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Result in thread: Shonen pitfalls
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17th Oct 2017, 3:38 AM #1
melaredblu

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Sikyanakotik:Of course, the stall tactics you've mentioned mostly show up in anime when the animators are trying not to overtake the manga that it's based on. So I wouldn't worry about that trope showing up in a comic series, especially one not made to adapt something else.


You know, you're probably right. I never thought too hard about why they do it, but it's worth knowing the reason behind it. The thing is, sometimes people will imitate anime tropes without question, like drawing mouths cutting into the cheek in profile (example in spoiler).
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Image: http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/790655201685781282_4411.jpg
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It's a cheap trick to avoid animating the lips and frankly kind of an eyesore, but so many novice artists (including myself at one time) imitate it. They think because anime does it all the time, that must mean it's part of the "style", rather than an unfortunate side-effect of budget limits or pure laziness. So yes, the stall tactics have a reason for existing in anime, but that excuse doesn't make it good storywriting, nor does it mean that people won't emulate it in webcomic form. It's good that you explained the reason behind it so we can see why the problem exists and know why it doesn't have to be done that way.
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Result in thread: Shonen pitfalls
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17th Oct 2017, 2:33 AM #2
melaredblu

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Best examples of modern shounen imo are My Hero Academia and Hunter x Hunter. Both start off as standard shounen with tried tropes but the difference is they execute almost EVERYTHING flawlessly. They are both working with cliches, but both Deku and Gon are unique in subtle ways and can carry the show with their distinct charisma. Also both MHA and HxH evolve into more mature shows, at some points you would think you're watching/reading a seinen.


I can't speak for Hunter X Hunter, but one problem that's really aggravating for me with My Hero Academia* is the constant recaps like the audience has ADD. This happens a lot in shounen series, where information that's already long-established gets retreaded for the umpteenth time, often not even bothering to make new footage. It's waaaay too common in anime in general to reuse footage (and considering I write a Magical Girl comic, I know I'm throwing stones all over my glass house here), but MHA in particular really goes overboard in making the audience watch the same thing we just freakin' saw. I could literally skip the first 2-3 minutes of some episodes of MHA and miss pretty much nothing because it'll all be recaps and recycled footage from the previous episode. The manga of MHA doesn't have as much of a problem with that, thankfully, but I still think this is a point worth keeping in mind even when writing a webcomic, since it basically boils down to Show, Don't Tell. If you can't keep your audience up to speed without an exposition dump, then you need to rethink your approach. This applies to shounen-style comics, but it's good advice overall.

*That being said, I actually enjoy MHA a lot, so don't think I'm knocking it as a whole.

I also hate it when a shounen series screws around building "tension." Raising suspense is fine, but there's only so much staring down, trash-talking, pontificating, and monologuing about the upcoming battle/tournament/card game I can tolerate. Some shows just have terrible pacing with their rising action and unsatisfying payoffs *coughNarutocough*. If you absolutely must have The Standoff, use it to advance the story, not put it in cryogenic suspension while the characters chatter on.
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Result in thread: The ceiling feels heavy.
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"The ceiling feels heavy.", 13th Oct 2017, 11:50 PM #3
melaredblu

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On this Friday the 13th, with a hint of misfortune and dread in the air, I welcome you to Here I Lie Awake, a brand-new horror webcomic.
Image: http://hereilieawake.webcomic.ws/files/screenshots/screenshot.png

Our tale begins in a small coffee shop, with a strange confession of sleepless nights and fear that can only be described...
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12th Oct 2017, 8:01 PM #4
melaredblu

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I actually do enjoy picking stories apart myself, so I'm not disagreeing with you even in the slightest. This will all certainly sound amazingly pretentious and snobby, but I take literary analysis very seriously, even if I have a certain contempt for how it's taught. There are right and wrong ways to do it, but some professors are so caught up in their own conceptions of a story that you often don't analyze it so much as you just learn how to read the professor's mind. That makes it hard to learn proper technique for oneself. So here's how I think it should be approached. (Warning: Feel free to skip to the TL;DR if you find me insufferable).

