Posted in Blogging, Internet, Webcomics, Writing

The Passing of Project Wonderful & A Look at Current Blogging/Creativity

Does anyone remember Project Wonderful?

They are (were) a little company that allowed you to pay into the site and place ads up on other sites in the network. You could also place your own ads up on your page and people could purchase those in return.

A Short Look Back

pwadI used Project Wonderful quite a bit for various old blogs, writing sites, but especially for our webcomic, Wayrift. In fact, I think a high number of our long-term readers at Wayrift came from discovering us through Project Wonderful. For a small webcomic, it was an affordable option, and it really did connect a lot of the comics together.

At the height of advertising on Wayrift, I was not only breaking even, but making a little extra here or there. I won’t say that traffic was flooding in, but it wasn’t terrible, either. It was a pretty viable way of getting fresh eyes on our content. But for some reason, it fell out of practice for us to use it.

In fact, I haven’t used it a whole lot in the past 5-6 years. I did try a short stent with it last year, but didn’t really see a ton of results, and I was putting more money than I was getting views for. But even so, I never guessed it was on its last legs.

Relevance to the Blogosphere

Project Wonderful sent out an email yesterday (see it here) to inform all of us that this is the end. It said a few things that were relevant to how I’ve been feeling about the small websites, our blogs, and the health of the blogosphere. While this may be on the negative spectrum, I do think it’s relevant, and what I wanted to repost here:

…in the past several years, the internet has changed. Large sites like Facebook do all they can to keep readers on their network, rather than sending that traffic out to individual websites. As such, many readers – who used to visit dozens if not hundreds of websites a day – now visit only a few sites, and things like the indie “blogosphere” (remember that?) are disappearing. We’re hopeful that individual creators can adapt – either by embracing these walled gardens in a way that protects themselves, or by finding other ways to draw attention to their work – but as a network founded on supporting independent websites, our options were limited.

It’s certainly no secret that I’ve seen less and less in the way of active blogging as the years go by. There’s a certain set of writers who are either too stubborn, too dedicated or too frustrated to fold up shop and stop posting. But aside from those folks (thank goodness you’re here!), I’ve seen things slowing down as the years pass.

If we’re getting new folks in this space, they’re either hard to find, they don’t know the channels it takes to reach out and be heard, or they simply fizzle out after the magic of the new-blog smell wears off.

nbi_supporter_badgeThe NBI used to help a lot with that, but even that had trouble drumming up the energy and time to run. There wasn’t a whisper of it that I heard last month. I can’t say a lot because I’m in the same boat — with work and everything, I just don’t have the time to organize something of this magnitude. But it’s still a sad thing.

Interestingly, when I went to Google NBI, I found that there still appears to be a NBI Reddit out there that sometimes people post to, even recently. I wonder if that’s a tool that could be used for something more than it is now.

Anyhow, I’m starting to ramble. I don’t know that I rightly have the words to express my thoughts. I came from the early days of learning rudimentary HTML code in order to build your own free GeoCities site… because if you wanted to put your work out there, that was the best option you had. Due to that barrier, if you consistently made something good, it was noticed.

As the Web has grown, our options for communication have gotten wider to the point that everyone can easily spin up a site or a blog and share their thoughts. But just as many options as we have to be individuals online, as Project Wonderful has pointed out, with social media, our communication-vision has begun to grow narrower…

You can’t blame people for wanting to go where they think everything is (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Wattpad, etc.). But where does that leave all the creatives on the fringes? The new blogger. The new online web novelist. The uptsart webcomic. The digital artist…

Folks who are developing a craft and trying to find an audience? They don’t have much of a choice but to go where they think that audience is. Even if that means that they’re straying far from home into the sometimes scary world of social media. Even then, that doesn’t promise they’ll be seen or heard.

These thoughts are nothing new. They just keep getting stronger as the years go by.

I dunno. What do you guys think?

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Posted in Writing

I Did Something Stupid (And Succeeded!): NaNoWriMo

So I just completed NaNoWriMo for 2017, despite the fact that I started it halfway through the month – dumb thing to do. I won’t say it was all easy going, but I’m glad I took the dive into exploring this world, characters and story.

Last week, when I puttered out and skipped writing on Thanksgiving, I started wondering if I’d make it at all. I almost put off the final 1K words until tomorrow, but decided just to push on and get it all done tonight.

I feel like this is a pretty good point to pause in my writing, anyhow, as I’ve chewed through most of my loose plot-plans already. I need to really think about some of the developments I’m going to mess with the next stretch of the story. I’m not done with writing by a long shot, but I really do need a rest after all that. Whew!

Posted in Writing

I’m Doing Something Stupid: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo used to be my jazz. I haven’t participated in an official NaNo in many years, though.

