NaNoWriMo Day 25

DAY 25 HAS ARRIVED!

We’re in the very last days until the end of NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t reached that 50,000 words yet, there is still five more days to get there. If you have, CONGRATULATIONS! You did it!

After I hit the 50,000 word limit, I decided to keep writing. I finished up the story, which is invariably shorter than I was hoping it would, and stopped at that point. I have a lot to edit, a lot to sort out, and I know of a few problems I will need to fix once I hunker down and get to the nitty-gritty details.

I was, admittedly, a bit disappointed about the word validating. I know some people didn’t really like it, but I kind of like obfuscating my work and throwing it into the word validater (apparently spelled incorrectly and not a word, oh well) just to have it officially counted. I updated my final word count based on scriveners project statistics and official total from start to finish. While I’m sure there would be some discrepancy between NaNoWriMo’s count and Scriveners, I still reached around 67,000 words. I really can’t complain with that total.

I’m happy that I completed the story, and will be taking a bit of break before I print it off and start editing it. I also have another manuscript that I need to finish editing as well….but as it’s total is over 800 pages and I’ve barely scratch the surface on it, I might need to work on something a bit more compressed in comparison. We’ll see.

Anyway, five more days NaNoWriMo writers! Don’t give up, keep writing. And if you’re anything like me right now, super sick, then I hope you all feel better soon!

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NaNoWriMo day 15

We made it! We’re half way through the month! By now you should be around 25,000 words, and half way to your goal. If not, and you need more words, then don’t worry, there’s still time!

So far, my writing is coming along well. I’m about half way through the entire story, and content with how some of the scenes are turning out.

I might have written one of my favourite scenes today, and I think that’s put me in a good mood. This scene allowed me to play around with world building, to show a side of something that never would’ve had the opportunity to show. It made me happy. I’m sure there’s a fair bit of editing and fixing I’ll have to do despite me being happy about writing it, BUT that’s for after November. Until November 31st, I am simply writing, writing, writing.

I don’t know how the weather has been for everyone else, but here we’ve got a fair bit of snow, and cold temperatures. So, if you’ve got anything like what I have, I hope you’re staying warm and cozy.

I hope everyone is doing well, and remember, don’t give up. You’ve got this.

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NaNoWriMo day 13

We are officially thirteen days in, and nearly half way through the month!

How is everyone doing so far? Are you starting to feel burned out, or losing motivation? It’s a long haul, I know. I have friends who won’t do the challenge solely based on the fact that they would burn out and never finish the 50,000 words.

I’m nearing my approach at 50,000 words. I plowed through the first week with high word counts, and I’m starting to slow down now. Not necessarily from lack of motivation, but, well, starting to feel a bit burned out. I know I’ll reach the 50,000 words, I know I can get there, and I plan to continue even after I reach that goal. I want to see how much I can get done by the end of the month. If I’m lucky, I’ll finish the entire rough draft of the manuscript, but I can’t be certain. I need the push and motivation in order to really reach that goal.

Anyway, I hope everyone is finding a second wind if you’re needing an extra boost. Just remember, you’ve still got lots of time to reach that 50,000 word goal, and I know you can do it. All first timers are seeing the drive for themselves, and all writers who have done the challenge again and again, know how to push themselves when they start slowing down. It’s a marathon, a long haul, but it’s doable, and I know you can all get there.

Remember that once November is done and the challenge ends, you have the chance to take a break before editing. Editing, in my opinion is far more tedious than the writing itself, and much more time consuming.

Okay, I’ve rambled on enough. Keep going! Writers, you’ve got this!

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NaNoWriMo Day 4

FOUR DAYS IN!!

I hope that all of you are on a roll as we have reached day 4 of 30 days. We are making progress (I hope)!
I’ve been going, going, going, and based on my outline it’s going to be way over 50,000 words. Which is good, but also insane. I’m not even half way through the story, not by  a long shot, and I’m around the 14,000 word mark. I’m still hoping to finish the entirety of the story by the end of December (which could be plausible).  I have yet to run into a road bump in the story, which is good, though I made a slightly questionable decision for a scene that I may take out entirely when I go back and edit. For now, it’s staying in, but I’m seriously considering removing it, letting there be a bit more mystery. Or leaving it in, and changing certain parts of it to keep a bit more mystery. It’s not detrimental to the overall story, but I still haven’t decided if I want to keep it a secret for another couple of chapters or just leave it the way it is. Oh well, that’s what editing is for (partly).

