It’s been a few months!
Back in March, I chose not to make a post here about that month’s issue of my Monster of the Month (MOTM) series because I participated in April’s Camp NaNoWriMo writing marathon. Working, appropriately, on future issues of MOTM. Taking time to post something meaningful here usually has the consequence that I don’t write something else that day, and I didn’t want to fall behind early.
That means we have some catching up to do.
I’ve published three of the best MOTM issues yet, in the last several months:
- Vajra of the Skies presents a tragic Grazelander shaman, and accompanying spirits
- Wenkarleos describes a powerful Rune Lord from imperious Lunar Tarsh
- Ehnval Tallspear provides a peek into the plant-people Aldryami, and their forest home
I’m extremely proud of all three issues. I really feel that each has upped the quality of the writing, production, and polish. Together they’re about 75 pages of content, with a dozen NPCs, six adventure ideas, and a bucketload of major and minor magic items.
(Oh, and I hit 43,000 words in my Camp NaNo marathon too, which included writing the last third of Wenkarleos, and all of Ehnval.)
That’s comparable to a full-length book on the Jonstown Compendium; Treasures of Glorantha is 64 pages. While that’s exciting, and I’m proud of this accomplishment, it also is symptomatic of problems in my work process.
One of the benefits of a site or blog like Akhelas is that it gives me the chance to think out loud. By directing my thoughts at a somewhat-nebulous “audience,” I can occasionally find internal clarity.
The recent issues of MOTM are a wonderful improvement compared to those published twelve months ago, but I don’t think they’re creatively or financially sustainable. My aim with MOTM has been to provide a short, affordable supplement for fans of RuneQuest. These issues have grown progressively longer and more complex, as I’ve tried to provide more content for the reader’s cost. But this has had the consequence of preventing me from developing longer works.
I participated in Camp NaNo in April in order to clear up my time by writing much of this year’s MOTM in advance. My goal was to clear up my schedule, and earn time to write Treasures of Glorantha 2, or similar, longer, projects. This hasn’t created sufficient time, because MOTM requires more than just writing. In addition to writing an issue, other tasks devour my time: an initial line edit, writing art direction, processing feedback from the editor, layout, sourcing additional free or stock artwork, proofreading, processing proofreading feedback from the editor, and finally setting up the storefront and marketing the new issue to the various Glorantha communities online.
It’s like I’m a performer handling four or five juggling balls. This is a manageable workload, but I’m working at close to capacity. Some time sick, or extra duties at my workplace, and I quickly shift from “manageable” to “heavy” workload.
Another part of this challenge is, I think, how I’m finding my writing brain works. Within this routine I have about two weeks for working predominantly on other projects. That’s enough time for me to get settled into a project—like Melikaphkaz, The Fouled Earth, or other short to medium Jonstown Compendium projects I’ve worked on in the last year. Then, MOTM forces me to surface from that work, and I lose my focus.
Once the MOTM issue is complete, I sink down into a different project, idea, or focus, rather than the same one. On the one hand improved personal discipline certainly could help, but on the other I really do feel the consistency of this pattern presents a truth about how my writing mind works. It’s a fact that despite working on multiple projects, I haven’t maintained more than a month-ish of focus on one. Each time my mind shifts projects, it’s after a bout of MOTM work.
This feeling has been building for a while. Something needs to change.
I don’t have a solution immediately in mind. One thought is to cancel MOTM. Not a huge fan of that, but odds are it’d be effective. Another is to scale back MOTM, a lot. I’m proud of these past months’ releases, but creating 5-10 pages instead of 20-25 pages per issue might reduce the weight of those juggling balls enough that I can pick up a few more. A third could be finding collaborators to help handle the extra tasks—such as layout, although I have come to enjoy that work, too.
At the end of June, I’ll have to make the decision. I want this to be an intentional choice, if I end MOTM. I don’t want it to choke and die by accident. Presently, I’m sort of leaning toward scaling back the size of an issue, and revisiting whether or not I should continue the series into 2022. The key element with that decision will be whether those shorter issues let me work on longer pieces of fiction and game design.
As for June, however, I’ve got one last Rune Master already lined up: Grungnak Fearless, a Death Lord of Zorak Zoran, the God of Hate and Vengeance. She’s a nasty piece of work! I’d intended to do a six-issue series of Rune Masters since January (and then continue with six varied issues afterward), so whether she’s the finale of MOTM, or merely the last Rune Master for now, Grungnak will represent a transition point in the series.
Until next time.
Want to keep up-to-date on what Austin’s working on through Akhelas? Go ahead and sign up to the email list below. You’ll get a notification whenever a new post goes online.