Who’s up for some navel-gazing? If you’re willing, put on your Real Life Glasses and let me take you through a little labyrinth.
Why do I do this?
It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot, and I’m asking it a lot lately. I ask it before I apply for any sponsor or for any event. I ask it when I’m reshooting an entire set of photographs because I forgot to alpha out a bra strap. I ask it every time Gwyneth has a weird dream. I suppose the simplest answer is Because I like doing it. But that’s not very informative, is it?
I started this blog in November of 2012. That’s nearly six years ago. For the first two years, it was largely a chronicle of events in my role-play life, as Gwyneth discovered who she was and met a lot of cool people along the way. My first SL photographs were meant to represent Gwyneth’s drawings of the things she encountered in her strange new world(s). I needed an immersive creative outlet at that point in my life, because my husband had just been diagnosed with cancer. I’ve told his story here more than once over that time, and while I will probably tell it again next spring when Fantasy Faire rolls around again, I won’t do it here and now.
Speaking of Fantasy Faire, in 2014, I attended my first Faire. I have no idea how I somehow missed out in 2012 and 2013, but I did. That first Fantasy Faire began to change me from a role-play blogger who took photographs to illustrate stories to a (long learning curve!) Second Life photographer who by-the-by let people know about cool stuff she found on the grid, or what she was wearing, or where she got something, almost always in the context of how Gwyneth found something, which meant for lots of fanciful stories about travelling to far-off Realms to visit this or that Faire, or getting to know this or that skin painter or hair designer.
A year later, I applied to be a Fantasy Faire blogger, and Sonya Marmurek liked my profile picture and gave me a shot even though I’d never “officially” blogged anything before. I imagine a lot of SL fantasy fashion bloggers have a similar story. After that, I started picking up sponsors and doing more and more events, and I began to work seriously on improving my photography. I created two additional narrators, The Gypsy Davey and The Amazing Catwoman, both of whom have morphed into important pieces of what makes Three Twisted Knots. When I started picking up events and sponsors, I made only one rule for myself:
I only blog what I like.
So how’s that working out for you, Gwen?
I guess the best and only answer is, “so far, so good.” It is absolutely possible to have a blog that includes sponsors who send me stuff and events that send me stuff and still manage only to blog what I like. How does it work? Well, most creators have a “x posts per month” rule, and I choose from their monthly releases so that I blog stuff I would buy anyway. The few times the rules have changed to “blog all our releases, full stop,” I’ve politely bowed out. While it’s possible that I’ve pissed off a whole bunch of people without realising, it, I think my track record is fairly good, mostly because I have a good sense of diplomacy, am not afraid to reach out and talk to people when there’s any kind of a glitch or problem, and my narrators’ personalities notwithstanding, I’m actually pretty doggone nice. As my readership and Flickr following has grown, I’ve also come to see this as a bit of a responsibility. Because, sure, I could blog that pretty looking dress that also happens to clip everything everywhere and is texture-challenged at lower LOD, and I could make it look great—but how would someone feel if they bought that dress based on my blog and then it turned out that it only looked good at the camera angle I chose and with graphics on “I can’t believe you put your graphics on that”?
OK, so what do you like?
What I like runs the gamut from contemporary comfort clothes, like the ones I chose for this blog post, to frilly froufrou gowns and adorable baby animals. It might be simpler to run down the list of things I don’t like and for the most part don’t blog. And I’ll probably leave something out.
- I really don’t do uber-smexy.
I think there have been exactly two posts on this blog that showed any of my narrators in the altogether. One of them was a dream sequence, and the other one was a rescue scenario. The Gypsy Davey has appeared exactly once without a shirt on.
- While I’m not a prude by most definitions, I’m really not interested in outfits that are super-revealing, exposed nipples, barely-concealed (or not concealed!) orifices, and the like.
- If the skirt is barely below the bum but I like it anyway, well, that’s what leggings are for. Seriously, I wear a lot of things that are sold as dresses in SL as tops over leggings or jeans.
- For the most part, I think SL fashion is geared far too heavily toward things that are sexualised. I have trouble finding things I like just generally when I’m out shopping, because I guess sexy clothing sells really well, far better than my (comparatively) modest style.
- I’m not into sporty clothes.
- Gwyneth does not exercise. She really did just wake up this way. The only time you can get her into something that looks like workout clothes is if you fool her into thinking she’s dancing. No joke. TAC’s idea of exercise has more to do with weapons training, and you will find The Gypsy Davey setting up camp rather than doing sets at the gym.