Anyway, I hope that everyone is writing away, is finding their motivation and inspiration, holding on it, and making some progress. It’s not about the speed in which you write those words, but that you achieve 50,000 words by November 30th. It’s doable, and I believe in everyone who is taking on this challenge to reach that goal!

 

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NaNoWriMo Day 1

It’s officially begun! National Novel Writing Month is on it’s way and I’m for one, EXCITED!

I wrote my first scene, a little over 2800 words and I’m very excited, enthusiastic, and motivated to keep going. I can’t wait to see how this turns out and seeing the end result by December 1st. I know I’ll still have more to write when the challenge is over, but I’m still eager to see the progress and keep writing.

I hope everyone is having a good first day, and don’t give up! It might seem like a huge haul to get to that 50,000 words but you can do it.

The ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo is to simply write. Try not to over think what you’re writing too much, and do your best. Once you have the 50,000 words, you can always go back and fix what you’ve done, or change things. The idea is to sit and write and get part of a rough draft (or an entire rough draft) done.

Keep going, get your good old snacks to keep you writing and working, and caffeine (if you’re like me and need it as fuel through out your day), and throw on those comfy clothes. In my opinion, comfort is key when writing.

And in the end: YOU CAN DO IT!

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NaNoWriMo Prep!

We are fast approaching November and National Novel Writing Month! Who else is super excited to push themselves to reach that goal of 50,000 words? I know I am!

I had started a story that I was writing on and off over the passed year, thinking that I might complete it during NaNoWriMo, but as it turns out, I had an entirely new idea come to me a little while ago.

The idea came to me after watching a video about a theory regarding a video game series I play. The person was going on and connecting a bunch of stuff that was happening, and for the game, it kind of made sense. But within the theory sprouted a new idea for a story. I ran it by one of my friends and we discussed it a fair bit. I started making notes and formulating different ideas. Then I put all of this into an outline….a very long outline. The chapters may be short, but there is a lot that happens I’ve realized…..and a fair bit of world building that I’ll be committing too. This MAY be my biggest undertaking since the last manuscript I finished (which is, in all honesty, still being edited (and I really need to get my ass in gear and actually spend more time editing it)).

Anyway, I’m sure I’m not the only one plugging away on their idea and outline for NaNoWriMo, and I hope the rest of you are enjoying all the prep work (or no prep work if that’s how you work best!).

I will try to update at least once a week during November, but with working three jobs and trying to get those 50,000 words written, I might have a bit of trouble posting as often as I’d like.

We’re almost there though!!!!

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The hook and lure

I have been reading a lot of Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer. While I skimmed through the entire book, I have gone back and been doing a more thorough re-read of it.

For those of you who don’t know who Jeff Vandermeer is, he is an author, most famously known for his Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance). You can get the books individually or as one book, broken into three parts. He has also written a number of short stories and many other books.

While reading the Southern Reach Trilogy, there was so much that stood out to me. Not only in the way that the story was organized, or the use of flashbacks in characters memories to further explain and develop the characters, but to also provide a fair bit of background information on why characters are acting a certain way, and why things are happening the way they are now. There’s more to it than that, but it’s a difficult thing to organize and maintain interest, along with flow when you jump back and forth. This is what appealed to me about his writing; not once did I want to put the book down, not once did I feel the flow of the story get interrupted by a characters past experience; and not once did I find any of the story meaningless or pointless. There are about a thousand other points I could make about his books in general, but I’ll stop there.

So, when my brother picked up Wonderbook, I was intrigued by what I could learn from it. I’ve been writing for about 17 years now (nothing published, partly because I haven’t had anything I’d actually consider sending to a publishing company yet), and have been improving as a writer. My stories are more in depth, the characters have more substance, and the stories are more fleshed out. I can describe scenes, and write emotions better, and I’ve definitely improved on making my characters more human. Sure, this person might be able to beat the shit out of a guy with a gun, but she’s fueled by vengeance, and all her actions will catch up to her at some point, and she will fall apart (just a random example). My point is, I delve further into the characters and the story than I did when I was writing at the age of 14 and 15 (most of my ideas back then were fueled by anime and video games, and NOT that fleshed out).