In my mind, literary criticism is just a sliding scale from formalist to deconstructionist. The extreme of formalism is a robotic play-by-play with an uncompelling thesis ("I read The Bells, now I will proceed to summarize the structure and conclude that it is a poem about sounds), while the extreme of deconstructionism is basically just stupid, edgy headcanons ("Mario is totes a psychopathic maniac, you gaiz!!!"). Both extremes share the fatal flaw of ignoring the actual themes. All other critical approaches (historical, sociological, gender, etc.) fall somewhere on the scale, because while they each have a different subject they focus on, they'll ultimately adhere either more to interpreting the story at face value or to looking at the subtext. Which way they lean can also depend on how well the method of analysis fits the story. Some stories, for example, have more meat to them if you apply a historical lens than a mythological one. It isn't to say the mythological lens doesn't have value, but perhaps it's simply not the most fitting way to look at this specific work. In order to formally analyze any work well, you need a solid understanding of all the methods and determine the most fruitful approach. You need to also take the work as a whole, and not focus on one small aspect. Understanding a story in its full context is vital, no exceptions. You also must be intellectually honest with your criticism. Don't ignore aspects of the story that contradict your thesis and don't play up inconsequential details or fabricate "symbolism" to prop your thesis up. If you find your hypothesis under question, be open-minded enough to accept that your starting point was proven false and try another approach.

Does that sound like hard, tedious work? Good. That's because it is. And that's why the average reader shouldn't be expected to deliver in-depth analyses and instead be expected to just enjoy the story for what they see in it. Their insights are not to be brushed off as irrelevant, of course, but it should be at least acknowledged that it's mostly based on opinion, not scholarly method.

Except.

Except.

The reader-response method.

Hoo, boy, the reader-response method. That fifth-grade book report-tier, dubious, infuriating, woefully misused mess of an approach. Pardon me and all of my salt, but this one is a ratty mess that's a terror to unravel. In my mind, it's just another form of deconstruction, the difference being that the reader's personal experience, no matter how far removed from the original context, is given weight.

This is not always a good thing.

Even so, it might be most popular way for the average person to analyze a story, perhaps because it's easy to explain how you think and feel, but hard to analyze outside your own mind. The problem is, people mistake their own impressions for what's actually in the story, and sometimes their impression is just...y'know...wrong. Yeah, yeah, I said the "w" word, but I'm sticking by my guns here. It is entirely possible for a reader's interpretation to be invalid. I don't have anything against people for merely being wrong, but when they take their wrong ideas and start using them as a reason to talk smack about the creator or spread false conceptions of a work to people who haven't experienced it yet, that's what gets me upset. Maybe if more people understood how hard it is to craft a good, well-researched formal criticism, they'd be less likely to make insane leaps like "X character said a racist thing, therefore...the author...is racist???" and more likely to realize that their "interpretation" is just their own first impression and nothing more.

TL;DR: Lit analysis may not be a science, but it is a discipline, darn it, and people need to know what they're doing before they start acting like their word is law!
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12th Oct 2017, 9:49 AM #5
melaredblu

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It really galls me to no end when people make harsh assumptions about a writer based on the things their characters do or say, especially in situations where a character's negative behavior isn't immediately shot down like a Saturday morning PSA just to ensure the audience that it was a Bad Thing. As a matter of fact, I actually take it as a possible sign that the author still has some learning to do about writing if the characters only ever parrot their values and the only characters who act otherwise are villains or fools. Being able to realistically portray other states of mind and opinions is a strength in writing that I admire, even more so when the writer can make a character argue convincingly for their stance even when they're in the wrong. A good many compelling villains are written that way, and we wouldn't have character development if every protagonist started out doing the right thing. For that matter, a character becoming a worse person doesn't mean the writer thinks their descent is a good thing, either. It's true that most stories have a bit of the author in them, but assuming all of a character's darkest traits must also be the author's traits seems to me a really narrow-minded view of what the act of storytelling is.

There's also a plague of over-analysis, I think. Like, there's this paranoia of writers and content creators having these hidden agendas or coyly-disguised points of view that only barely peep out like Freudian slips. As somebody who studied English in college and has actually read many different books and poems that were...products of their time, so to speak...I'd say that's a bit ridiculous. Truthfully, writers who have deeply-held opinions (whether socially-acceptable or not) rarely pretty it up and pretend to think otherwise, because they think they're right. Nine times out of ten, you're gonna get a Jack Chick tract, not some carefully-coded cipher, and you're not clever for "deducing" that some perfectly average author is a Bad Person because a character said a line of dialog that might be construed as offensive in another context. The sad thing is, I can also attest that this sort of absurd reaching is strangely encouraged in higher academia, and it really does a disservice to the literary arts. Not every story can or even should be taken as an unrelated extended metaphor. Sometimes you get more out of things when you take them at face value.
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Result in thread: ComicFury - User Picks
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6th Oct 2017, 1:27 AM #6
melaredblu

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snuffysam:Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast is listed as "Other", not Romance. If you would like to nominate it for the Other category instead, please update your submission.