I know most folks reading this are familiar with my blogging gaming and geek stuff… and some even know that I am a technical writer in the adulting world. The truth is, I started out writing fiction as a kid — fantasy fiction to be specific.

Like many writers, I have trouble sticking to it when inspiration isn’t heavy in the air. When I discovered NaNoWriMo in 2002, I found a challenge that kept me motivated enough to spout out 50K words in 30 days. I’m not sure why it worked for me, but my author stats speak for me:

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And the years you don’t see there — 2014 ~ 2016 — I was participating in at least one, if not two, Camp NaNoWriMo events instead. I tend to prefer Camp NaNo since it allows you to set your own pace and word count. Back in the early years of NaNo, I was in college, so it was a lot easier to find the time to spin stories of fantasy. Now days, not so much.

That’s why what I’m doing is stupid.

I almost didn’t write at all this year. I’ve actually been in a bit of a creative slump.  I passingly considered doing NaNo, and even mentioned it to Syn. But I didn’t commit.

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Concept art!

Back in 2015, I was writing a Camp NaNo for my story Runne. The final few chapters of that writing session turned into something completely different. That’s the beauty of writing for NaNo… you never really know what you’re going to get if you just let your story go. (I’m a partial pantser, I admit it.)

Out of the blue, I stumbled on two characters who had previously never shown up in any of my writing and honestly had nothing to do with the main story thus far (though they will eventually). I knew I was going off on a tangent, but the characters were just fun to write and ponder about. They even got a piece of concept art, as you can see.

This tangent turned into something that nagged at me even after I closed that year’s Camp NaNo event. I was really interested in taking a deeper dive into this part of the story, but it didn’t fit in the overall scope of Runne. I set all of my writing aside this year, as I noted, thinking I wasn’t going to deal with any of it.

I was wrong.

Over the past two years, I’ve been kicking around an origin story, trying to figure out why this character is the way he is. He started showing up in RP sessions (it’s Syn’s fault), and I continued to think about and discover things about this character.

I don’t know what possessed me to get this all out in writing. But, suddenly, this week, I couldn’t stop it from happening. I rolled up a new WordPress blog (which will remain secret for now) and just went at it, spewing this rather morbid origin story that told the reasons for this anti-hero’s rather broken personality.

I’m not used to writing morbid and darker stuff, so I feel a little dirty doing it (there’s nothing actually dirty there, I promise). But I also keep telling myself that this is the truth of this character, even if I glossed over all the grisly details on purpose.

Anyhow, it took me about 10K words to get all that backstory out of my system. But I still had more story to tell. That’s the point when I realized I was going to do something stupid: I was going to join NaNoWriMo… on Day 15.

That’s halfway through the month! What am I doing?!

I’ll tell you what I’m doing: At least 2,500 words a day until the end of the month. XD

So, if I get a little slack over the rest of this month, just know I’m drowning in Dragons.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Writing

FFXIV: Introducing Alt+Exp

I’ve been a little quiet here on this blog mostly because I’ve been working on setting up the aforementioned FFXIV RP/Story project. This has now taken shape as a brand new website that I’m happy to announce: Alternate Experience (Alt+Exp).

So far, I’ve got one story post there, kicking off the beginning of Ben’s journey to Eorzea. I also have an author’s post there, as I intend to keep a side blog running for author commentary.

Remember how I noted that I didn’t have any updated full-body artwork of Ben to show? Well, I can’t say that anymore. I drew a brand new piece (above) just for the release of this project. Am I dedicated or what? 😉

Here’s a bit of fun about the name Alt+Exp, and the various different meanings it can have:

  • Alternate Experience <Alts> is the name of the solo Free Company I created for my alt characters, including Ben.

  • In playing through the game yet again, I am having a new experience with an alt character.

  • My alt is gaining exp.

  • The character, Ben, is having an experience in an alternate dimension.

Anyhow, this is as serious a move as I’ve taken to actually get off my duff and start fiction writing again. Heck, I even picked up a new domain name for it. I also had to break down and dedicate my secondary Tumblr account to the project, though I really don’t like having to switch between them for various things.

Anyhow, I’ll be setting it up so that posts from that site appear on my Twitter and Facebook, so you’ll be seeing those intermingled with my normal blog posts from time to time. Hopefully it’ll be something fun to write (and read)!

Posted in Fantasy Fiction, FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Writing

FFXIV: All Crafters to 60, YoKai Fun & Finishing Camp NaNoWriMo

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This week has felt pretty busy. There’s just been a whole lot of content to work through in FFXIV (Deep Dungeon & YoKai Event), along with my struggles to complete Camp NaNoWriMo before the month ended.

