The Great Game Begins (Minor Spoilers)
This wasn’t exactly what I was planning. Even this blog post ends up with some light spoilers for The Great Game: Game On, but if this story taught me anything it’s that I’ve grown enough as a writer to trust my instincts.
Way back in 2013, I had a goal to self-publish. I was a published writer. I had found a literary agent (who subsequently did not sell the novel I wrote). I was ready.
Until I wasn’t. The more I thought about it, the less I liked dropping a brand new epic length novel on an indifferent and ignorant public. I write because I have a story tell. Typically, my audience is me, and I do wonderfully at amusing myself, but I saw no way to make an impact with a new novel no matter how good it was.
Novels are investments. They are huge undertakings for a writer. They represent a large chunk of time for the reader. And to be honest, they typically cost enough that people don’t just buy every novel that slightly interests them. And so, with a bit of sadness, I realized that my grand design on publishing a novel did not excite me. It seemed like a slog.
During this time I was far from dormant. I did rewrites on my novel, Roland’s Legion. I wrote another novel, The Laws of Magic. It was the hardest thing I ever wrote and when it was done, it was also the most disappointing thing I ever wrote. Brimming with excellent ideas, it turned into a masterclass in lessons learned for all the wrong reasons. Whereas Roland’s Legion took a simple premise and soared, The Laws of Magic represented massive potential sagging under the weight of my own ambition.
I needed a break. You would think a break means that I would stop writing, but because part of me is unhinged it just meant trying something different. A strange confluence of influences came into play:
- The reality that I thought novels were, commercially, a tough mental step for self-publication.
- My disappointment in the finished product of my latest novel.
- My involvement in fantasy football, and watching pro football, and wondering why such a (superficially) terrible and alienating game was so goddamn popular.
- A play-by-email civilization RPG that was homebrewed by a friend.
From this bubbling cauldron, somehow, someway The Great Game emerged. Initially, it was a story I meant for an extremely limited audience (like 6 people), but as it emerged the pure fantasy elements (goblins and magic) led me in a startling direction. I made a hard left and mixed in some dystopian science fiction. At the end of 2013, I had a first draft of a short story, and boy was it rough. I still just shared it with a few people. I mentally categorized it as a writing palette cleanser and was ready to move on.
But I could not. I did not. I had fits and starts on new settings, new ideas, but they all fell flat. So I tweaked my short story. I had others look at it. I wrote follow up short stories and somehow this side project became my focus. I thought about it from a publishing and marketing angle. I considered that if I serialized it, then I could literally give away the first part. And, trying it out was not a huge time commitment.
And so here I am. The first project I put into the wild began as a story I never meant to write, evolved into a lark, and then just would not go away. In a certain sense, The Great Game had to prove itself to me. I had to prove myself to it too because this was never the plan. However, what I can say is that if you try out the Game On, and stick around for the next five parts, you will find that it’s one hell of a ride.