Date: 04/29/19 12:55 pm Title: Chapter 1
Thanks for the response. That does explain a lot. I'm going to also guess that a lot of the negative events such as family deaths and what not were also real life encroaching on fantasy then? I find it hard to believe most of those would have been part of the fantasy, but I've no reference for how someone dealing with dysphoria and/or severe depression internalize or project their fantasies. Anyway, don't mind me just trying to understand the story better since it wasn't easy for me to pick up on some of this stuff. Not a negative on the story as I'm sure that was probably the intention. Thanks for your time going into this and look forward to more from you. I think I remember you mentioning a light hearted version of this story a while ago. :)
Author's Response: Yep, and in the same way as with the scenes with Lizzy. The things that happened earlier on in the story -- like Sam's dad moving out -- were more abstractions of real life events, while things that happened later on were much more real. For instance, when Lizzy "died" in the first book, Sam and her were experiencing major difficulty in their real-life friendship; Lizzy elaborated on some of that in the epilogue. You're not wrong at all to find it hard to believe that Sam would project these events into her fantasy life, though, because... well, the book had a bit of a tumultuous life in terms of plotting. About 15 chapters into the first book (during which I went on a long hiatus), I went through my plot file and completely overhauled the framing story. I don't know how long you've been reading, but the original framing story involved a woman reading a book and yeah, it was very trite. >.<
The negative events, for Sam, represented something different -- she used these events, which she could not bear in real life, to draw her closer to the friends in her fantasy life. But this wasn't always a good thing for her fantasy in excess -- her breakdown in chapter 12 of Dreams was an example. When she returned to the fantasy in the next chapter, several of the events of the chapters prior had never happened. (namely the character of Kat, who never existed in real-life, either -- a good chunk of the cast from both stories were constructs Samantha put into her fantasy to help her deal with certain aspects of her own personality.)
I really, really appreciate your interest, and I'm really excited to begin working on another story. Thank you! C:
Date: 04/29/19 07:11 am Title: Chapter 1
Enjoyed reading this though the last chapter kinda leaves me confused. It makes it seem like the whole story and even the previous one where all a depression induced hallucination...... Perhaps I missed some context somewhere or something. Wasn't the only part of the story I found confusing though. The other part was when Sam was a Male in an asylum for part of a chapter.
Author's Response: Not a hallucination -- a fantasy. Samantha is a trans woman. All of the scenes with Lizzy -- including the asylum scene -- were real, although how directly they portrayed real-life events was purposefully left to seem like a hallucination at first, such as in the bathroom scene from Chapter 17 in The Curtis Family. Those early scenes were more interactions between fantasy and real life, rather than intrusions of real life. In the early stages of the fantasy, Samantha did not want to leave the fantasy world, even in moments of distress, and the hallucinatory scenes that happened during this period only indirectly convey real-life events as a result. By the time that she reached the asylum towards the beginning of "Dreams," however, she is almost lucid when leaving her fantasy world, and at the end of the story in this last chapter, the world has lost all its cohesion.
The story was primarily about family, but closely related was the topic of wish-fulfillment. The fantasy world was her way of surviving her dysphoria early on, and later, her near-obsession with the boy who was only her crush in real life: Danny.
I'd be lying if I said I was anywhere close to happy with how this turned out. I had really big plans for it, and if I were anything resembling a good author, I could have turned this into an incredibly nuanced work. (and probably one that wasn't so bloated in length) But all the same... I haven't completed anything of this length in my life, and more importantly, writing this was an amazing experience.
Forgive me, I seem to be rambling. >.<
I'll just finish off with a thank you for hanging around this long -- it really means the world to me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. (:
Date: 04/25/19 06:43 pm Title: Chapter 36
Gender based sexuality(as in females can only like males and males can only like females type "sexuality") becomes more and more confusing to me as time goes on. I tend to not read stories that focus on it at all, and i really want Sam to get away from that mindset.
