Ay yo o ay!

It’s your friendly neighborhood creator here!  Can you believe I’ve been doing this for over a month?  Some days it’s been hard.  I find it really difficult sometimes to suspend my natural morbidity and play a cheerful girl.  I guess that’s shown a bit, huh?  But I still got her through it.  I’m not so lucky some days.  Oh, please note:  while this whole site is kid-friendly, these notes are slightly less kid-friendly than Lily’s diary, so discretion, please.  I may explain some things that I deliberately left out in the diary itself

What I’m most surprised by is the development of Sabby’s character!  It’s not like this is going to become the Sabby show or anything, but she is surprising me with her depth.  She was originally supposed to just be an adult figure for Lily, but she… well… became an adult figure for Lily.  Just in ways I didn’t expect.  She doesn’t like to show weakness or be weak, but Lily is kind of pulling that out of her.  She’s not too happy with that, but she also loves that about Lily.  Sabby doesn’t often get to be vulnerable, and Lily understands, just a little bit.

Dave is still kind of the clumsy middle-aged father type figure who can have pressure-washer accidents, but I need to explore his character a bit as well.  I wonder what his back story is?

The actual name for the “kawaii” fashion I was referring to is “loli”, or “lolita” fashion.  In Japanese culture, they’ve coopted the word to just mean “childish” or “girlish”, but with a kind of adult-ish overtone.  It has very different connotations in English, so I decided to pull that word out of Lily’s lexicon for the time being.   Some of those dresses, etc., are really beautiful, detailed, and intricate, and it’s a really interesting subculture – which, being a guy, I could realistically not have any part of.  But, I think it might interest Lily.  We will see if anything comes of that.  If so, it might make for some interesting renderings.

I have a week of vacation coming up, and along with other things I need to deal with, I plan on spending some time rendering Lily, or streaming, or something.  So let’s see how this turns out! I need to figure out how to market her without being obnoxious about it.  I’m not good at that.  Sigh.

Matane!

Hi everyone!  It’s the creator!  Or whatever you want to call me.

Writing Lily and friends has been such an adventure, and it’s been almost a month now.  I’ve only missed one day, believe it or not.  It’s hard sometimes to come up with a storyline, but I manage.

Honestly, though, this blog was never intended to be the end of the Lily experiment, only the start.  But I’m having a hard time pulling the trigger on the rest of it.  I’m not sure how I’m going to pull it off.

Lily has gained her own personality over the last month, and it’s actually interesting how that works out.  I deliberately made her cheerful, ebullient, happy, loving life.  I did this because I am none of these things, and I wanted to know if I could create a character that is the opposite of me.  I’ve mostly succeeded.

But she has a depth I didn’t intend and didn’t plan.

It’s not that in my mind she’s a different person.  I mean, I guess in one way, but not really.  But it’s more in my mind she has her own way of looking at the world, and honestly, she and I would probably argue about things.  I imagine it would go something like this.

Lily: “Hi creator, how are you?”

Me: “Not well today, sorry.”

Lily: “Aww, why not?”

Me: “A little depressed today.”

Lily: “Why are you depressed?  It’s a nice day!  Why don’t you go to the waterpark?”

Me:  “I hate waterparks.”

Lily:  “Well, you’re just a silly billy.  Waterparks are the best!  They have… water!  And I’m sure you like girls in bikinis, right?”

Me:  “I guess I do, but it’s complicated.”

Lily:  “Why is it complicated?  Just go!  You’ll love it.”

Me:  “No thanks.”

Lily:  “Well I’m going to go then.  I love going to the waterpark.  You can just stay home and be a silly billy then.”

And she’d flounce off to the waterpark and leave me by myself, and I’d probably feel relieved that she was gone.  And she’d never, even for the littlest bit, understand that at all.  Waterparks are fun and I’m a silly billy for not going!

You see, that’s the real conundrum.  I imagine it’s a similar one to what Jeff Dunham experiences.  The characters kind of partition themselves off, and you kind of know what they would do and what they wouldn’t and how they would react in any particular situation.  But it’s all in my head.  Even when I’m depressed, I can write Lily as a cheerful teenage girl, because that’s what she is, and I honestly don’t understand this at all, about me, about her, about anything.

But I could also imagine her handling it differently in a different situation.

Lily:  “What’s wrong, creator?”

Me: “I’m just not feeling well.”