(in a new post, otherwise I won't notice)

The others have been added.


Okay, I'm updating my submission to have BatB nominated for the "Other" category. I could've sworn the genre for that comic was romance, but derp.
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Result in thread: ComicFury - User Picks
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5th Oct 2017, 8:18 PM #7
melaredblu

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Holy cow, I've never been nominated for anything! I'm so flattered! Thank you, Proxy 170!

As for me, since there doesn't seem to be anything suggested in the Romance category yet, I'd like to suggest Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast for Romance. It's a very well-illustrated and well-written adaptation that adds a lot of depth and complexity to the original fairy tale. I actually don't even like romance as a genre, but this comic is so refined and compelling that I can't help but get engrossed in it.
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Result in thread: Self-Censoring your comic
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3rd Aug 2017, 9:12 PM #8
melaredblu

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I censor swear words, either via cutting the curse short or using goofy symbols, but that's mainly because I find that censoring the swearing actually makes it funnier. I've also used the black censor bar before, but that's also as a joke. One of the characters watches something on TV that's supposed to be appallingly violent, but if I actually drew what's on the screen, it wouldn't be funny anymore, because nothing I could draw would ever top the reader's imagination.
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2nd Jun 2017, 11:41 PM #9
melaredblu

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This one's a sore spot for me. Telling people how to design their own characters is unreasonable, but I dislike treating diversity as praiseworthy unto itself regardless of actual writing skill for my own reasons.

This here is April.
[spoiler]
Image: http://princesschroma.webcomic.ws/files/cast/april.png
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She was always a major character. Early on, I knew I wanted a group of three girls with one "girly-girl," one "tomboy," and April was going to be the "average" one. Thing is, the other girls look like this:

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Image: http://princesschroma.webcomic.ws/files/cast/may.png
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Image: http://princesschroma.webcomic.ws/files/cast/june.png
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Even now, I have sameface issues. It's the fashion choices that stand out. April's middle-of-the-road design drafts were boring, so I gave her a different ethnicity. That way, she'd look distinct from the other girls no matter what she wore. The times I've been praised for having April in my comic ring hollow, especially with comments on early chapters, when I was still an inexperienced writer and my cast wasn't fleshed out. They were praising a flat version of her just for existing. I find that condescending. Fortunately, that doesn't happen often and my regular readers focus much more on the current writing quality.
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29th May 2017, 5:18 AM #10
melaredblu

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Yep, Princess Chroma passes. No surprise there, it's a magical girl comic (though my comic does give larger roles to non-love interest male characters than most magical girl stories). My other comics don't pass because they're short and/or minimalistic and the protagonists are male (plus two of them are based off an existing work to begin with).

The Bechdel Test isn't really something I put effort into. If I pass it, I pass it, but it's not on my to-do list when I set out to write.
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20th May 2017, 7:54 PM #11
melaredblu

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I think I write for both, honestly. Each page I make is centered around communicating at least one important idea. There's either a punchline, a cliffhanger, or a resolution to something at the end, and I try to make each page satisfying to read for people who comment on a weekly basis. But I still generally carry the story at my own pace. The reveals that take a long time to show themselves really only seem that way to people who follow actively, due to Webcomic Time. For people who come in and binge the whole story, though, the pacing will automatically come across as much faster. The same is true for anybody who re-reads the comic. For that reason, I'm careful not to rush the story even though I know my nibbler readers will have to wait a long time for certain plot threads to tie up. I want to make sure that when the comic is done, it will hold up well for people who want to read it from start to finish.

TL;DR: The overall plot progression is done with binge-reading in mind, but I put a lot of effort into making sure every page I upload will give my regular followers something interesting for the week.
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25th Apr 2017, 8:21 PM #12
melaredblu

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Bryfang:Like give me a rundown on how it goes down.

I'm not a shy person exactly, I'm a pretty big extrovert, but at the same time I'm apprehensive to meeting entirely new groups of people. So I kinda wanna brace myself for what to expect.


Well, I think every group is a bit different, but I can tell you how the one I go to works. First, you RSPV for the event on Meetup so they know how many are coming. Meetup will tell you where they are, and when you go to the place, the group will probably have a sign so you know where to go. Our club has a laminated Meetup sign they put on the table, for example. If your group is like ours, they'll have a leader who knows the regulars and will recognize you're a newcomer. They'll come say hello to you and you can ask them how things work and they should be able to give you a quick rundown on the events of the meeting. We start by having everyone quickly introduce ourselves before we get to writing, and our club is pretty chill overall. After the time is up, we hang around the cafe and just chat with each other for a while.