Author's Response: I'm not quite sure what you mean, but at this point in the story, Sam's sexuality (especially in relation to Alexis) is part of her character arc. She's bisexual (and she always has been), but she's dealing with a LOT of internalized homophobia and transphobia that's keeping her from being at emotionally healthy in a same-sex relationship (in this case with Alexis), she is unconsciously refusing to accept the fact that she isn't straight.
Date: 03/24/19 05:22 am Title: Chapter 1
Wow, been reading this since the first inception. I love it. I was wondering where the trauma was going to come from for Sam with Josh, believe it or not, I thought it was going to be worse.
I hope Sam finds love.
Author's Response: It looks like I've failed, then, in my never-ending quest to alarm readers. :L
I kid. But I appreciate the review, and thank you for sticking around so long. (:
Date: 03/23/19 10:09 pm Title: Chapter 1
She just can't catch a break can she? Dispite all of the bad things that happen to Sam I enjoy reading this story. Hope things eventually go her way for once.
Author's Response: Life's like that for some people... heh. Thank you for your review -- I'll hopefully have a new chapter up soon. c:
Date: 02/26/19 05:02 am Title: Chapter 1
Ugh I feel like that might have come off as too harsh actually, especially since I never actually write any reviews (here at least). I didn't wanna come off as a negative nancy there - I legit love your story straight through. I just really wanted to get my piece out there that I think it might really be time to at least flip the weight ratio between the og story and the new one.
Author's Response: *possible spoiler alert*
It wasn't harsh at all -- I do really feel like I'm just writing filler and pointless character development -- with both the OG and new storylines. Okay, Samantha is a hopeless romantic who hasn't quite gotten over Danny, and she's possibly insane, but I keep just going over and over that same theme in various different ways and I feel like the story is stagnating in the meantime. In the OG storyline, Samantha shows her issues through direct interactions with other people -- i.e., she is timid regarding a relationship with Wyatt in this last chapter even though they both clearly like each other, but in the new storyline, it's discussed a little more in the abstract sense, and from a broader scope -- she talks with Lizzy about their shared self-loathing, or their romantic struggles, and so on. This is nice, and all, but this is all I have been doing, really, for the past several chapters. To top things off, Courtney recently, which is just exacerbating the problem of keeping character development fresh. I need to move on with the story, but one of the story's pivotal plot points involves Sam moving out into her own apartment. (rather than a shared dorm) and I'm not sure how to work that in right now.
I really appreciate the kind words, and again, you weren't harsh at all! In fact, I really want to let you know that your review was amazing. I've kept on writing for the last few months despite feeling as if I'm in a funk, but I didn't quite know what that funk was or why it was there. Your review just turned the lights on, honestly. I've been going through the motions.
Regarding the "real story", I'll try to push it up a bit, but anything more than that, I can't quite say yet. ;)
Again, thank you so much for your review!
Date: 02/26/19 04:55 am Title: Chapter 1
Been loving your story for a good while now~ I appreciate all the nods throughout the writing, and how you really take a look at how wish-fulfillment for some would affect the community at large - something that isn't really seen a lot in these stories. I also just really love the characters.
One thing I will say is I really hope you start pivoting hard into 'the real world' - you may have tipped your hat a little too early with her breakdown a few chapters ago, now anytime you spend in the OG story just kinda feels like filler. Like, sure I like all these characters, but now that you've gone and revealed that it's not real (or at least strongly implied, I dunno if you're gonna go for the double fake out after all), and especially the last few 'reset chapters' seemingly un-writing almost all of this 'book' so far, it just feel like I'm wasting time now - you've shown us behind the curtain and now I'm desperate to see 'the real story' unfold.
Date: 02/21/19 03:32 pm Title: Chapter 18
Just checking, but this new upload seems to largely be a duplicate of the previous, except with an extra passage. Did you mean to revise the previous chapter instead?
Author's Response: Oh, my god... it is. I set the story down for a bit and I didn't even realize I'd already published the chapter. I didn't mean to revise, necessarily.... I'm just being a derp. Lol. Thank you, I would not have noticed that.
Date: 12/27/18 05:54 am Title: Chapter 1
Wow! Just finished chapter 13, I am totally confused.
