Some think I’m nothing.

It is with deep sorrow that I write of this revelation.

Does it sound ridiculous? That I would be so presumptuous to think that this is a surprise? That I could be immune to the judgment that everyone, no matter whether they are widely loved or relatively unknown, is subjected to?

I guess it might be. But still, it is a creeping feeling that managed to slip through the cracks. These are cracks that I thought had sealed; this is a feeling that, while ever present at a nagging level, I hadn’t felt surge into every fiber of my body for a long time.

Some think I’m nothing; I don’t want to be among those included.

That’s all I have to say. The rest of the words won’t come to me. They’re locked away somewhere, with everything else I’ve refused to face.

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The curse of being a creative

Oooh, it’s another post time.

I promise, it won’t be too depressing. This is just a quick word-vomit thing to get this horrible, repeating thought out of my head.

Sometimes, I feel like I got cursed with creativity.

Allow me to explain.

Being creative is a valued trait. In certain contexts. Some of our highest-paid professionals in America are creatives–singers, actors, directors, etc.

Yet, go to school to be a film maker, a graphic artist, or a creative writer, and people are going to laugh when you struggle to get a job and say, “Well, you should have done something more practical.”

So you look at other options. The reality of the situation is that you probably won’t be the next Veronica Roth. E.L. James. Jennifer Lawrence. Or whoever.

You begin to realize that you really have nothing else to fall back on. You’re good at one thing: making things out of nothing. You’re good at getting lost in your own head, feeling at home among the clouds, your eyes staring off into nothing, as your brain paints a picture that you need to get out somehow–whether it’s through writing, drawing, singing, acting, or literally painting.

And when you’re out of school, you discover..

no one wants to pay you for that shit.

So you end up going off on your own, looking for ways to make your dream happen. We’re that generation, anyway. Your job doesn’t exist? Fucking make it up. Make your life happen on your own if you can’t find it on monster.com (or LinkedIn, I guess, whatever people are clamoring all over these days). You control your destiny, right?

God, no.

It’s such fucking hard work. You know what sucks? Knowing that you’re really going to struggle at the start. knowing that you’ll have to change your strategy time and again to pin down the formula that really, truly work–it’s a business, after all.

You want to sell your art online? You can start up a store, but good luck marketing your stuff and having it take off immediately. You can show people your portfolio, but they’ll end up asking you to make a logo for free or else they’ll “ask their boss’s kid–he’s good with that kind of stuff.”

You wanna write? Have fun begging people for reviews and trying to get your book to climb the search result ranks on Amazon. Pour your heart and soul into these words to have someone look at the cover and shrug and say, “next.” or worse–submit to a traditional publisher and get used to being rejected over and over.

You want to compose? Are you going to be stuck trying to sell little jingles for a piddly little fee while trying to write an album that you only hope will put food on your table?–it’s not like you’re asking to be a superstar, right?

Want to be in a film? Ha. Work for days on end for no money, understanding that the people who are making the film probably can’t afford to even buy water for everyone on the set, let alone offering you a fair wage. But hey, it’ll look good in your portfolio, right? Maybe this role will be your break out role.

It seems that no matter which creative route you take, if you’re not already connected, it’s a rough road to travel.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it. These jobs are laborious, tedious, and slow-moving for most people. But they’re done out of love, and that’s why we keep doing them.

What I’m sick of seeing is people who shit all over art.

A blogger I used to follow has made a platform for herself by being pretty. Literally all she does is take selfies and make her hair and face into cool art projects. I loved her style and reading her funny, weird posts. Then she started getting preachy about other people’s bodies. Then about their lives and choices. Then about the recent celebrity photo leaks.

I cut her out of my feed like a tumor.

A makeup artist I follow drew some pictures and shared them with her fans. people told her to stick to “looking pretty”. For fuck’s sake, she was happy and wanted to share it, and thousands of people tore her down for daring to do so.

I can’t read those comments anymore. Her feed constantly rips on her appearance, anyway.

My female friends stream their games online. They get torn apart for their appearance

sometimes–because they happen to be women just sharing something they love with fans. Whether it’s a comment about their bodies or someone just being an asshole for no good reason, it must get tiring to be the target of such negativity. It wears you down.