Of course, that's just my personal experience. Meetup doesn't really have "rules" on how groups conduct themselves. It's just a means of organization. Your group may handle things differently. If you're worried, you could use Meetup's chat function. It's easy to use. Just post a comment in the event you want to go. Say that you're interested, but that you're also a little nervous about meeting strangers and would like to know what to expect when you come. Hopefully somebody--probably the leader--can talk to you online. Maybe an online introduction will help put you at ease.
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25th Apr 2017, 4:53 AM #13
melaredblu

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I use it. I go to a writing club in my city once a week and we use Meetup to organize.
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22nd Apr 2017, 7:32 AM #14
melaredblu

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stinger9:The blinking lights I could see on the horizon were Las Vegas (Don't think I quite grasped how far away America is from Britain at that age!)


Oh man, speaking of lights on the horizon, when I was really little, I thought the oncoming headlights on the freeway at night were lights reflected off the surface of the ocean. Apparently I also didn't question why we were constantly driving toward the ocean without ever getting any closer. Kid logic.
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21st Apr 2017, 5:38 PM #15
melaredblu

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I thought Yoshi was a girl because the name ended in "she."
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Result in thread: Manga studio vs. Photoshop
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20th Apr 2017, 10:05 AM #16
melaredblu

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Unfortunately, Adobe isn't the only one pulling this subscription-only nonsense. Microsoft has been getting in on it too, and it infuriates me. God forbid I want to get a copy of Microsoft Word I can work with for a few years until I'm ready to upgrade. Not to mention they won't even sell you older versions of Word, and 2016 Word gave me SO MANY problems. I finally threw in the towel and just bought a used copy of 2013 on Ebay. Why are software companies like this?

But as for the question at hand, I echo most of the sentiments here. Manga/Clip Studio is much more tailored for comics than Photoshop. Photoshop is better than nothing, but the features that sold me on Clip Studio were the lettering and paneling tools. Before that, I'd worked in Photoshop Elements 9 and did the panels and dialog in ComicLife. It was a tedious process and I was more than happy to drop a little extra money to get software that can do everything I needed instead of being force to piecemeal everything.
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19th Apr 2017, 8:06 PM #17
melaredblu

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Most romance stories typically bore me because the characters bore me. They're not well-rounded enough that I care about them, let alone whether they get together. One example (at least on this website) of a good romance is Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast. The creator gives the characters strong personalities with believable quirks, flaws, and interests. The story also takes its time with how the characters get to know each other and interact, and it doesn't push aside other interesting plotlines to make more room for lovey-dovey fluff, nor does it rely on contrived conflicts to generate artificial drama. If I go any further past this point, I'll just devolve into gushing about how much I like this comic, but it's definitely one of the most compelling romances I've read.

But yeah, my disdain for most romance probably comes from the fact that romance as a genre has too many of my most hated cliches.

Mela's Top 12 Romance Suckitude Cliches:

12 Shipping baiting. I hate shipping. I hate stories that just wave generically attractive, underdeveloped characters in front of the audience, expecting readers to ship them. Well, guess what? I don't. All you're doing is making the audience write their romance for you.

11 Rape=love. I don't read enough stories with this kind of thing to be all that salty about it, which is why it's so high on the list, but I'm well-aware it's rampant in BL and Yaoi, which is one of the reasons I avoid that genre altogether. It's vile, I hate it, and I will never be able to get behind the ide of a couple where one has raped the other.

10 Our cardboard couple, everybody. The characters you see in most harlequin romance. You know the ones. They have no personality. They're just Barbie and Ken dolls with whatever pointless accessory to make them seem different, but at their core, it's just the same boring template.

9 The enlightened and privileged heroine. You know, the rebellious princess, the spunky woman who can hold her own with the men and never loses, the 18th-century damsel with 21-century values who is also good with a sword. And of course she's always beautiful and strong and everybody who the story wants us to like will respect her quirks, but the villains and/or straw misogynist will hate her and part of her story will be proving them wrong and/or defeating them. Romance isn't the only genre that has these characters, but it is really prone to them and it annoys me even more than the cardboard heroine because at least the cardboard heroine doesn't have the author constantly crowing about how accomplished she is even though this character is just as formulaic as the other.

