Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Last Mile...

The last mile is the hardest to run.

As I close in on the end of the process of the latest incarnation of Mythweaver, I find that it's taking everything I have not to slap a quick coat of paint on what I have and publish it. It's very good. In most everything I work on (I'm talking beyond gaming here as well), I am generally pleased with 'very good'. My wife is more detail-oriented (of the opinion that 'perfect' should be the goal), while I'm more of a big picture kind of guy. As I get to the end of a project, I try to step back from the details and look at the whole package, letting the individual components fade into the background. This is partially from my experiences directing; a week before opening night, you need to step back and make sure the basic story holds up, even if that moment between two characters in Act 3 isn't quite firing on all cylinders.

Also, this is the part of the process I enjoy least. When I was cartooning, I HATED erasing pages. You had a finished page of artwork, all crisp and fine and lovely, but it still had that initial layer of pencil marks on it, and you had to get rid of those before scanning/copying the page. Now, you have to take something that you feel is 'done', and spend more time with it, doing this menial drudgery of a job. I find final edits make me feel the same way. I've written this, I've edited it, I've revised it- and here I am, editing it again. I'm tightening up prose. Cleaning up disparities in language. Making sure that the format for how I describe something on page 17 aligns with a similar description on page 42. It's a slow, plodding process that gleans little tangible results. The pages in the manuscript look fundamentally the same after a few hours of editing. You know they're better, but most of the improvement will escape the notice of the vast majority of your readers.

However, I'm pushing myself harder than I ever have to really tie this project up. Today, for instance, I decided to eliminate a small redundancy between "Dodge" and "Evade", cleaning up the terms and unifying the concept. It's not a big deal, but it will streamline things a bit. But, this also means that I have to go through the book and make sure every mention of Dodge and/or Evade reflects the correct language. I know that CTRL F helps here, but it's still a page-by-page, systematic process. The same is true for Weapons. I also realized this morning I use 'Weapons' both as an ability and as a general descriptor for physical weapons you can carry; I need to split this up, and create a new ability (Arms) that represents only the ability. Then, I have to go through 84 pages and make sure each use of this is correct. Not complaining, just pointing it out.

I'm at the part of the dungeon crawl where the dragon has fallen, the halls have been cleared, and it only remains to gather up the treasure, account and distribute it, and determine how I'm going to get it home. Many times, I hand wave these things in play. Not so in writing.

I'm close - very, very close - to the end. I'd love to tell you that Mythweaver: Legacy will be out this weekend, but so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow, glazed with rainwater beside the white chickens, and all of that. I think that I need to 'finish it', and then let it rest for a few days. Go back to it with fresh eyes, give it one more gleaning, and then set it loose to the world.