Art – Character design II by RoyalSea Art

As promised last week, I come bearing more art! This time, it’s the other main character from the Sanctuary Project:

A skinny creature with purple skin, big white eyes and elongated limbs is holding a blue bioluminiscent butterfly. The light reflects on his very big eyes. The hair is long, and black and white.

As I said in the previous Sanctuary post, this WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it will be a bit longer than I expected. I think I mentioned it is set underground, so there are characters who don’t look like your regular human. Such is the case of this (literal) cave dweller who is trying to follow his dreams… even if his friends and family don’t understand him. There are many places he wants to visit and views he wants to see and, among his people, that might be a bit peculiar.

The artwork was done by RoyalSea Art, who is amazing at character design, as you can see. Please do check their work and commission information in the following links:

By the way, they were kind enough to make a spoilerific version of this character so we could all see how he’ll look like.
You can see it below if you don’t mind spoilers.

The character looks exactly the same as the one above, but the hair is completely white.

Art – Character design by RoyalSea Art

As promised in my previous art-related post, I come bearing more art! This time, it’s one of the main characters from the Sanctuary Project:

A plump water elemental judging you with their arms crossed.

As I said in the previous Sanctuary post, this WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it will be a bit longer than I expected. I think I mentioned it is set underground, but there are characters that used to live underwater. Such is the case of this genderfluid water elemental who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time… or maybe it’s the right place and time, but it will take a while for them to realize. If you like this character, soon I will share the other main character of this project, so do come back next week.

The artwork was done by RoyalSea Art, who is amazing at character design, as you can see. Please do check their work and commission information in the following links:

Art – Chibi characters by Helen Kord

As promised in my previous art-related post, I come bearing more art! This time, it’s a pair of chibi characters that belong to the Fireflies Project:

A boy with brown hair (left) and a redheaded boy (right) looking and smiling at each other. The one on the left is wearing a black turtleneck and black trousers while he holds a ginger cat. the one on the right wears a dark t-shirt that once belonged to the other man and a red jacket with rainbow-coloured details. He's petting the head of a brown labrador sitting between them.
The dog and the cat are also looking at each other, and the cat is softly booping the dog with a gentle paw.

Fireflies was supposed to be a Low Fantasy short story set in Madrid, but I don’t know how long it’ll end up being. I think I mentioned it is set in northern Spain and animals are important. As you can see, they’re so central to the story they’re even pictured here. These are the pets that belong to the main characters (also pictured in this image), and I hope you find them as deadly cute as I do!

The artwork was done by Helen Kord, the person with the most impeccable taste I’ve ever met. Please do check their work and commission information in the following links:

Art – Concept Art by Cascuda

Happy Valentine’s Day!

One of my goals last December was to commission art for my unfinished projects. I was trying to find some motivation to keep writing after a very hard year, and I decided it would be the perfect Christmas present to myself.

And today I can finally share with you the first concept art I commissioned for the Sanctuary Project:

An underground lake with an island in the center. There are two characters on the nearby shore, separated by a river. One is short, blue and transparent, the other is tall, dark and wears a cloak.

This WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it might end up becoming something a bit longer. As you can see, the story will be set partly underground and feature characters from different species. I created it as a counterpoint to my other projects, so it started as something short and fun to write, precisely because it was so different. I recycled tropes from my other projects, but subverted them, and I tried to keep it light… but it has become something longer and more serious than I originally intended.

But let’s talk about the most important thing: the amazing artist of this illustration is Cascuda, and you can find all their amazing work and commission information clicking on the following links:

Writing Projects

I’ve talked about my projects before in this post, and I’ve given more details in my notebook updates, but I keep losing track of my ongoing projects because there are so many of them. I saw Spanish authors sometimes have a Future Projects page on their blogs, and I decided to copy the idea because, if it’s difficult for me… no one else would be able to follow, right?

Anyway, I’ve created a list, and now each project comes with a provisional placeholder title, a short explanation and a free stock image. Being able to visualize my projects like this is amazing, and I’m already looking forward to working on them again, so I’m glad I did this.

Hope you like it too!!!

