I don’t post here very often at all. I guess I’m not much of a blogger. Sorry about that, anyone who’s interested in the things I have to say which aren’t, you know, about games and why they are awesome.
Everybody, it’s the end of the year. It’s the last day of 2012, the year the world might have ended (but didn’t). Tomorrow, in less than six hours by my watch as I start this, It’s going to be 2013.
Damn son. That’s huge.
I mean, in a sense it’s not huge, it’s another day like many others, in an unimaginably vast expanse of time, and it’s not like it’s a year more significant than any other on any objective sense, or even subjective to me and my life. BUT. It is a new year, and it behooves us as temporal creatures to mark the time and think, on occasion, about how we are tracking those marks and how meaningful they are.
And once a year is a good time to do that. Take in the vastness of time, and wonder about how it shall be spent in the year upcoming. Which is to say, make some resolutions, but only doing so after gazing upon the INFINITE ABYSS that is TIME, and not as a desultory act of annual feigned self-improvement like a God-damned cretin.
Ahem. What are my plans for the twenty-and-treize?
1) Finish “Book Binding”. The novel is in a precarious half-life right now, and that’s pretty unacceptable; my willpower as an editor is lower than my willpower as a writer, it seems, so I must push myself all the harder to get through. It needs to be re-jiggered a bit, tightened, and toned, and I don’t want to hit another December without that being taken care of. Frankly, I don’t intend to hit another April without it being something I’d be comfortable selling for a modest fee.
2) Finish “The Guild of Steamfitters”. This one I’m more willing to stretch in terms of the timescale; if for nothing else it’s a terrible idea to put an RPG on Kickstarter while Fate Core is still eating money like an incredibly misinformed aardvark. ANYWAY. I would like to get the thing playtested a few more times, maybe online as well, and in a position to be kicked into start by, oh, the summer at the latest. The actual finished project would be after that, of course, but ideally before the year is out as well.
3) Don’t have more than three projects going at once. Two of which have been detailed above. This is a personal failing of mine (and of many other folks, to be sure), but I start a lot of stuff to distract me from stuff I should be finishing. I’m going to want to not do that. I CAN work on other things, but here’s the rub… if I start something new, I need to finish SOMETHING before I can move on to another writing/designing/creative-type project. Three balls in the air at the most. If I can stick with this (and I do hope I can), then I will, ideally, be staying productive on my big guns AND creating more short-form stories and games on a reasonable rapid schedule (rather like the Game Chef design paradigm).
4) That’s about it. No, really. I’ve got other things I plan to do, but I don’t want to call them resolutions; putting something under the geas of a New Year’s Resolution is a means of rendering it Important. Meaningful, even. That’s good! Doing too much of that trivializes the very concept of importance, and makes Meaningful less meaningful, and that’s a bad thing indeed. Only the one of those is a real “Change who I am” option, even though there are a few other life changes I’d like to enact in 2013—ride my bike a little more, lose a little weight, etc. The others? Why those are goals. Achieveable, value-added steps which will lead me ever closer to the sort of success and fame which naturally comes to writers and game designers. Oh yeah. I’m gonna start bringing in the RPG money, and then who’s going to be sorry he didn’t go to law school?
Anyway. I hope you lot had a good year. Mine was up and down in a lot of ways, but I think I’ve emerged happier than I was going in, so that’s gotta count for something. Hopefully the next one will be a little smoother and a little more upward in trajectory, but even if it’s not I’ll try to make the best of it. Happy new year, everybody, and happy old year, and happy years to come.
Time to get my booze on.
There’s another pop culture conference next year, and the date for submitting abstracts is in, like, a week. I have a few half-developed ideas I’d like to work on in more depth, so I’m going to submit a few abstracts, at least two. Here’s the first one (the rough draft at least, I’ll revise and consider it tomorrow before actually putting it in).
“War… War Can Change”: The developing role of idealism beneath Fallout’s cynical façade.
Beneath the cynicism and pessimism of the Fallout setting lies an idealistic core, one which has only grown more overt with each additional entry in the popular RPG series; while the early entries presented the players with a world half-empty, dominated by regressive ideology, in which a true victory for the protagonist was impossible, the later games supplant this with a sense of growth and social progress, and a more meaningful and positive role for the player character.
This paper will examine the growing thread of idealism throughout the series, focusing specifically on the moral attitudes of the first two games (released in the late nineties) and the most recent entry, Fallout: New Vegas, released in 2010. I will consider both the mechanical and narrative forces which contribute to the games’ tone, and posit why the series has grown less cynical over time, and what that process has to say about the changing game audience and the culture in which the games were released.