8 Love at first slight. While the love at first sight thing is pretty cliche, I tend to overlook it as just shorthand for infatuation. What I can't stand is somebody who falls for a character who's a complete jerk to them right off the bat. So many bad romances start with a woman meaning a handsome but asinine man, and it's so freaking stupid.

7 I love you because I say so! Sometimes love confessions are good, but geez, I swear so many romances just think that a love confession by itself is enough to prove they're in love. Uh, no. It's really not. And forcing it down my throat with more sweet nothings won't make me more convinced.

6 Kissing=love. This is even worse than "take my word for it" love confessions because at least a love confession can be done creatively. This is just "we kissed now, so we're officially in love." Ugh. If you can't show your characters are in love without having them kiss, you can't show your characters are in love. Quit being lazy and actually write their relationship.

5 The second-act breakup. Our characters are forming a relationship and seem happy. Let's throw a monkey wrench into that and have them split over something petty so we can have more cheap drama before we shove them back together again. That's not pointless and stupid at all.

4 The tsundere couple. Yay, another couple who can't stand each other. Why is it so difficult to just have two characters start a relationship because they get along? I don't hate tsundere characters, but their relationships are boring and contrived.

3 Love triangles. You think you're clever, author, but 9/10, it's incredibly obvious who you actually plan to pair together by the end of this story. Like I said, I hate shipping in general, and I hate it in-story when it's already obvious who the canon couple will be, just sure, let's waste time playing relationship hot potato. Gag me.

2 Romantic plot tumors. Yes, I read TVtropes. It's still a valid criticism. I don't appreciate all other plot threads being shoved to the sidelines so the shippers can have more to squee at. Get on with the story!

1 The Misunderstanding. "I overheard something out of context and now I must jump to conclusions instead of simply confronting the other person, therefore padding this trainwreck with even more pointless nonsense because we all know this misunderstanding has no bearing on the actual plot or character development." How I LOATHE this cliche. It needs to die. Die die die diediediedieDIEEEEEEEEEEE.
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13th Apr 2017, 3:28 AM #18
melaredblu

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PeterVonBrown: It would be better if we could choose multiple genres/categories. My comic (and others' who have expressed as much) has a difficult time fitting into just ONE. Then your 'problem' would be solved. ;)


Seriously though, why isn't this a thing? Very few comics, especially those with a plot, adhere to one genre and one genre only.
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8th Apr 2017, 10:28 PM #19
melaredblu

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I think I understand how you feel. I've spent a lot of my life feeling like I don't deserve people's regard and thinking nobody will like me unless I "buy" them, usually by doing them favors. And yeah, most of those people stop caring about me once I can't afford to buy them anymore. It hurts and it makes me feel even worse than I did before, because deep down, I thought that if I bought them long enough, I'd eventually pay them off completely, instead of paying for rent-a-friend.

But I don't think it's true that real friends don't exist. It feels that way, and rent-a-friend happens a lot, and it's hard to tell if somebody was really just a fair-weather friend all along. I won't pretend it doesn't hurt. And I'm aware that, to some degree or another, most people only care about me because they benefit from it or we're just in convenient proximity to each other at the time. But I know there are people in my life that I care about even though they have nothing to offer me.

I had a friend I was really close to, and right now we're drifting apart. It's been a combination of physical distance, schedules never matching up, and us leading totally different lifestyles now. We have almost nothing in common at this point, and we probably won't ever be as close as we used to be again. And yes, it makes me sad, terribly sad sometimes. But if there was ever anything I could do for them, I would do whatever I could to help support them. It doesn't matter to me whether they would do the same, because when I did need them the most, they were there for me. And there was never anything I could have done back then to repay them. I don't know why they ever even spent time with me. They just...did. At the time, them just being there mattered more than anything, and it still matters now. I wouldn't be sad about us drifting apart if it didn't matter. Nowadays if I needed something, they probably wouldn't even be able to do anything about it, but that isn't important to me. I still care about them even though, socially-speaking, we don't have any connection anymore.

I choose to believe that if I'm capable of caring about another person that way, then other people must be too. I'm certainly no better or more caring than anyone else. It sucks when somebody you care about isn't in your life anymore. It really does. But when a loved one dies, we don't suddenly think they weren't really our loved one. I think the same is true when somebody is alive, but simply isn't in your life anymore for reasons beyond your control.

This probably isn't all that uplifting, huh? But that's how I see it, anyway. I'm sorry about what you're going through either way. I think I do get where you're coming from.
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7th Apr 2017, 1:19 AM #20
melaredblu

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Where is it?

Patient is unconscious. Proceed.

*squish*
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