Aug 15 2015

The First Rule of Write Club

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For the past two weeks, when not sending off job applications, most of my time has been spent writing another novel. I had intended to hold off until November and do it as a NaNoWriMo project, but for whatever reason the book said, “NOAP, you will write me NOW!” and so I have been. As of last night, I hit 20,000-ish words at the end of chapter seven, and I’m taking a “creative recharge and look back at the progress so far break” today before attacking chapter eight.

I have to say, I am very pleased with how the book is coming along, and as far as this story is concerned, it’s about damn time. This story started out as a nugget of my Arclight Adventures comic project, then morphed into my Coventry idea, then emerged as its own thing, then got shelved, then informed the creation of Rough Housing, then got shelved again, and now has finally re-asserted itself with forcefulness that will not be denied. Verity and Tanya want their story to be told, and they want it to be told in the right way, dammit! And when characters yell at me that loudly, well, I’d be a fool not to listen. The book is coming fast, and solid, and fun, but also with a lot more depth and texture to it than I expected. As I tweeted last night, I think this is going to be my best book yet, and this is the one I finally feel is a good candidate for publication.

The revamped Brigid and Greg novel is another good candidate, actually, and I may put that into the NaNoWriMo slot if this book is finished by then. That one would probably have been finished by now if the house sale hadn’t knocked me out of my groove.

A major factor in this level-up of my writing craft has been Scrivener, which has turned building an outline/story structure from a horrendous pain into an absolute joy. For both the B&G book and the new one, I have started with five notecards:

  • Act One: Setup
  • Act Two: Conflict
  • Act Three: Rising Action
  • Act Four: Catastrophe/Falling Action
  • Act Five: Denouement

Drilling down from each of these, I put in 4-6 more notecards with major story beats. On each of the story beat notecards, I then drill down and put 3-5 short scene summariesโ€“ not even whole sentences, just things like “Brigid and Isadora argue”. That whole process takes me a few days, and by the time I’m done I have a nice and solid skeleton to start hanging my story on. From there, it’s just writing out each scene as described in the summary, usually in a 500-1,500 word chunk, of which I can write around three on a “normal” working day and more on a really good day. Just looking at the math, you can see what happens: four scenes of 1,000 words each make a 4,000 word chapter; five chapters of 4,000 words each make a 20,000 word act; four acts of 20,000 words, plus a denouement that’s probably one or two chapters tops, make an 80,000-90,000 word novel.

(Of course, nothing ever goes completely to plan. In the current story, in order to twist the emotional knife on a particular scene, I decided to elevate something that was basically speed bump in my outline into a major catastrophe, which in turn made complications that had to be coped with, but which had not been factored into the original plan. Using Scrivener, that was relatively easy to fix, basically by just shoving in some more notecards for new scenes or chapter. Since it’s just shoving little pieces around at the outlining level, it doesn’t feel like major plot surgery.)

Anyway, I think that with this book, I will actually be making the transition from perennial dabbler to true professional novelist. Not just because of the quality of this piece, but because I now feel like I have the tools and the experience to repeat the performance. I can now confidently build a novel-length story, and I know both what I want out of the process and what the process will need out of me to pull it off. And honestly, I think that when I actually finish something my writing is as good as anybody’s out there.

Building an audience, translating these books into earning a living, and all that stuff, is something else I will need to tackle, of course, as is integrating all of this with my desire to keep Suburban Jungle alive. But those are all topics for another day.

-The Gneech

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Jun 23 2015

Come Find Me at AnthroCon!

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Gneech and SirFox at table N14

AC 2015 is just a few weeks away! As usual, I’ll be sharing a table with my old pal Sirfox. And, as usual, I’ll be doing clean, family-friendly fare, and he’ll be smutting it up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As always, I’ll be doing badges, sketchbooks, and so forth, as well as premiering issue three of “Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing.” So come on over! Buy my stuff, I’ll be your friend!

-The Gneech

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Jun 01 2015

Art Schedule for the Upcoming Months

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First of all, hello and welcome to everyone coming to see me after picking up my card at Furthe’More! I hope you’ll find lots of stuff here you like. ^.^ Posts have been a little sporadic since March, due to the whole selling-my-house-and-moving thing, but that’s all cleared up now and the production machine is moving again. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As I owe some of you commissions, and others of you may simply be curious as to what I’ve got in the pipeline, this is one of my periodic “state of the Gneech” posts to let you know what’s going on.

My first priority is to get Issue Three of Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing finished as quickly as possible, in the hopes that I can have it on hand for AnthroCon, which is only a month away! (Eep!) Everything else I’ve got going on is officially on hold until I get that squared away. If I’m lucky, that will be done by the end of next week… if I’m unlucky, it will take pretty much the rest of June and no issue three at the con, which will make me go all sadface.

Once issue three is done, either way, I will be emptying out my digital commission queue. This is what I have listed in my notes, so if I’m missing something of yours, please remind me!