A wolf.

Feathers

A High Fantasy short story

This one is short and has very few characters. Animals, magic and loneliness are important.

I’m working on the outline, but let’s be honest, I’m not a plotter. If only inspiration would take me here…

A volcano erupting against a starry sky.

Oracle

A High Fantasy Romance

This is my longest and most ambitious project, and the first one I started plotting. It’s been years in the making, so it’s had lots of changes, and it will probably have many more before I’m done with it.

It’s going to take a while because it’s a looong story with slow-burn and pining.

Madrid's Plaza Mayor.

Brothers

A Historical Romance

This one will also be set in Spain some centuries ago. If all goes well, it might even have more than one book, each featuring a different couple.

I’m already working on the research phase of this project, but I still don’t know how long it will take.

Want to see more? You can browse through all of them in my new “Projects” page here. And I’ve added the link to the blog’s menu, so you can check them out whenever you want.

About Fan Fiction

Ten months ago I wrote a post about Romance that was my personal love letter to the genre, and now I want to do the same for fan fiction.

Fan fiction (or fanfiction) is another type of writing that, like Romance, is condemned and vilified by those who believe they have the intellectual higher ground. Given that most fanfics also depict a romantic or sexual relationship between two or more characters, I believe many of those who deride fanfiction are the same who look down on Romance.

Of course, we all know that some people have different issues with fan fiction, mainly ones that stem from legal concerns. Many are scared of plagiarism, which —for the record— is very different from fan fiction. Others don’t want to share their own characters and ideas with random people from the Internet. But I think there are some issues that may be caused by people not being familiar with fanfiction; they don’t understand what fanfiction really is about and where it comes from.

Fanfiction is not something new created by the weird people of the Internet. The term fanfiction predates the creation of the world wide web by half a century. The name first appeared in 1939 and fan fiction became an important part of fandom culture in the 60s thanks to Star Trek, but derivative fiction written with characters and settings established by a previous author or based on a non-fictional subject that attracted many followers has been an important part of mankind’s literature since the beginning of the written word. Think about Shakespeare, the fake sequel to Don Quixote, the Arthurian cycle, and even the apocryphal gospels. When the novels published in installments were popular, people used to write their own additions and endings as they waited for the following chapter to arrive; sometimes they would send them to friends and family, and that is how the Brontë sisters got published. So we admire writers who have composed fanfiction and we call some derivative works “classics”, but still the mention of the term fanfic makes people sneer.

And nevertheless, we keep writing fan fiction.

Like many of us, I started reading fan fiction because the canon was not enough. Not satisfactory enough, not happy enough, not gay enough… And, somehow, I ended up discovering a community of people who wrote both fanfics and Romance novels that covered all my needs. I made new friends, read fanfics whenever I was too stressed for anything else, went back to writing… discovered that what I used to write for my school friends was basically fan fiction… then started to write in English and, eventually, decided to write my own original stories. And here we are.

Fanfiction is an important part of fandom, of literature, and of our lives. And that is why AO3 winning a well-deserved Hugo Award made me so happy and emotional this week. The fact that people have started to notice and appreciate fan fiction globally, and that they’ve awarded a site that was created to fight against censorship and other limitations is a huge step. But don’t just take my word for it. You can read some cool articles about this on Polygon, Vox and The Mary Sue.

So… have you ever read or written fanfiction? Has it helped you in any way?

The Hugo Award won by Archive of Our Own.
Our Shared Hugo Award. Photo taken from the OTW’s tumblr post.

Writing with Anxiety

As I was working on my post about writer’s block, I realized that sometimes the reason we struggle can be temporary, like lack of inspiration or a particular stressful situation. In those cases, the possible solution may involve doing something else until the inspiration returns or the particular situation has been fixed. But if you have to live with it forever, like some people do with anxiety and/or depression, this might not be a good solution.

I’ve lived together with anxiety as long as I can remember, but depression is new for me, so I’m not as experienced as I am fighting anxiety. I can tell you that, in my case, writing while I was depressed only made it worse, so I had to stop and take a break for a year (while I was looking for a good psychologist), then take another year to come back slowly. So, you know, sometimes it’s good to stop and take care of yourself for a while.

