So if you’ve been following me on social media, which shouldn’t be hard as I’m consciously trying to reign in my use of it, you may have seen me waxing lyrical on my urge to buy Resonance of Fate HD. Basically the crux of my issue being that I don’t want to pay full price for a remaster of a game I’ve already played and which I think will hit deep discount in a month or two. Last Thursday the irresistible voice of my inner child finally broke me and I have in to “I want it now!” Setting the game to download I went to bed.
I awoke mid afternoon, as is my wont, on the 15th and took care of the usual morning business i.e. going for a piss, trying and failing not to get toothpaste on my clean t-shirt and checking various electronic missives and message boards. Along with the usual offers of a bigger dick, Nigerian millions and women (with implicitly poor taste) in my area eager to meet me there was an email from a friend enquiring about how my novel was going as it was the middle of the month and they wanted to use my fifty quid to buy themselves a nice steak dinner (which they helpfully included a representative photo off).
“Bollocks” was my first and ongoing though. I was aware that Nanowrimo was ongoing but had opted out of doing it this year. What I had forgotten was that two or three months ago I had been feeling rather more gung-ho about giving writing another go and to incentivise myself had bet my friend fifty quid that I would undertake and complete the challenge of writing a fifty thousand word novel in a month.
My interest in how much my “word” means to me varies and I actively try to avoid having any pride. But a bet is a bet and I am a cheap bastard so the thought of losing fifty quid certainly rankled. What was even more annoying was that if I blew off writing the novel in favour of playing Resonance of Fate I would essentially be paying eighty-five quid for a game that I had spent two weeks arguing myself into paying thirty-five quid for.
Starting half way through the month was something of a handicap, though let’s be honest, as I’m currently unemployed the time constraint wasn’t really an insurmountable issue. Lack of preparation was also a hindrance but again that’s actually supposed to be part of the process which is more about a burst of creativity or creating a first draft than it is about crafting a finely honed masterpiece.
So like all great works of art I commenced it by thinking “Oh fuck it I suppose I’ll do it.” But what would I write about? Well over the last two months I have been absolutely scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for new manga to read, scraping through the bottom sometimes. A great deal of what I ended up reading were adaption of light or web novels all of which were centered very firmly in the isekai genre. A genre so popular large publishers in Japan had to ban it from the competitions they ran.
To save you the indignity of having to follow a link let me very briefly summarise the genre: the main character die in modern Japan and gets re-incarnated in another (usually fantasy) world where they are often given a ridiculously overpowered ability. They are transparent wish-fulfillment and I would describe the vast, vast majority of them as being “Meh, its ok”, the next largest portion as being shite and only the smallest number as being genuinely good as opposed to “good for an Isekai”. Even then I’m not sure. As I was discussing with my brother, I’ve read so much terrible shit I fear I simply can’t objectively judge whats good and what simply isn’t as terrible as the dross I’m wading through.
Anyway, to drag us back on topic. I decided to write an Isekai novel. If you’re thinking “Aren’t you purposefully adopting a genre you admit has implicit problems to excuse the shite you are going to write?” Well, yes, probably. But the one redeeming feature of wish-fulfillment action stories is that they generally pass the time in an enjoyable way like an action movie or what have you. I think the principle and saving virtue to all entertainment media is too entertaining. I also find that the biggest impediment to actually creating anything for me is my ego. I feel like I should be doing something clever but really all I want is to create something people read or play and feel that they enjoyed. Also I know the real impediment is fear as I’m terrified of being shit.
So, with that unappealing bit of candidness out-of-the-way, it was going to be a story about someone who dies and gets re-incarnated in another world. But as a sop to my self-esteem I had the need for it to be “different”. I was tired of ridiculously over-powered protagonists but at the same time I hold no love for forcing them to slog through the shit. There is no virtue in needless “realism” for its own sake.
Three days later I have a few thousand words written. But this evening when I sat down to get stuck in I realised that I had just Tolkien-ed myself. What I had written was a history of the world, it was setting information masquerading as expository explanation. So with heavy heart I realised I needed to start again. So to help with that I bought the new God of War because it’s twenty quid in the current PSN Black Friday sale and then I wrote this blog to distract myself from the fact I wasn’t writing what I was supposed to. So I went from 0 to 5348 to 0 words.
But at least I got a blog post out of it? To quote my spiritual guru Mr Jeff Beck “Hi ho silver lining”