I've just put a book to bed. This is a curious time for me; it is like the first hours on a Friday afternoon when I was a boy - when weekends seemed to last a long time. I would percolate eagerly with the things I would do, the games I would play and the opportunities I would exploit - and while I did, on the walk home, I was never sure what I would do first.
Some readers will have noticed that I have trouble focusing all my attention on one project. Even in the last stages of the book's editing, I still gave time to mapmaking. I kept the blog going. I went on having ideas. There were sacrifices. I haven't worked on the wiki in a couple of months. I haven't addressed other large projects. Any ideas like those had to be shelved.
I have a couple stewing in my mind; but like Friday afternoons, I'm chewing over my options.
When I don't have substance to write about; when I haven't the time to do my research or the energy to tackle a post with a lot of content in it; I usually write about the community. Or the principles of the game. Or I bitch about something or somebody.
These are things I have to quit.
I did start already, about a year ago. If the reader compares my work post March 7th, 2014, with my approach to blogging in the years before, a difference will be noticed. It hasn't been an instant change, but there has been a change. I'm still acerbic, still intolerant, but I'm making an effort to turn to these things as a substitute for having something to write about. There have been a lot of changes in me and my perception of the community this past year. It has become more positive. I'm less inclined to go looking for a fight, less inclined to be interested in what others are saying philosophically. I find myself losing interest in the internet brawl. I've made my points. It's clear what I stand for.
Going forward, I have to surrender on what others are doing wrong. I have to keep going ahead with what I think is right. This book - this Dungeon's Front Door - it is still tainted in parts by my disposition, my sarcasm, my cheek and my pride. Much of it is dressed up as humour and wry wit; some of it is not. The best parts are those where these parts of "me" have been amputated.
The book's writing was a surprise. My original intention had been to do the same thing I had done with How to Play a Character: find a group of essays I had written online about dungeons, clean them up, remove the acid and make them respectable, then release them as a collection.
However, when I went looking through my blog for essays about dungeons, all I found was bitterness, spite and anger. I have not written well of dungeons. The little time I've spent on this blog on the subject of dungeons has been all negative. Apparently, I hate them. Apparently, I have no use for them.
This is not true. Dungeons have been a mainstay of my campaigns. I've never not run them.
I realized, after announcing the book, that I was on the hook to write all new material - positive material. Material that would be useful for the community. Material that would help people learn and grow better at making dungeons.
To succeed at this, I had to take a step back here and there on issues I've barked about on the blog. I had to give in on some points. I had to cast dungeons in a positive light. This I think I've done. But there are still places where the old Alexis had a few things to say, as well. That old Alexis - he's been around a long time. He's older than I am and smarter than I am; and sometimes, damn it, I like him a bit too much.
So I'd say I was about 95% successful at my aim. I dare say that last five per cent will be forgiven.
Well, I hope it will be.