Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GG, GG.

I have a list of role models that I cite to the public with frequency. It includes fictional characters (Willy Wonka), people of questionable morals (Vlad Tepes), and geniuses of all levels (from Einstein to Alton Brown). However, if you were too ask me to name only people who have had a serious impact on my life, my personality, and my worldview, only four people come to mind: Jesus Christ, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jim Henson, and Gary Gygax.

I'd to take a moment, on his birthday, to thank one of these people. He has helped me learn to solve my problems without fear or violence, he has shown me that there are a near-infinite number of solutions to almost every problem, and he has encouraged me to think outside the box.

He has helped me to make the greatest friendships with the greatest people I have ever known. He has given me a safe place to explore my personality, from either side of the cardboard screen. He's given this nerd boy something to do all those Saturday nights I could never get a date, and a place to show just what kind of person I can be. He's helped me tell stories in grand ways, and taught me the value of random chance. The worlds he created have been my imagination's playground for years, and I can only hope that my children, and their children, will appreciate them the way that I do.

Ernest Gary Gygax, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, thank you. Thank you for giving me a place to ask all those questions that don't fit into a normal day. Thank you for letting me use dice to understand that life isn't always fair, and to use my INT and CHA scores to overcome that. Thank you for showing me that DEX is far more useful than brute STR, that Craft (anything) really is worthwhile, and for helping me improve my Perform checks. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet the greatest adventuring party a guy could have, and letting this guild of wayfarers spread the joy of the worlds you've created to others.

I don't think it's a coincidence that you share initials with the phrase "good game." I think there's some cosmic humor in that fact that underlines the importance you've had in the industry, and in our hearts. I don't think I'd be the same without that printed cardboard screen, or those plastic dice in my hands. I don't think I'd be the person I am without the influence of Dungeons & Dragons, and your sense of adventure and wonder.

Thank you, Gary Gygax. Happy birthday, and until we can meet in the other plane, gg GG.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Reading Fun!

My favorite thing about summer growing up was always the local library's Summer Reading Program. Nothing beat sitting on sun-warmed grass listening to a storybook read to you out in circle-time, just before we rented our selections for the week.

In a move highly reminiscent of that, my friend Dennis Sharpe is having a summer giveaway to show appreciation for his readers and fans. You can check out the details here. Be sure to enter as many ways as you can, and good luck to you all!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Edits, edits, edits.

I spent a chunk of today listening to my Ingrid Michaelson station on Pandora and finishing up the last round of intentional edits on my soon-coming book of poetry. I still need to go over it a few times, and trick request a few beta readers to take a gander at it. This process is a lot harder than I initially thought it would be, but it's very rewarding.

I remember when I was a child, I dreamt of becoming an author. I read so many articles in copies of Writer's Journal and Writer's Digest my father would buy me on trips to Paducah.Once, he bought me a massive great book with all kinds of tips for being published. He's always been big on my writing, Dad has. Mom has, too, but it's not the same for her. She doesn't enjoy reading like Dad and I do, and Dad's written a few things he should get published.

That's the thing that really surprises me. I mean, growing up, if you'd told me there'd be a day when I wouldn't have to beg a publisher, or defend my artistic vision to an agent, or compromise my story for the sake of what some bigwig thought, I'd have told you to stop getting my hopes up. It was just a pipe-dream that I could get my work out there in the same way that I wrote it, and a lottery to be published.

While that's still true for traditional publishing, technological advances and the oversaturation of the Internet in our lives has led to a kazillion ways for artists to share their work that they never, ever could have in the past, with audiences they never would've reached even five or ten years ago. It's utterly amazing to me.

That being said, it shifts the legwork of editing, publicity, and all that other jazz to the author, but I think that not only gives me more control, but makes me a more well-rounded businessman. I'm willing to do the work if it gets me what I want, as long as I can keep my head out of the Pessimist Pond it settles into sometimes.

My father has always been hard on me when it comes to employment. If I miss a day of work, even if I'm sick, it's a lecture. God help me if I quit a perfectly good job. My whole being was brought into amazement, then, when the last time I suggested getting a job all my father said was "I think you should write."

Maybe if this goes over well, he'll publish a few of his own works?