ve got some ideas…
Oh my. Ohhh myyy. I discovered GarageBand; my work comp is a Macbook Pro, and I take it home on the weekends. I made a few song snips, one with lyrics!, and then set out to do something a little fuller.
This is the result. (Click to listen, right-click to download.)
…I think I quite like GarageBand. =3
- More NaNoWriMo! I have a lofty goal of hitting 50k before next Monday.
- Definitely, definitely more GarageBand and other musical exploits in the name of Hometaping!
I have survived my first (wonderful and utterly exhausting) week at the new job! HUZZAH! I can’t wait until I’ve gotten settled enough to have enough energy in the evenings to do more.
Work continues apace on my NaNoWriMo project, and I am quite pleased with how it’s coming along! I’ve hit 34.5k as of the writing of this post, and I must say, this is the first time ever that I’ve been ahead of the daily quota every day so far! It feels great.
In other exciting news, my partner has begun work on a short story (he’s doing a sort of micro-NaNo– NaShoStoWriMo?)! This is unbelievably cool, ’cause he’s talked for years about writing and now he’s putting words on the page instead of just wishing for it. I’m so proud of him! (Also, he’s a kickass writer, novice or not. He just has that rich eloquence, and he’s a voracious reader, so he’s got that going for him, too.)
Earlier last week, my mom, who lives in West Virginia, told me that two of her big dogs went missing in the snowfall that Sandy delivered to their doorstep, and I made her a prayer-painting in hopes they’d either find their ways back home or be found by a compassionate human. The very next morning, Mom let me know that they’d both come home (one on his own, and one with human assistance)! So very grateful that they’re both safe and well.
I also, of course, had my first new-job doodles during a four-hour new hire training session:
I am absolutely going crazy, being unable to write intelligent non-humans in my current project, and of course, my muse dumps dozens of ideas for other species on me while I am constrained. One of the new ideas – just a seed, really – does, however, have to do with humans… in the future, rather than a fantastical past like The Last Devil.
The idea is two-part: Firstly, that technology is so advanced that warfare is no longer carried out by throwing masses of human bodies at each other, but instead, by small, elite teams of mecha that are remote-controlled via VR systems by highly-trained, valuable soldiers. This cuts down on human casualty and the need to equip, train, feed, and transport large volumes of people, instead placing emphasis on individual skills and overall strategy.
Secondly, this same technology would be utilized in private corporations to allow professionals of all sorts – from surgeons to programmers – to work remotely from home. Those who would normally need to be in-person, such as doctors, would be able to login to a robotic interface, through which they could accomplish their tasks. (Like heart surgery. Robotic heart surgery.) This means that well-to-do professionals would have a “home office” that revolved around the VR interface, and they could login to different geographic regions (/hospitals) to make their expertise more widely available.
The social and cultural (and military) implications of these ideas are staggering. I’d love to explore them in fiction at some point!
Did you know about Memrise? I didn’t. It’s a super-cool way of making memorization, especially for new language vocabulary, fun and game-like, and also amazingly effective and optimal. So, naturally, I had to get into it.
And then I made an Uhjayi vocabulary Memrise course. Because, y’know, I’m a proactive geek.
I also practiced my Uhjayi script for the first time in a while:
I am an occasional filker… an auto-filker, even, since I write fan-music of my own fiction! For The Last Devil, I wrote two snippets of songs, one a sea-shanty and one a mourning song. They have melodies with them, and drumbeats, but nothing more, even though in the book they have whistle accompaniment. I may well be recording these, as short as they are, to count towards my Hometaping efforts…
- More NaNoWriMo! If I keep up this pace, I might not have to scramble to hit 50k on November 30th!
- Probably more language geekery. I’d really like to get Uhjayi’s script memorized! And that means lots of sit-down-and-write practicing.
- Maybe more music? I have hopes of being able to participate in Hometaping, after all!
I start my BRAND NEW job today! I AM EXCITED. Also terrified. But in good ways!
As a result of the job switch, I had the last four days (Thurs-Sun) off. Which means I got to do creative things!
NaNoWriMo has begun! I spent the last four days writing like mad, and I put down just over 22,000 brand new words on The Last Devil, my NaNovel for the year. It is incredibly odd to write a humans-only story! (The only other NaNo that lacked non-human sapient characters was my very first, so this is a nod to the cycle of NaNoing, this being my tenth year participating.)
I know the new job is going to eat up all my time, so my idea was to get as far ahead as I could before starting, then write like hell on the weekends to make my 50k before midnight on the 30th. So far, this is a pretty strong start!
As planned, I painted tiny sigils for each of my close coworkers, including my bosses, as parting gifts! Each of them has a unique meaning, and each used my coworkers’ favorite colors (and avoided their least favorites) – this was a surprising challenge, since I normally tie the colors to the meanings of the phrase, and I had no control over the colors for this, and had to choose a phrase (or single word) that was meaningful to the person and didn’t clash with the colors!