I don’t watch streams for that reason. Can’t stand the comments.

So I sit here, thinking of the talents that I have. They are all in the creative realm. I will never go back to school to get a STEM degree. I respect people who do this, but I don’t belong there with them. I will never go into something lucrative–I’ll never own a huge business. That’s okay, too.

But I feel discouraged because creativity is all I have.

Really. It’s all I have.

And I don’t understand the

Creativity is a blessing and a curse.

End of Hiatus

Although it was never officially announced (because I’m a terrible blogger) I took a short break from cross-posting all my articles at Beneath the Brand. Perhaps I’ll catch up and post them here soon, but in the meantime, I’d like to say that I’m looking forward to getting back to personal writing.

My break from personal writing was partially due to the number of commissions I’ve had to fulfill, and partially because I was so emotionally drained from dealing with everything else I’ve had going on. I have several pieces in the works that I am looking forward to sharing. Intense, yes, but not as difficult to write as the post on my sister. If I can write about that – the spotty, somewhat faded memories of my youth; the narrative of a child that must be relived and subsequently translated into a tale that an adult can relate to – then I can finish writing about the other experiences I’ve had.

If I can get past my self-flagellating tendencies, the posts will be done soon. I am inclined to build something that takes considerable time and effort, and crush it before I ever let another human see it. It needs to change, but I’m not sure how to keep myself from being so frightened of visibility… or vulnerability, for that matter.

‘Happily Ever After’?: Modernizing Fairy Tales for a New Generation

[Cross-posted from Beneath the Brand blog].

Recently, my boyfriend and I started watching Once Upon a Time. Other than the brief plot synopsis I’d read online, neither of us knew much about it. But we are both products of the ‘80s and ‘90s, so we were familiarized with storylines within the series, because hey — we’d seen Disney movies. This sort of sugar-coated narrative was how most kids of that generation generally became acquainted with the fairy tales, and in terms of popular media consumption, Disney had a monopoly on the production of fairy tales for many years.

So, with that in mind, we sat down to a surprisingly nuanced and dark story. In this tale, almost the entire cast of characters doesn’t realize that they hail from a fantasy realm, because a dark queen has cast a curse on them, banishing them to live in a prison (which is the small town of Storybrooke, Maine), all the while oblivious to their former lives.

One little boy is convinced that he knows their true identities, and embarks on a quest to get his birth mother to help him break the spell. The only catch? His adoptive mother is the evil queen (or, in her present incarnation, the mayor of Storybrooke), and she doesn’t take too kindly to anyone foiling her plans.

And I’m hooked — it’s modern, weaves together familiar tales in such a way to be comforting, and then retells them in a contemporary, action-packed manner that you won’t soon forget.

So watching Once Upon a Time brought up some memories for me, and it made me think about the history of fairy tales — and the joy we get from retelling them time and again, each generation putting its own twist on them.

Considered by many to be the godfathers of modern fairy tale lore, the Grimm brothers collected a wealth of German folklore and published the stories in an anthology. Many of the stories were exceedingly dark and violent, but kids read them anyway. The books retained their popularity surprisingly well, and in the 20th century, a large portion of the tales was thought to be too dark and violent for children. So, when Disney pulled inspiration and storylines from the Grimm’s tales, they deliberately chose to overlook the allusions to sexuality, as well as the descriptions overt violence and cruelty that were present in so many of the fables. This left us with the sanitized, moralistic good-triumphs-over-evil stories that we know so well today.

But the kids who once dreamt of the Disney versions of fairy tales have grown up now. Today, they are the story weavers, working on blockbuster movies and writing the hit television shows like Once Upon a Time. And so we are seeing the retelling of old German folktales in shows like Grimm, a story that features the Grimm brothers as cops, fighting modern, real-life versions of familiar fairytale creatures. Jack and the Beanstalk turned into Jack the Giant Killer, an updated story of the bravery and heroism of an unlikely “giant killer.” Snow White’s soft-spoken, naïve demeanor has vanished in favor of the valiant warrior we see Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel are now cunning Witch Hunters rather than helpless, abandoned children, and even the Rise of the Guardians chronicles popular contemporary fairy tale characters like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, who just so happen to possess some previously-unknown superhero powers — though it’s still child-friendly, of course.