We get inspiration by the most random, yet logical, places. Everyone pulls from somewhere. As I pointed out, when I was younger I played a lot of video games, and a lot of my ideas came from video games. Other ideas came from tv shows or anime. While my tastes in video games, anime, tv shows, and movies have changed over the years (definitely look for characters and stories that draw my interest in, and have something more fleshed out than “go kill this, and get this award”, among other things), the desire to find something that draws me in and makes me care about what happens, hasn’t. I believe I’ve learned a lot from this as I continue to write.

But back to the book. The book helps break down each part of the story you’re writing. It provides advice and suggestions to help create a good hook and lure within the first few pages, and how to continue through the story from there. It makes suggestions about how to avoid certain issues, and when to realize you’re having these issues. These issues could be “give up and start over, the idea won’t work”. It’s about recognizing that you don’t have the right things surrounding the story idea, and knowing when to put it aside. This doesn’t mean that later you might come up with an amazing idea that helps push that story along in a different light, it just means, sometimes you have to give up and start over.

The manuscript that I’ve divided into three parts and have been editing, is very much representative of this. I had written an entire manuscript, from start to finish, with an initial idea. I thought it worked out great, but in reality, it was falling flat, and I needed to start over. Over a few years, I worked and re-worked the idea and the characters to death, until I found something that would work. Over the course of three years, and three NaNoWriMo’s, I completed the 800+ paged manuscript. The story still has it’s flaws (editing is insanely helpful of course), but it’s coming together, slowly and surely. While it’s not close to being something I want to send off to any publishing company, it is getting there.

While I work through another story and idea, I’m finding ways of fleshing it out more. Adjusting the locations of certain scenes, the flow of the story, and how I want to world build and provide more to the characters than just them being capable of holding their own. I mean it’s great when they can fight the big antagonist, but they need more to them besides that; like hey, she loves to draw but never could, or he can communicate with animals and also happens to love animals, and those two enjoy logical thought processes, and following lead (admittedly more random shit, and could be better personality traits and characters in general). The book is helping me figure out how I want this story to work, and where I’m lacking certain information. This is helpful, because I plan to finish the rough draft during NaNoWriMo in November. I had come to a standstill with the story, having key scenes written, but with no real depth to the story or the characters (at least not to my level of acceptance (I have really high levels of acceptance when it comes to this)). So, I worked through what I had and implemented scenes that were necessary for flow and for showing who these characters are. I need those moments between characters so the reader understands their relationship, why they are friends, and how this came to happen; I need the breaks from the tension, the history of the world, and these light moments where the characters are human, where they make mistakes, and learn more about themselves. So, I’ve developed that, inserted them into the rough draft, and I just have to write it now (it’s hard to stop myself from just writing them now, when I  want to wait for November).

For anyone who feels like they want to learn more about writing, or just read a different perspective on writing, I highly recommend Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer.

I will end this post with a quote from the book for your enjoyment, and something that I happen to agree with quite a bit about the beginning of a book.

“You are inviting the reader to some sort of enjoyment or challenge or (perhaps) harrowing experience. Spending too much time on trying to hook the reader may well rob the opening of your book of its allure. In this case, of course, the lure is part of an anglerfish, and it’s the reader who wants to be fooled – who wants to be devoured.”
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The Beginning!

A question to all of you writers, how important is the start of the story to you?

Most of us can say that the beginner, those first few pages, that first scene, is important to grab your readers into the story and keep them interested. It’s common in a lot of stories for it to open to something exciting and that might be difficult to explain until much later. Others prefer a slow opening, something that slowly grows and keeps the writer interested.

While I am neither a published author (working towards it), nor am I a publisher, I can’t actually state this with any real education or experience; this is simply my opinion; but I find having something super exciting to get peoples attention tends to be the easiest way to get to the readers. Let’s start off the story with a murder, and describe the murder, or the image of the bloodied beaten body on the ground, or the murderer chopping up the pieces of the body, etc. Let’s start off with a graphic nightmare and the main character awakening from it. Let’s have a huge a battle in which the main character comes out alive.

