On writing & earning & living
So, um, yeah. I’ve been quiet. Not just here, but across all my social spaces.
Not out of depression. Out of being too damned busy to deal with it. At least, for the most part.
I have a selection of 100 people that I am awaiting their permission on. Still. I suspect I will have to send out the message myself, but I have been wrapped up in other things which have undermined that because I get my teeth into something and I just go for it.
Ah well, It will be late. I will permit myself small luxuries. I have been subject to too few things going “right”, and as ever, I will make do.
I haven’t been writing social commentary or political stuff because, well, I’ve pretty much already written everything I can on the subjects and it has reached a point where I would just be repeating myself, and to be frank, I’m sorta tired with that.
Not the political and social stuff, the repeating myself thing.
I noted a while back that from now on, when a hater accosts me about some aspect of social justice or simple human decency relating to oppression, that I was going to direct them to my patreon account and say hey, five bucks a month, you get one good question I will write you an essay about.
Really. For one, it means they get to put up or shut up, and two, it means I get to put up or shut up.
Well, as you know, I am willing to put up. Pretty much always. But I am not so willing, when my basic, core human rights are under assault, attack, and denial, to do so for free.
So I have a patreon account.
Well, as you may have guessed from the previous post, I am now using it for a little more. I am also getting my dear sweet square account set up again and readied, and a few odds and ends because, well, I need cash.
I need an income.
I am likely even going to do the inevitable surgery fund thing.Despite my personal dislike of doing such.
Which has nothing to do with the propriety of it and everything to do with my damned pride and my sense of failure and defeat.
So I am doing things that I like to do and that I am reasonably good at doing.
Among the like to do things is a story. Yes, a story about magical girls.
What are magical girls? Well, there is this type of story told in Japanese manga and anime (comics and cartoons). The fans of such are fairly easy to find, and trust me, they know an enormous amount about them.
I am not a “fan” in the usual sense of such. The popular and well known example to which pretty much everything is compared is called Sailor Moon. You may have heard of it.
Marketed in Japan primarily to pre-teen and early teen girls, these feature a team of girls who are given magical powers to fight evil using what really amounts to Girl Power.
In the US, they have a slightly different appeal, due to some of the common visual repeats. The Power Rangers is a sort of team like this, except, well, they aren’t all girls, and they don’t use the power of girliness to beat on the bad guys.
There was a recentish series that came out that essentially tore apart the whole idea, put it back together with a lot of angst and melodrama, and this was called Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It had a profound impact on this whole genre, which is, essentially, girl superheros, by introducing soe rather shocking and adult themes to a show about teens getting super powers and beating up bad guys.
Like, you know, one of them dying, and how their despair from the endless ptsd inducing fights will turn them into the bad guys. And how growing up is a loss of innocence. And, well, yeah, you get the idea.
Even more recently, a show called Yuuki Yuna is a Hero did a similar take it apart thing, and well, let me tell ya, it starts off totally slice of life 8th grade in Japan and then goes sideways.
So, um, yeah. Girl superheroes.
The mainline genre focuses on these teens because that’s who buys all the merchandise that is marketed (look up sailor moon toys stuff for little girls, and you’ll get the idea. It’s like Pokemon, except pink and sparkly and very plastic).
Couple things, though.
Much of this comes out of Japan. There are a lot of cultural elements to it that only vaguely translate here. But the idea is still a fairly simple one: a group of superheroes, all girls, who fight some kind of evil using really flashy and very stereotypically girly things.
The costume that Madoka wears as a superhero is an example of this:
She’s the one in the center. And this show is not the worst of them.
It is notable, for example, that the “sailor” part comes from the school girl uniforms that Japanese girls were required to wear for years (though not so much these days). IT became so immediate and instant a marker, that it still persists in cartoon to this day.
Note that the gals above there do not wear such things. This is the gals from Yuuki Yuuna.
Here is a link to an google image search for “Anime magical girl”.
You can watch Madoka yourself on Crunchyroll. Also Hulu. And there is more stuff on Netflix.
So its a big deal. And what’s even more interesting is that most of you reading this already understand what I am talking about and in a lot of cases are even more familiar with the idea than I am.
Well, I’ve been watching a few of them, and reading a few of them, because something about them had me thinking.
I couldn’t quite place it, though, until I ran into a block with a story I was writing — and still am, once I get the plotting done in a way I like and am comfortable with — and suddenly remembered something I had written ages and ages ago.
Something really bad. No, really — it was bad. I wrote it in a rush, then did the second draft in an daze, and had a third done and this was all within about a six week time frame.
And I proceeded to get up and try and kill myself after writing the last sentence for the third time.
It was a trans related thing. Story was about a superhero who gets turned into a girl while fighting a secret cabal of bad guys with friends.
When I say it was bad, I mean it was bad in the sense that I wrote the thing so damned fast and made so many stupid errors in characterization and the rest that it was, in my mind, garbage.
It has sat in a box for 25 years. The drafts, but just as important, all the ancillary drawings, notes, plotting, and detritus that comes from me doing a story.
And I remembered it. Turth be told, I have never forgotten the storyline itself –I’ve just never wanted to return to *that* story. It was too personal, and given that I wrote it at a time when I was essentially trying to kill the girl I was (I think I had all of two paragraphs of the somewhat comedic “oh my god I’m a girl” stuff, because the rest was entirely straight and written terrifying. I mean, we are talking about a person with the ability to literally remake your body at whim as a villain. Superpowers.).