Last night, I was able to really sit down and figure out what all the FFXIV YoKai event is about. I knew that I wanted to get all of the minions, since I just collect them by default. I also knew there were a few weapon skins that I liked and wanted to work towards. I also knew that I wanted to continue leveling my Gladiator to the best of my ability using the FATE trains that I knew would be around.

This is just what happened. Vix and I organized some FATE running because she also had some weapon skins she wanted to earn. I was more focused on earning minions, and managed to get all but four last night, along with the Scholar book skin, and a few levels of Gladiator. So, much was accomplished!

Last night was also the final night of Moogle beast tribe quests to boost all of my crafting classes to level 60. So, I earned the Grandmaster of the Hand, and achieved the final of my crafting goals for this month.

ffxiv_07272016_230025

Now that this is done, I’ll probably still keep doing Moogle quests because they are the main source of relic items for me at this point. I don’t have any real desire to go chasing down crafting gear yet, though. Just leveling was enough for me.

Camp NaNoWriMo

campnano2016And, finally… I completed my 15K word count for Camp NaNoWriMo today. For a while, I didn’t think it was going to happen, which would have been a bummer. It would have been the first time I set out a NaNo goal I didn’t accomplish. Seeing that I couldn’t break my track record, I really pushed out the writing this week and made a lot of progress.

I still need to sift through it and put it under some editing, but I’ll be getting some new content up for Shadows of Zot sooner rather than later! I’m also working on other page changes to Zot/Shimmer, but I’ll discuss those at a later time, once I have them more complete.

Posted in Fantasy Fiction, Writing

Camp NaNo: Creative Struggles

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July was supposed to be a Camp NaNoWriMo for me, but I’ve really been dropping the ball on writing this month. I set a goal of 15K words (which is super low for me) to get some writing started on Shadows of Zot. I kicked around a few chapters earlier this month, but due to work stress and just feeling low in creativity, I didn’t get much else done.

So here I am staring down the barrel of the final week of the only NaNo event that I’ve signed up for that I may not complete. This is not like me. I’ve had a lot of creative struggles lately, which I put into words in a post not too long ago. I hoped that writing something “on rails” like Zot would help me flex that fiction muscle that seems to be having so much trouble. I didn’t expect 15K to feel really impossible. Part of me doesn’t want to fail.

Then something funky happened. I had a dream. The best way to describe the dream is some kind of modern day urban fantasy, and it was really neat. Sometimes I think we see so much fantasy and sci-fi that we forget the wonder we used to feel for the genres… but this dream felt really awesome since it was almost like I was there as it was happening. When I woke up, I felt a little inspired and I said to myself, “Wish I could write a story that could capture something that felt that amazing.”

Then, yesterday I was kicking around on YouTube and a video reminded me that I have a rather neglected Crunchyroll account. So I looked through my massive queue there to see if anything caught my attention, and I ran across the anime Erased. I haven’t watched anime in a while, but I heard this was good (no spoilers), so I started watching it.

It was just what I needed to see to kick-start some stories in my head, especially since the anime has a lot to do with children… and Zot also has main characters who are children at this point. I’ve only watched two episodes of Erased, but I’m looking forward to watching more as I’m super interested in this story.

Anyhow, a blend of these two influences somehow helped me break the writer’s block that was dragging me down. I have a lot to do if I want to catch up with where I need to be to finish my word count by Sunday. It’s a reality, though, thanks to the 5K words I managed to write today.

Let’s see if I can make it! Even if I can’t, I’ve at least written a number of new chapters for Zot that I can post. So that’s a good thing.

campnanostats

Posted in Fantasy Fiction, Writing

Crud NaNoWriMo July 2016 – Shadows of Zot

Well, crud. Look what happened.

zotcrud

I wasn’t going to write for the July Camp NaNoWriMo. I was pretty discouraged after suffering through April’s NaNoWriMo, which was decidedly one of the worst NaNo experience I’ve had yet (no fault of NaNo, it was all me). And then I felt that all the effort went to waste as I didn’t even post anything I wrote in the end.

For the past few months, I’ve really wondered if I’ve lost my skill for fiction writing. Sure, I can spin a blog post like this in little to no time, and shoot out technical articles for work without batting an eye. But there’s a huge difference between inspired fantasy writing and conversational or technical writing. They’re all writing, but they use different muscles.

Where blogging had begun as a way to keep me writing consistently between my fiction sprints, it’s now become so, so much harder for me to write fiction in general. I’m not going to lie, I’d almost decided to give up on all of it. But then I get the little unexpected encouragements like…

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Merrybelly… you just don’t know how I almost cried for joy to see a kind compliment during a dark time in my creative landscape. Thank you. 🙂

It also got Shadows of Zot back on my writing radar, which is something I’ve wanted to do anyhow. So, yes. I have four days to re-read the 14 chapters I’ve already posted and refresh my creative palette to try and give this fantasy writing thing another stab.