Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why I Create

When I started college, I had dreams of jumping feet first into working for a sci-fi/fantasy magazine along the lines of Analog or Starlog and then possibly moving into game design and writing. When I naively raised questions about getting into the profession on Usenet, a number of people were quick to tell me I wouldn't be making big money, not even steady money at that, if I went freelance. Disappointed, I quietly seethed, posted a few desultory flames, and sulked a bit before reformulating my plans for the future.

My naivete faded those next four years, but I remained hopeful that I would break into the industry and I would live my dream. As graduation neared, I weighed the options and knew that I had to have steady work in order to keep a roof over my head and a shirt on my back. So, I decided that I would work as a newspaper reporter and do my SF and RPG writing on the side. At that time I was already a member of Pete Maranci's amateur publishing association (APA) Interregnum. (Writer's Note: My first 'zine, Tales from the Electric Underground appeared in IR #5 and ran semi-regularly. After a while - somewhere between IR #31 and IR #35, the online archive for the APA is incomplete - I rebooted the 'zine and changed the title to The Chrome Libram; that 'zine lasted three issues and I left the APA in 2000 as it didn't feel the same without Pete at the helm.)

In 2009, before the luster of being a third party publisher for Traveller and an award-winning writer wore off, I envisioned my creations - and myself - being very popular. Over the past seven years, various events and individuals - some chronicled here, others not -  have made me reconsider the so-called "importance" of being popular, let alone being highly visible and well-known in the industry.

I can hear some of you saying, "But, don't you want to be successful?" Yes - who doesn't want to be successful? In a way, it boils down to defining what success means to oneself. Having lived as a small fish in a small pond before moving on to be a small fish in several bigger ponds, and dealing with people jealous of the successes I've had in life, I've learned that it isn't always good to be popular or visible. The politics of the Hugos, ENnies, and Origins awards, as well as the recurring dramatic performances of the Outrage Brigade, have reinforced that lesson. In short, it has shown me that it's better - for me, at least - to create things I like and can be proud of.

Unlike my younger self, I now like - no, I relish - the idea of some, if not all, of my works being hidden gems that someone finds unexpectedly. My products may not be groundbreaking or innovative by some peoples' standards, but I do quality work and creating something and doing it well makes me happy. If they sell well and become popular, so be it; if not, well, it's a learning experience.

Winning an award like a Hugo or an ENnie - or even just a nomination - would be nice, but to be honest, at this stage I'd rather just do what I like and do best. I'll leave the popularity contests to those who can weather it all the best. That being said, I have a lot of ideas to work on and more coming into focus every day. It's time I got to work.

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