Writing, Time, and Word Count

So uh... This blog has gotten away from me...  Guess I know what my New Year's resolution is now. 

The first draft of the PostHuman Studios contract was due today, but I emailed it in last night. Just wanted to make sure it got to then sitting business hours and I just didn't think I could guarantee that if I was sending it in after my day job. So, the first draft of two thousand words is in. It was, of course, not my literal first draft — I revised and copy-edited it before I emailed it in. But it's the first draft they'll see and the first one I'll get feedback on from the game designers. Which is so cool.

I found I had a hard time getting started because I was finding 2k words intimidating. I don't know why, I've written four times as much as that (once) on a particularly good writing day. Doing it for pay makes a lot of difference to me, apparently.  

What got me going was a) terror of a deadline (what can I say, I do know my own motivators) and b) setting up a Scrivener project. I took the proposal I'd sent, picked the six sections they'd liked best, and copied the pitch text from them into six documents in Scrivener. And then, violá! I didn't have zero words towards the project done, I had about 300 done. Much easier to get started. Plus the mental shift from needing 2k to needing 300–350 six times. 

Outlines and small chunks. It's how I get moving forward.

Make that All Acceptance

Turns out I DID get that writing assignment from PostHuman Studios, they were just slower than they wanted to be getting back to people. Which, you know, happens. I had actually wondered if the guys were Canadian (and I had forgotten that) given that the original timeline had them working to choose writers over Thanksgiving.  

So, lessons learned so far: 

1) Even when there's a theoretical tight deadline for the writing, assume from the start that it'll take longer for assignments to go out than stated. If the folks assigning projects meet their goal, it'll be a nice surprise. 

2) Don't send 'hey guys, if you have time, how could I improve my pitches to you for the future' emails until actual rejection (I'll count hearing through other sources that assignments have gone out as rejections). Or a month. A month seems reasonable.  Just thinking this writing as a business thing through, as best I can.

3) When looking at your schedule and personal capacity to write (and meet stated deadlines) when deciding whether or not to pitch, look at your schedule under the assumption they'll get back to you later than they think they will.

I mean, unless this particular company has a reputation for being very, very good at time management and getting back to their freelancers quickly.  

I'm fine in terms of my own time management and the first & final draft deadlines, but partially that's because I already wasn't traveling for the winter holiday. So, as part of that thinking through writing as a business, I'm just seeing how it could have been a problem. 

Time, as they say, to put my nose to the grindstone and get 2,000 words out. Wish me luck guys!

Making a Pitch

So my favorite RPG system, Eclipse Phase, the one that got me to find my favorite Podcast that prompted me to start writing, got me my first editing job, find my writer circle, and led to this blog (among other things), yeah that RPG? The publishers put out a call for proposals to write for a booklet (on plot hooks) in the upcoming second edition.

I missed the tweet initially, but someone in my writers circle saw it and asked the group if anyone planned to submit a proposal (because we're all capital-N Nerds about RPGs), which got it on my radar. 

Guys, I did it! I sent in my proposal yesterday! I don't talk much about my self-doubts about my writing here because, honestly?, I cope with them by ruthlessly ignoring them, but they do exist. Mostly around trying to get published/paid. If I'm writing something for my own amusement or just to share here on the blog, no shame, no trouble showing other folks. Heck, very little trouble dealing with solicited critique. Haven't gotten any unsolicited critique so far, so we'll see how that goes down, if it ever happens. 

But the second I think to submit something cfor publication/money? Man. AGONIZING over the email submission. Poking Partner to read my email for mistakes/error/social blunders. Staring at the send button. It's no fun.  

But this weekend I came up with 12 plot hooks/ideas for the setting that I'm happy with, distilled them down to one sentence pitches, added a couple opening and closing lines to the email and sent it off. Even got a short 'receipt acknowledged' email back from the developers this morning. (Well it was sent last night after I went to bed, so I saw it this morning.)

I'm just... happy with myself for following through on this and pitching. If (if, if, if) I get this job, it'll be my first writing credit for something I pitched. And that's really exciting.

Wish me luck guys! I'll find out on Thursday. 

Abbess Superior of the Authorial Confessional

“Forgive me Mother, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since I last wrote.”

“Hast thou done any outlining?

“No Mother.”

