Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When gaming acquisition syndrome spreads to writing.

Well I imagine that most wargamer will understand the bizzare, yet undeniable, compulsion that afflicts most of us and causes us to go out and buy more models when we have limited need for them.

I know all of the arguments: I want to have variety, I need to reach 1500/1750/1850/whatever points for my games, I need to get the next powerful unit, I want a different model/model set to paint, I feel like trying a new army, I WANT IT I MUST HAVE THE ......... MODEL NOW.

I've used most or all of these at various times. Mostly now I'm driven by wanting to try something new (gaming and painting wise) and so my purchases are lessened somewhat. My marine force is sitting fairly solidly somewhere near 3000 points and so I have no need to add to this and only a few left to paint. My Tau army is closer to 1000 and so will need a fair bit of investment to make it up to the typical 1850 points for games that are generally played around here. I'll get there eventually but at the moment I'm trying to control my spending because I feel bad (my wife is glad of my internal spending guilt-o-meter) and because I hate having unpainted models around.

I will be buying up a big stash of Nuclear Renaissance models as soon as they are out (new rules version in a week or two, can't wait). I'll do a more complete post on them soon but check out http://www.ramshacklegames.co.uk/nucren2/boxcontent.html

After that it's Tau on the shopping list and maybe a few fun units for the marines (land speeder storm anyone).

A little bit of me wants to branch into fantasy but that is way off for now. I've got a stack of dwarf models from when I played in my teenage years but I'm not sure about them. If anyone wants a reasonable sized painted collection, please let me know and we can work something out.

ANYWAY...to the point of the post.

How does model acquisition syndrome spread to writing?

Well basically I got a good idea for a victorian fantasy steampunk novel (I hate genre labels but it gives you the flavour quickly) about 18 months ago and have been working on it ever since. It's gone fast at times and slow at others and I've definitely chopped and changed my way as I went. Characters have been added, other removed, roles shuffled around, challenges introduced and overcome and I'm still not done. It's currently running at around 96,000 words (that's 157 pages in word give or take) and I'm really trying to bring it to a conclusion.

Now my problem is that while I'm rightly proud of all that I've done with it, I am getting creatively tired with these last few chapters. It's not that the story is any less good (it's a LOT better than the first outline I came up with) but just that I've spent so much time with it and not finished yet. I'm sure anyone who has painted a large army for warhammer understands. After a while, no matter how good the army is and how much you like it, you just need a little change.

My problem is that I have three (and a half) ideas competing for my attention. Three novel length pieces (and one short story/novella) is no small amount of work, especially going by my speed record with this current book. I think I'll be faster on my next piece as I've learned a lot but each will require a lot of though and investment of time and effort.

My issue is just that I don't know whether it is better to finish Wind and Steel (the current one, working title) and then start a new piece, or whether it would work for me to branch out and start the next work to give myself a break from my current struggle. I'm a bit torn at the moment and it's tough to find the right way. I feel like it would overall be better to finish typing Wind and Steel, print it so I can read/edit by hand, and then start typing the next. That way I only have one thing on screeen at any one time.

Alternatively I'm thinking of taking a whole day one weekend to shut myself away and push out a huge (5000-10000 word) chunk of the next book idea, not worrying about good writing and just vomiting the story onto the page. That might get my creative juices flowing and let me go back to Wind and Steel with new enthusiasm. In fact, Secrets of the Noctis came out of just such an exploration when I was stalled on my enormous Grey Knights/Inquisition piece for the Black Library Forums.

Anyway, enough rambling. This was partly to put my thoughts in order, partly to discuss the interesting parallel, and partly to ask for any thoughts. Based on your gaming and/or writing experiences, what do you think would be best?



  1. Pete,I can respectively, fully understand how you feel about the novel you're currently writing; You spend so long on the same thing day-in day-out etc, that what was once enjoyable and inspiring becomes monotinous and even in some cases soul-destroying!