This presentation will appeal to those interested in role-playing games and the relationship between a game’s narrative and its social context.
Ed is skipping NaNoWriMo this year. More accurately, he’s making NaNoWriMo into EdNoEdMo: Ed’s novel editing month (which will extend well past a month, doubtless). Book Binding was a lot of fun to write, then I got into a serious thing with moving, then I got beaten under the thumb of new places, a new life, and depression which I won’t call “crippling” but was enough to make me disinclined to do much of anything.
But I’m better now! Amber’s working, I’m working (not as much as I’d like) and more importantly, I’ve started taking Vitamin D supplements. Turns out my mother, grandmother, aunt, and uncle take them too. There’s, uh, a chance that there’s some genetic component going on here. And so I’m back in the editing saddle, taking the novel which exists, in its current form, as a battered collection of poorly-assembled and sometimes missing scenelets and throwing in transitions, reorganizing, and making sure everything is spelled correctly. I’m also reading the thing from beginning to end for the first time, and liking what I see to a certain extent.
That’s what’s up with Ed.
Hipsters and Nerds.
“Nerd” was, once, a meaningful descriptor, I think. Way back when there was a divide between media-savvy and not, between people who owned and operated electronics and those who didn’t, you could declare somebody to be a nerd and they would, yes, belong to a group that wasn’t homogenous, but was close enough that folks who weren’t nerds didn’t really need to care.
Those days are over, of course. The world of nerdery is too big, too grand to even seem homogenous to an outsider… there are a thousand different facets, from TV nerds to movie nerds to gamers to music nerds… it’s not a subculture anymore, it’s just a descriptor: this is a person who is totally into a particular subject.
“Hipster” is a term which ceased being meaningful almost as soon as it became popular, and while it once described a legitimate and particular genre of fashion and music choices, it’s now a shorthand for far, far too much. Two people might both be hipsters despite having literally no overlap in clothing, music, or other media choices.
This doesn’t make these terms useless, but it does mean that we, as intelligent users of language, have to think carefully about what they mean and how we’re using them. I’d like to suggest that these are no longer terms we should use to describe subjects or a person’t interest (there’s nothing exclusively hipster about PBR and nothing exclusively nerdy about Star Trek). Rather, these are descriptive terms for HOW a person enjoys something.
Hipsters are seekers. They deal in acquiring knowledge and expertise, and value those who can demonstrate expertise. There is something particularly academic about the hipster attitude, however, like academia, this makes it often exclusive. Not everybody can be invited to the party, because not everybody is willing to put forth the effort required to HAVE this expertise. Obviously, there are good and bad ways of being exclusive (i.e.: “well, let’s show you what you need to know first” versus “GTFO noob”.)
Nerds are sharers. They acquire information, yes, but not in the service of expertise, only in service of sharing and spreading that information, and possibly creating new iterations of it. It’s not exclusive, and is amenable to the dilettante, but the most important factor is the sharing; the negative stereotype of the ten-year-old ready to tell you EVERYTHING about trains is indicative of this “I want to share” attitude.
This, then, is the fandom spectrum. Neither side is better or worse than the other… expertise and celebration are both great, aren’t they? Exclusivity and obsession are both bad, aren’t they? It’s rather like being lawful or chaotic, and most folks fall somewhere between the two extremes.
(Actually, most folks fall multiple places between the two extremes. I’m a literature hipster and an RPG nerd, doubtless. I’m TV neutral, I think, demonstrating elements of each).
Of course, when I start thinking of law and chaos, I have to ask if there’s a second spectrum, for a fandom plane. And, I think, I think there is. Social and personal. Those of the social flavor care about the community, the connections that are made through their shared appreciation of stuff (whether its shared hipster or nerd experience). Even the exclusive hipsters can be in it for social recognizance. Those of the personal flavor are more inwardly focused, and care about the effect their fandoms have on themselves. This isn’t to say self-centeredness… it’s more about the emotional investment that one gets from their choice of fandom—folks who are Moved by their media or whatnot, and want everyone else to get that same sense of joy. Contrast Trekkies who rock out at cons and Trekkies who write fan-fiction.
The embarassing social archetype is the guy who cares only about appearances, and who puts on the costume in a desperate effort to belong. The embarassing personal archetype is the basement-dwelling obsessive, the one who can’t actually meaningfully interact with other people. As with the hipster/nerd binary, neither is inherently good or evil, but both can be twisted, and most people fall somewhere between the two. I’m TV-personal, gaming-social, and literature-neutral, myself.