There are hundreds of ways to grab a readers attention by starting off with something big. For me, I would find a normal opening to be the most challenging way of grabbing someone’s attention. I can’t really argue this as thoroughly as I might want to, one of my openings has the main character in a jail cell and no memory of how she got there, and my other opening has an alien invasion. What both of these openings do, is establish that the world is not how it always appeared to be, and that this huge event has triggered a chain of reactions in the characters lives that slowly begin to unfold through out the stories; both with the characters history and their future roles to play in the story. This doesn’t mean that the main characters are chosen ones, just shows an understanding for the characters and their importance in their own stories. Because really, as an author, that’s what I’m doing: I’m telling THEIR stories.

For me, the characters need to be fleshed out in my mind. What characteristics do my characters have? What are their strengths? Their weaknesses? How would they react in any situation, dangerous, fun, casual, stressful? Where would they strive best? Where is their knowledge? Are they strong or weak physically? Are they strong or weak emotionally? And why are they the way they are? What experiences and upbringing shaped them in this way? Why would they feel rage towards a single person? Or are they the type of character who is not emotionally mature enough and channels their rage to everyone around them? Are they suffering from trauma, or depression? Do they have anxiety issues? Do they have PTSD? How do these effect them on a daily basis? How does this effect them during times of stress? What could trigger a depressive/anxious/traumatic episode for them? What are those triggers and why do they put the character in such a state? What separates this character from a stereotype or from others like them? Why are they different? Why does their story matter more than the other characters? Or is the story about all the characters?

The questions could go on, and on, and on, and for the sake of those who read my blog, I’m going to stop there. I always have a million questions about my characters. Some of them get answered when I throw them into situations that would require reactions specific to that characters traits and abilities. A character who spends their life playing video games with no admirable traits, who is suddenly thrown into a situation where a terrorist attacks happens, and they find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time, would probably crack under pressure, would not be a character to perform some heroic feat. And it’s a simple answer to why that is; this character has no concept of events like that and has had nothing to tell them what to do in a situation like that. Sure, we read it in the news, but to experience something that traumatizing and to have to endure a fall out afterwards, most people would break. It would take a person who is trained to do those things, with plenty of experience in those types of situations, to be able to stand on their own two feet and be able to keep going. This doesn’t mean that the training and experience wouldn’t have an effect on the person; it absolutely would, it’s their ability to either handle their emotions, or compartmentalize, that helps them do their job. But any normal person below that would absolutely break under that type of pressure, because the reality is that it is traumatizing and it would change their lives.

Anyway, I got off track there. I need to have my characters developed first. Once I know a lot about my characters, I can associate a voice for them, and from there, the story. I will likely have an idea of how the story is going to go, at the very least, the beginning and the end. From there, I will at least have a few scenes in my mind in between, and then slowly the rest will come together. I’m a person who likes to work off of an outline; each scene with some guiding words, and structure. This doesn’t mean that I won’t stray from the outline, throwing in extra scenes that work with the flow of the narrative and the scenes before and after, I will 100% do this, and I have done it more times than I can count. But the main story arch is important to have at least a general idea of before you start writing.

I am aware that some people do write without thinking of any of these things. They just write and watches their story unfold as they go. This works for some writers, and that’s great! As a writer, you have to work with what you can do, and what you know produces some of your better, if not best, work.

To round out my point here, I am saying that it is effective to know how your story is going to begin, and eventually where it will end. For me, the important aspects of the main character help me to find the characters voice, and how they will position themselves in the story (this goes for supporting characters too). It’s important for me to know my characters better than they know themselves, and to really work within them. I also, personally, prefer characters who are flawed. The more flawed they are, the more human they are. But I also try to write, especially with older characters, characters who are emotionally mature at the very least. The younger the characters are, the less emotionally mature they might be, the more driven by their emotions instead of logic. Although, logic, in all honesty can be warped to a characters perception of the world. What might seem logical to one person, would seem illogical to someone else. For example, removing all the objects off a sink in order to clean the sink might be logical for one person, but for another they see it as being time consuming and if they’re careful enough they can simply lift the objects and clean under them. The latter would also seem illogical to the person who thinks the former is logical, and the former might believe the latter is lazy and more likely to end up with broken objects on the sink. It can be a vicious cycle, but sometimes fun to think about when developing characters.