- This rules out:
- Trainers (OK, I think she owns like three pairs of trainers, at least one of which are made for SLink Pointe Feet).
- Baseball caps (Ugh, baseball caps!)
- Garments with sports logos on them (Unicorns do not count!)
- I have an aversion to rompers.
- Rompers are worn by children too young to dress themselves. They are best designed to have a set of snaps all round the inseam for easy changing.
- I stay away from hair that has shaved bits.
- Nothing political; it’s just not my style here, though I can and have worn such hairstyles in real life.
- Believe it or not, I am not a big fan of high heels.
- I gave up keeping Gwyneth mostly in flats because if a shoe can be made in SL, it can be made as a stiletto. TAC, however, less than politely declines. With Gwyneth, I try to stick with styles that are whimsical or have rose themes or high heels that do not actually have heels.
- Perhaps hypocritically, I absolutely love my SLink Pointes.
- But only when the shoes do not actually have heels and look more like dance shoes, even super weird dance shoes.
- Clothes, skins, and hair that are not so subtly designed to make women look like preadolescent girls. No explanation needed here, though if you want to engage me on this point in a chat session, I will gladly go into detail. Let’s just say that Gwyneth has no desire to look any younger than eighteen, and usually she goes for a bit older than that.
- Everyday human ears. Every single one of my narrators, unless they are undercover for some reason, appears in elf/fairy/pixie ears. I actually won’t go to places where I am not allowed to wear pointy ears.
- Stuff that creeps me out, like:
- Floating eyeballs.
- Creepy gelatinous things.
- Cosmetic enhancements that look like injuries (unless there’s been a battle).
Why are we having this conversation now?
I’ve recently been thinking about my reasons for blogging, particularly when I look around at other SL fashion blogs. I like my pleasant little story-blogging niche, but it does have a few unfortunate side-effects, namely
- I am rarely able to make multiple posts per day, and when I’m working full time I’m lucky if I can make more than a couple of posts in a week; and
- My Flickr average view per photo is below what most blog managers want, for the simple reason that I post between six and upwards of twenty photographs per post, and the average Flickr user is skimming on a mobile phone or a tablet and unlikely to view or fave anything other than the first three photos posted at any time by a single user.
There may be some changes coming to the blog pretty soon, but these are only sort of a vague idea in my mind right now. Davey needs more post time. Angharad wants her new voice heard as well. TAC is about to start a new job. Well, she’s always starting a new job, but this one is differently new.
So what’s with that confrontational neon sign? Are you trying to make a point?
Nope; it’s just one of the bits of décor in my out of character office, which is honestly where I spend most of my time in SL. I thought if I were going to talk about the blog and me and go wandering down merry rabbit holes of how and why, I should probably photograph in my home territory. That just happens to be the loudest sign in the office at the moment. The other sign, which you might or might not be able to make out, says, “I’m too glam to give a damn”, and I love it. I momentarily set it to full bright for this post, but then I felt sick inside and changed it back.
But isn’t this kind of like shouting into the void?
I hope not. This blog doesn’t get a lot of comments, except for in-character comments from Gwyneth’s IC husband, but if you want to talk, by all means leave a comment. Tell me what a prudish old biddy I am! Explain to me that my elf ears make me look like a pathetic fantasist! Compliment me on these awesome boots! Anything you like. We are all in this together.
I purposely wore only items that I purchased myself and are not sponsored by anybody for this photoshoot. The sole exception, and I realised it too far after the fact to go back and reshoot everything, are the ears that Gwyneth is wearing, and these are her ‘go-to’ ears; they’re on all her basic outfits and only change when I consciously change them.
Head: Catwa, Pink Bento Head
Skin: The Plastik, Elvenne Skin, Bonnen
Eyes: Song, Frost Eyes
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Lip colour: Booty’s Beauty, Lush Gloss
Eyeshadow: Arte, Fairy Eyeshadow
Eyebrows: Mai Bilavio, BrowEdit 3
Hair: Truth, VIP Reyane
Jewellery: The Plastik, Unicorn Kin Gacha, Armlets, Bracelets, Necklaces (Currently at the Lootbox event)
Nails: Nylon Outfitters, Art Nails, Unicorn Solo
Top: Neve, Altierre Wonderland
Leggings: ABC, Comforter Leggings
Boots & Socks: Eudora, Haloke Boots & Socks (Currently at Shiny Shabby)