(I suppose if this is a cube, the z-access is going to be the good and evil one, with Awesome applications on one end and Awkward applications on the other, but it’s not a particularly useful way to define yourself because who’s going to notice and admit to awkwardness? No, no, none of that.)
So there you have it, the alignment chart for enjoying things. How do you enjoy things?
… it’s not really my style these days, but you know. It seems a thing I could do. I could get behind it.
What’s up with me? Well, I’ve been working on a novel, and I’ve finished the Preliminary Writing Phase. Now, it’s preliminary. It’s not done. I’ve done a bit of editing, but haven’t been NEARLY as regimented as I set out to be, in part because, well, I was stuck in a lot of ways about the ending and wasn’t sure what to focus on, and in part because, well, screw you, editing. Screw you, editing.
But it’s done. A fantasy story, in a land of magic and adventure. Heroes who learn about themselves, villians who get ironic comeuppances, monsters who are vanquished… all of these technically exist. Also, a moral about institutionalized racism (SPOILER: it’s bad). Exists, in writing, give or take a few missing half-scenes where I jumped about in time and didn’t stitch things together quite well enough. It’s a dang-old novel, I guess is what I’m saying.
Now, I need to edit it, but I’m not going to do that right away. I’m taking a few days, I’m working on a short story for an anthology. Why? Because I have a five-year plan, and this year’s agenda includes getting published: short stories, articles, papers, et cetera. The more, the better.
But I’m not going to sit on Book Binding forever… come August, I get into editing, for which, I think, I shall want to make a workable schedule rather like I did for the writing process. We’ll see how it goes.
What if I do a mini-t-Rex mini-giveaway…..??
T-Rexes were born in wee little eggs, and they came out all tiny and adorable. I know, I know: paleontologists have been saying this for years, but we never believed them because they couldn’t produce tiny adorable plushies to prove it. UNTIL NOW.
Micro T-Rex is three inches of soft and fuzzy adorable, and comes with that removable plastic keychain clip you see pictured, so he’s ready to hang out wherever you go! He is Down for Hangouts!
I would type more but he’s TOO CUTE, look at his little arms, i’m DYING
Guys these just came out today and I really think you should buy one. Only $8.50! How can you put a PRICE on LOVE
This is a great idea! EVERYONE who reblogs this gets one entry, and tomorrow I will choose one reblog at random and send them one! REBLOG AWAY AND T-REX MIGHT COME LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE / HANG OFF YOUR FINGERS AND KEYS
But that hasn’t stopped me from writing a lot. Because I’m writing a novel, see. I may have mentioned it in… every one of the last four posts? Ugh, I’m boring.
Anyway, I’ve just now hit the climax, which is… late. I mean, I’m clearly going to need to trim some things, but I’m also just as clearly going to be writing this thing well into June, so that’s cool. More book is more better, right? Especially since it is clear to me that I AM wrapping up, or at least building to a point… I’ve a history of spinning my wheels (and yeah, I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels these months), but I can only spin my wheels so much with an end in sight.
And there is an end in sight. It might involve explosions.
Oh, who am I kidding? It will involve explosions. WOO.
Anyway, I need to have a plan, so here it is. Starting in June, EdNoWriQua will start phasing out, in favor of EdNoEdTi: Ed’s Novel Editing Time. One thousand words a day until the novel is done, of course, with Saturdays off. Yes, Saturdays off, all of them, to be used to make sure things are still on track. In addition: a half-hour of editing, starting at the beginning, per day. Right, that’s not a lot, but it is enough to fix the names that I’ve screwed up because I made them up on the spot and kept making them up on the spot in every instance. Oh, and the thousands and thousands of typos.
Once I’ve finished the novel, the editing roll moves up to one hour per day, though still with Saturdays off. I can, of course, over-edit, but you know… I don’t have to. I just have to hit an hour per day, and by the time July rolls around, I’ll… see where I am, I guess, but I should be sitting pretty.
(And once the editing is done? I submit the novel to literary agents. No, really. NO, REALLY.)
And we have a title: Book Binding.
There’s a demon in Modern Alchemy, the walls of study room 4A are bleeding, and the Introductory Enchanting section has disappeared entirely. Airrol Twain isn’t worried… the Library of the Aelethon Academy of Magical Arts is home to over ten thousand of the most potent books of magic and magical theory in the world, and wherever you gather that much eldrich lore, you’re bound to get some unusual but fairly reliable side effects… ghostly horsemen in the men’s room? That’s not an omen, that’s just a Tuesday.
