Thursday, March 20, 2014

Carpe Blogiem: How Did You Get Your Start?


I was sent an email from an individual who asked: How did you start writing for Steve Jackson Games? That's kind of complicated and a bit longish - but I'll keep it as short as possible. I've always been a rules tinkerer and material developer. I was the guy who played Dungeons & Dragons, but had custom classes, kits, etc. I loved the Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft campaign settings. I mean, I ate, drank, and breathed them. I knew every nook, cranny, and crack in those worlds - especially Forgotten Realms. Anyways, I started writing material for my campaigns, and I got tired of spending hundreds of dollars a month on books. I stepped away from it for a while, ran my good ole standby World of Darkness. Eventually, I decided to write up a new campaign using the d20 Future book, and everything was going fine for a while even though my personal life was shit at the time (unmedicated bi-polar disorder is a bad thing...). I remember clearly the day it happened. I'd gotten up early to make breakfast for everyone (we'd been creating characters the night before), and I was working on the campaign, and it just wasn't...gelling, I guess the word is. I couldn't get everything to match the prodigious background material I'd written - especially the spaceships I'd so painstakingly created. Something in me snapped (thanks again unmedicated bi-polar disorder) and I just started wrecking my kitchen. I ended up storming off to my room, and I stayed there for a day or two. My friends left me alone and L.A. took care of me, but I brooded for a long time. For those of you who may not be aware, when you're dealing with depression (and I was) any task failed feels like you've lost a terrible horrible war that could have been prevented in the first place if only you could have completed (whatever). The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. Anyways, C came into my room and he and L.A. helped me talk it out, and eventually he opened this backpack he had brought with him and convinced me to give the books inside (GURPS 3rd edition) a read through. He went to work, and I read. I'd played GURPS many times before with C or others running it but had never thought to GM it myself. Like many before me (and after) I incorrectly believed that it was too "mathy." Within a month, I was hooked, and I'd set up the campaign I'd had in mind. We played off and on for a while as I got used to the rules (I ran other stuff in between) and when I heard about 4th edition, I knew I'd have to get that too. From there I devoured every GURPS book of any edition I could find. I started my first steady GURPS campaign in January 2006 (I converted my sci-fi game over), and I've been running games since. I started writing campaign material. aping the GURPS style immediately, and produced...a lot of content - content I'm still submitting now. I didn't try to submit anything until I queried Steven about the Epic Magic issue, but my grandmother grew ill, and I couldn't fulfill my obligation. I tried again later on at the urging of both L.A. and Antoni Ten Monrós and succeeded with my first article: It's Pure Chemistry! Which I wrote in late 2010 and got published the following year. Once I started learning the Steve Jackson Games style I couldn't stop writing. I'm a pathological overachiever with a brain that never stops, what else was going to happen? Since then I've written almost 200 fully formed articles (about a 1/20 of them have been submitted and/or published - the rest remain in "The Vault") and a half a dozen books. All of this precludes my campaign source materials and setting bibles which I outline and write just like a GURPS book. If I could figure out how to get the PDF production aspect working I'd be a happy man. Eventually, I guess, I'll get around to writing a book. Maybe this year? Regardless I'll still keep writing for Pyramid because Steven Marsh is one of my personal heroes. Like Ken Hite said, he's a saint. Heh. "The Saint of GURPS writers everywhere and The Long-Suffering  Editor." So my long-winded tale is more or less over. How did I get my start? I started writing long before I ever submitted anything which in retrospect was a mistake. I had people help me along the way (L.A., C., Antoni, Elizabeth McCoy, my mother - who patiently listend to me rant about game mechanics without understanding them - the list gos on) and I never gave up. Not for one second.

So if you've written something and think it's good enough, maybe you should think about submitting it. Who knows, you could be the next Sean Punch or David Pulver. Maybe you need just a little help, and hey, I here there is a group or something for that.

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