- A group of filmmakers is working on a documentary about Dungeons & Dragons. I was one of the people interviewed for it (at last GenCon). They have a Kickstarter up now, and I highly encourage folks to support it.
- I got to spend more time with friends at this con than I have at previous ones, which is always a plus. However, it made me realize that I just don’t have enough time to spend with everyone I want to, which sucked.
- Turns out Brennan Taylor really liked my Bulldogs! short story. Enough to ask me if I want to contribute to another anthology of his.
- There’s a small chance that my insane love of Sherlock Holmes might find a wider audience. It might be nothing, but it might be awesome.
That picture was me at GenCon four years ago. I had just finished Mind’s Eye Theatre: The Awakening, and I believe that was a day or two before I sat down to do an interview with Rich Thomas to work full-time for CCP/White Wolf. I remember at the time that it felt weird to have strangers taking pictures of me and wanting to do interviews with me, and I joked about my “nano-celebrity.”
Four years later, and it still seems weird to me, but for very different reasons.
I actually had a talk about where my head was at in 2007 with Genevieve while I was walking around with her this past weekend. Around my late-freelance to early-White Wolf career, I had a mild case of imposter syndrome. My discomfort with my nano-celebrity was primarily due to me not quite believing in my own accomplishments – people were proud of the company or the products, but not with me. It took me a while, but ultimately I started to find my own voice and niche, and the imposter syndrome faded away.
Then I had a couple of years of “internet celebrity.” There were a moderate number of people online who knew me, but I could still walk around a convention and be ignored more than noticed by people I chatted with virtually. Being an introvert certainly didn’t help that. I had come to accept that perhaps I was more outgoing or entertaining or whatever online instead of in reality. I wasn’t upset by it, but it did make things a bit awkward from time to time.
At GenCon this past weekend, my perception of my own celebrity was shattered again. A lot of little things contributed to it (including many people actually not glancing down at my tag to catch my name), but four events really drove it home for me:
- I was informed by a couple different people that another game designer (who I won’t name out of respect) was terrified to meet me because he admired me so much. I’ve since talked to him, and we had a lovely conversation, but I sincerely thought people were fucking with me when they first mentioned it.
- I was invited to participate in a couple different things not because of my affiliation with White Wolf or because someone knew me personally, but because the kind of work I do and how I do it made the organizers think of me.
- Two different people telling me at different times that I was trusted and respected in the industry – not in my company, not in my circle of friends, but the industry.
- One fan actually tracked me down as I was walking around the dealer’s room just to shake my hand.
Now I’m back to feeling a little weird about this. Unlike before, this isn’t because I don’t feel I deserve it – if anything, I’ve come to accept that I have fought very hard to get where I am today, and that I deserve every ounce of recognition I get as a result – but rather that there’s still a part of my brain that’s the shy 15-year-old kid who thinks that there’s a very firm line between fans and creators, and that crossing over that line is something terrifying to attempt. I don’t do things because I want people to love me, but I do them because I love doing them. (The projects, not the people.) This has resulted in a situation where people respect and appreciate my work, which is awesome and exciting, but I still have that lingering knee-jerk reaction of “Really? Someone else besides me finds this cool?”
Plus, despite public perception, I’m still shy. I prefer to accept compliments by saying that the whole team did a great job (which worked most of the time this weekend, until one person flat-out said “But I also really liked the writing in this part – you did that, right?”). I tend to be vague about my body of work partially because I don’t like to brag, and partially because I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve lost count. But at some point, when a group of people fly you out to a different state just to give you an award telling you how much they appreciate your work (like as what happened at I-Con 2011 earlier this year), you have to spend some of that social energy and push the shyness away to graciously accept.
Because, having been a fan myself for so long, I understand the impetus. Some creative people really touch you, and on some level you understand them by being inside their book or game or webcomic or whatever. You need that moment of physicality to make this person you know into something real and not just a phantom. So I’m always happy to take a moment to talk or shake someone’s hand or do an interview or sign a book.
And yet, isn’t even that still deflection? Instead of deflecting the praise to others, aren’t I now deflecting it back to the fan? I can accept the respect and recognition I’ve earned, but I still can’t quite internalize it yet. I think that’s why I feel odd about this… call it “micro-celebrity,” something between a creative professional with a few fans and, say, Wil Wheaton. I feel odd because a part of me still feels like it’s not about me somehow. (And at this point, I can visualize some of my long-time friends rolling their eyes and throwing shit at me, which shows that this is not a new problem.)
Wow. This started off as a post about how awesome GenCon was, and turned into a lengthy rant about how I’m an ungrateful bastard. Aside from my personal foibles, the show was amazing, and I learned many things including how to spell “thwip,” the importance of 5 o’clock, and how to properly hit dudes. As always I did not get a chance to drink and talk with nearly as many people as I would have liked, but I appreciated the time I did get to spend. GenCon is always a great way to recharge my batteries and give me momentum into the next year, but right now I’m just mentally and socially exhausted, and looking forward to curling up with a good book or a video game for a while.