    However, I would think you should concider finishing this story before starting the next; You'll end up finding yourself in the same dialema with the new as you do with the current one, only you'll now be faced with TWO unfinished novels and the need to start a third to escape the path of thrustration...then the 4th book, the 5th....etc.

    But if you have some good ideas and storylines brain-storming in your head for a new book, write/type them down while they're still fresh in your head, ready to begin later. You never know, with all the new story drafts bringing a new spark in your mind, it might be the push you need to finish your current novel.

    I think you'll be more relieved with finishing one book than starting another. And I look forward to reading it!!!!

    All the best matey-boy

    Pearlygates : )

  2. Thanks for the support, Pearly. I really agree that I should get this current novel finished before getting started on anything else. I know how annoying it is to have extra stuff piling up at my job because all of my tasks are in the half-done stage. Now I'm getting better at dealing with one thing at a time, I'm controlling the build up a lot more.

    I've put down the story outlines for two of my novel ideas in various places (including this blog, second or third post I think). The third idea is something that has just come to me and would be a collaborative effort using somebody else's setting. I haven't contacted them yet about it as I need to take the time to read more into their background and talk with them about how best to handle the intellectual rights etc. My short story idea is the least appealing to me at the moment but perhaps if I got the time and inclination I could play with it.

    I'll just get my head back down on the current book now :-) I'm waiting on the warstore to backorder something for me so I won't even get my new marine honour guard for a while yet. Fingers back to the keyboard.


  3. Not that I want to burden you with EVEN MORE 'hobby writing' (pardon the phrase) but I would love for you and OSH to put your heads together for a campaign-style story based on OSH's army;

    maybe based on the Taros campaign book, but set on Thoth with his Tau pitched against your Space Marines (or for a more interesting approach - your Ramshackle army with the Huntsman spider tank and graveyard tank involved).

    If anyone could write a good story based on that, it's you!!!

  4. Please feel free to burden as much as you like. Sometimes it can really pull out the creativity to be suggested a topic.

    I would love to get together with OSH and get a Taros style story written up for his cadre. I have a few ideas for a campaign of games that would scale up to a big conflict with marines vs tau and Ramshackle stuff. It basically goes that the Tau want to take a planet but don't have enough forces and have to ally with the natives (steampunk inventors). I'll talk to OSH about it and see what we can come up with.

    PS: I've started following your blog so you have to get going with it now :-)

  5. I think your idea about locking yourself in a room and getting the words on the page is the best one. The feeling of having 'finished' it, despite the copious editing to come, will validate your decision completely AND give you a good excuse to celebrate by buying a Land Speeder Storm :)

    And I would also like to see a campaign series of games between you and OSH. You could start small (Kill Team?), work up the points levels through Combat Patrol to 1000, 1500, 1850 and then finish with an anything-goes splatter-fest. You know you want to ;)

  6. Hey Sholto. I think it may be the way forward to getting the piece finished. Once it's printed out I think it will feel very nice and I'll really be able to read through and see how the novel works as a whole. I am almost looking forward to the editing rather than the writing as it seems so much more straightforward to craft and tweak things rather than creating them outright. ***I reserve the right to change this opinion after I get stuck into the editing***

    I think I'll be writing to make up for my celebratory model buying the way things are going now. One of my top companies, Ramshackle Games, is about to release the new version of their post-apoc, gang skirmish game complete with many cool vehicles and figures. I will be buying an excess quantity of said models as soon as they are out and I'll probably need to publish this book just to feed my habit lol.

    I'm totally up for a set of campaign games against OSH. We've both talked about starting up something like this and having our games scale up to a big conclusion. Once we get back into the gaming vibe we will talk more about the details and make it happen.

    PS: Glad your short story reading went well Sholto. I still remember how people would always refer to you when it came to horror stories on the BL forums. Shame they've kept the site down for so long. It basically killed my interest in BL fiction. I suppose it means that if i go back then there will be plenty for me to read up on.