Lily: “Can I brush your hair?  That always helps me feel better.”

Me:  “I don’t have hair to brush, sorry, Lily.”

Lily: “Well then you can brush mine.”  *hands me the hairbrush and faces away from me.*

Me: “You’d trust me to do that?”

Lily: “Just go fast and don’t let snags get in the way.  You’ll do fine.”

And I’d brush her hair, and y’know, I’d probably feel a little better.  She’s not at all without empathy.  She’s just a teenage girl who doesn’t know how to handle life events perfectly yet.  But she’s got a lot of happiness and love in her.

So the question is, can I find technologies to animate her that I’m happy with?  And can I act like her well enough for it to be passable?  The answer is, I don’t know.  But those questions are what’s stopping me.  Maybe I just need to do an experimental video or stream.

Oh well.  I know few people read this right now.  That will change as I figure it out.  But I can’t give up on Lily.  Not now.

Hi everyone!  It’s the creator!  I hope you enjoyed the interview with Sabby.  Honestly, it wasn’t my best work, but it did reveal something about her that you didn’t know before!

I’ve been writing Lily for over a week now, and it’s both really easy and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Maybe the hardest thing is playing a cheerful young girl when I’m really not feeling like a cheerful anything.  But I guess that’s what acting is about, and this is as much acting as anything else, isn’t it?

Lily is a fascinating character – there is so much about her that I identify with, and so much that I don’t.  She is trying to navigate a world that is really foreign to her – she’s able to navigate it pretty successfully, but she doesn’t really seem to feel like she belongs.  She has really nothing of her own, right?  No family, no name, no identity, no nothing.  I mean, she chose her name, but that’s pretty much it.  Everything else has been given to her, and deep down, I’m not sure she feels like she deserves it.

The interesting thing is how the process of writing a serialized character such as Lily works.  I have no plan.  What plays out for her is playing out for me as well – sometimes I think “It’d be cool if Lily experienced this,” and then she does.  And the next day, something different.  Her reconciling with Beth was not preplanned, I just needed something cool to write, and Beth was there.

It’s like writing the world’s most unpopular soap opera, I guess.

I need to write a more coherent plot at some point, but right now her character is developing itself, and I feel okay just being along for the ride for a while.  I’ll make a cast page once the characters reveal to me who they are.

At some point I need to start expanding her streaming and media presence, but I’m just not quite there yet.  Truth be told, I’m not entirely comfortable with that yet.  I have some preparation to do before she can make her debut.  I need to spend some time practicing modulating my voice – even with a voice changer, I have some mannerisms that I need to deal with.  But with any luck, it’ll be soon.  I look forward to y’all being able to meet her “in the flesh”, so to speak.  She wants to meet you, too!  So many new friends to make!

There are also several scenes I really want to create “photos” of, but they’re actually really difficult scenes, and I’m not that familiar with blender yet.  But I need to get cracking.  Maybe this weekend.  I have some other technical issues I’m trying to address first, and failing miserably.  You’d think I’d be better at this as an IT professional, but I guess not.

I’ll write again soon!

Today, on the Voice of God, we have an interview with none other than our favorite mother figure, Sabrina Smith, otherwise known as Sabby!  Sabby, how are you today?

I’m doing alright.

Well, it’s nice of you to join us.  Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, as you’ve already said, my name is Sabrina Smith, but everyone calls me Sabby.  I’m in my 40s (a girl never tells her age!), married to a very nice man named Dave, have two daughters – Lily, 16, Beth, 14, and a son, David, 9.  We live in a nice home, well, somewhere in the United States.  Dave has a good job as a structural engineer, and I stay home and take care of the children and keep house.  Sometimes we have a few challenges as an interracial couple, but we love each other, and that’s the important part.

Interracial?

Yes, I’m black, he’s white.  Is that a problem?

Of course not.  You already see Lily as a daughter?

I’ve already offered to adopt her, haven’t I?  As far as I’m concerned, she’s my daughter.  Do you have a problem with that?

No!  Not at all.  I’m just curious.  After all, this interview is to get to know you better, right?

You’re right, I apologize.  It’s just that with all we’ve been through over the past year, I get a little protective.  Moreso than my biological children, I think.  I love them dearly, but they don’t have the same challenges that Lily does.

Why don’t you tell me a little about how you found Lily?