So what is it that drives us to modernize these tales? Many times, we choose to reimagine characters like meek, fragile Snow White or little, gullible Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk as characters who are now powerfully in control of their destinies — presently, they are unlikely heroes at worst and completely bad-ass action heroes at best. In some of the new stories the women, who were formerly relegated to droll, feminine passivity, have advanced to meet their male counterparts as equals in battle: Snow White adorns herself in a warrior’s armor and fights alongside her male friends, and eventually squares off woman-to-woman to win back a kingdom. In Once Upon a Time, the female characters actually drive the story with their own set of decidedly un-princess-like desires.

Yes, it seems that modernizing these fairy-tale brands is a full-blown trend that has everyone’s attention. Today, people who grew up with the same old narrative of prince-meets-princess-and-they-live-happily-ever-after are creating worlds where our childhood heroes can be as powerful, flawed, and as nuanced as we always wanted them to be. And the whole point of fairy tales is to pass on these timeless stories to the next generation, even if it’s in an updated format, isn’t it?

So which tales would you like to see redone? I’ve personally always liked Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard — strangely enough though, both of those tales are from the French author Charles Perrault rather than the Brothers Grimm!

December Frenzy — Machinima, Blogging, and More

Nanowrimo and Aria’s Reprisal

So, November came and went.  I posted a few times about how I was falling behind on Nanowrimo.  Can you guess how the month ended?

If you guessed that I failed, you’re right. I only wrote about 12,000 words.  That’s more than I’ve written any other year for Nano (yay for mini-goals?), but I still failed pretty miserably.

I am still planning on working on this project, however.  It has been a ton of fun to plan, and if you’re interested in any plot points, quotes, notes on progress, world building, or soundtracks that I think would rock for a movie version of my writing (don’t hate; I make machinima for that reason…) then head over to http://hellystia.tumblr.com to see Aria’s Reprisal and take a look around.  You may find it interesting. Or, you might think, “What the hell is this? Now I definitely don’t want to read any of her writing.” Either way, if you are vaguely interested at all in sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, dystopian alternate worlds, and really intense descriptions of cold-weather landscapes, then you may find some of what I write on my tumblr interesting.

Machinima and Morningstar Episode 5

In the machinima realm, I’m slowly kicking off ep 5 of Morningstar.  I have a few things I’d like to address about this:

I am doing my best to keep multiple story lines going at once. It’s the way I prefer to tell tales. While I technically have a “main” character, I don’t see the point in focusing on narrating only her thoughts on the world. Azeroth is huge, diverse, and ancient. There’s too much opportunity to tell interesting as well as intersecting stories. That being said, I’ve heard some people say it’s a bit hard to follow. I will try to make sure that things are as clear as they can be at that point in the story, but the point of leaving the viewer hanging is… well, so that they want to watch more!

I have not made a final decision on whether or not I’ll use voice actors for this episode.  I understand that this was my #1 complaint about the series, and I also know that I’d reach a much wider audience if I did use voice actors. The funny thing is, I’ve known of quite a few people who’ve done their stories the way I do, and none of them get such terrible complaints about it.  I don’t know what it is about me that makes people want to point that out so much — I guess I’m just that socially-awkward nerdy kid that sits alone at lunch. 😦

I will attempt to keep the episodes around 10 minutes in length from now on.  I know the last one got ludicrously long.  I cringed when I saw the projected length, and for that I’m sorry.  I will keep it to 2 story lines per episode to remedy this, rather than three or more.  It’s simply too unwieldy at that point.

Yes, there will eventually be a ‘love’ story. I’ve also had a few people ask about this. I am aware that love is a common thread throughout the narratives of Azeroth; I, too, am interested in reading and writing about that. But love is not the primary focus of the story, because I want to tell a tale where my characters stand on their own as solid, well-developed individuals.  Too often, I feel love stories are used as crutches to avoid developing a character — who are they without their partner?  Characters, particularly females, can exist and be simultaneously intriguing, complex characters without a love interest. It can be done!

Beneath the Brand

I am a regular contributing blogger at Talent Zoo’s Beneath the Brand blog now.  I post under my real name there, so regular readers might see some discrepancy in the online personas I use.  I’m sorry if it’s confusing!

