Writing is hard. You’d think it’s easy, just a tumble of words, but it isn’t. Not really.
Maybe the restrictions I feel are all self-imposed. Either way, this is a post mortem.
Politics. Bureaucracy. Mismanagement… I’ve got some bad news. The mission
Don’t get me wrong, I did actually finish writing the story. Topping out at about 32,280 words (that’s including both 300-ish word alternate endings), it has its ups and downs but overall I’m fairly comfortable with it.
I think there might be a chapter or two of build-up missing from the beginning, and maybe a few details that I changed in the later stages that I haven’t gone back to update at the start. Overall, though, and for a speed-written first draft — not too bad.
So I didn’t choose a big enough story, I always figured that might have been the case. Even that’s not the real problem, though.
This Desert Place
Some of you may have gathered that This Desert Place is set in a well-established fantasy universe. One that is, so far, unpublished.
That puts me in a difficult position. Some of those ideas, some of the underlying concepts of how that universe functions, aren’t quite set in stone yet. If I was to publish This Desert Place, then they would become set in stone. I’m not sure that I’m ready to do that, what with the central trilogy still under construction.
Why? Well, This Desert Place occors some time between books 2 and 3, far away but linked by the arrival of an Empire scouting party at the oasis. And, like all good fantasy worlds, the mechanics and history of the mythos are rather important to the functioning of the plot. To tell this story, I have had to front-load a lot of lore, because the protagonist is from an insular society and legitimately doesn’t know any of it, and doing so may diminish the impact of stronger and more relevant reveals in that core trilogy when it finally arrives.
Ah, but This Wreckage and When the Freedom Slips Away are already published, you say!
We’re Not Screwing Around Out There
Nope, they’re cheap-ass mods (cheap ass-mods), I can hand-wave them away as prototypes with the shift in medium from clunky action-RPG to pure words.
The thing is that I’m an old man now at 25, so I can’t pussy-foot around claiming things are prototypes anymore. This time, I’ve got to make things stick, because I’ll have to live with them for the rest of my life. No more sandboxes or dubious experiments or organised withdrawals — these steps into real games and real novels will cast the shape of the future.
I don’t want to be one of those mangy bastards that take a 90-degree turns between sequels. The incongruity between, say, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, where all these plot points that would have had an immeasurable impact on the first entry fly in out of nowhere for the second. I don’t want to do that. When I produce related works, I want them to work. I want them to mesh, to gel perfectly, either by logical and reasonable continuation, expansion of known hooks left dangling on purpose or the filling in of empty spaces in a complementary way.
That means no painting myself into a corner with some ill-concieved piece of lore flippantly tossed out ahead of time.
I get the horrible feeling that this will result in paralysis, and I will never actually release anything ever again. Considering the intense pressure I put on myself to create, though, and the detrimental effect that often has on my emotional wellbeing, I’m beginning to wonder if this wouldn’t be such a bad thing?
If you’re interested, and fully accept that no detail in this mythos is final then drop me a line and I’ll let you have a read. If you’re not familiar with the Wreckageverse already, then you will also have to accept the potential for immense spoilers for the central trilogy, though again, nothing is final. Obviously I also have to trust that you won’t plagiarise me or pass it around.
The Future Was Not Supposed To Be Like This
At least with a lid finally closed on This Desert Place, and Project Y4 R02 out the door, I am now two projects down for the end of the year.
What does that leave?
Well, Brownscape‘s parent, the ultimate This Wreckage re-write, will continue as ever on trains, buses and whatever the hell else carries me around in between the long nights at home and the long days at work. I remain in no hurry to make too much of this trilogy, but it’s currently in a very good place.
The main focus for the festive season, then, will be NO EXCUSES. It’s the most productive time of the year, after all, and I can think of no better way to make use of that brief period when I fire on all cylinders than to commence work on Y4‘s successor — especially when Y4 itself was born of the crimbo spirit, so long ago.
Obviously I need pithy studio and project names before I can actually announce this venture. Some work will be required on LoneWiki too, as I intend to use it to organise in-game text as well as the fluffy details of the universe. I reckon it’ll need to be integrated into some custom management tool suite to help me control everything in one convenient place, so decoupling the back end from the interface and jamming it somewhere new should be an interesting challenge. (I need to do this anyway, against the day that they discontinue support for WinForms.)
My work, it seems, is not yet done. No rest for the wicked…