Hi! It’s me! The creator!
This one’s going on Twitter once I’ve written it.
For those of you that don’t know, Lily’s Amazing Life (formerly Lovely Lily Lives) is a serial fiction I’ve been writing for over a year now. I wrote the character with the deliberate intent to be relatable, immersive, and most importantly, as realistic a character as I could possibly make her. To that end, I gave her a twitter, a YouTube channel where I vtube as her sometimes, ways to communicate with her directly if you choose, and a few other things. I’m actually not entirely sure why, but this was really important to me. I wanted to make a character that I could detach from as much as possible, and had as much of her own life as possible as well.
This proved to be difficult – doable, but difficult. Because, you see, I’m a middle aged male.
This has caused several challenges, some of which I could work around, and some of which were pretty much insurmountable with current technology. And some of which weren’t related to technology at all.
The first challenge boiled down to technology. Because I’m not a teenage girl, in order to bring her to life, I had two options. Hire an actual female to do animation and voiceovers, or to try and do it myself. Because I’m a sucker for punishment, I tried the latter. And it worked – mostly. I found myself experiencing many of the same difficulties trans people do – that of passing. Because in a real way, when I animate her, I’m trying to pass as a teenage girl.
I have yet to get the voice right, and I have yet to get the mannerisms quite right.
The technology just isn’t quite there yet.
The technology I really need, which I imagine trans people would like as well, would take my voice, keep the intonation, break it down into its component phonemes, and put it back together as the voice of a teenage girl – keeping the expression and intonation but destroying all of the unwelcome things that I put into it. That technology doesn’t exist. So I have to work with what I have – software that changes the formant and pitch. This… doesn’t work well. I may yet need to hire an actual woman or girl to send me videos to animate from.
… making that request will be a challenge.
This brings me to the second challenge – and probably the most disappointing and stupidest of them all. Because the parallels to passing as trans aren’t just illusory, they’re very real. They’re real enough that when I show people my work product, they think I’m a pervert. I’m not saying trans are perverted (I’m not saying they’re not either, I’m not making a statement on that at all) but I’m saying that people think I am for much the same reason those same people think trans people are perverted. I’ve actually encountered some social ostracization when I show them this work.
I’m not trans. I’m not pretending to be a girl for any reason other than art. That’s all it is. Seriously. I’m being an artist, and making art.
When I write Lily, I become Lily for just as long as it takes to write her diary entry, and then I press publish and close the laptop lid, and I’m right back to my old self. Lily is, to me, a separate personality. I try to make it as real and immersive as I can, but at the end of the day, I’m not her, and it boggles my mind that this could confuse people. I want people to read (or watch) Lily, to love her, to want to get to know her, to follow her – but at the end of the day, she’s not real and there’s no confusion on that fact.
And maybe some day, she’ll make me a little money.
After all, that’s the end game, after all.