“Revision? Editing?”

“No Mother. I haven’t had any ideas.”

“Hmm. Thou art aware of thy backlog of ideas? The one in thine journal that is even know about thy personage?”


“Did thou lose thine journal?”

“No Mother. My partner took it and critiqued my ideas…”

“And thou hasn’t written since?”

“Yes Mother.”

“Very well, this then is my penance for thee. Break up with thine partner, for they have proven themself a right asshole. Purchase thine self a new journal of the prettiest, most joyful choice thou finds, and write thee the silliest, most cliched introduction of a new character in it. Then return thou to the church and our scribes will copy over thine ideas, without thy former partner’s commentary, into thine new journal. And we shall see where thou art with thine writing.”

“Thank you Mother!”

State of Gaming and Other Projects

It's the last blog post of 2016, so I'm going to do a look back all my stuff for the year. At a minimum, it'll help me fix in my memory the fun stuff that I did.

Seeing as this is a Thursday post and therefore technically a gaming blog post, I'll start off with the gaming podcast I'm on: Technical Difficulties. We launched at the end of March 2016 and as of Dec. 29th (knock on wood), have yet to miss an update! We've completed two campaigns and are in the middle of both playing and releasing a third, as well as 17 episodes of one shot scenarios. Lots of multi-part one shots... Had an interview with Caleb of Hebanon Games, a couple bonus post-mortem episodes on our campaigns, and talked about Gen Con for an episode too. Played in eleven different RPG systems (good grief), three of which were play-tests: Red Markets, Upwind, and The Veil (which, honestly, I don't think we're going to release those two episodes; system was not our speed). All in all, we've released 52 episodes in roughly nine months and have 9 episodes in the backlog. Pretty good for our first year!

Speaking of Red Markets, I've just totaled the word count of what I've edited on this project so far: 235,108. Wow. I just... It doesn't seem like quite as much when you work with it in sections (with each section under its own contract). And the sections get shorter and shorter as Caleb realizes just how many pages its going to take to print everything. There's still a fourth section being written that I'll get to edit. I did my best to trim down the first two sections — pulled 4k and 2k out them. But this third one, I finally asked point blank for a word count Caleb needs to keep the entire book under the planned page count.

He needs me to trim a 64K word section down to 50K, or the fourth section is going to have to be severely cut down. I'm doing my best: pulled out 4K so far. But we'll have to see how close I can get to 50K. It's good to have ambitious goals, right?

I also got to do some writing for Red Markets! When y'all get the finished product, check out the d100 encounters table. I wrote 33 of those. :)

Also in 2016 Red Markets work, the con packet has gone out for play testing.  Tom, Partner, and I did meet our goals of having something runnable for Gen Con and WashinCon. We all ran at least one game at both of those conventions, for a reasonable mix of people who already knew of the system and folks who'd never heard of it before. We got some good feedback, refined some of the text, wrote the text we'd previously skipped (because we knew the information in our heads) in favor of time, and generally expanded actual explanations and GM tools. Thanks to Caleb's monthly updates to the Red Markets Kickstarter backers, we opened up a play test to run this packet for folks who hadn't written the packet. So far, we've handed the packet out to 123 people and already gotten 14 responses. Which is just amazing to me. Did have to turn one dude down — he wanted to get the packet so he could read up on the game before a friend of his ran it at a convention. I think the line was 'so I can mess with [GM] when they run it.' Not cool dude, not cool. Told him we preferred clean runs of the game and looked forward to hearing from [GM] with feedback. We are cutting off handing out the packet on Dec. 31st and asking for all feedback to be in by the end of Feb. 2017. So there's my project time in March planned out.

Speaking of project time, I have finally started making time for my personal writing again! I've started doing drabbles for my Monday posts and I'm finding them to be a) really fun and b) good exercise in letting go and writing without a plan. Now to work on consistently writing more than three or four hundred words. And describing things, instead of relying on the visual I'm using for inspiration to do it for me. Also, the fourth draft of my novel project is in the works. I'm excited for this draft — it should close up a couple plot loopholes and add depth to a couple characters. Hurray useful critiques!