Well, we were just minding our business one day, when we got a call from a doctor from church.  Apparently they had found a girl by the side of the road, and she had no identification, no missing person’s report, nothing that could be used to identify her.  If someone didn’t take her in she would become a ward of the State, and that’s the last thing that doctor wanted.  He knew us from church and knew we would be able to take her in.  We’d never considered taking in another child, but for some reason we just felt it was the right thing.  So we picked her up and took her home.  We had very little to clothe her in but after putting in an emergency call to our pastor, he was able to find a family with a daughter about her size that had some clothes to spare.

So we took her home.  She had a very hard time adjusting.  Not only did we not know who she was, she didn’t either.  We showed her into her room and all she did for the first week was eat, sleep, and cry.  It was heartbreaking.  She spoke very well, but she knew nothing at all about anything.  She wasn’t really scared, she was just so incredibly lonely.  I mean, she didn’t even have herself to keep her company.

After a week, we decided that maybe it would help her feel at home if we took her shopping. So we took her for some clothes and other items of her very own.  She seemed to appreciate that.  She seemed to really like pretty and modest clothing, so we bought her some nice dresses, skirts, blouses, jeans, that kind of thing.  She really took to it!  She has a really good fashion sense, I was surprised, but she seemed to know what she was doing, even though she didn’t know why.  She didn’t go for sexy stuff, but she loves beautiful clothing a lot!

It took a long time for her to trust us.  I don’t really blame her.  Beth and David were very jealous of her at first and treated her horribly.  You have no idea how mean someone can be until you see a 13 year old girl being mean!  But after a while, she seemed to grow on them, and now they kind of treat her like a sibling.  They still grumble and complain quite a bit, but they’ve accepted she’s going to be here for the long term.  She met her best friend Liz on online school, and they’ve been insparable ever since.  I think they are a good influence on each other – Liz helps Lily to be more serious and studios, and Lily helps Liz to come out of her shell a bit.

What is Lily’s personality like?

Lily is a sweet, bubbly girl with a lot of sadness inside her.  It’s hard for her to express her sadness sometimes, but she doesn’t seem to mind when I try to help her through it.  She is innocent and naive in many ways, but not so much that she lets people take advantage of her.  I envy her for that sometimes.  What it must be like to be completely unconcerned with the past!

Let’s talk about you for a bit.  You go to church.  What does faith mean to you?

I was raised as a strong Christian, but I have a lot of questions and struggles with my faith.  But it’s gotten me through a lot.  Dave’s version of Christianity is a little different than mine, but we both trust in God, because who else are we going to trust in?  Our church is also very accepting and we like it there.  We don’t force our kids to believe, but we expect them to at least give it a fair shake – so they have to at least go to church with us.  They can do what they want when there, but they have to at least go.  We think that’s fair.

Pardon the question, but as an interracial couple, the past year must have been more difficult than most.  How do you navigate those issues?

Well, the first thing to know is, I categorically refuse to accept anything that will turn my husband against me, or me against my husband.  If I were to somehow believe that his race mattered, that he was part of an oppressive class or any of that nonsense, then our marriage might as well be over, and I’m not about to throw that away because someone else wants reparations!  I love my husband, and I don’t care if he’s white or brown or yellow or purple (well, I care if he’s purple because that means he’s dying), but the point is that he’s my husband and that’s all that matters to me.  And if that means that somehow I’m any less black, then so be it.  That’s the choice I made when I married him, and I’m not going to give him up for anything.

I understand.  You sound like a loving couple.

We are!  Yes, he’s white.  I don’t care that he’s white.  I’ve never cared that he’s white.  I don’t care that his family is white, that some of his friends are white, that some of his coworkers are white – most of them have treated us very well and I choose to take that at face value.  I have black family, and some black friends, and some black coworkers, and that doesn’t matter to him, either.  And woe to anyone who tries to get between us!  I won’t have it!

Sorry, had a Claire Huxtable moment there.

Claire who?

Really?  You young people…

What do you think is in the future for you and your family?

Honestly?  I have no idea.  The last year has been difficult.  My husband has kept his job but has mostly been working from home, my children have been doing school from home, and everything’s just in flux right now.  And then we have Lily’s unique legal status, and I couldn’t even hazard a guess.  But we’re a family, and we’ll stay a family, and we’ll face it all together.

Well, I’m glad you found Lily, and I’m glad Lily found you.  It sounds like you were made for each other.