Here’s the whole set:
The Last Devil is a pretty… mundane… fantasy setting for me. I’m used to amazing creatures (aliens, monsters, etc) and complex magical systems and quantum-level tech, so to lack all of that… oh, what a challenge! I gave myself the boon of two non-sentient critters that aren’t strictly par for the course, but everything else is just… Renaissance-level Earth, with magicless, steampunkless humans.
However, in an effort to flip the bird to trends in this kind of fantasy, I switched the gender stereotypes all around. Women are the strong ones, the competent ones, and the ones in charge; men are the beautiful ones, the marginalized ones, and the ones who get massively outnumbered as named characters.
The consequences of this choice are very, very entertaining to write.
November is the month of Hometaping! While I cannot promise I’ll be able to record twenty minutes of new music, in addition to participating in NaNoWriMo and putting roots down at my new job, I may as well try… :D
- I will keep working on my NaNoWriMo project!
- …yep, that’s probably it. I have other things what need doing, but a new novel and a new job will keep me quite busy for a bit!
The past week has been FULL of changes in the less-creative portions of my life: my love has a new job, and I’m changing jobs myself at the end of the month! Lots of paperwork and logistics-discussion and fingers-crossed-for-best-possible-outcomes!
I’ve chosen my NaNoWriMo project! For those unfamiliar, National Novel-Writing Month occurs every November with the goal of writing 50,000 words on a new piece of fiction; this will be my 10th time participating, and hopefully my 9th time crossing the 50k finish line! Normally I choose my project at the last possible moment, lest I change my mind on November 1, so we’ll see if I switch it up at the start!
I maaay have bribed my partner to finish Spots the Space Marine faster by promising him that he could request a short story from me when he was done; his choice was a follow-up to the xin story I’d written a while back. So I wrote that! And I am now re-intrigued by the characters and setting, and made plans to dig deeper into the worldbuilding necessary to make it Actually Good…
Haven’t aaactually done anything, but we have new beads, which my love made into a breathtaking jade-leafed bracelet for his mama’s birthday…
So, about those xin? Yeah. I poured several hours into hashing out with my partner what the world looks like in 2054, 19 years into a peaceable alien occupation, and how the war went, and how the main character’s life would’ve been shaped by living through the war as a child and then the first and roughest stages of “peaceful” cohabitation in the subsequent years. I’ve also gone into detail about the xin’s homeworld, their evolution, and their current physiology, and my partner has fought me every step of the way about the xin’s lack of ears until he lighted upon a possible adaptive reason: brain mites. Xin can close their eyes, mouths, and nostrils, but not their ears, so those with external ears would have been selected against until none of them had any. (The inner ear structure is still intact, albeit vestigial now, and allows them basic hearing through their bodies – they are especially good at picking up bass.)
Related to the above, I’ve been reading up on American Sign Language, since that’s what the xin have pidginized with their own sign/body language in order to communicate with humans. I am learning some wonderful linguistically-fascinating things about ASL, and also discovering that I remember a whole lot of the basic signs from classes I took in middle school. Huzzah! I am probably going to brush up on that and get moderately conversant in it again, and since my partner wants to learn, we can practice on each other. :D
Nothing new to report, other than the nigh-constant study and analysis of the music I listen to every waking hour to glean more insight into how it’s built…
- I will probably go back through the few short stories of the xin, rewrite them to be consistent with the worldbuilding thus far, and contemplate maybe even serializing them!
- I will finish the remaining 22k of edits for my Secret Project!
- I will paint wee mini-sigils for my coworkers before I switch jobs, as parting gifts!
- I will probably practice and record the ocean orisa song I wrote while in Ocean City!
I have been roadtripping from Texas to West Virginia to Pennsylvania to Ocean City and then back again, so we have only a smattering to report! But report indeed I shall.
I still have a Secret Project what needs editing! I’m about 18k words in to the 40k it amounts to, and when I’m done with it, I may actually have something to announce about it, instead of being all vague and cryptic and possibly obnoxious. Ahem. If I hadn’t forgotten the bloody document on the desktop before we left, it would probably be done by now! *facepalm*
However, I did write a random short story while at my mom’s house, which was mostly for fun. :D Being able to sit back and just meander-write is always a joy.
Somewhat related: I read three freaking books on vacation! THREE! I haven’t read that many in months, let alone two weeks! Holy crap!
If you’re curious, they were the second and third books of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and The Leaves of October by Don Sakers. HIGHLY RECOMMEND ALL.
I helped my mom by painting eyes on the horses she painted:
She also gave me a handful of jewelry that I can cannibalize for parts, and a couple pieces she wants me to remake/fix for her. Shiny objects ahoy!