If you do not finish this and make sense of it finally, I will hunt you down! (You know the rest.) I have a lot invested here.
Author's Response: It'll hopefully make sense eventually. ;) I'm happy with where I'm at in the story, but I just need to figure out how to put the puzzle back together as the book moves towards the conclusion. It will make sense, though. It just might take a little while.
Date: 12/22/18 12:12 pm Title: Chapter 12
I admit to being completely and utterly lost, but I'm pretty well invested in Sam's happiness. I hope she finds it again soon.
Author's Response: The "lost" factor might not be resolved until the resolution, unfortunately. There's still a lot of track left to go, but the story will end on a good note. Thanks for your feedback. :)
Date: 12/10/18 07:11 pm Title: Chapter 11
Hmm, very confusing chapter. I hope you explain exactly what was real and what was not real.
Author's Response: I'm afraid I can't give much away. But this chapter is the beginning of a major part of Samantha's character arc.
Date: 10/30/18 07:57 pm Title: Chapter 7
I'm not sure I find Samantha's bumbling incompetence when it comes to relating to another person very believable. It feels forced and almost comical, if it wasn't so depressing. It's almost like she's just entirely an abstracted person rather than real.
Author's Response: The dynamic between Samantha and Kat is largely about Samantha's inner troubles, and is directly related to the story arc with the college professor. I've been trying to work on making Sam more of an unreliable narrator, especially as she navigates the stormy waters she's sailing right now. I don't want her to be consciously aware of the things going on in her subconscious, and I'll spoil a bit -- the relationship she has with this trans girl now is going to be a big part of the ending. I don't see her as someone who really struggles to relate -- she's a pretty empathetic character -- but I'll be on the lookout to make sure I'm not accidentally promoting a Samantha that is bumbling and incompetent with her interpersonal relationships. But the way Samantha reacts to Kat is directly based on my personal experiences trying to interact with other trans people while dealing with internalized transphobia myself. The bumpy road between Courtney and Samantha is just collateral damage, and is intended to showcase more of Courtney's personality in contrast to Sam.
Date: 10/08/18 09:01 pm Title: Chapter 3
HOLY HELL SHE"S A TERF?! A TERF from the future, for the love of God they'd probably do this too. "waaaah you don't have a uterus you cant be a woman." "You're uterus while able to work is a clone therefore a fake so you cant be a woman." "You weren't originally born with a uuterus." These people are impossible and a waste of time dealing with. I'd report her ass and drop the class.
Author's Response: Technically speaking, this story is using the timeline from the first draft that was written back in 2013 (Orange Soda), which means that the current time in Samantha's world is early September, 2017 -- Dr. Bernard is a TERF from the past. But, as someone who reads around on r/GenderCritical as a self-harming measure, I've always wondered what the trans-exclusionary response would be if people could be transformed on every level. The Biology 101 arguments would cease to exist and AMAB women who underwent the transformation would be indistinguishable from natal women in every way -- even in brain chemistry -- and likewise for AFAB men. Any TERFs who maintain their opposition to trans people would now be defending womanhood and manhood as an abstract, metaphysical, indefinable concept, as there would be nothing describable about womanhood left to use as evidence for a trans-exclusionary position. And forgive me for this presumptuous statement, but their very opposition to "gender theory" would then become their final line of defense. But Dr. Bernard will have a greater character arc than that of a poorly-defined background villain -- I intend to emphasize both her intelligence and her pseudo-intelligence. She is not an impossible person, nor a waste of time, though she might seem like it for a little while longer. She's impassioned about her stance that she believes to be right, but she's intelligent, level-headed, and devoted to the field of logic. But most importantly, she will discover that her own self-awareness is more important than anything else about her personality -- it's just a matter of slowing down and listening to it.
Date: 09/28/18 05:08 am Title: Chapter 1
Yay more of this story, and, dark starting wow. Danny's parents come out as the kind of religiously fanatics and well, it's was good they got to move away from that part. Im quite surprised with the sudden dissapearing of Danny, but gotta wait more. Good work and nice seeing more of you and this story again ^^
Author's Response: Thanks. c: Danny will be back, eventually.
