So, that novel? Yeah. Turns out that’s not happening.
As I mentioned before, my friend Shawn and I have been working on something I’ve taken to calling “the Project.” And while I’ve hesitated to write about it before–and still can’t give you a lot of details–there are some things I can safely mention.
For the most part, production diaries for large, multi-year projects are either written after the fact (as a kind of postmortem for other industry types), or only started once everyone’s sure of what’s happening, and know that they can pull it off.
Given that, why not put on display some of what’s been going on “behind the scenes” with this thing? If you’re struggling with your own flailing and far-too-massive creative undertaking, perhaps this and future posts like it will make you feel better about yourself.
Essentially, the Project is a setting, a “science-fiction universe,” that we intend to use in variety of different media–with fiction, and a paper-and-pencil role-playing game being the Big Two we’re most interested in. And, minus a few breaks here and there, we’ve been steadily developing it for the better part of the last three years.
This includes writing the history of our universe, creating the major characters, and detailing the major locations–each requiring all sorts of brainstorming, long phone calls, and writing.
Lots, and lots of writing.
At a guess, I’d say we’ve got over 100,000 words of notes, in various states of well-thought-out-ness, and even more still in our heads to get down.
Which Comes First?
The novel I’ve been working on is part of the “fiction side” of Project (and about 30,000 words of its own so far), but a few weeks ago we made the decision to hold off on doing any more work on it until after we’ve released the RPG, which is a lot closer to being complete, and probably makes more sense as a first product.
Here’s where I have to get a little vague.
See, the nature of our setting is such that any single novel or short story won’t really capture the essence of what we’re trying to do. It’d be showcasing just one facet or side of a much larger, much more complex polyhedron. And even though novels and short stories are absolutely things we want to put out there, it’s much more important for our opening salvo to show what we’re really offering.
The whole, as opposed to the parts.
Well, a little disappointed.
I was really digging the novel. And one of the reasons I shifted my own work over to the fiction side–and away from the RPG–was because I got kinda sick of writing about the setting, as opposed to writing within the setting. I wanted to take some time to actually tell stories in this universe we’ve built, instead of laying the foundations for others to build upon.
Of course, the reason I could make that shift in the first place was because the RPG seemed pretty far off. Shawn’s been handling the rules or “system” development, and it looked like we were still several months away from having something he thought worthy of play-testing.
As it turns out, he’s gotten through a ton of the system since the first of the year, so we can start beating on the thing next week.
That means my part of the RPG–writing and editing the text–needs attention again.
A lot of attention.
And once we’re confident that the basic rules and text hold up, it’ll be time to start the long slog toward publication–typesetting, art design/production, printing.
And that’s, like, a lot of work, too. I’d say about a year’s worth, if I had to guess.
I’m going to try to write a post about the Project once a week–explain what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and what’s coming up in the near future. Hopefully, it’ll be interesting for you. Mostly, I’m hoping it will be cathartic and cut down on my therapy sessions.
Ultimately, though, you should probably think of it as a cautionary tale.