February 18, 2019, 04:31:40 AM

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Messages - Magnus Hedén

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I'm not sure what to make of my emotional state lately. I'm not miserable, I'm just sort of... lethargic. Numb.

I've been avoiding social gatherings for quite a while, and I guess I put the blame on weariness with my input problems. I CAN enjoy myself at gatherings, but if I stay long enough I inevitably get irritated. And if I'm not there with people I know I inevitably just sort of hang around and don't say much. I feel lately I've been concluding that it's just not worth it and that I'm better off just staying in my comfortable little bubble, mostly by myself. I don't really do anything to risk that sensory irritation because I'm just so tired of it.

I also feel I'm getting fairly indifferent to university. I still show up and do the assignments, but at low energy.

This is even extending to my writing. I'm nearing the end of third in my latest series, and it could be due to losing passion with a project I have worked on for so long.

But I don't really know what to identify as the overall problem.

While a lot of people associate depression with immense sadness or unhappiness, for many sufferers it's actually more of a disconnect (Andrew Solomon aptly describes it as the opposite of vitality), and a pervasive indifference can be a warning sign. It is for me; when I start feeling like nothing -- good or bad -- matters, I know I need to be more careful and start activating my coping mechanisms, or it might get worse. Now I can't say whether that's what you're going through, but maybe the knowledge can help you figure things out.

About crowds: I'm fine with them, even up close, as long as it's impersonal. If it requires me to interact with the people in them I can get super stressed because social situations can be very straining for me. It's hit and miss though depending on my mood and what the interaction is about. I can be fine giving someone the time or telling them which way the toilets are (still impersonal), but if the crowd has a reason to pay attention to me and they're pressing up close, it can be panic-inducing.

It's difficult to explain. But it's not so much about the physical mass of people for me as much as a social pressure that builds up (though certainly being crammed into a subway cart without being able to move can be disconcerting, but I think that's pretty normal?)

Also hi, long time lurking again. I do read every post in this thread, but often I don't engage because as much as I'd like to reassure others and support them, engaging with people who have similar issues with depression and anxiety sometimes triggers me and then that's the day is gone. It's a tough line to walk because I want to be there for others, but these days I err on the side of caution because it costs me so much if I misjudge my capacity.

Anyway, massive hugs to everyone going through troubles. I do believe that we humans are capable of making it through the harshest of times, not unscarred but unbeaten, so to speak. I certainly believe it about everyone else; I just need to learn to believe it more about myself.  :-\

OK - Napoleon is a fascinating figure. I read a very good biography about him by Andrew Roberts last year.  But a new one by Adam Zamoyski is currently getting great reviews. 

Currently I am reading Thomas Cromwell: A Life by Diarmid McCulloch.  Fascinating but heavy!  I am learning so much about the English Reformation. 

Do you like nautical heroes like Hornblower and Jack Aubrey? Then read about their real life counterpart: Thomas Cochrane.  Thomas Cochrane the Dauntless by David Cordinley is excellent.

I may have a look at the nautical one, I seem to keep returning to that setting and I know very little about it. And while I'm not disinterested in historical figures, I was thinking more of modern accounts from people who have written (or been a part of writing) the biography themselves. I guess the correct term is autobiography or memoir (learned something new today!)

Writers' Corner / Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« on: February 01, 2019, 09:07:43 AM »
Yeah there's a toggle to see all selected documents together.

Pretty much anything you might want to do, you can do in that program, is my experience. You just have to figure out how. Going through the tutorial is highly recommended.

It is vastly superior to a bunch of Google docs, in my opinion. And I set the save folders in my Dropbox folder, so it's backed up nearly instantly to the cloud. I wouldn't dream of only keeping copies on a single computer.

Writers' Corner / Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« on: January 30, 2019, 05:18:40 PM »
I use Scrivener for PC. It's great but I can't wait for Scrivener 3 to be released for PC, as it looks to be a much-needed update. That being said, I love it. It's helped me organise projects when they get too big to just have in one document, or a folder full of documents that you tab around between. It takes some learning and some time to find a way to use it that suits you, but it's a lot easier to get an overview with. I even write my flash fiction in it, these days.

In 2017, I fell just short of my goal of 52 books. In 2018, I fell just short of my goal of 78 books. So I hope to fall just short of my goal of 90 in 2019. I tend to read a lot of thick and heavy books: about a third of the books I read are non-fiction and I always end up with fantasy and sf epics on my hands. But setting a reading goal has increased my reading a lot, and the more I read, the more my reading comprehension and speed increases. It's a source of great joy for me.

One of my goals for 2019 is to read more biographies as a part of my non-fiction. Recommendations of biographies who have had fascinating lives are welcome.

Writers' Corner / Re: Making villains pathetic
« on: January 29, 2019, 05:42:39 PM »
Such as?

It would most likely be a problem with the narrative structure because if that fails, nothing else matters. I'm saying a cool hero or villain might be a selling point to some, but in the end it's not what makes a story good or bad.

Writers' Corner / Re: Making villains pathetic
« on: January 28, 2019, 06:30:02 PM »
I thought long and hard and I can't think of a single example when it comes to my writing when I've set out to write a villain. That doesn't mean my stories don't have them; only that they tend to start out as people (or other things) with ideas, a personality, a past, whatever -- who come in collision with someone who turns out being the protagonist.

