“Being the Perfect Writer” or “One Man’s Crap”
Being a writer is hard work. I’m not saying construction worker lifting thousands of pounds a day hard or a doctor performing spinal surgery hard or even astronauts flying into space hard (though the spaceship does most of the work for them in that case). No, i mean fingers to the keyboard, rearranging the “drawing board” over and over again and crunching my brain for how one idea links to another hard. On top of that, i have at least 5 different projects (probably more) that are ongoing. I’m too much of a perfectionist to hand them off to anyone else in their current stage, but there isn’t enough time in the day for me to complete them all, work on advertising (campaigns, forum posting, banner/poster creation, etc.) AND spend time with the family. It’s difficult to admit, but something always loses out. That’s just life.
But in the face of all the difficulty and tragic loss of time/energy, I still manage to put out some product for Third Eye Games. Every book, even when i DO hire other talented authors to assist, is a reflection of months and months of hard work.
And that brings me to what has been bugging me lately. There are so many people out there in the RPG community (and probably others, let’s be fair) that love to tear down the work of others. They enjoy the sheer joy of throwing as many negative metaphors at someone’s efforts and nitpicking at every little thing in a manuscript until it is assumed to be worthless. Now, bad reviews may not seem that big a deal (and in most cases they aren’t) but i’ve found that it chips away at the ego of any author. Some authors may need this to get better, like those that think they are god’s gift to roleplaying games (i’m not naming names) just to find out that they are all hype in the end. But there are other authors out there who really put a lot into what they release and can’t help but be completely demotivated by vicious critiques.
This is where i fall most of the time. I’ve been lucky enough that most of my work has gotten good reviews. Though I know i’m never going to please everyone, it’s hard to think that there are people who just outright don’t like your writing. And even if they do like it, they always find something to gripe about. With Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. it was the sidebar written on gun control. I thought it sounded good and could create a fun air to the world and (out of game) it gave more of a reason for the characters not to just walk around and blast demons to bits every session (cause you know there are players like that). Instead, there are dozens of groups claiming that i was anti-gun and that it was entirely impossible and therefore API was stupid. From 300 words of the 184 page book, so many people decided that it just wasn’t worth their time.
And there is no end to this, of course. With my newest game, Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade, the trouble starts with the name itself. The first time someone hears Wu Xing (chinese) and Ninja (Japanese), I’ve received one of two different responses. “Huh, i wonder what that is, i think i’ll open it and check it out. Oh cool! Anime and Wuxia in one game? Interesting. ” or “What?!?!? This is Orientalism and it must be stopped! you’re obviously too stupid or too lazy to know that these are from different cultures and you are insulting me and every asian person just by using this name!”It seems that controversy follows me around.
Though, at the same time, everyone that actually reads through the book realizes what I was attempting to do with my games. There is a method to my madness, but no one finds out if they don’t crack the cover or nitpick over a few typos. Let me get that one straight too. No writer who writes out of the love of the craft likes to make mistakes. No one intentionally makes mistakes in the text and pointing it out is just downright rude in some cases (obviously depending on the tone involved). Some might say that “typos get through in RPGs” is an excuse, but it’s not. It’s just a fact of the industry. Again, typos don’t get through because the author or the publisher don’t care. That’s just not the case and I’m tired of people wagging a finger and saying “Why are there mistakes in my book?!?!?! Explain yourself!!!!!”
So, um, yeah… wow, that kinda veered off into a rant.
Until next time, folks.