March 26, 2020

Still Alive (Also, Y’ALL STAY HOME)

I never thought I’d have to use this blog to talk about what might as well be a plague, but…I’m going to use this blog to talk about what might as well be a plague.  Tangentially, if possible, because there’s other stuff worth bringing up.  Except I know it’s not.  That’s where we are right now, I guess.

I admit the timing of this is pretty poor.  Ironic, maybe, if you’re in a chipper mood.  Or willing to stretch the meaning of the word “ironic”.  It’s been nearly a month since my last post, and nary a peep from me on the status or upcoming plans.  There are multiple reasons for that.  For starters?  Contrary to appearances, I do have other obligations in the real world.  Taking care of them -- and the people in my life -- is more of a priority than griping about what Squeenix hath wrought.  The tradeoff is that when it’s time to hunker down and write, I’m running on empty.  Literally, in the cases where I’ve fallen asleep in the middle of typing.  And as luck would have it, me being tired/having stuff pop up IRL has consistently coincided with whatever time I’d set aside for blog post writing.

Just as well, though.  It’s not like I’m starved for ideas at any given moment; I’ve had stuff in mind I’ve wanted to write about for months.  The real issue is that one of the big topics I want to get in deep with is…well, to put it bluntly, it’s more griping about what Squeenix hath wrought.  The FFVII remake is right around the corner, Kingdom Hearts III has had its DLC out for months, and…well, at this point, laying into that company leaves me sad and tired.  The former especially.  There’s so much to discuss with KHIII -- especially now that its DLC has seemingly closed the book on the 2019 entry -- that at times I’ve considered making a video essay series just to cover all the topics I’ve been stewing over.  But that’s a lot of work for something I hate. 

And as for FFVII?  Yes, I played the demo, and I thought it was…pretty good, actually.  But I’m so paranoid about how Squeenix is going to botch it that I’m hesitant to even think that things will turn out fine.  The demo inspires more confidence than ANY of 15’s pre-release content, that much is true.  But this is modern-day Squeenix we’re talking about, and all of their in-house JRPGs follow a similar structure (except 13-2, which is the worst).  One: decent start.  Two: a whole lot of filler, and maybe a drip-fed plot at best.  Three: at or near the 20-hour mark, the stupidest shit ever happens.  Four: limping towards an unsatisfying ending.  Your mileage may vary, granted, but that’s more or less been my experience with them for the past decade. 

So in all honesty, there’s a part of me that thinks the FFVII demo is the perfect trap.  A good showing, but non-indicative of the full game’s quality -- and by the time people realize that, it’ll be too late.  (They already tipped their hand/pissed me off by revealing Red XIII won’t be playable.  Why even live then, Squeenix?)  Top-notch production values and nostalgia-baiting help Squeenix live to grift another day.  Time will tell if I’m right or wrong, but until then?  I don’t want to say ANYTHING about the remake until I’ve experienced it in full, lest I get another situation where I once said FF Type-0 was good.  Boy, that didn’t last.

Enough about that, though.  I finished writing a novel.

Or another one, at least.

That’s where the majority of my attention’s been going whenever I sit down and write.  Given the choice between “allow my soul to progressively crumble by doing deep dives on the media that basically inspired me to become a writer” and “pull a Thanos and take things into my own hands”, you can guess which one I’m leaning towards.  Over the course of the past nine months, I’ve been plugging away at a second novel manuscript on top of the one I already had -- you know, to widen the net.  Double my odds.  Given that this second one technically took a full year thanks to the false start/complete revamp three months in, but the end result is something that makes me think “This is me getting closer to my ideal form.”  There’s a decent chance that if any beta readers get eyes on it, they will cry by the end.  Or before that.  Or during the entire second half of the third act.  Long story short, they will cry.

My work’s not even close to done, though.  Yes, I finished another manuscript…the first draft of it.  That’s a milestone the size of a blue whale, but now comes the challenge of editing it down into something vaguely worthy of publishing/literary agencies.  Step one?  Cutting down a 169K-word monster to a target of…oh, let’s say anywhere between 125K at most (and that’s generous) to the ideal zone of sub-100K.  I’ve cut down another manuscript before, so I can do it again.  Only there are double the number of words to cut this time around, sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…yay for me.

For the three of you left reading this?  If I inexplicably disappear like I did throughout March, that’s why.  Busy editing.  Busy with family stuff.  Busy sleeping.  I’m not dead yet.

…I say, in spite of the coronavirus.

I mean, I want to lay all the blame at Trump’s feet (and probably will even more so in a future post), but that’s a moot point right now.  We’re ALL dealing with a pandemic that’s reached our favorite hotspots, sits at our doorsteps, and maybe even waltzes in our homes.  People are out of work, scrambling for supplies, sick, or even dying.  Projections suggest that things will get worse if we’re not careful (as if a decent chunk of the population hasn’t thrown caution into the wind already).  And to reiterate: we’re ALL dealing with a pandemic.  That’s not a word I want to use in any context.  Something I’d prefer stayed stuck inside an outdated textbook.

Orders have gone out for people to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary.  My town’s not exactly under a strict lockdown, but the phrase “Y’all stay home” is making the rounds in and around my county of residence.  For the most part, I’m hard-pressed to deny the value of that phrase.  My introvert blood means that a fun afternoon for me is hunkering down in front of a computer screen, so I’m at least not at risk of going insane from self-quarantine.  The problem, if I can pull back the curtain for a minute, is that I have obligations to attend to.

It’s a level of moral grayness I’m not used to dealing with.  I’m healthy, but that might not save me from getting infected -- or worse yet, infecting someone else by way of acting as a vector.  What scares me the most is carrying the virus over to my mom with a trip to her place; not only is she getting up there in years, but she’s got a compromised immune system thanks to lupus -- meaning that I’m in a position where if I give her a hug, I might be putting the scythe to her neck.  Do I go over there and help her out with stuff while risking her life?  Or do I stay home and keep her safe, but force her to strain with her workload?

The only “comfort” I have right now -- and there aren’t quotation marks big enough for that -- is that I’m not the only one being forced to tackle some difficult questions.  People are going to have to decide what’s important and what isn’t.  What’ll get them through today, tomorrow, and beyond.  If what I remember from Oprah is right (don’t ask), it only takes two missed paychecks to wind up on the street.  I’m not exactly Rich Uncle Pennybags over here -- and who is at this point, at least among average Americans? -- but I’m one of a lucky few who’ll probably have steady income in spite of, if not because of, the coronavirus.  My heart goes out to those who have some real struggles ahead of them.  Hopefully you’ll get the support you need.  Till then?  Stay strong.

That’s about all I can offer at this point.  Words.  Abstract and ephemeral, but as a would-be writing hero, I hope that there’s real power behind them.  So, I’ll say this: take care of yourselves.  Take care of whoever you can, within reason.  Be kind and grateful to your fellow men in times of a crisis.  Listen to reputable sources like the CDC, and not a creepy talking orange.  And, to borrow a certain mayor’s phrase?  Y’ALL STAY HOME.

We’ll get through this.  We always do.

Don’t…don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.  At least the title matches.  And the song’s catchy.  That’s what matters most, right?

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