Thursday, March 5, 2015

Friday Afternoon

"A community of practice is where people gather together, learn together and get better at what you're doing."

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.

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