One of my oldest and favoritest alien species are Korats, a hardy Lavanian predator with distinct color-phenotyped breeds. They, like many predators on Lavana, have a yawning reflex that they treat as a subconscious danger sense; if one is taken off-guard with a yawn, one will then carefully observe one’s surroundings and situations to see what prompted the display of all those thick, sharp teeth. I had never deliberately planned this; it was one of those worldbuilding tidbits that comes in a flash, and I never bothered to look into it.
Well, I’ve looked into it. Apparently, in wild animals, yawning can be both a low-level response to a threat (“you’re unimpressive, I’m not worried, yaaawn”) or, as Korats and some Earth critters (like baboons) use it, a display of very fearsome teeth to a potential aggressor. (There are also floating theories that it helps cool the brain a bit, which would also play into Koratian use for a nervous/excited/afraid body overheating a smidge.) It is, for Korats, still an instinctual/involuntary thing, but they’ve correlated that urge with a level of unease that they can’t always consciously detect, and they take it as a sign from their body to take a closer look at potential threats around them.
My intuitive worldbuilding is founded in science that I didn’t know at the time! Win.
I created a new cypher! This one will be offline-only and used to encrypt things I’d like to have a little extra security on; for that reason, I can’t give you any details about it, but I will say that, ten minutes after mapping the letter-changes out, I had half the thing memorized and could write simple sentences without looking at the translation key.
My brain is apparently getting good at this language stuff. In a somewhat unnerving way. ^^;
I performed Sister of Shadows (an original Kemetic song about Nebt-het/Nephthys) for my sister and her beau around a campfire. If my fingertips hadn’t frozen off halfway through, I would have been happier! But at least she got to hear it – I’ve been having a rough time getting this one to record, for some reason.
I also wrote a soft, simple chant-song for the ocean orisa Yemonja/Olukun while at Ocean City and utterly enthralled by the sea. Likely will record and share that soon!
Madcap week at work to catch up post-vacation! I’m not going to try to plan any creative work; it’ll be crazy enough just to get through to next Monday!
Look! Two in a row! Pretty sure the world’s gonna end.
I have not actually written a damn thing this past week. Busy!
On the other hand, boy howdy did I art. I did a painting for Mama J’s birthday on Friday, and a very special painting for my sister on Sunday, which I will hand-deliver to her in about two weeks! And oh, the doodles, especially while at FenCon this Saturday. Have a look at my favorite below:
This is Tsaho, an enman scout; that thick arm of hers was sheared off and replaced with a robotic prosthetic, and she doesn’t like it much. (She’s also perpetually grumpy.) She’s one of the four main characters of Everything To Lose.
A random lovely lady at the filk circle at FenCon leaned over and told me that Tsaho was beautiful. Beautiful! I am full of glee that someone who is not me will consider Tsaho beautiful. =3
A novel project cooking up in the back of my head has another piece of worldbuilding added to it: the last names of people (who are humans) are either their profession or, a twist on the Donaldson = Donald’s Son pattern, Lilychild or Ariaborn. (In other words, mother’s name + child/born/son.) It’s a matriarchal culture. :)
I also sketched out the design for the small vehicles of the symbiotes (the arboreal octopi/flightless plainsbirds). It’s … honestly, it’s like an off-road Red Flyer wagon with a windshield and a front motor. They’re autodriving and only big enough for one person (and small amount of belongings/groceries) at a time. Think driverless taxi cabs: they’re everywhere in the city, and you call one to you whenever you need a ride somewhere. Personally-owned vehicles are rare in urban areas. There are also reasonably quick-moving scrolling walkways in the most busy and compact of areas – like in airports for us – so that people who don’t want to wait for a rocketwagon can move briskly without sprinting.
…I still don’t know what the symbiotes are called. ARGH.
I dug up an old favorite song – Carrie Newcomer’s Holy As A Day Is Spent – and translated it to Kommu to begin learning to sing it. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done something this simple – just cyphering English to sing – and it sounds wonderful. I’m having to take a French approach with fitting the Kommu syllables into the English pattern; the ends of words fall off or slur onto the beginning of the next, and sometimes the middle syllable of a longer word disappears (okay, that’s a little Japanese, not French).
See above! Yes, okay, that’s cheating. :D
I am both wanting to have the time to filk and really looking forward to seeing my family in early October. My partner and sister and I have started a wee tradition of singing/playing around a small fire for my mom and her fiance, and it’s such a heart-warming experience that I really can’t wait to do it again. I am excited to bring my guitar this time! I can do more than sing and drum!
Not my news but still worth squeeing over: My partner wrote a Firefly filk to the tune of Kishmul’s Galley by the Corries, and he sang it at the FenCon filk circle. SO AWESOME, YOU GUYS, OMIGAW.
Ah, well, I’m pretty much going to work my arse off this week in preparation for a two-week roadtrip to see family in October, so um, er, I’m not planning much. :D