Speaking of critiquing, I was part of a critiquing circle through Scribophile this year. I guess it was like a writing circle? Any rate, there were four of us and we all gave each other beta reads. Scheduling was interesting since we had folks from three different US time zones and one lady in France. Any rate, that was helpful in that I got some specific feedback (although Caleb's is playing a bigger part in this fourth draft of the novella) and worked on my critiquing skills more. Also my ability to express "uh... this is a problem," tactfully. Explaining that someone had accidentally written colonialism and racism into their epic fantasy aiming for anti-racism was tricky.

Finally, I also signed a contract to edit a second RPG project! They approached me! I'm so excited. I haven't actually gotten clearance from them to talk about it in public, so I'm not going to say the name. But I hope I'll be able to talk about it more in 2017.

Oh, yeah, I also kept up a posting schedule here and on my Tumblr :D 

On the personal front, it's been a reasonably good year. For everything else Fuck 2016.

Happy New Year everybody. May the next year be better than the last.


Now seems as good a time to talk about self-care as any, seeing as I basically took all of last week off for that. Not the day job — couldn't get away with not going to the day job — but there was no writing or editing in the works last week. I avoided my news sources as much as I could, played video games, and practiced a lot of deep breathing.

Self-Care, a definition by the author: the act of focusing specifically on things, actions, and other stuff that make you feel better about yourself and your life. Focusing on doing what you need before work, projects, or other folks.

Why self-care is a good things is, at least in the abstract, so obvious to me that I tend to have trouble articulating why. It's... like the breathing masks in airplanes. You have to have oxygen before you can help someone else because if you don't, you could pass out in the middle of helping them and then you'd both be doomed. You have to have your head in at least a semi-functional state, or how could you produce any work? Or at minimum, at a rate that would be useful? Or of a quality that wouldn't necessitate going back and redoing it.

On the one hand, I was 'lucky' in that the need for self-care was so apparent (to me) after a very specific event (US election — last I'm saying about that). So I didn't end up spending time flailing at my writing or editing, not making progress or doing bad work. Not making progress (otherwise known as flailing) would have made me even more anxious. Which is the opposite of needed or wanted. Bad work would have involved losing time (overall) since I'd need to put in more work to fix it. Or I'd end up with bad work in the finished project, which is always undesirable.

On the other hand, specific events requiring self-care afterwards are kinda shocking and rather upsetting. I wouldn't say traumatic (in this case), but that's because I'm doing the thing where I say other folks have it worse than I do (which is true) so I'm consciously toning down the implications of the words I'm choosing.

And I get on my author's case for 40 word sentences.

Any rate. The first thing I did was contact the author I'm editing the latest project for and said "I'm going to need a few days to get my head on straight." Which, 1) was just the right thing to do, have to communicate with your boss; 2) a contractual obligation (which I honestly think should be a standard part of any contract); and 3) worked out great since the response I got back was "yeah, me too."

Next thing was to try out a new video game, one I thought would require a lot of focus and thus allow me to shut out the rest of the world. So I'm playing Duskers. To quote the developers in their sales pitch: "Pilot drones into derelict spaceships to find the means to survive and piece together how the universe became a giant graveyard." It's fun and frustrating — the drones are controlled through a command line interface; whee!

Third thing was using the three day weekend (Veterans' Day on Friday) to the best of my abilities. Which meant sleeping in, having relaxing mornings, seeing friends on Saturday, and getting lots of chores done on Sunday. Which is not how I'd expect most other folks to do self-care. But, doing chores around my home allowed me to impose my idea of order on my personal space. So that's helpful.

Oh, and I started reading The Unreal and The Real: The Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin.

For me (and I fully expect everyone's self-care to look different) distraction, imposing order, and reading formed the core of my self-care plan. Distraction got me to stop continually thinking about what was upsetting me. See, my brain likes to try and make plans to deal or work around 'the problem.' But when the problem is something that I don't have enough information to deal with or it's just going to take time, then the Hamster Wheel of Despair(tm) comes into play. The Hamster Wheel is my brain continuously grinding away on one thought track without making any progress towards a solution; sometimes it is itself the actual problem. So that's when I need to break my brain out of that thought pattern by distraction for at least a few hours. Sometimes concentrating on deep breathing will break a Hamster Wheel in the making. If I catch it early enough. Imposing order on my home through chores lets me feel like I have some control over my life. Also I like the visuals of stuff being put away better, so it makes for more pleasant surroundings. 