It was around this time that I wrote a short piece about the X-men coming over to the real world and seeing things for a lark and an exercise and was totally loved because I nailed all the little idiosyncracies of the characters.
In short, and less way round about, I have always liked stories about superheroes. Part of the reason that I am stuck with my fantasy story is that the lead character is not a superhero — is not a person who has power. She’s getting it, mind you, and blah blah, but she’s literally been the victim of a decade of abuse and is barely 18.
And now she has to go on a road trip because she’s the chosen one and all that crap. No, really. A road trip. With a lesbian couple. Across a world that was colonized by us a couple hundred years ago, and has some quirks to it. Its a full on fantasy, just the setting is a little weird because there are Gods and they were once basically astronauts.
But I am stuck there. And I have this thing that I keep seeing about pretty girls who have superpowers and who fight what really are manifestations of real world shit, and they win against it with the power of friendship and love and really incredibly magical weaponry.
Like cannons and starships and swords three times their size. Totally awaesome comic book stuff.
Writing a comic book is not like writing a novel — i mean, it is, but the comic book is done as a script, and is a collaboration between and artist and a writer (even when they are the same person).
I know how to script out a comic book. I once toyed with the idea of tryign to break into that, but never was serious enough about it.
If I could do it over, I probably would.
Especially if I could do it over as, say, a 21 year old woman.
In the US, it isn’t a really great idea to deal with some themes using teenage girls. Which is pretty odd, but hey, there it is. We don’t have the cultural background to support the kind of things these comics and cartoons in Japan do.
But the idea can brought over to the US, and use our cultural history.
And yeah, I really hate the whole thing about oppression. And I understand oppression, and how it works, and the many different little parts to it. And in the west, we have a tradition of personification.
And I like to write superhero stories, which were not a great draw back in the 80’s, despite the work of a certain George RR Martin and the Wild Cards anthology series.
But today we have a huge pile of superheros. On stage, on screen, of course comic books, and cartoons, and even multiple tv shows.
I am older now. I am, despite my best efforts, more cynical, more snarky, and more wise than I was way back when.
And today, we are under attack — as women, as LGBT people, as people of color, as those with a disability and those who care about our environment and our health and our ability to have an income and all the rest — in a way that has not happened here in the US in a good while. We are seeing the force of oppression, personified in political leaders, literally marching along and trying to undo every decent thing done in the last 60 years and more.
That is pretty much the hard core, hyper masculine, anxiety, aversion and animus driven forces of all the social ills coming together and shitting on us.
And who is it that is the most visible in opposition? Women. Girls.
So, for me, it really isn’t much of a stretch to write a story about a bunch of girls who are, themselves, personifications of sisterhood, who suddenly find themselves thrust into new bodies, new lives, and gifted with incredible power, with prices to pay and the very real threat of death (oh, yes, people die. I’m really not liking one ongoing plot point, as it is inevitable that at least couple of my magical girls are killed), in what really is a magnificent seven kind of core story that will pit them not only against mythical personifications, but against real people.
I mean, seriously — superpowers are in your hand and you are not going to go punch the shit out of Paul Ryan or manafort or the numbers guy who outsmarted everyone in order to make himself richer?
Especially as a 21 year old with all the life experience of someone who lived through this shit happening in the first place?
I mean, come on. A hot young thing — who wouldn’t want a chance at love.
Of course, being a trans woman, and a writer, and someone who encourages it, I do have to include a trans woman. But she’s only trans for a little while because, well, new lives, etc.
Just she can’t die, because then it will be as if she never existed.
So these are my Magnificent Seven, my justice league, my Avengers of the common man, and at the same time I can laugh about the silliness of it, and yet also look at why some of those silly things are done, and why they are important and yeah…
I’m a writer. There is always a crapton of stuff that goes into everything. I mean, what would you say if I told you that not only does this megahuge novel series follow the standard Hero’s Path, it also tells a full on fairy tale in the very, very western tradition. IT also features love triangles and at least five murder mysteries. And it features at least one pillow fight, because hey, I was told that when I was a girl there could be pillow fights in the dorm room.
Now, I do not draw. As you might know, a lot of people love to do drawings of cue anime girls and all that. I love to look at them.
I can trace, and I can design some decent outfits (used to do it in 3D back when I still remembered how and made a living doing so) in a fashion design kind way, maybe a little, and I have a good eye for some stuff.
Ad I like to play with expectations, and I have this enormous wealth of symbolic knowledge and cultural crap.
So as this idea was forming in my head, I started to put together the stuff to do it. And remembered the drawings and the plot line and so yeah, I pulled it out, and that’s making me kinda happy, but it also means I am creating a wealth of visual material that I hope to use as a starting point for someone who actually can draw.
And if I don’t get a partner in this, then perhaps I can do some commissions if I can make some money for it.
As a note, I am setting this up like a TV show. By seasons and episodes and there is a definite beginning, middle, and end, with a lot of stops between now and then, and plenty of opportunity to pick it up again if people like it.
So I am, in fact, tackling the problems of the day, while also trying to have some fun and do something that I’ve always wanted to do. Something I’ve done, but never quite in the way that I liked.
I’m 52 years old, and suddenly finding myself looking at fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Too bad I don’t know any white haired fox women…