The Project Diaries – Shifting Gears

So, that novel? Yeah. Turns out that’s not happening.

Yet.

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.

More importantly, I think there might be some value in doing so, too.

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.

The Project?

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.

The Upshot?

I’m disappointed.

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.

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.

Going Forward

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.

Too Many Interests

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ve really gotta pare down my interests and learn to focus.

For the most part, I’ve been managing to stick to my guns and keep doing the things that need doing: the novel’s getting written, and it’s been a while since I’ve let a weekday go by without posting something here. I’d call that progress.

But oh man, the rest of my time has just been shot to hell by one distracting, tangential pursuit or another.

Photography? I don’t know if it’s fair to call that a distraction anymore. I’m enjoying it, seem to be a little good at it, and I’ve been sticking with it consistently enough to feel like I’m building up my skills. That said, I have no idea what I want photography to turn into.

Is it something I want to do for fun?

Is it something I think I can make money at?

Having gone forty years without even thinking about visual art of any sort, the idea of pursuing one seriously is so alien to me that I can’t wrap my head around it. So, I haven’t really bothered to try. I’m just doing it, and worrying about what it’s going to be later.

Then there’s poetry.

I’ve been meaning to write a proper post about this interest for a while, but it’s probably not happening anytime soon. Suffice it to say, I started digging into poetry a few months ago—its methods, its classics—and enjoyed the experience enough to try my hand at it. And while I can’t say I have much skill at versification, I can say that I like it.

Unfortunately, I’ve neither been reading nor writing poetry with nearly enough consistency to get much of anything out of it. I maybe spend an hour, broken up, every other week on it, which means it’s little more than a depressing distraction.

A distraction, because I’ll have nothing to show for the effort. And depressing because doing any makes me feel like I should be doing more.

Finally, there’s the newest distraction: film making.

Look, Ma! It’s a still from a movie I inexplicably spent half an afternoon making!

Holy hell, where did this come from?

My DSLR camera actually takes decent video, and there are quite a few guides on how to go about doing just that. So, in the spirit of trying to learn the various features of my camera, I decided to shoot a few test videos in my house.

Just to know how, you see? Nothing more.

Two days and five hours of Adobe Premiere later, and I’m looking at a reasonably-creepy, 56-second scene and writing notes about a short film it inspired.

What’s wrong with me?

Whatever it is, it’s getting old. I have things I need and want to do, and while they’re getting done, fighting all the distractions is leaving me exhausted at the end of the day.

And not the good kind of exhausted, like you get after a great workout. It’s the bad kind, like you just spent twenty hours running from a horde of zombies and know you’ll have to do it again the next day.

Whatever.

I’ll just write this on the list of things to speak to my therapist about.

Jeff Updated His Blog. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

Hey! It’s only been two months since my last update. Think I might be getting the hang of keeping this blog current.

It’s about 7:40am, my daughter just went off to school after spending a three-day weekend recovering from a nasty case of the flu, and I’m just sitting at computer waiting for my friend Shawn to log on so we can play video games. Specifically, so we can wrap up a Europa Universalis IV campaign that we started months ago.

So what, dear reader, has been going on in my life since the last time I condescended to post something?

A fair bit, to be honest.

I started working on a novel, for one thing. Science fiction, in a setting I’ve been developing with Shawn for the last couple of years. I’m really enjoying it, so I guess I’ve reacquired the writing bug I wrote about losing.

One thing I should mention about the novel—and probably the only thing I should mention—is that the way I’m writing it is a little different from my usual approach. Normally, I write the first draft like the hounds of hell are chasing me, getting it all down as fast as possible and never looking back. This time, I’m taking it slower. Incrementally. I’m writing a bit, then revising, then re-reading, and revising again.

Rather than a panicked, straight-lined sprint from start to finish, I’m taking a labyrinthine stroll. It’s a significant change, and one I’m really enjoying.

But that’s enough about that. The more you write about writing, the less you actually write.

Here’s where I’d normally list off all the other things I’ve been getting on with, and there are a few other notable activities, but Shawn just logged on and I have to go finishing conquering the world.

Writing and Juggling and Magic, Oh My!

What? It’s time for another post? What day is it? Where am I?

Hey, how are you doing? You doing great? You getting things done? Good for you! So am I.

You know, maybe I misjudged sciatica. Maybe I wasn’t thinking it through. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a wonderful thing and I should be happy, grateful for the stabbing, tingling pains it planted in my buttocks.

You like that word, “buttocks?” Do you hear it in Forrest Gump’s voice like I do?

Butt-hocks?

Oh, this post is going well!

Isn’t this just what you needed to be reading on a Tuesday instead of working?

Yeah, so that sciatica thing. It’s still around, lurking, watching–like that weird neighbor who’s always peaking out his windows at you. I still can’t sit for more than about 20 minutes at a whack before I have to get up, stretch, and move around, but that’s maybe where the blessing comes in, ’cause since coming down with this crap over a month ago, I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done.

First, I’m writing. A lot. You wouldn’t think that’d be the case because I can’t sit whenever, wherever, and for however long I want, but I am just killing it on the page.

I do a bunch of humor/comedy writing I’m planning to turn into something I don’t want to mention just yet, then after about an hour of that, I move on to this project I’m working on with a friend of mine.

Which I can’t mention either.

Just take my word for it, there’s things happening. Big things. The biggest.

I also taught myself to juggle. Because that’s somehow a skill I needed to pick up.

I’ve talked about this a little on Facebook already, but since I can’t sit, I figured learning to juggle would be a way to stand in my living room without looking like some kind of weirdo who just doesn’t understand how chairs work. And so far it’s going pretty well!

Three-ball cascade, two balls in one hand, three balls in columns–there’s a lot of ball-handling going on, people, that’s what I’m getting at. And obvious jokes aside, I really enjoy juggling. It mellows me out. Like yoga, only I don’t have to worry about farting.

Then there’s the magic. You know, I’ve always been interested in illusions, slight-of-hand, that kind of thing–and I’ve tinkered with it a little–but never really, really got into it. And I’m digging it! Yeah, I’m just playing around with cards at this point, but I can sit or stand or walk around for hours, practicing moves, seeing improvement.

Like the juggling thing, I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything with magic, perform or whatever, but I can kind of imagine myself actually getting good at both.

Maybe.

We’ll see.

God this post is terrible.

Alright, on Saturday, I’ll be heading off with my daughter to my friend’s place to spend a glorious week out in the almost woods. I say “almost woods,” ’cause while we will, in fact, be surrounded by trees, we’re also going to be like a five minute drive from a city. It’s a weird situation. Woods with wi-fi.

I wonder if anyone’s been attacked by a bear while watching YouTube videos of other people being attacked by bears. That’d be ironic.

Wait, would it? Is that irony? Alanis Morissette messed that up for everyone with the dumb song and now no one knows what “ironic” means anymore.

Oh, that joke’s hackey. What do you want from me, my right butt cheek’s starting to tingle and I need to pee.

Anyway…my daughter and I go to my friend’s place every year, drag along the computer and a bunch of games, and have our own kind of mini-convention to wrap up the summer. It’s always fun, always chill, and I hardly ever bother to post things on whichever blog I’m writing for at the time.

So if you’re one of the three people who reads this disaster, I wouldn’t hold out hope for another post until I get back.

And with that, sir or madam, I hope you have a fantastic week yourself.