The reading just makes me happy. I haven't been reading for pleasure enough (it's never enough...) this year. Starting a new book by an author I love just feels good.

How do y'all deal with your own Hamsters?

Dani & Jak-Jak

For anyone who's wondered what I sound like, Ross of Role Playing Public Radio has posted a panel I was on with him and Caleb back in August at Gen Con:

Red Markets is a game of economic horror that wrapped up on Kickstarter in June. Come listen to the creator answer questions about the book’s progress & tell us how your beta tests are going. Caleb and Ross recorded this panel at Gen Con 2016.


Turns out creating characters for role-playing games are my writing prompts. So, first draft of a vignette, which if I've done this right, it doesn't matter which gaming system it's set in. So I'll hold off on saying which one until afterwards.


Danielle waved to the bus driver as he closed the school bus doors and pulled away from the curb. Squaring her shoulders, Dani shifted her backpack to settle again and started trudging down the sidewalk towards home. Halfway to the end of the block, the blob of gum that booger-faced doodie head from three rows back had thrown at her finally pulled some of her hair out of her ponytail enough that she could start trying to pull the gum out. It was stuck, tangled up pretty tight in her wavy red hair. It wasn't fair. Nobody bothered her on the bus when Liz was there too, and she was two whole years younger. Dani was focusing so much on the gum she almost tripped over the box on her front porch. Got it out through.  

Dani flicked the gum off into the bushes by the porch, then scooped up the box and headed inside. Looked like Aunt Francesca (well, great-aunt really) had reused an Amazon box again. It was probably Liz’s ninth birthday present. A week early this year. Last year, the Christmas presents hadn’t shown up until January. 

Dani locked the front door behind her, ditched her shoes and backpack by the door, and headed into the kitchen. Mom and Dad weren't home yet to tell her not to eat any toast, she'd wreck her appetite for dinner. Toast was better than dinner anyway, it was Mom’s night to cook — rubbery chicken and mushy veggies. If she was real unlucky, it'd be lima beans. Besides, Dani was really hungry. She'd been grabbing a snack after school, when Dad came home, AND eating all of dinner all week. Mom hadn't noticed yet. Stupid growth spurt.

Dani eyed the box where she'd dropped it on the counter and nibbled on her toast. She really wanted to know what was in there. Aunt Fran sent neat stuff. But she should really be a good girl. This was Liz’s present. Gulping down the last bite, Dani walked over to the counter and looked over the box again. Huh. 

If she got some packing tape, she could tape it back up. The addresses wouldn't be damaged. And Aunt Fran had clearly taped it up other times before.

Dani bit her lip. She should really be a good girl. Mom and Dad let her stay home instead of going to those stupid after-school activities. She really should be good… 

Dani grabbed the tape and a pair of scissors out of Dad’s craft table and ran back to the kitchen. Grabbing Aunt Fran's box, she moved everything to the kitchen table and climbed into her usual spot on the wall bench seat. Carefully slicing open the box tape revealed a blue gift bag, with black tissue paper peeking out of the top, laid on its side. Ignoring the card attached to the bag, Dani stood it up, looked inside, and felt her heart melt.

Aunt Fran had gotten Liz a stuffed puppy. It was purple and soft and had floppy ears long enough to trip over. Its paws were the size of Dani’s fists and the stuffed tail was curled around and under its butt as it sat. The collar was fuzzy and black and had a circle hanging off the front that said ‘Jak-Jak.’ His muzzle was shaped like a mastiff's and he had a dopey, goofy, happy grin. 

Dani wanted to cry. It wasn't fair. Liz didn't like dogs, she liked Disney. Dani loved dogs and Mom and Dad wouldn't let her get one. And now Aunty Fran had given Liz a stuffed puppy, not her.  

Grabbing the scissors and Jak-Jak, Dani dashed off, first back to Dad’s crafting bench to return the scissors, then to her room. Depositing Jak-Jak on her bed, Dani scrubbed at the tears in her eyes with the heel of her palm. She hated being this moody. Everything was felt too big, and she ached, and her feet wouldn’t go where she put them; it was embarrassing. Stupid growth spurt. Dani scooped up her Tigger plushie and tried to brush off … well, everything. Turning him over in her hands, Dani bit her lip again. It was a fair trade… Liz loved Tigger, she was always stealing him from Dani’s room.

