Writers Helping Writers

Throughout the sturm and drang over Blizzard’s toxic work atmosphere, I kept my head down and focused on my writing. The allegations were shocking, but the company had changed since it released WoW. My last years weren’t enjoyable ones, but I’m no party to work with either, so my 2011 departure was for the best.

What have I been doing? Editing, editing, editing. I’m roughly capable of editing 15 pages a day before my brain jellifies. The first three books are pretty polished, but I’m investigating new avenues to improve my work (more on that below). With my first four books written, I’m pleased the say the second draft of my third book is about as polished as the sixth draft of my first, so I have empirical evidence that my writing has improved.

I still haven’t had writer’s block, but my latest novel included a scene for which I had no plans how to resolve. It was my first attempt at discovery-writing and it turned out to be an organic and creative sequence. But the pride I feel over my most recent book only makes me worry that its successor won’t be as good. I guess I’ll find out when I write it, which I hope to do by the end of the year.

I discovered the Facebook group called Writers Helping Writers. There are over a quarter-million members so whenever someone posts, they get tons of supportive (and unsupportive) advice. I helped create a book cover for one of the group’s authors looking for design advice. She was flooded with terrible opinions, so I pre-empted my post by saying, “I’m a formally trained graphic designer from the nation’s #1 ranked school in graphic design.” It was a bit heavy-handed, but I got her attention, and we worked together to make a great cover. It was a fun exercise and I had fun chatting with another author.

The Origins Tabletop Gaming Con was amazing–it was my first convention since COVID. Unfortunately, the con didn’t include a program booklet, so there was no advertising for their panelists, and I was the only person attending many of the events. Fortunately for me, the lack of an audience allowed me to monopolize the questions! I learned that authors formed writing groups to hone their craft, and received tips on how to join one. I learned about horror.org, SFWA, and one of the panelists, Donald J. Bingle gave me a copy of his article about how RPGs prepare writers for story-telling. How cool is that?

The Origins convention followed a week at Kentucky’s Mammoth Caves wherein I garnered story ideas and generally enjoyed the first vacation I’d been on in years. The caves and con was my first foray into the post-pandemic world. I wore out my legs with a 4-hour underground hike, slept in an unheated cabin, and ate in restaurants like they do in the movies. It was a nice diversion, but I’m glad to see my vacation time at an end. The outside world has its charms, but I’d rather get back to writing.