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David R Williams

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Auteur Crass(y) [Mar. 13th, 2014|09:22 pm]
David R Williams
I still make comics.

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Archeology for Beginners [Mar. 8th, 2014|01:14 am]
David R Williams
I wrote a first-draft novel when I was nineteen, all the way back in 2002. I started reading it again this week, having not read it for about eight or nine years at this point. It had kind of fermented in my brain: every time I thought about it, I remembered it being worse and worse.
Honestly, the good bits aren't as good as I remember and the bad bits aren't as bad as I remember. It's the product of a very different mind than my mind as it is now; my political, social, and moral viewpoints have all shifted in the intervening years. There are bits where I'm sort of slamming the reader over the head with the point I'm trying to make, which ends up being this odd sort of apology for the story's existence.

It's pretty plain to me, reading it now, that I didn't have a plot in mind when I started. I had a set-up, and then I planned a chapter at a time. It's why there's all sorts of little misfires: plot points that don't go anywhere, weird swerves in the story, all that jazz. Characters show up and get a lot of exposition and then suddenly vanish with two lines of explanation, either because they were no longer relevant or I just got sick of writing them.
The jokes that I put in there mostly hang together fairly well, apart from pop culture references which are now hideously dated and often aren't as throwaway as they should be, so missing a reference means you can no longer follow the plot.

Mostly, though, I'm less interested in re-reading it for the story I wrote or the language I used and more interested in getting an idea of how my mind worked at the time. You tend to forget that you used to hold wildly different views about, say, gender, or homosexuality, or even swearing. It's jarring to read something that you would find reprehensible now and trying to reconcile the idea that you wrote that in all earnest at the time.
The other thing is just how little I understood about people. There are a lot of points where the characters behave in a way that doesn't make any sense from a logical standpoint, and because they're either behaving oddly to suit the plot or because they're revolving around making the lead character the centre of the universe, it really drags you out of the story. If it was a movie, you would shout at the people on the screen to just punch him in the head or throw him out, but the lead character spends a long time crashing around like a violent, misogynist, bigot and the supporting cast all keep putting up with it.
I also had no idea what research was. There are numerous places where basic fact-checking would have made me change something, and reading it now I'm pulling errors out everywhere just by the virtue of having an extra dozen years of experience and knowledge in my head.

I'll finish reading it in a day or two (it's 104,000 words, but the writing is uncomplicated and the subject matter not very dense, so it's a breezy read) and then I'm not really sure what I do with it after that. Originally I kind of had this fantasy that I'd discover it wasn't too shabby and could be brought into a decent shape pretty quickly. But it's impossible to rewrite. So much would have to be changed - major events, entire personalities of characters, backstories - that there are dozens of points it could diverge out and become a host of different kinds of stories. It commits a cardinal sin of just not being an interesting story, and has the Twilight problem of focusing on one of the least interesting characters. The supporting cast all have these interesting little hints about them that never get developed, while the revelations about the main character never really make any sense.

Still. I guess, if nothing else, this is sort of like reading old diaries: there's no literal description of what was going on in my life, but emotionally I'm seeing various things that were occupying my mind at the time. From turns of phrase or pop culture references or styles of certain passages I can tell what media I was consuming at the time. I feel like an archeologist digging through my own past, trying to excavate someone who I used to be.
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The Walking Dead: the video game [Jan. 9th, 2013|12:20 am]
David R Williams
I don't think I've ever played a video game before that has the emotional impact of 'The Walking Dead'.
I'm two episodes into the five-episode game, and it's gruelling to play. It's not that it's a bad game: it's not. It's stellar. The problem is that it really has a way of worming down into some very, very, human experience and then making you inhabit this experience. The people who make video games have been trying for years to create immersive experiences, and it turns out that what you need isn't high-end graphics, expansive sound effects, big budgets or bleeding-edge running specs: all you have to do is give the player the ability to make choices that have repercussions.

I kinda go on about this game for quite a while...Collapse )
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NaNoWriMo 2012 [Nov. 30th, 2012|01:06 am]
David R Williams
I finished NaNoWriMo 2012 with a day to go! I got to around 51,000 words earlier tonight. It's really hard to make yourself write every day. I wrote on 25 days out of the month. Most of them I didn't want to write but ended up forcing myself. And I'm glad I did! It's not a great novel, or even a particularly good half-a-novel, but it's a decent start, and more than that, writing 50,000 words in a month is an achievement against procrastination.
This makes it the third time I've managed to complete NaNoWriMo, and my tenth attempt (2003, 2010, and now 2012 were completed years.) Sure, 3 for 10 isn't a great ratio, but that's better than the Philadelphia Eagles are doing right now!
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(no subject) [Oct. 1st, 2012|01:51 am]
David R Williams
Jeph Jacques, of Questionable Content fame:


Jeph is absolutely right about this. Anything that I do, creatively, that I derive any kind of satisfaction from or that I take any pride in, is the result of working hard. When I look back at the first comics I drew, I cringe. When I look at stuff I put up two days ago, it's sometimes really difficult. And I really wouldn't have it any other way. The day I don't look at something I've done and say 'I can do better' is the day I should just give up. You have to keep challenging yourself to be better.
One of the keys to this is knowing that you can become better but still putting it out there anyway. You can't wait until something is 'perfect', because you'll never get there. When you look back and wince at the imperfections you see, that's when you're learning from your own mistakes. And when it comes to seeing other peoples' work, you can't look at it and say 'I might as well give up. I'll never be that good.' You have to look at work that is better than yours and say: 'Challenge accepted.' Because the one guarantee is that the person whose work you're admiring is looking at the same thing and seeing only the things they need to fix the next time around.
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Elementary, my dear dickass [May. 17th, 2012|07:32 pm]
David R Williams
The online hatred for NBC's 'Elementary' - a modern Sherlock Holmes with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, both very likeable and engaging actors - is a little baffling to me.
Yes, I understand the BBC has a remarkably brilliant show with the same conceit. 'Sherlock' is one of the TV shows that made me love English telly again. But there's also been a modern-day Sherlock Holmes on TV for the past eight years, set in America. You might have heard of it. It's called 'House'.
It's odd that the detractors of 'Elementary' are blasting it for both being too similar to 'Sherlock' and also blasting it for anywhere that the two shows differ. NBC can't win, really. The weird thing is, it doesn't look like a bad show, and since 'Sherlock' has had six episodes in two years it's going to become apparent within the first two months if 'Elementary' has its own ideas or is just cribbing from the Beeb. Plus: it's Jonny Lee Miller. I've seen him in great movies (Trainspotting) and possibly the worst movie I've ever seen (Dracula 2000) and all points in between, but he's always an interesting actor to watch. You never get the sense that he's phoning it in, even when given the most ridiculous scripts and scenarios in which to act.

And yeah, if NBC wanted to help support the idea they're building their own show and not copying the BBC, they would have probably released a trailer that didn't feature a Sherlock who just raided his BBC counterpart's dressing room. But this is TV. This is business. This is money. If anything, NBC are probably trying to invite the comparison in order to grab a few curious viewers that might otherwise have passed it up.

It's a strange kind of jealousy that motivates 'Sherlock' fans in this case: even though no discernible harm will come to their show if the NBC version of Holmes is a success, there's still this drive to make everybody aware that it can't possibly be as good as the BBC's take on the stories, so honestly why are NBC bothering?
The whole thing really just smacks of a small child refusing to eat his greens while yelling "I don't need to try them! I already know I don't like them!"
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The Worst $29.95 One Can Spend [Apr. 29th, 2012|11:22 pm]
David R Williams

I'm actually working on a site for these, just very very slowly. I always forget how difficult it is to make something like a 'cast' page or an 'about' page that, in all likelihood, you'll never change from one year to the next so whatever you do has to be something you're fine with people seeing for longer than 'until I fix it'.
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Sexy lollipop [Apr. 18th, 2012|10:04 pm]
David R Williams
John Frigate has all the best news. He's a terrible newscaster, but he tells you what you want to hear.

I like making comics about fashion and I like making jokes about sports. Oh so great is my joy when I get to make a comic that combines the two!

Karlie Kloss is like a totally gorgeous human lollipop of fashion, and Sam Bradford has the most all-American name ever. How could this go wrong?
(n.b. scuttlebutt says Karlie's been a friend of his for a couple of years now and they always hang out when they're in town. But really, isn't it more fun to speculate wildly?)
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Nobody puts on makeup on the way back from the gym [Mar. 31st, 2012|04:20 pm]
David R Williams

Today's wardrobe: Molly's top from missguided.co.uk; Jasmine's tank, Puma, and jacket, also Puma.

'Thinspiration' isn't an inherently bad thing. There are plenty of Thinspo communities out there that promote a good diet and healthy amounts of exercise in order to get your body to a size that you're happy with.
A girl wearing a shirt that says 'Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels' is not likely to be a member of one of these communities. She's part of the dark side of Thinspo; the 'starve yourself thin' school of weight loss.

I haven't seen the media freak out about Fatspiration in the same way as they keep throwing shit-fits over Thinspiration, but it's entirely possible that's because newspapers sell more copies when they run pictures of thin teenagers you're supposed to be concerned about than when they run pictures of fat teenagers.
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I really like Jasmine's 'Katniss' hairdo [Mar. 24th, 2012|09:25 pm]
David R Williams

Today's wardrobe: replica Hunger Games training top, available Amazon.com; 'Team Bezukhov' t-shirt, sadly unavailable. I love the idea of Russians going around during the serialisation of 'War and Peace' sporting 'Team Bezukhov'/'Team Bolkonsky' shirts.

I enjoyed both 'The Hunger Games' and 'War and Peace', though War and Peace took me 103 days to read compared to the four hours it took me to read The Hunger Games.
Also, 'preparing oneself spiritually' in my case meant 'sipping a glass of vodka while reading'.
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