Dani dashed back to the kitchen and tried to gently stuff Tigger in the gift bag. Once he was more or less hidden in the bag, Dani laid the bag back in the box and taped it back up. Sloppily like Aunt Fran always did. Then off to hide the box in Mom and Dad’s closet with the rest of the gifts for Liz’s party next week. In the same place they’d hidden Dani’s gifts two months ago. And the Christmas presents before that. They really needed to find a better hiding place. 

Dani walked back to her room. She had maybe another half hour to play with Jak-Jak before Dad and Liz would be home. She'd have to hide him in her backpack. Or Liz would definitely find him next time she snuck into Dani's room. The little sneak was thorough.  

Dani stopped just inside her doorway, shocked and maybe a little panic-y. Jak-Jak wasn't on the bed what she'd left him. And he hasn't fallen into the floor.

A deep, reverberating, yet oddly high-pitched yip came from Dani’s left, from behind the open door. Right before a large something crashed into Dani and she hit the floor, with whatever it was on top of her. 

Dani looked up at very large, purple-furred muzzle a couple inches in front of her nose. The rest of the doggy head it was attached to was huge, bigger than Dani, bigger than her bed! As she started to get real scared though, all of the doggy started shrinking down. The huge feet, the enormous floppy ears, the barrel chest wider than Daddy, everything shrunk until the doggy was the size of a full-grown mastiff. But still obviously puppy shaped. Dani erupted in giggles as its floppy, slobbery tongue gave her puppy kisses and its tail wagged furiously. Ticklish!

Dani reached up and vigorously scratched behind the ears, before rolling the puppy over to wrestle. There wasn’t a collar or tag anymore, but the fur was exactly the same color as the stuffed puppy had been.  This one was much more muscular than a stuffed animal could look, but the feet were the same shape, the ears the same floppy length, and the expression was just as goofily happy. The puppy rolled over from where he and Dani were wrestle-petting and dropped its head and front paws dropped into the universal puppy bow.

“Play?!” yipped Jak-Jak.


That is set in the Monsters and Other Childish Things setting, as background for my character Dani for the Road Trip Remix campaign I'm playing in with Technical Difficulties. Hopefully it works as a stand-alone story — tell me in the comments where I'm assuming background info and am wrong about that?

Comments/critique from my partner, my responses, and a second draft to come on Monday.

An Update on Processes

Thought I'd check back in with y'all, let you know how the new writing processes are working out. And the answer is: Mostly good!

As it works out, I need to leave 15 minute earlier than I thought to get to work on-time. So no walking to the metro and having a few stops with Partner :( But, it does mean I'm consistently getting 15 minutes of writing in the morning. As long as I have a topic in mind before I start. So, I know which side of the Metro car to sit on to avoid most of the sun glare now. :)

Writing on the way home isn't working as well — there isn't room to sit down most evenings and I don't have room for standing and swiping text in that situation either. Oh well. I'm usually brain dead and getting towards hangry at that point, so not so sure the quality would be there.

Typically, I am spending some time finishing out my thoughts the evening before posting. But it is less time and I think I'm getting slightly longer posts, so win-win there.

One of the things I am definitely spending more time on is editing. This swiping keyboard is faster than typing was before it. Which means I can make mistakes a lot faster! I'm hoping the predictive algorithms get better as I use it and feed it more data, plus I learn how to use it better. But in the meantime, more time finding and fixing correctly spelled word salads.

Even with the longer commute, I usually have about an hour in the apartment to myself before Partner gets home. I've been try to do the social media stuff I've taken on in that time. When it's not my turn to cook dinner. Doesn't always work — I have a tendency to forget to eat a snack, be hungry, and putter about tidying stuff up.

I'm still battling the feeling of trying to catch-up from all the things set aside for conventions in August, new things added to the life to-do list from moving, AND all the ones from starting the new job. It's at the point of spending my lunches dealing with some of those instead of editing Red Markets. Which is frustrating. I want to finish this last pass for milestone one (also known as the clarity pass) and do my part to keep everything moving forward.