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A Hiatus

I had really no intention of disappearing from wordpress and writing blogs for so long. I’m sorry for this unplanned hiatus.

I have still been writing, working through projects slowly. I’m still editing the three part manuscript which is over 800 pages long. It’s taking a lot longer than the rough draft, and I imagine that once I get to the actual re-working, that will take just as long. But it is coming along. Just slowly.

I started working on another story that came to me as a scene. A scene of two people on a beach. I decided to go with that, slowly building this world around the two people, and why they found themselves on that beach. It branched out into some complicated, needs explaining scenes, but it’s coming together. More recently, I was able to find a way to provide more depth to the story and the world that these characters live in, and expand more on that, and provide more substance to the story. That was a good day. I think there’s enough to write that’s left for NaNoWriMo this year, so this story will be my main project for the month of November.

On another note entirely, I have been spending some of my free time playing video games. A friend of mine created a blog detailing adventures through the point of view of one of his characters. It’s been entertaining to read. We’ve been discussing writing styles, writing issues, and ways to do things like world build. We’ve been helping each other out a lot with those more technical areas of writing.

But back to the video game. I’ve been really enjoying it. More than I did before. I think I went through a phase where I loved it too much, then distanced myself from it, then slowly came back to love it again. The people I play with have been making things easier for me in life, and I think it’s important to have those people (outside of your family) to help you out. They became like a second family.

I remember reading an article about a boy who had passed away because of an illness he had. He died, and at his funeral, a number of people, around his age, showed up to say goodbye. His parents had no idea who these people were, so they spoke with them. The parents found out that these people were from the online game their son had played, and they talked about their son in such a positive way, that the parents realized how much the game, and the people their son play with, meant to him.

While the internet might be full of hate speech, social justice warriors, outrage addicts, and so much more, there is good hidden in the depths. It allows us to connect and meet new people who can become as close to us as people we’ve known our entire lives in person. There is good as well as bad with every invention, it’s inevitable.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a good first week of September. Hopefully, I can get on top of my writing and posting a bit better. I keep saying that and failing at the posting part. I really am sorry, life can be inevitably consuming at times.

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Music

I have always been emotionally effected by certain music. It’s rare that some upbeat pop song will actually make me happy if I’m feeling anything but, however, I do find some songs will take control and I’ll just really feel something.

Some people might read that and know exactly what I’m talking about, others might and be like “music is just background noise for me when I drive and doesn’t change my emotional state”. And sure, some people don’t get effected by music, but I will argue this; think of a movie that made you cry, that made you upset or angry – odds are it was not just the story or the actors that hit that special part of you to encourage the overflow of emotion, but the music that is re-enforcing those emotions and causing them to surface like they are.

Now, some of you might be wondering what the hell inspired me to talk about music influences, and there are many reasons for this.

I recently finished a video game that I had been waiting 13 years to play. Yes, 13 fucking years. Long story, made incredibly short, I thought I had moved passed the games that I had played so long ago, almost a different life time, but I’m not. This next installment of the game brought me right back to those moments when I played the first and second game, and some of the games in between the second and third. I thought I wouldn’t get emotionally invested in it like I did before, or find an amazing challenge in killing thousands of enemies at once. And I thought, I’ll be done with the series after this game – something I was certain of and figured I’d be unwavering on – until I saw the ending video. The ending video and the secret video at the end of the credits. I actually cried. Part of it was the music and part of it was the story. Not only did the final sequence of events involve the main character break down and cry saying he gave up, only finding himself having to keep fighting after losing someone he was in love with and had only just come to this realization (the characters are young….they start off at like age 12-13, and by the third game they might be 15-16), but the ending sequence shows him saving her, but not himself. And you’re sitting there, seeing them for a split second together, and then the tears fall down her cheek, and he disappears, and you know he’s lost – he couldn’t make it back. Something happened to him. You have no idea what, but the next game will tell you – maybe. The secret video then shows the main character and one of his friends lost in a place where you never expected the games to take you – and you wonder, is this a new world? Is it from a video game? Is it a new exam? Or is it something else entirely? And you’re so uncertain, and you’re questioning this, and despite all the other unresolved plot points that have come to light in the final video, deep down, all you want to see, is for things to just work out for those two characters who so clearly are in love with each other, and who want nothing more then to actually be together and protect one another. It’s deep – it’s love – and it’s forever.