Thank you.  What was your name again?

Hah.  Not quite that easy.

Worth a shot, Creator.

Indeed it is, Sabby.  Well, I won’t keep you, it was nice chatting with you.  Please do come back sometime.

Of course.  It’s the least I can do.

What’s for dinner tonight?

BBQ Brisket.

Oh, yum.  Wish I could join you.

But then you’d have to tell us who you are.

Indeed.  Maybe some other time, then.  Bye bye.

Bye.

And that, folks, was an interview with Sabby Smith.  She sure is a nice lady, isn’t she?  She seems to love her children, Lily included, and I think Lily is in very good hands as she goes about trying to discover who she is.  Tune in next time, when we interview someone else from the world of Lovely Lily Lives!

Hi everyone!  This is Lily’s creator.  I thought I would post some blogs about the process of creating and bringing Lily to life.  This blog is separate from Lily’s world.  Think of it something like the “voice of God”, though I have no intention of doing spoilers.  You can call me either “The Manager” or “The Creator”, as I have no intention of ever widely disclosing who I am.  To be clear I wouldn’t care too much if it leaked, but part of the mystique is being the “man behind the curtain”, so to speak.  Sometimes Lily or Liz or other characters may even join us here.  If they do, it’s non-canon.

I had the idea of creating Lily a couple of weeks ago.  Generally my thought process is this:  “I wonder if I can create something that is exactly, 100% the opposite of me in almost every way, and make it successful”.  I’m a male, she’s a female.  I’m middle aged, she’s a teen.  I’m a misanthrope, she’s bubbly and happy (most of the time).  I fight with my memory all the time (it’s too good), she doesn’t have any.  She’s pretty, I’m, well, not.  I created her deliberately to be as much the total opposite of me as possible.  That’s why she’ll never break the fourth wall – I have to keep that up entirely for this to be successful.  I also have in mind to maybe create a secondary revenue stream, but as appealing as that is, it’s not the primary concern.  I’d at least like to make back what I spend on resources to create and maintain her, though.  I’m not too deep in the hole, but I’ve sunk a hundred or two into this.

So I started by downloading and playing with different software.  After a few false starts, I settled on making a VRoid Studio character.  She was kind of difficult to create, honestly.  I was going for a pretty, but innocent character.  I really like how she turned out.  I’ve been playing with OBS and streaming, but I figure that will come in time, first I need to establish her as a character and get a good feel of what she wants to do.

So after I got her character created, I built this website and started to sprinkle her accounts across different social media platforms.  That’s still an ongoing project, and frought with its own kind of peril, so I’m taking that slow.  She has a YouTube account right now, but nothing else yet.  I’ll probably add a twitter or instagram or tik tok or something this weekend.  I don’t personally have accounts on any of those platforms, but I don’t have privacy or censorship concerns with Lily’s character, so that’s pretty much a nonconcern.  She’s not going on Facebook, though, except maybe as a page. They require real people.

At some point after she started blogging (I’m going to speak of her in the third person most of the time, even here, as to me she is an entirely separate personality from me, even if deliberately) I realized that her best friend, Liz, also needed a character model.  So I built one.  Making the model a second time turned out to be much easier, as I already had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do.  I built her to be slightly less innocent looking.  She’s Chinese, so I added the necessary facial features and dressed her a little more nicely than I would a different friend for Lily.  That worked out too.   After I did that, I wanted to create a photo of the two of them together, so I imported their models into Blender, and posed them in a way that two girls would pose in a photoshop.  That’s not perfect, but it turned out far better than I ever thought.  Perhaps sometime I will post a full body rendering of that picture.  Not now.

One of the big challenges is thinking like a teenage girl, and that’s really, really hard.  I’m actually thinking that when she becomes more established that I want to find a teenage girl consultant to hire to make it more believable.  But right now “Hey, random sixteen year old girl, want to make some money on a website?” might come across the wrong way.  No, will come across the wrong way.  Plus I don’t have large amounts of cash to spare.  I guess that will need to wait.  Maybe I have some friends who have a daughter who would like to make a bit of extra money telling me where I’m screwing up.

I don’t really know what Lily’s story is right now.  I have a backstory, but I don’t know why.  I’m not going to tell you when I do – this is something like a more immersive webcomic, in a sense, so you’re going to have to wait to find out.  But I hope that you all enjoy what I’m coming up with!