GenCon is around the corner, and I have a lot of places I need to be. Here’s a mostly-accurate schedule of my movements (I have some meetings and other business-type events I need to attend). I’ll also be tweeting my actions using the hashtag #WWGenCon. I’m looking forward to talking to people!
The Making of V20: 12PM-1PM (Marriott Indiana Ballroom D)
White Wolf 2.0: 2PM-3PM (Marriott Indiana Ballroom D)
Writing and Illustrating for White Wolf: 10AM-11AM (ICC 201)
The New World of Darkness and Its Continuing Evolution: 11AM-12PM (ICC 201)
Signing: 2PM-3PM (DTR Booth)
This Just In Interview: 5PM-5:30PM (Westin Hotel Caucus Room)
ENnie Awards: 5:30PM-9:00PM (500 Ballroom)
Signing: 11AM-12PM (DTR Booth)
How Technology is Changing RPGs (Eddy): 2PM-3PM (TBA)
For a while now this blog has been largely on auto-pilot, with only my Tour de Holmes posts offering any sort of steady churn of posts. A lot of it has been due to my change of position combined with heavy crunch on Vampire: The Masquerade – 20th Anniversary Edition. I’m going to try to swing back into more insightful posts – I have some more “What I’ve Learned” game posts lined up, and a couple of things that I want to touch on that have come out of the Vampire process (not necessarily about the book per se, but rather things I’ve learned about myself and the creative process through that). But, to ease my way back into this, I’m going to do some personal updates.
- Since May 5, I’ve lost 13 pounds. That’s less than two pounds a week, which was my original goal, but given that I had a week of vacation in there and I’ve been in serious crunch for most of it, that’s honestly pretty good. The past two Saturdays I’ve done some cardio work, and I’m going to buy a gym membership shortly so I can go more often. But more importantly, I haven’t been sick in several months, which is awesome.
- Even though I’ve been slammed recently, I have a couple of new writing projects I’m working on. Since Tour de Holmes is wrapping up (I have one and a half books left to go), I’m starting to think about compiling all the posts into a manuscript, rewriting it, and then shopping it around. I’m also working on another compilation of fiction and essays I’ve written over the past ten years – I got edits back for that last week, and now I’m rewriting and adding material to it. I’m working with three of my friends on it, which is a lot of fun. After those two get sorted out, I have a few backlogged fiction projects, including finally finishing up Whitechapel and starting the rewrite process to turn that into a proper novella. I also have notes on a Sherlock Holmes pastiche (naturally), and a couple of reboot ideas I’ve been kicking around.
- I’ve also been toying with a few personal RPG designs. Nothing that’s far enough along to share, but I’ve been playing with some different old-school but lightweight designs.
- I’m going to be at GenCon this year. I may even be sober for some of it. We shall see.
I’m back from GenCon. Well, actually, I got back Monday night, but I’ve been catching up on work since I got back. Overall, I had a great time catching up with friends, talking with fans, and making new memories. I always find GenCon to be a great way to recharge my inspiration tank – I left the con with a million different ideas. Thanks to everyone who made me feel welcome, challenged me, made me laugh, or just said “hi.” I hope we can all do it again next year!
This week I will be at GenCon, pimping the upcoming digital awesomeness coming from White Wolf from Wednesday evening until Monday morning. However, unlike previous years, looking for me at the White Wolf booth probably won’t get you good results, as I’ll be running around a lot this year. But there are some points in which you can track me down.
- I’ll be at the Diana Jones Awards, as I have been every year. It’s industry-only, so you either know where and when to go, or you don’t.
- Currently I’m free most of this day, but I think Ned from Marketing is planning to load me up with interviews that day, so we’ll see how long that plan survives.
- WoD Cage Match: Panel I’ll be part of from 11am-12pm, with Rich Thomas and Ethan Skemp.
- nWoD Retrospective: Panel I’ll be part of from 12pm-1pm, with Rich Thomas and Ethan Skemp.
- DriveThruRPG: Seminar I’ll be sitting in on from 2pm-3pm, with a few guys from the DTR crew.
- ENnie Awards: I’ll be at the VIP reception and then the main award ceremony from 6:30pm until whenever it ends. Look for me, Kelley, and our ENnie Dream Date.
- Storytelling in the 21st Century: Panel I’ll be largely hosting from 1pm-2pm with Rich Thomas and Ethan Skemp.
- White Wolf Party: I know it’s at Club Industry this year, but I don’t know when it starts or what’s going on with it. I’m sure someone will tell me at the show, or just ask at the White Wolf booth.
- Maybe gaming! Maybe shopping! Maybe interviews! Who knows?