Thoughts On TV

I haven’t had cable for years now, and no Netflix for probably a year. While I do have Amazon Prime and access to a couple other avenues for watching television and movies, I haven’t watched actual television, with the channels you can click through and commercials,  in a long time. Until today.

What is going on with America’s Funniest Home Videos? It’s basically exactly the same show as when I was five years old. Confusingly, it has this ad for uploading your video from your phone to their site, and yet many of the videos look like they were shot on a big ole camcorder from the 90s. It’s very anachronistic, this show that has worked in current technology but visually remains unchanged.

Here are my AFV conspiracy theories: 1) An intentionally grainy filter has been put over all videos, 2) It is a requirement that people wear swishy windbreakers in at least half of all new videos, 3) Swishy windbreakers are computer generated onto the people in the videos 4) AFV is really just a huge ad to bring back swishy windbreakers.

“Ree” Drummond is ADORABLE. Please tell me more about ranching while toasting me up a bun, ma’am. Also, you deserve a better husband.

“Sci” might be a channel, and that might stand for “Science.” There were like a bunch of shows about space in a row that I couldn’t differentiate between. Now that’s all well and good, but the channel kept running a commercial for a show called something like “Evidence For The Truth” which appears to be about…reptilians? Aliens? Fish people? I don’t know, but it worked and I wished I’d been watching it, but I did learn you can fit two Earths into that one big red storm on Venus (which is grey in the middle, not red, conformed by science).

SAME COMMERCIALS EVERY BREAK, but those Allstate Mayhem commercials are top notch. Also did you know that J.K. Simmons is the voice of the Yellow M&M?

Cake Wars still exists, and it’s very clear they are faking everything, and yet, AND YET, it’s still on. People are acceptable actors, it turns out. At least acceptable enough to warrant a three hour block of Food Network.

Jackson Galaxy and his facial hair will always have a special place in my heart.

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A Vacancy Update – Season One End And Where It’s Going

After posting the season one finale of Vacancy at 11:30pm on a Monday, my scheduled release day, for the 15th time in a row, I’m sitting here feeling very fucking pleased with myself. After 6 months, 25 parts, and about 40,000 words, I actually, like, finished something. Well, sorta.

But first of all, for those of you who have read, toiling away on your screens, straining your eyes, trying to make sense of the typos I often find way after the fact and the plot holes that I really didn’t patch and the dropped story lines that you hope I’ll pick back up (and maybe I will! MAYBE) I just want to say, Dear Reader, thank you, and I love you. I usually cringe when I hear any creator telling their followers they love them, but I think I am kind of starting to get it.

If you’ve stuck through this with me or you’re just reading for the first time, I feel like you should know these things: Vacancy started out in my mind as a serialized story, specifically a television show I never thought I’d actually pitch. I thought about trying my hand at a script, but it never felt right. Then I tried the serialized novel thing way back in July of 2016. I posted the beginning of the story in four parts, but I’d been trying to write the story out as just a traditional novel way before then (like 2014). I had a vague idea of the over arching story, but I started republishing this past year without a super solid plan, I just wanted to get myself writing again. I used NaNo 2017 to roughly draft out what I wanted to accomplish this year, and lo and behold, it exists!

My plan for Vacancy is to have it run for three “seasons” and about 25 installments each season. I’m hoping I can post from August through December/January to complete season two, then February through July 2019 to finish the last season. It seems absolutely crazy to be planning this far ahead, and who knows what life will throw at me in the meantime, but having some kind of plan is the only way I’ll be able to move forward.

Although this is far from the end, the fact that I’ve been working with these characters in my head for well over four years and finally completed something with them feels pretty monumental. There are a lot of things I would change, but I love where they’ve taken themselves and where I see their potential going.

I also love what this project has done for me as a writer in general. I’m less afraid of sucking now because basically I barely edit before throwing these things out into the ether. My suckiness is on display every week, and I’m cool with that. Not that I think that’s how writing should be done, but it sure is a great way to get over yourself. It’s also great to have a deadline so you actually do something, and that has really shown me the value in a plan for your writing. Muses are fickle and cannot be relied upon to show up on Sunday evening to bestow me with the next installment. I gotta plot that shit out.

Oh, and there’s that whole podcast thing I’m doing. That’s pretty wild.

So here we are, Dear Reader, you and me and Lorelei on the brink of something cool. We should wish ourselves luck, we’re probably going to need it.

