So, following July’s Camp NotNaNo, I find I have new problems and complications.
A couple of months back, I posted about my plan to make a video game set in the world of my low-fantasy-with-a-few-steampunk-elements novel series. (I call it a series, but I’ve only written the first novel, and it’s still in the rewriting phase. Although the current draft is light years better than the first draft.) A lot of July was spent working on developing and filling out a template containing all the information I would need for each country. I only got through the first five…and technically didn’t actually get through any of them, because I added a bunch more questions so late in the month that I never answered any of the new questions.
Thing is, it took me that long to do that much world-building prep for the countries where I didn’t need to do a lot of research first. Meaning, of course, that the other countries will take even longer to complete. But that’s only a minor complication, not a problem.
The problem is that my plan was to have 26 countries in this fictional world. (Although after putting together a really bad attempt at a map, I have been toying with the idea of reducing that to about 23 or 24, because one of the continents turned out much smaller on that map, which made me just stop and think about how hard it would be to create really distinct countries for a continent based on pre-European-contact South America, since most of the cultures we only know about archaeologically, leaving a lot of gaps in what we know, particularly since none of those cultures had writing. Anyway, whether I end up making 23 countries or 26, if I made the international trade and travel game, that would mean a minimum of 23 cities to visit, yeah? A bit large for a traditional RPG (I think most of the JRPGs I play tend to max out around 15 towns), but these wouldn’t be full towns for personal exploration, so on the surface that doesn’t sound too bad.
Only it would actually be a lot more than that. The plan for the game, so far, is that you start out in the Britain-like country, working for an international trading conglomerate, and doing trade runs within the country. Then after an event involving sky pirates, you end up moving up in the company, and get to do trade runs with the rest of the world.
If the home country has 5-8 towns and all the rest of the world has only one town per country, that’s going to be really lame. But if all 23-26 countries also have 5-8 towns…! That’s a minimum of 115 towns and a maximum of 208.
Even 115 towns is way more than I would be able to create, I’m fairly certain. Not by myself.
I haven’t entirely given up on the idea, because I think it really would make a kick-ass game, but I’ve put it on the back burner, as an “after I’ve finished the novels” type thing. And fortunately, I don’t have to do as much of the world-building in order to work on the novels. They won’t be visiting every single country in the world in the novels, so for any country they don’t go to, I don’t need the nitty-gritty details, just the big picture, particularly about how the country relates to the other countries around it. And some of it is not really relevant even for countries they do go to. For example, the care of the elderly never came up in the first novel, so if I failed to answer that question on the Britain-equivalent, then that’s all right. And it isn’t likely to come up in the brief time they’re in the France-like country at the beginning of the second book (they end up leaving pretty quickly, escorting the deposed-queen-in-hiding to her brother, the king of the next country over) either, so if I have proven unable to answer that question there, too, it’s not important. On the other countries where I don’t know yet what the plot of the book will entail (technically, I don’t even know how many books there will be total or how many countries they’ll end up visiting, though I have definite plans for the ones based on Rome, Greece, Egypt, Japan and the Incan Empire), for the most part as long as I can answer the bigger questions, I can fill in the smaller details later if I realize the novel in question will require it. But there’s still a massive amount of work to be done, in both research and world-building question-answering, and it’s still feeling quite overwhelming.
Meanwhile, a brief burst of renewed love for ancient Greek mythology had me spend a few days rereading large chunks of my quasi-Young Adult novels about the daughters of Achilles and Odysseus and the son of Aias, and I’m feeling like maybe they’re worth polishing up and releasing (for free via LeanPub and itch.io, of course) after all. And although when I first realized that I said “no, after the world-building and its related novels,” wouldn’t it make more sense to do the rewrites on a completed novel series first, as that’s a shorter process than all that research and world-building and rewriting and writing?
Or am I just trying to make excuses to get out of so much tedious, low-level research?
Part of me fears it’s just excuses, in all honesty.
Right now, I’m still trying to finish the fanfiction piece I started in the final days of July, but after that…well, I want to start rereading Emma to be able to polish up the fusion piece I wrote based on it (since I kind of promised (well, strongly implied, anyway) I would start posting it in the fall) at the end of this month/beginning of next month, but after I’m done with that….I’m not sure. I might go back to Atalanta and Ariadne for a while instead of keeping going with this tedious world-building. Between what I’m working on right now and Emma, I want to keep working on the myths associated with the world-building; there are a lot of myths still to write for pretty much all the cultures I’ve already got myths for (I stupidly forgot to include tales of heroes (outside of the epics) in the ones based on Greece and Rome!), and I haven’t even started the myths inspired by the Scandinavian/Teutonic myths.
Ultimately, I’m feeling really torn about what to do. Especially because now that I’m unemployed, I want to be spending my time working on something that I could somehow make some money at, which means I absolutely should not be writing, because my writing is garbage and will never get me paid. (Yeah, I could try to make money off it, self-publishing my novels and asking money in exchange for them, but it’s not like anyone would actually cough up said money. They’d look at the preview chapters and nope right on out of there. If it’s free, there’s at least a tiny chance one or two people might think the story sounded interesting enough to put up with my crappy writing to get at it.) Unfortunately, there’s not really much I can do that people would pay me for. There are all sorts of roadblocks cropping up in between me and getting paid to proofread others’ works, and there’s nothing else I’m good at. (Okay, technically, I was pretty okay at my job, but no museums are going to be hiring for a couple of years at the rate things are going, so that’s not really relevant.)
Maybe I should try writing non-fiction. I did have an idea to get together with a former co-worker and put out a book about a particularly underdocumented doll line, but that would depend on her still having her notes on the subject and on our being able to convince the director of the museum to give us copies of all the photos that were taken a few years back of the museum’s large collection of that kind of doll. It would also depend on getting photos from other museums and from private collectors. The private collectors part would probably be a lot easier to accomplish than the museum photos. Still, I should call her at some point and see if she’s interested. It would at least be something slightly productive to do…
Sounds like it’s hard to prioritize your writing projects. Does one feel more exciting than another?
I’m not even sure, honestly. I think some of it’s related to my current mental/emotional state. Considering how long I went through my life without being employed, I hadn’t expected sudden unemployment to hit me so hard psychologically, but it really has, and I’m especially hit by my continued inability to find any other work; it’s starting to feel like the universe has it in for me, which is never a very good place to be in, mentally, in trying to write. But it’s also a hard place to get out of.