That is what I really need to figure out and build a habit around: setting aside some time (preferably an hour minimum) to write. I don't want it to be that hour between getting home and Partner getting home because sometimes it gets cut short by staying late at work, making dinner, or being hungry. Also, writing is more fun to interact over with Partner than dealing with social media.

I'll figure it out.

Post WashingCon, The Writing Side of the Packet

WashingCon was a lot of fun – I’m really impressed by the amount of stuff they could pull together and how well everything worked in only their second year of existence. On a more personal level, Partner, Tom, and I ask had successful play test sessions, to one degree or another. Partner and Tom both had full groups on the first day; I had two drop outs (one of whom was good enough to email me the night before) on the second day, which happens. It's the second day, folks get tired and occasionally flaky. Any rate, I still had four players which was more than enough for the scenarios to work.

I think the scenarios themselves are ready. Any further refinements to how long they take to run are going to have to come from the GM’s style in running games (in my opinion). And making sure you actually have a four hour slot to run everything in. I might want to add the stop and leg I took out of the caravan route back into that scenario, but only with a caveat to the GM to only include it if you have players familiar with the system and don't need to teach rules.

So I think the most gains we're going to make are going to come from working on the player's Quick Start rules and advice to new GMs sections. At minimum, the Quick Start needs to go through another draft. And we need to write the advice section at all. As a group we had skipped that part of the packet before Gen Con and WashingCon because all the of us have SOME experience GMing. In Red Markets even.

The Quick Start, despite needing another draft to my mind, is in pretty good shape. It helps to be able to copy/paste sections from the full text. It's just a challenge of cutting down appropriately. And not losing all of the system flavor in getting to the bones of the rules.

Since the goal is 10-15 pages of rules that simultaneously sell new folks in the setting and flavor, it's rather like trying to write 10-15 of ad copy that is ALSO technical writing. Which is bloody tricky. And why I'm so glad I just need to edit down to it, rather than build it up in writing.

Updating the Blogging Process

I've been thinking about my posting process and realized A) I’d like to have something earlier than the night before and B) I've been posting first drafts.

Some of the writing the night before was to keep what I was writing relevant to what was happening with me now, not a week ago. But let's be honest. It was mostly lazy/working just-in-time/over scheduling projects.

Which is what led to the first draftness of my posts. If you write the post the night before it goes up, there's no time to do a rewrite. Even if I’ve always gotten Partner to read it over for typos and word salad fails.

I don't show folks the first draft of stories (not without an explicit ‘this is very much a first draft’ warning). So why am I content to do that with blog posts? It's all reflective of myself and my writing abilities. Time to do better.

One of the things prompting this reflection is that Partner and I recently moved to a new place. Nothing like having to reorganize all your stuff and learn a new commuting habit to prompt reassessing everything else in your life.

The new commute is providing a solution to this actually. At least partially. Before, I had a 15 minute walking commute to work (so spoiled by that). Now it'll take me 30 minutes to get to work, 15 of which is on public transit. So, by loading up the Google Docs app on my phone, I can write more. And burn through more cell phone data.

I won't get all 15 minutes in the morning though. Most days, if we're running on-time, Partner and I will be commuting together, up until his transfer point. Have to admit, I'd rather have that time with him than wrangle with this new swiping keyboard on my phone. Even if it is faster than the old method of typing.

Technically, I could have spent the same amount of time writing before or after I got home from work under the old commute. But I wasn't. We’ll just have to see if I can develop the habit/keep up the discipline to write.

And then actually revise what I write before it goes up.

The Giftschrank

Inspired by listening to http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-giftschrank/

In German,
Gift = poison
Schrank = case or cabinet

So a Giftschrank is a poison case. In a pharmacy, a Giftschrank is where the controlled substances go. But in a library, its a biohazard zone for information. Somewhere to put books, materials, or other information storage media which is neither completely censored nor completely open access. Somewhere where information can physically be controlled so that only the people the gatekeepers decide can access the material, do.

On the one hand, that is really sounds like censorship to me, at least in a public library. Oh, not complete censorship, i.e. banning. But a form of censorship.

On the other hand, it's the same thing as a special collection in a library. Maybe a different cultural context, between an American special collection and a German Giftshrank, but special collections control access to materials (as do archives by the way). I mean the avowed purposes for all the special collections I've heard about are preventing theft and protecting the physical integrity of the special collection items (most special collection items are old, rare, or both); same stated purposes for archives. Actually in an archive, the items could literally be unique – destroyed or stolen and those items (and their information/historical value) disappear from history.