The Need To Be Liked

I talked about the freedom of being phone-less recently, and since I’ve replaced my sad cracked-screen with a much more expensive but narrowly different model, I’ve been trying to limit my use of it. I could do better (damn you, Hogwarts Mystery!), and admittedly it hurts to drop a few hundred dollars on something just to be like “NO, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” but when I am using it, I’m really starting to pay attention to how it affects not just my production, but my mood, specifically my self worth. And it’s…a lot.

I like to think I’m less easily swayed by what I see on social media than the average whoever, not because I’m superior–of course I feel jealousy like any other human, and when I see an ad for pizza I WANT PIZZA–but because 1) I’m actively thinking about how these things are making me feel, and 2) I’ve put in effort to work past that jealousy stage so that mostly when I see someone who is successful, attractive, and happy, I’m inspired. I’m interested in how people that I follow got their ass to look that way, produced such riveting content, managed to smile after heartbreak. It helps that I try to follow people who are very open about their flaws, but I don’t have that sort of control over everything I’m exposed to, and sometimes I’m left feeling, well, let’s say contemplative.

The path to success is shrouded in mystery, especially when your horse is a creative endeavor and your satchel is stuffed with naught but pencils and a thesaurus. Practice, work hard, risk failure, fail harder. These are some of the trials of our hero’s journey, and don’t get me wrong, they make a great journey, but then you bump into the already popular knight brandishing his shiny teeth and stylish but hollow swordplay, and you wonder: WHAT THE FUCK? His troupe consists of a grizzled, retired mercenary who’s universally loved but misogynistic as hell and frankly devoid of any actual personal development, and a sidekick that’s just like always there, and loud, and why is he always there? But sometimes the righteous and pious and good make it to the top, and you’re so happy for them, so pleased, but it’s still so terribly confusing. Success isn’t wholly unfair, so you wonder if there’s a formula, a way to make it all worth it. I’ve only come to the conclusion that luck is playing a role, and that’s not really just to make myself feel better about failure–I just don’t have any other explanation.

I don’t want this post to come off as whiny. I do think the effort is worth it even if you never go anywhere with your work and you die alone, penniless, rotting away from the plague. It’s, you know, the journey or whatever. Plus there’s always the possibility of being posthumously discovered and your words, your art, your music, reaching someone who cares and gets joy out of it all (presumably you’re producing something in order to bring joy to others). I’m just trying to figure out the how (you can’t bring joy to people without reaching them), and trying to govern my own ego along said journey.

the journey

I don’t buy the saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Yes, if you’re doing what you love it’s exponentially less stressful and difficult and soul-crushing than doing something you hate, or something you tolerate, or even something you like, but no one’s creative passion isn’t actual work. If you’ve ever encountered something good, you’re experiencing the result of somebody’s labor and at least one broken mug, a handful of abandonments, and infinite swearing sessions.

It’d just be nice to know it’s all probably leading somewhere.

I see this mirrored in this one weird trick that I’ve been noticing a lot on both Twitter and Instagram. People will follow you, like a handful of your posts, then unfollow you a couple days later. I’m assuming this is done through a bot and they’re doing this to all the users posting under a specific tag and probably get enough people following back and sticking around to be worth it; it’s just so insanely shallow. These are not real views, not real fans, and when I’m trying to promote my actual work I just find it frustrating. Maybe I should be thankful? That’s a handful of likes I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise that might push my post up higher in some reverse-Robin Hood algorithm where the popular get more popular (which is its own bullshit ranty blog post), but it’s not genuine. It doesn’t let me really gauge if I’m reaching anyone, and worst of all these users clutter up the tags we might use to actually reach real readers.

And then I realize I’m guilty of this too when I use tags. Maybe not to the gross extent I’m seeing out there, but if others are playing the game that hard, don’t I need to at least engage to be seen at all? In the end, tags are words, and I love words, and I’m a little pissed at how this makes them lose their meaning.

But in the end it comes down to this, the contemplative self-worth part: maybe I’m just not that good.

That thought it scary and intrusive, but legitimate. I don’t have much else to say beyond that except that I’m actually glad I’m having the thought (not that I haven’t always had this thought, it just takes on a different shade in the world of social media). I think it’s helpful, kind of like seeing a fitspo model’s perfect ass on my Instagram feed. Yeah, I feel bad about my ass, but I might be able to have that ass if I work at it.

Might.