I have become slightly addicted to two songs, one was used in the opening of the game, and the one in the ending of the game. They resonate with me in a very strange way. I think of the characters, of everything that has happened, and is yet to happen, and I also think about the meaning behind the lyrics. In one, it talks about love being everlasting, and wanting to spend a life time together, and getting married to one another, which is beautiful, but also heartbreaking. In the other, it’s about facing your fears, confronting your worst nightmares and crying every tear left in your body as your deepest fears come to light and you have to face them head on. Do you give up? Do you stand down, cry your eyes out, and find that despite how much it’s broken you, you have to keep fighting because someone relies on you and needs you? Do you do both, and then find yourself fighting despite experiencing your darkest fears and nightmares? Both songs are sad, they’re about fighting even when you have nothing left, when it’s been taken away from you, but you do it anyway. Why? Because you can’t stop yourself. If you don’t fight, then your nightmares become a solid reality, and you’re at the point in your life where if you don’t do it, then you become consumed, and you lose those you love forever. So, you stand up and fight despite yourself, usually at the cost of seeing someone else you care about protecting you and being consumed by the nightmares in front of you.

These games are pretty dam depressing….but what makes it? The love between the characters; the willingness to fight even when you’ve lost those you care about; the desire to see a better world, the light in the dark. The main character has this wonderful thing about him; he’s stubborn, reckless, but one of the most caring people you will ever see in a video game. He fights despite his weaknesses, and makes his weaknesses his strength; his friends, his love, the people who stand by his side no matter are where he draws his strength from; and yet they are continually used against him to weaken him. But he doesn’t give in….he still fights even when he knows the outcome is bleak, because if he doesn’t, what happens to those people? He makes a joke, he smiles that boyish grin, and throws excellent sass at the bad guys. But in the end? When the bad guys are slowly being defeated in a new war? They talk as if they have been friends all this time, like they have come to the realization that they have been through so much together, and even though they were against each other, it’s the end now; the end of them fighting each other, and the beginning of them finding one another once again, and sharing new experiences together. It’s not “you’re evil and you’re dead and that’s what you deserve”, it’s “see you in the next adventure” (whatever that adventure may be). It’s beautiful and heartfelt, and only these characters carry with them that understanding, the high levels of empathy, and the desire to see everyone they know and care about happy. And that’s what keeps the character going, keeps him fighting, keeps him saying “I’ve got this” even when the odds are never in his favour. He’s a character that, even in his darkest moments, where he says he gives up because he’s lost them all, sees the sacrifice and becomes determined that he must save them; that they can’t really be gone. Maybe it’s naivety, maybe it’s optimism so far gone that they’ve lost touch with reality – but it’s that desire to believe that something good must come from it that makes the characters find it within themselves, and from those around them to actually do good.

Maybe I’m just thrown so far into the game that I have grown emotionally attached to some of the characters, and I won’t argue against that. Perhaps it reminded me, in an era where the main characters have to be tough and can’t joke around, or be silly – that they have to realists all the time, and they have to be capable of handling everything – that this character resonates so much with me. He’s always the savior, always the person who supports and shares in the accomplishments of his friends, even if he failed. He celebrates his friends achievements for what they are, even if it means he gets nothing. He is selfless, loving, optimistic, driven, determined, stubborn, reckless, and brave. He is, albeit a fictional character, what we need in this world.

Okay, so this entry got severely off topic, but the music in the game reminds me of not only the sadness and what has happened to the characters on this journey, but also what is good about them, what makes it so enticing and comforting. It makes you feel more than you ever thought, and part of that is attributed to the music.

The music has been great inspiration for my writing, and since Camp NANOWRIMO is coming up, I’ll be looking at doing some editing on my stupidly long manuscript that needs to be sorted out.

All right, I think I should end this here. I rambled on WAY too much in this post. Apologies to all who read this hoping for me to stick to a point, and went completely off the rails.

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