And we, as a society, try to control information and access to information all the time, both explicitly and with softer methods. Businesses keep proprietary information behind their firewalls all the time. Parents limit access to television shows as well as steer their kids towards some information, by bringing it into the house, which implicitly steers them away from the rest of the firehose of human-generated information. Neither of which even touch on militaries and spy agencies with their operational information (not even glancing at spy agencies and domestic 'intelligence gathering').

Total transparency means no privacy and information overload. Information denial limits individuals' agency and ability to make decisions for themselves.

So I guess it all comes down to the gatekeepers – do we, the people, trust them? Are the rules and procedures they use available and transparent? Are they applied consistently? How and when are things moved out from behind the gatekeepers and become publicly available? And how does the general public have a say in that?

How do we ensure trust in the gatekeepers?


And now I need develop a gaming scenario or set piece centered around a Giftschrank in Call of Cthulhu/Delta Green or Eclipse Phase.

Blurbs, my nemesis

Everyone has the things they find more difficult to write - for me, it's the blurb for the back of the book. Along with 'About Me's on social media, cover letters for job applications, emails asking for favors... Notice the pattern there? If it's directly intended to market the rest of my writing, it's like pulling teeth getting the words to march up in line in my head, much less out onto the page. I'm sure if I ever try the traditional publishing route, a query letter will be just as difficult as blurbs. It's amazing how 120-130 words can be so recalcitrant, and that's a short blurb too.

The nice part about novelizing RPG actual play episodes is that in many ways you're in a conversation – there's more to work with than just what's in your head. And the episode I'm working with right now, The Dangers of Fraternization, the GM already wrote a blurb (for the GenCon program), so I have some really good copy to work with. Why not just use that then? Well, because it's really good copy for gaming, for setting up the world and problem and letting people imagine themselves into the space. Good for enticing people to come play your game. Less good for convincing people to buy the book to find out what happens to characters they'll identify with.

Or at least be interested in seeing what they do. None of the folks I wrote in this novella are good people – maybe a little worrying if folks identify with this lot.

Anyway, the long and the short of it all being that I have written a second draft blurb and posted both, GM's and my version, to Scrib for feedback during the massive posting. I'm even getting a decent amount of that, feedback.

5 to 1, folks prefer the GM's version.

Don't get me wrong, they're making suggestions on things to include, to cut, to rewrite, etc. all over the place. And really, I think the GM's version was pretty dang good myself - got me interested in his game after all. But still. Little frustrating that, not having improved at all on scaffolding provided.

Oh well. First drafts are shit after all. Time to get back to rewriting.

Writer Neurosis

So I'm at the stage of writing where I've been writing and rewriting my own stuff for so long that I no longer see what's actually on the page anymore. Just what I meant to write. Which means it's time for everything to be posted to a writer's site I'm a part of called Scribophile - more or less it's a big hangout spot on the 'net for folks who write to critique each other's writing. Because who else has the time/inclination? As many a frustrated writer will tell you, it's nearly impossible to get friends or family to read over your work, unless they're writers too. There's the time issue. And the 'what do I say if this sucks?' issue. And, and, and. I suppose you could call Scrib an internet facilitated writer's circle. But any rate, the site works off of an internal currency system (they call it karma, but really, whatever you name it, it's a currency) where you have to spend 5 units to post your writing for other people to critique, which they'll be willing to do because they get roughly 1 unit per critique they write. More if they're verbose in their critique. But, more or less, you have to critique about 5 different pieces of writing in order to post one of yours.

Which is a long way of explaining the back story behind, having posted 17 chunks of up to 3K words each, at 5 currency units a pop, I'm at the stage of:
'Oh gods, nobody's reading it! I am terrible at marketing this! Terrible at enticing people to read my work! I'm never going to get feedback or copy-editing help! I spent so much time reading over other people's stuff, it was all wasted! Wasted!'
'What do you mean people are leaving critiques? Oh shit, people are reading my writing! Baby, love, are you okay, the mean people aren't ripping you to shreds are they?'


Yeah, I try to keep that sort of thing inside my head. ... Right up until I write about it here anyway.