But I have the need to feel useful, so this situation —as you can imagine— didn’t make my anxiety happy. We both had to learn to cope. My problem is I feel guilty if I’m not being helpful all the time, and I can’t be helpful if I’m not doing something “useful”. Writing counts as useful, but since I’m a translator, it’s not very different from my usual job (typing on a computer) or studying (which I was doing at the same time), and it piled up. The solution? I had to learn to relax and compromise.

I try to think of my anxiety as a sort of gremlin (AKA mogwai). It can be a nice pet if I take care of it, but… I can’t feed it after midnight. Or, in my case, after work. I need to spend hours doing something different so I can recharge my battery. It wasn’t that way before, but I overdid it and didn’t notice until it was too late. As a result, I only write a bit during the weekends when I have busy weeks at work. (Or nothing at all, if I’ve been too busy.) I’m slow, but there’s a nice community of #turtlewriters over twitter who are amazingly encouraging. It’s good enough to know I’m not alone, but they also tweet regularly to show their support and understanding. And by regularly, I mean every day!

I also struggle whenever I share anything written by me (yes, even blog posts or tweets) because I don’t want to be offensive, boring or annoying. Which is why I created this blog, so I could start writing and sharing little by little, and hopefully learn that the world doesn’t end and I shouldn’t be controlled by fear. As a result, now I have twitter and this blog to test my anxiety and get used to having other people see what I write.

So those are my plans for the foreseeable future: take my time, keep going to therapy, update this blog and turtle-write.

Tell me, do you have any experience with anxiety? How do you cope?

photo of a turtle underwater
Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

How do I fight writer’s block?

Same as any other kind of artist, writers also suffer from this condition. The causes differ and depend on each person, just like the ways to overcome it. Every person should find their own way to deal with it, so if you’re looking for a solution to this very problem… I’m sorry, but I can only speak for myself. My answer to this question may not be able to help you in particular, but I wish it did. I hope you find your way back, and please let me know if I can help in any way.

In my case, writer’s block was not a lack of inspiration. I had ideas, and sometimes I wrote them down, but I didn’t do anything else with them (for years) because of my insecurity. Still, I was struggling at the time, so it wasn’t a complete block. In a way, I’m used to dealing with anxiety and my lack of self-confidence, so I can get things done most of the time. Yes, these are problem I should deal with, but things got worse.

When my anxiety got so bad it reached the stages of burnout and depression, I stopped writing. I had to. Whenever I had to use my computer, I wanted to throw it out of the window. I had panic attacks sometimes.

So I did what I had to do and stopped writing. I changed my habits, reduced my workload and spent one year focusing on work (because I couldn’t stop working) and taking care of myself.

I took walks, played videogames, avoided my computer and didn’t write anything new. Not even on my notebooks. I even stopped reading for a while.

It was hard because I’ve spent all my life working (even school and extracurricular activities are work) and stopping to rest made me feel useless, but I persevered. And then, one day, I started feeling better. I wanted to read again, but I couldn’t trust new books yet, so I started rereading some of my favourite books. Little by little, I started to enjoy it again. And then I started therapy, and it all went even better after that.

I took some holidays and I just went to the beach and relaxed for the first time in many years. That couple of weeks helped a lot and I started writing in my notebooks again, and also transcribing my old notebooks. I even created this blog. And I started writing a fanfic because I thought it would be fun.

It’s been over a year and I’m still fighting, but I think the way to overcome writer’s block is… basically patience and perseverance. I know that isn’t very helpful, but that’s how you learn to take your time and do what you need in order to get better. The solution depends on the reason why you suffer this condition, and it may involve not writing at all. So if taking relaxing baths and walking in a forest is what helps, don’t think of it as Not Writing. Resting doesn’t have to be the opposite of work. Relaxing is hard work and, more importantly, it’s necessary if you want to keep working (and living), so I now consider it a very important part of my day. Try doing something that makes you happy (or that used to make you happy if you have depression), and remember that the mind needs time to heal.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com