Date: 09/27/18 12:29 pm Title: Chapter 1
Many people are horrific like Danny's parents,recently i watched a news that a man tried to kill his daughter and her husband because she married someone outside their religious community.so don't worry about Danny's parents looking as one dimensional
Author's Response: A few weeks ago, I saw "Operation Finale" -- a historical drama film about how Adolf Eichmann was finally captured and brought to trial. As with any dramatization, some poetic license was taken, but Eichmann's depiction was exquisite -- they gave three dimensions and a pair of lungs to one of the architects of the Holocaust without taking away an ounce of his wretchedness. It made him all the more vile, and all the more engrossing to watch. And whenever he was conversing with Peter Malkin, you could see a breathing human being talking eloquently through a thousand layers of learned hatred. But Danny's parents never had that exposure. They made several appearances throughout the story, but invariably, each appearance ended with them taking Danny away and hinting more and more at their hatred of Samantha. Their actions were very important to the plot, but they were also given the character arc of a background character. They never developed in any certain way. They weren't given any backstory, and for the part they played in the way the story played out, nothing about their character was fleshed out. Perhaps you're right. There are truly some f***** up people in this world, who know only hatred and violence. I just wish that Danny's parents had been given a larger role than just "drag Danny home in a continuous foreshadowing of the fact that he's eventually going to be taken away". Their combined personality, even if it was a personality of hatred and violence, wasn't explored in the slightest until the flashback to their trial in Chapter 1.
Date: 09/27/18 07:58 am Title: Chapter 1
Horrific people can be fleshed out you know. I think you succeeded incredibly well. What an awful (in terms of what happens, not quality!) and bittersweet beginning to the rest of Samantha's life, I look forward to how the journey continues. Please keep up the great work Paper Moon.
Author's Response: I elaborated a bit more about my concerns with Danny's parents in response to Amanda's review, but I appreciate the feedback. Thanks. :)
Date: 09/27/18 05:38 am Title: Chapter 1
How else could you play Danny's parents? They were, for all intents and purposes Nazis.
I have so much faith that I never read any story under 10,000 words, but made an exception on this
Author's Response: I guess I was most dissatisfied with their character arcs. The first mention of either of them wasn't until after the transformation and Danny's mom was already quite disapproving of Samantha's identity by that point, but for the major part they just played, and have played in the plot, their backstory was just not ironed out that well. There was no development -- just a flatline of character viewpoints with the change instead coming from differing levels of desperation. There are people in this world who are not human in any way. They don't love, they don't care, and they don't feel. They only hate; the lone reason being that it feels good to. But the existence of these characters in the real world is not necessarily a justification for the existence of them in the world of novelism. In writing, even the most villainous of nemeses needs to be a compelling character who is capable of engrossing the reader in his/her own right. However ill-willed they may be in the present, the winding path they took to evil is just as important a topic as the evil that they live in at that moment. The path they took that led them away from their own humanity makes them more compelling than anybody. And that's why the Nazis and white supremacists and terrorists and dictators and every evil person that has lived on this planet are so vile. At birth, they were born with the same humanity that we all were. They weren't born to hate. They learned it. But we never saw Adolf Hitler when he was a little baby, long before he had made any of his plans for mass genocide. We never saw Joseph Stalin playing with his building blocks as a toddler. Seeing the character arcs of these people in their grand entirety is not something any of us are afforded, but we can't understand a thing without them. And while a human understanding of these people is certainly not something that they deserve in the slightest, it's something that we all need, to further understand the darkness in ourselves. Each atrocity that humanity commits is something to learn from. Something that should never be repeated. Outwardly, or inwardly. And I guess that's why I feel like the parents were not fleshed out enough. Presenting fragments of a time in which they held a semblance of humanity would have provided a new dimension of depth to the story, not just for their own character arcs, but for those of Danny, and Samantha, as they both tried to understand what had sent them off the cliff, in their attempts to avoid going off the same cliff themselves.