  • KarmaKat’s Watering Hole series (4 of 4)
  • Conqure commission
  • Miertam Twilight/Fluttershy monster studies commission
  • MaxGoof commission

Assuming the SJ work gets done on time, these should be finished by the end of June and/or AC. Finally, once those are done, I’m going to turn all of my attention to Dungeons and Denizens and get that finished off while I work on the script for the fourth issue of SJ. That will probably take most of July and/or August.

So, that’s my summer spoken for. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you want to squeeze a commission in there, they are technically still open, but your best bet to get art from me in the near future is to get me to do it for you at AnthroCon. As you may have read in my LiveJournal, badges and sketchbooks at Furthe’More were almost nonexistent for whatever reason, which is not a happy way to spend a convention for an artist! Especially when most of the other dealers were booked solid. Don’t you love me any more? *sniffle* Aw well, hopefully AnthroCon will be better!

Anyway! Time for me to get to work. Catcha later!

-The Gneech

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Feb 22 2015

The Artwork in Suburban Jungle Gets a Major Upgrade

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Admittedly, the rain effects are not as nice.

Aww yeah. Quality!

-The Gneech

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Feb 03 2015

In Which I Risk the Attention of a Big Bear

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I must admit that I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to the Ursa Major Awards, for two reasons. First, I tend to be more of a producer than a consumer, and as such awards just don’t show up on my radar that much. Second, in my capacity as a producer, I rarely had anything that I thought really merited recognition on a “literary award” kind of scale, except possibly No Predation Allowed, and I completely missed the window on that one due to dealing with personal crises at the time.

However, that has changed. This year, No Predation Allowed: Ten Years of The Suburban Jungle is eligible for nomination due to its new edition from FurPlanet. In short, I’ve got a second shot at it, and as this is currently my magnum opus, I have to admit that it would be really nice to see it get at least a nomination nod.

So this is a call to my fans! Please nominate and vote for at least one of my books. I actually have five that are eligible: all three volumes of No Predation Allowed and issues one and two of Rough Housing. I won’t be so greedy as to ask you to use all five nomination slots on my work… but I will be just greedy enough to point out the lovely symmetry of it.

Seriously tho. :) I’ve been told that Suburban Jungle was an important work in the furry world, and I’d certainly like to think it made its mark. If you could help make this happen, I’d be grateful. Thanks!

-The Gneech

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Dec 05 2014

Productivitude

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I have a confession to make:

It takes me forever to do anything.

Writing, drawing, even simple stuff like taking a shower and get dressed, I move slowly (when I move at all) and am frequently annoyed to discover that instead of being 8:30 a.m. like I thought, it’s actually midnight two days later.

This is frustrating. But worse, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, it’s unproductive and is severely hampering my ability to make a living at it.

Compare/contrast someone like, say, Graveyard Greg. Whether or not his creations are to your taste, there’s no denying that he is a content-generating machine. He cranks out stories, scripts for comics, you name it, at a phenomenal pace. And when he’s finished with something, he just moves on to the next thing. This means, among other things, that he can take on more projects and/or new projects quickly and easily, always expanding his product base, in a way that I can’t.

It’s like I once said of Neil Gaiman: I create work of the same quality, but he sneezes out a short story over lunch, while I take two months to produce the same volume of work.

At this stage, some may be thinking, “Don’t beat yourself up about it Gneech, you just create what you can and your loyal readers will be there!” or something similar. And while that’s true, and I’m extremely grateful for it, it doesn’t make my tortoise-like pace any less of a problem. Because, you see, I have to earn a living.

Forget for a moment that my vocation is writing and comics. Pretend instead that I’m a clockmaker. Say I live in Zurich, where clockmakers outnumber non-clockmakers, and while I’m a perfectly good clockmaker, there are plenty of others out there who are also as good. More importantly, the others work fast enough to make two or three clocks for every one I can force myself to produce. It’s pretty easy to see that those other clockmakers are going to have a much easier time putting food on the table than I will. It’s not a matter of quality or dedication or what-have-you… it’s pure mathematics.

This is my biggest problem, as a creator. It takes me so long to create my “core content” that I’m already permanently behind schedule. I can’t add new reward levels to my Patreon campaign in order to attract more supporters. I can’t push for a ton of commissions. I can’t sit around coming up with (and then producing) new merchandise. I am maxxed out as it is, and rapidly being left behind.

I don’t know what to do about it. The first obvious answer is to change my “core content” to something I can produce faster, but if it was that easy I’d just go back to a day job and be done with it. I create Suburban Jungle because on some level I’m compelled to do so. The second answer is “Work faster!” but again, if it was that easy I’d have done it already. I have managed to increase my speed a bit over the course of Issue Two, but only a bit, and I don’t think I can go much faster than this without completely sacrificing any semblance of quality.

So… still looking for a solution. In the meantime, I need to stop blogging and get to work. I’m behind schedule. Like always.

-The Gneech

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