Monday, February 10, 2020

Four Weeks

Four Weeks on since we lost Marla and I'm still finding it hard.

I'm not sure if people realised how much she meant to me, my constant writing companion and loyal friend. I'm not ashamed to admit that thinking of her brings tears, and when I'm not distracted by mindless crap on TV, stupid games, or reading, my thoughts go back to her.

Marla always helped me with my writing and game design.

I should be distracting myself by writing. But actually concentrating on the writing leaves me open to thinking too much and the lure of distracting my brain again comes in.

I have written, I don't want to let people down, but it is a struggle. I'm going to try to do some more now...

I'll be back. I promise.



Monday, January 27, 2020

A Predator posing as a House Pet

Marla, my best friend and companion
I've been quiet again, avoiding the internet for a couple of weeks. Two weeks ago we lost our cat, Marla. She'd been my constant companion for nearly fourteen years, and I have to confess I'm finding it hard at the moment.

I've been trying to keep my mind occupied - when it's not my thoughts go back to her - but my attention span isn't great. When I was writing, she'd be curled up on my lap with her head upside-down. Watching TV would be the same. I still wake at 2:30am every morning, the time she'd wake me for food.

We miss her dearly, and constantly expect her to come wandering into the room at any time.

I need to get back into writing - I don't want to let my publisher down. When my father died I buried myself in Conspiracy X rewrites and system changes that became Conspiracy X 2.0, and I know that it's not the healthiest of ways of dealing with these things.

I will be back, it just may take a little time.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Holding Pattern, Disengage Again

Last year I wrote the obligatory "Hey, it's a new year" blogpost looking back at the previous year and everything I'd hope to do in the coming year of 2019. It came up on my Facebook feed today saying "You wrote this post last year" and I opened it, reread it, and thought - "Wow, it's almost like nothing happened..."

So this year, I present last year's New Year post again - with a few modifications in red so you can see any differences. 

To quote Talking Heads - "Same as it ever was..."




I was going to call this blogpost something like "It's the end of the year as we know it" or something suitably New Year-y, but it's been an odd one and it's probably best to just get on with the new one...

The last year has felt like one big holding pattern. Circling, endlessly, waiting for something exciting to happen. For that phone call. That email. For someone to come along and say "Hey, I like your ideas. You need to work on that, rather than wasting your days in retail. Here's a handful of cash. Make your dreams a reality."

Of course, it never really happens like that. You have to reach out and grab opportunity by the gronk-nuks.

I had my share of waiting last year. That holding pattern of self doubt. Convinced that after my last professional writing stint that I'd never get a publishing contract again. Convinced that all of my ideas are nonsense.

But I mustn't give up. I can't give up. There have been times last year when I seriously thought I should just pack in the writing and resign myself to my fate - one of retail, customer service and the hell I deserve for my past mistakes. But I can't do that. I've been trying to get into game writing since the late 1980s, got my first published game product on the shelves in 2002, won awards for game design and writing. It's what I want to do. Or something like it.

With Dragonmeet looming at the end of last year, I decided that I needed to sell myself. I needed to prove to someone, as well as myself, that I could do it and that my own project was worth taking a chance on. So I decided I'd produce a small sample - a pitch document, just as we had with Doctor Who over ten years ago - to show my wares and my ideas.

I produced a forty page book - half of it a "pitch" summarising the concepts and ideas of WILD, the RPG I've been working on for years. The other half a sample of one of the chapters, to give a feel for the text, and how I'd envisioned it being laid out.

With the excellent service of a digital printer (www.inkylittlefingers.co.uk) this book was printed, in black and white, with a hardback, full colour cover.

The printed "pitch" document for WILD - 20x20cm, with a very rough illustration on the cover
The printers did a fantastic job of it, with even the images they flagged on the document (the tiny jpgs of the covers of some of the books I'd worked on) coming out brilliantly...

The "Pitch" half of the document summarises who I am, and the concepts of the game.
But seeing the actual pages I'd been working on, with the ink-splat designs I'd had in mind, was brilliant. Great inspiration to keep going and to keep working on my dream project...

Playing with the text, little details like repeated lines, ink splats and blurs. This is what I had in mind...
Awesome. And despite me sending the files off to the printers with just ten days to Dragonmeet, they delivered with days to spare. Three whole copies of the WILD pitch. THREE. Talk about limited edition!

Dragonmeet was cool. Busy and exciting. Huge as well. So much bigger than last time I'd gone. I'd only been there a matter of minutes before Dom from Cubicle 7 dragged me off to a secluded location to record a podcast for "Wibbly Wobbly Dicey Wicey" - a Podcast dedicated to Doctor Who roleplaying. That was great fun - I'll post a link to the podcast when it is published.

I showed the pitch off, and hopefully there will be some news about the future of WILD soon. But I don't want to jinx it. I'm just going to keep plugging away at it. Writing the pitch document has revealed some areas I want to rewrite and redesign, which I'll start work on in the next few days.

[2020] After that, there was a huge silence. Nothing. Nada. Last year's Dragonmeet I went again with a cool WILD T-shirt and hoped it would spark some sort of interest from the big publishers I talked to the previous year, in a "Hey, remember me, we talked about that game last year?" but nothing...

With no major publishers interested it looks like WILD may be going the smaller, indie route in 2020. I just need to get back to it. 

After Dragonmeet it was a most definite return to the holding pattern - unable to work on anything except the dayjob and madness that is working in retail over the festive period. With just a couple of days before the kids go back to school, things will return to a slower, calmer pace and I can reassign some energies to working on the writing, and what I want to get done this year.

Most blogposts posted to the interwebs on the first of a year is all about the writer expressing their hopes and dreams for the coming year.

I hope to write more - get more written for WILD, unless something bigger and cooler comes along that would actually pay...

I hope to escape the day job - but I know this is unlikely. Gotta pay those bills!

[2020] - 2019 saw a couple of big job interviews that would have meant I could finally escape the hellscape of retail, but while it looked hopeful for a while, even they fell by the wayside. I'm going to be stuck in retail until I die aren't I? 

I hope to escape the city - I'm a country boy at heart.

With that, I'll close the blog with a track from my wife's favourite band of the last year. [2020] and this year. She's barely listened to anything else, but "Leave the City" still remains incredibly apt...


May 2020 bring you everything you hope. May it be kind to you, bring you prosperity and good health, and bring your dreams to life.

Stay multi-classy!