I will be linking my articles here every week (usually Fridays) so that you can read something fresh!

Other Projects

In addition to my day job of writing, and my night job of… well, playing World of Warcraft and doing more writing (as well as video effects), I am a — wait for it — freelance writer.  I take commissions  for a multitude of projects and genres of writing. If for some reason you’re interested in working with me on a writing project, get a hold of me on Twitter or shoot me an e-mail (ninja dot superwoman at gmail dot com). I’ve been busy of late, but I always love receiving new jobs.

I hope you guys have kept yourselves busy, happy, and creative!

❤ Helly

New Site Layout

I’ve been so terribly busy the last few days with getting my writing in order (I have a lot of commissions this week — on Thanksgiving weekend, of course!) that I’ve forgotten to mention that my next Beneath the Brand post should be up early next week.  I am looking forward to sharing this with you as well!

The new layout is cleaner, but the navigation should remain the same.  I may go through and do some reorganizing again later, but for now, I suppose this will do.

And I’m so far behind on Nanowrimo… I hope my followers are managing better than I am. I’m sitting at about 12k words but I want to get a lot done this weekend.  Let’s hope!

❤ Helly

Writing for a Living: Or, an Exercise in Open-Mindedness

Are you a professional writer? If you’re not a professional currently, then maybe you dream of becoming one? Well, I know the feeling. I’ve wanted to create stories for people’s enjoyment ever since I was a little girl. I made stop-motion movies with my sisters. We also wrote and drew comics. When we weren’t busy with creating our own materials, we wrote reviews on anime and games on our own website. Even as an adult I’ve been experimenting with creating my own projects. Most recently I’ve been putting together a machinima series (http://www.youtube.com/user/xephirproductions if you’re interested) and writing a novel for nanowrimo (more excerpts to come soon!). But I’ve also put a lot of effort into offering commissions, and I’ve received a number of bids already – which honestly surprised me. But more on that in a moment.

I have always been creative, and my creations have taken many different forms over the years. But one common thread that weaves all of my interests together is writing. When I did my reviews, my sister and I spent hours taking notes and writing our thoughts down for other people to read. We wrote our own stories and scripts for our comics and short movies. Even with my creative endeavors now, I find myself enjoying the planning and scripting process, where I can bring all sorts of characters to life through my words. So because I’ve enjoyed this so much, I decided I would offer my skills to people who needed a bit of help. I am creative and I can follow directions easily, so I thought I would offer to write what other people wanted, if they gave me the idea, characters, and a direction they wanted to take the story.

Oh, naïve Helly! You forget that this is the internet; that people feed on the power they get from anonymity and all the bounds they can push with it. You also forgot that a lot of people like to find porn on the internet. And a lot of people want to read well-written porn, not just watch it. And most of all, when anonymity and boundary-pushing meets the art of writing pornography, well, apparently there’s no limit to the things people want to request from a writer.

My first job was for smut. And I mean extremely graphic, violent, snuff. But I have maintained a professional relationship with the client for over a year now, and he is always kind and pays me on time. I am now working on another commission with graphic scenes, perhaps a little heavier than 50 Shades of Grey (and I like to think the quality of the product is better, too!). I have absolutely no problems writing this sort of material for people in a professional environment; that is, when we treat each other with mutual respect and I am paid fairly for my work. I am just surprised that so many people are hungry for well-written erotica, which sounds so obvious to me even as I write it. But it’s true!

I don’t know how comfortable many aspiring writers are with producing this sort of material, but I am writing this blog entry to say that for me, it’s actually become a comfortable and well-paying genre to pursue. I usually ghostwrite, so my name won’t be on published materials (which is actually good if I want to go through my portfolio with someone in the future) and I use a pseudonym for other materials that I publicly produce. Even though I have said here that I’ve written erotica, I want to make it clear that I’m not ashamed of it, nor am I trying to hide it. I’d just prefer to keep those materials separate from my non-erotic titles.  All in all, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a highly-desired genre, especially for private clients.  As long as I am paid fairly and treated professionally, it is no different than if I were writing a science-fiction or action story.

Have any of you ever written erotica for a client? Is it something you would consider? What sorts of subjects would you write about to make a living?