It’s Airrol’s job to perform the thousand and one little tweaks, rituals, and counterspells which keep the building running, respond to unexpected magical accidents, protect the Academy’s students and faculty, predict and prevent wild magic discharges and, if he can find the time, re-shelve and tidy up. That’s what being a librarian is all about.
But, when academic politics begin interfering with effective circulation, things start to go awry… schedules slip, books get mislaid and mis-marked and the Library—there’s no better way to put it—gets angry. When a class enters the stacks and doesn’t come out again, it’s up to Airrol and Lucien Ash, a ghoul and lecturer in magical linguistics, to venture into the most magically volatile sections, discover what’s going wrong and somehow reverse the process, before the administration decide to cut their losses and destroy the building altogether.
Here it is, as promised, the WriQua schedule. Every day that’s not otherwise marked, of course, is a day to write 1,000 words or so.
(1000 is a nice, round number too… another reason I like it better than the less-elegant 1667).
There are five days earmarked for planning, five for recovery, and two special days which are technically optional, but you know, could be fun.
Oh, and this starts in three days. Scary? Perhaps. But I’m prepped and ready for it. Let us rock.
Planning day! No writing; rather, make sure you can answer the following questions fully: Who is this novel about? What are they like? What is their life like? What is going to go wrong for them? Why should an audience care?
In other words, what’s Act I going to look like?
|March 2||Chapter 2! Which is to say, don’t write your first words just yet, even if you know what they’ll be. Your intro needs to know what follows so it can be appropriately thematic and awesome, so let’s save it for later.|
|March 10||Rest/recovery or catch-up day; no writing required.|
|March 16||Planning day! No writing, just plot development. What is going wrong and why? What is your climax going to look like, and how will you build toward that? Also, consider any character-building moments you’ll want to include.
You don’t need to have all the answers just yet, but you should have a clear direction and some momentum.
|March 24||Rest/recovery or catch-up.|
|March 31st||Back of the Book day! Instead of actually writing your novel, work on the blurb you’d want to be written on the back of it. Also, the title, if you haven’t figured it out yet. It’s both fun AND a good way to define what is going to be important to you as you write. Also, good practice if you ever try to sell this thing.|
|April 6||Planning day! No writing, pure plotting. Where is this all going? You’re approaching the middle of the novel, so you should know how it’s going to end pretty clearly. How do we get there? Are there any false starts or failures along the way (hint: probably)? Think also, are there thematic elements we should be playing up?
At this point you know the plot of the novel well past the point you are currently writing, so you should be creating scenes that tie in to the plot meaningfully.
|April 14||Rest/recovery or catch-up.|
|April 27||Planning day! No writing, all braining. Think about particular moments. The big one: How is the climax going to play out? Also, what’s the falling action going to be like?
Just as important, are there any sub-plots or character development scenes you need to add into what already happened? Do you want to work on an extended introduction? Is there a world-building exposition that you should have dropped in earlier?
|April 28-May 4||Asynchronous week! Now is the time to write your prologue or introduction, because you know where everything’s going to go and you can drop in some forshadowing. This is also a week to go back and add in scenes… this isn’t an editing week, per se, just time to drop in great swathes of text which should have been there (and can be integrated more finely when editing time comes).
It doesn’t have to take all week, nor is it not allowed after the week is over, but this is the week you should have “adding stuff” at the forefront of your mind.
|May 5||Rest/recovery or catch-up.|
|May 12||“What’s next?” day! No writing, just research! You have a good idea what this thing is going to look like… you may well be in the middle of writing the climax right now. What’s next? Who are you going to send this to? Do a little looking up of publishers, pick a handful that seem up your alley, and find out how they can accept submissions. Start budgeting accordingly.
Now is also a good day to think, idly, about what you’ll write next. What if someone asks you for a sequel, are you ready to deliver it?
|May 18||Planning day! No writing, just staring at the words until your eyes bleed. Today the question is “does this make sense?”
That’s it. You know the plot, but are there holes? Are there subplots that got dropped off? Are there errors or terrible bits or idiot balls or things of that nature? How will you handwave them all away?
Think also, briefly, about the epilogue and any sequel hooks you want to drop in, but really, it’s a day to think about whether or not it all makes sense.
|May 26||Last day off! Rest, recover, catch up, implement any of those handwaves you thought about earlier, whatever. The day is yours, the big push begins tomorrow.|
|May 31||Final day! If you haven’t yet, you should write an 80,000 word novel today.|