People are always stopping me on the street and asking, "Jason, you have an entire RPG sourcebook to your name, some articles in a magazine that I heard about once, and still find the time to talk about your career as an author on your lightly trafficked blog. How can I enjoy your level of success?" Some people say that you need things like skill, perseverance, or even dumb luck to make it as a writer. I am here today to tell you to ignore these lies. I will, at long last, allow my faithful fans and readers into my creative bubble and show you how the magic happens.
Behold, my desk.
Let me start by asking, nay insisting, that you not be too taken aback by the fine quality of the furniture at which I sit. I'm not here to discuss delicately crafted Swedish furniture, made of only the most elegant engineered wood substitute. It's not the desk that makes the author, but the author that props up the desk with rolled up newspaper because if he doesn't it leans a little and his pencils roll off the top.
Here are the 10 essentials to reaching epic levels of success as a freelance writer in the RPG world.
1. My wonderful ASUS widescreen monitor, because working in a square is for suckers. I got it at Newegg, on sale for a totally amazing price, but then I forgot to send in the $20 rebate so it was only a slightly amazing price. Displayed on it in amazing clarity is my First Responders manuscript, open in Word Perfect, a word processing program which allows me to send files readable only by dinosaurs.
2. My second monitor. It was my first flat screen, but it's a few years old now, and is square and thus for suckers. Like that first child whose initial upbringing was basically your test run, it has been relegated to "second favorite" and is paid attention only when I really need to look at two things at once. On its comparably dim and disappointing display is my iGoogle, on which I am chatting with a similarly aging and increasingly obsolete colleague, Jason Marker. He e-completes me and provides me a couch on which to sleep whenever it is my pleasure to find myself in Detroit. You should probably go read his blog at Motor City Gamewerks when you're done here.
3. Large quantities of Diet Coke. If you notice that there are, in fact, two cups there (both fancy stadium cups, even), then bonus points for you. As I only have room on my desk for one cup, I simply stacked today's into yesterday's. I have two engineering degrees.
4. A stack of bills. Nobody respects an author that doesn't have a stack of angry letters from utility companies laying around.
5. Chaos Earth: First Responders manuscript. Note the red markings and the pen not too far distant. I'm picking up the very last of my marks so that I can send it off to be again ink-bled upon by completely competent and rational editors who, because they are editors, fail to see my writing as an untouchable work of fine art which is beyond reproach and above question, and upon whom I will rain terrible retribution if they touch one mark of punctuation in its perfectly constructed pages.
6. A stack of source material, some for First Responders and some for other things. Currently on the desk are: The Rifter #25 (was back-referencing a great article about psychics by Levi Johnstone), Rifts World Book 22: Free Quebec (for a non-writing project for Palladium which is destined to fail in hilarious fashion), Rifts Game Master Guide (again back-checking stuff about psychics), Chaos Earth: Rise of Magic (reference for First Responders), Chaos Earth: Creatures of Chaos (referencing for First Responders material which really should have been in Rise of Magic instead), the original Rifts RPG (because I still can't find anything in Rifts Ultimate Edition), Rifts World Book 19: Australia (you really have to reference entirely too many books in Rifts), Rifts Bionics Sourcebook (again, too many different Rifts references), and a black binder that contains handwritten notes and previous edit copies of First Responders and my Chaos Earth Psychics article; I think it also contains the beginnings of art that I plan to contribute to First Responders (see: failure, hilarious).
7. Laser pointer that displays cute shapes like stars and UFOs and fish. Trust me, you need it.
8. Wireless keyboard/mouse. That's right, I said wireless. You know you've hit the big time when they don't stop you from purchasing computer equipment that, through the use of ancient dark magicks, communicates with your computer without the use of wires.
9. Spider-Man. She's the elder of our two cats, and is slightly gender confused. Most importantly, she's evidence of a huge win in my pre-marriage relationship with my now-wife. Before we were even engaged she mentioned that she one day wanted to get a cat, and I told her I would allow it so long as I could name the cat Spider-Man. She agreed, despite knowing even then that she would want a girl-cat, assuming that my constant forgetfulness extended beyond trivial things such as birthdays and her allergy to chocolate and that I would never remember the conversation in years to come. Not so fast!
10. Pretty pink collar. Spider-Man hasn't worn this since she was tiny kitteh, but now it's her favorite toy. She plays fetch with it just like you would with a dog. Not that a cat would play fetch with a dog. Or a dog play fetch with a pretty pink collar. Or something. Wait, what?
So there you have it, a list of the required components to achieve the alchemy of literary success. You might want to take some notes or save this post to your hard drive because, to tell you the truth, once word gets out that I have divulged these secrets, I'm likely to be in big trouble. BIG trouble, but it's worth it for you, the fans.
Still, just in case, if you don't hear from me on Friday, somebody please remember to feed Spider-Man.