The last month was a difficult one for this blog, at least on my end of things. Despite my best intentions, my inability to say “no” to any writing project that comes my way has resulted in a backlog of work that needs to be completed. I find myself spending more time than I’d like to hacking away at the intellectual underbrush in search of new and interesting artifacts of creativity for those projects. When I’m done doing that, doing more of the same for this blog—a theoretical place of mental escape and recreation—is hard to do. Especially since I’m essentially revisiting the same topics which I just got done wrestling with. It was starting to become such a chore that I seriously began toying with the notion of going on an extended and perhaps permanent hiatus.
However, this little piece of electronic fish wrap is responsible for me being offered some incredible opportunities and it’s given me a place to exchange ideas and intellectuals jabs with people I might not have otherwise met. To end such an endeavor simply because I was getting a little ragged around the edges seemed to be a drastic step. So rather than pull the plug, I cast about for new paths of escape and considered remedies for this affliction. Ultimately, some seemingly unconnected events provided me with a solution.
Back in March, I got to play Call of Cthulhu again, and that session turned out to be a godsend for me mentally. I got a temporary reprieve from the dungeon and its assorted denizens to play in the realm of historical horror for an all-too short time. That brief session reminded me of how much I enjoy that genre of both literature and gaming. I have an appreciation for the macabre and my love for real world history—especially that period between the post Civil War period and the end of World War I –combined with my career as an archivist makes historical horror a subject that I’d like to explore again. It’s been too long since I dipped my toes into that murky pool.
Not too long after this, I began volunteering my time at the local historical society. I’ve been out of touch with historical documents for a while and wanted to keep my hands (literally) in the game. Summer is always a busy period for small historical preservation groups and my community’s society is undertaking some large projects that could use an experienced archivist to help out on. It’s a win-win for both of us, and working in such a setting is conducive to both my sanity and to nurturing the historical horror seed which had been planted.
As the particular seed started to germinate in my head, we experienced storms that brought a near-Biblical deluge here on Long Island. As the water rose, I went to check in on a storage lock-up that I have simply to ensure that my belongings weren’t in danger of being swept out to sea. It’s a good thing that I did, for the fire wall that my unit abutted was beginning to seep, which resulted in me having to evacuate my possessions to a drier and more secure unit deeper in the bowels of the storage facility. Since I had to reorganize all the sundry boxes and cartons anyway, I took the time to reexamine some of their contents and to retrieve anything that I didn’t want to risk losing again. This included numerous writings of mine, many of which go back to my college years and before. Amongst them, I discovered my notes for a place I haven’t given much thought about in many years.
Once upon a time, I helped create a “spooky little town” setting for a live action Halloween game. Although the game was a one shot, the town itself lived on in other projects, including two movie scripts and a television series treatment. A large quantity of notes, background, research, and even photographs were assembled over the years in regards to that town—more than I ever remembered generating.
With the historical history bug already in place, the rediscovery of these notes seemed particularly synchronistic. Here was a new book just waiting to be written. It would give me a break from both the dungeon and the rule set which I’ve been eating and breathing for the last two years and allow me to walk down avenues previously unexplored. So, after getting the go ahead from my former writing partner, I decided that 2011 will see me writing a game supplement for use in a historical horror role-playing game.
I’ve slowly started laying the ground work for this project, but the most concrete result has been that I’ve created a second blog—one which I’ve up until now remained quiet about. This other blog is somewhat different than the Society. Here, I’m often aware of my readership and that sometime affects what I post. This secondary blog is fully a venue for my own enjoyment. That freedom has allowed me to compose posts that would not otherwise fit in amongst my usual role-playing game related writings here on the Society of Torch, Pole and Rope. It’s become a pressure-release value and escape hatch for me. To offer an odd metaphor, if the Society is my Hollywood acting career, this other blog is my rock band or restaurant—that thing one does not to make money or advance a career, but just to have fun. And it’s precisely what I’ve needed.
Since I’ve started writing non-D&D related stuff (but still role-playing game related) content on the other blog, I’ve started to feel better about the Society again. You may have noticed that my posting here is on an upswing and that trend can be attributed to my other just-for-fun blog where I get to think about historical horror before I start on the new book next year.
I doubt that what I write there will be to the tastes of the Society’s entire readership, but I thought I’d invite you to stop by and check it out for yourself. I have no set schedule of postings and I haven’t even taken steps to keep tabs on the blog’s traffic. It’s merely a mental playground/open notebook for me to use as I research and prepare to write this future game supplement. I plan on having some fun along the way with it. Maybe you can join in too.
Pack your things, hope into your Packard, and head of down the turnpike for October Country. You’ve got some Secret Antiquities to examine.