My point is that I don't think I write pathetic villains, but I don't write cool ones either. I guess I just try to write them so they follow the logic of whatever character they are. I was going to say I write them human, but I realise a lot of them actually aren't (demons, AI, and what-have-you), even if they are probably anthropomorphized due to being written by one.

In my opinion, pathetic antagonists are not a problem because a story that rests on the coolness of its villains (or heroes) has deeper problems.

I think a problem with tropes is that a lot of writers will use them without really having thought of why they are doing so. In fact, I might argue that's what a trope is: something so firmly established in the collective mind that we tend not to stop and question it.

A trope can be useful to speed up the narrative, but it can also have a negative effect when something like inequality or injustice becomes just another plot hook. When we put inequality or injustice into our setting as part of a trope (sometimes it IS the trope), and we haven't stopped to think why, we likely end up revelling in the dark side of humanity instead of exploring it with a purpose in mind.

Basically, we become edgelords. ;D

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Gritty fantasy set in large city??
« on: January 23, 2019, 01:01:55 PM »
Sounds like you are looking for Perdido Street Station.

I think fundamental misogyny is an indelible part of the medieval Europe trope, but I see that we may not agree on that.

My concern is that the trope has so long been the go-to blueprint for western fantasy that would-be authors use it, misogyny and all, without considering possible alternatives. And because those writers haven't thought about why the misogyny is in their world as well, when someone questions their choice they end up with the lacklustre defence of: "but that's how it was".


Additionally, to me some tropes get tired because they're negative. For example, if you lock yourself down to writing fantasy set in a medieval Europe setting, you'll be locked into writing a society where women are considered property.

This isn't true because we're writing fantasy and can therefore change certain elements of the historical period being used as a base, such as women's rights. Which is generally softly done in the majority of books with a medieval European setting.

I may have expressed myself poorly. I do not mean that it's impossible to make changes to the setting. Of course a writer has the freedom to change or challenge the historical setting.

But the end result either resembles medieval Europe enough to be a trope or has been changed it enough that it isn't. And I have a problem with medieval Europe as a trope.

It depends to me. Like xiagan says, execution is important. A well-crafted story will be a good read pretty much no matter what else is going on with the setting, tropes, etc.

Having said that, I do get sick of it when things are too samey, too recognisable. I think we can easily fall into a comfort zone of reading stuff we're 'used to', and I think it's a trap for the mind. I believe the best things happen when we're surprised and a little bit uncomfortable because that snaps us out of just droning on.

Case in point: I had a grimdark fantasy phase, and when I look back at it there are only a few books that I can mention the name of or who wrote them. They all kind of merged in my mind. Now, I enjoyed reading those books, but when I can't even tell one from the other, I don't think I'm getting the creative stimulation I want (need?).

So more and more I like stories that break the mold in every possible way. That's dangerous territory, though, because I don't want the story to be broken, and unfortunately, a lot of writers don't know the difference. If you write something that's surreal and tells the story backwards (for example), you need to be hyperaware of how to structure a story to compensate.

Additionally, to me some tropes get tired because they're negative. For example, if you lock yourself down to writing fantasy set in a medieval Europe setting, you'll be locked into writing a society where women are considered property. At some point, I feel like it becomes an excuse not to imagine that anything else might be possible. But I've realised how refreshing it is to read about societies that are structured in a completely different way. Unfortunately those are still relatively rare, and if you haven't read one, you may be under the impression that they don't exist. Because you're comfortable where you are.

Writers' Corner / Re: Adventures in Writing
« on: January 15, 2019, 11:10:45 AM »
So I wrote, revised, and edited a short story in about five weeks at the end of 2018, which is by far the fastest I've ever produced something (that I thought was worth sending off). There was an open call for submissions for stories set in the universe of The Banner Saga (awesome computer games for anyone wondering). That spurred me a lot because I was involved a lot in the community of that game in its Kickstarter days.

I don't know the result of that yet, but I've now been scouring competitions and submissions and I've set a few new goals for early 2019; three competitions or open calls that I want to make. I also have a couple of projects that I want to bring straight to Patreon. But I think getting some goals up of various sizes will help.

I'm still waiting on my first publication from the competition I placed in, but it should happen in 2019. These people are NOT fast. I feel a bit like my call to the "serious writer's guild" has been kept on hold for two years. I think it's affected me more than I'd like to admit, not knowing for this long. Anyway time to make new efforts and look ahead to a good 2019!

It's great to see other FF people working their way forward! Let's make 2019 a year of writing.

 ;D ;D

Writers' Corner / Re: Adventures in Writing
« on: January 15, 2019, 10:48:40 AM »
*cough* Possibly the wrong place, but anyone got any good tips for good places to submit short fiction to?

Also - awesome news Eric. And Eli. And Cam. And... well, I haven't read back further than that  :P

Here's a great list of writing contests, curated to avoid bad seeds (which you should always be on the lookout for). Remember to check what publication rights they ask for, and if they charge a fee, double check that they are a serious publication (it's not uncommon for competitions to have fees, but you should never pay just to have your work considered for 'regular' publication -- of course sometimes it's a fine line).


Here are some other publications that I've eyed before, most of which are well-known and well established (it seems a common denominator for serious SFF publications is that they have websites made in the 90s  ;D):


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