As the school year wraps up, part of me hopes that my son’s teachers will have a nice, relaxing summer. The more realistic part of me realizes that they will instead spend most of that summer in their classrooms preparing for the next school year. Teachers are a crazy, passionate bunch.
I typically avoid talking about the craft or business of writing because I’m not wildly famous or successful. But I have been a freelance writer for almost 20 years now with consistent publications in multiple media. So while I’m not a Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, I do know about this topic.
Then again, Stephen King and J.K. Rowling aren’t really Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, either. Both are outstanding writers and deserve all the success they’ve received, but getting where they are took no small amount of luck. The true secret to their success is that they took a one in a million chance and worked their butts off to continue improving and grow that luck into something big.
I’m not a celebrity author. Instead, I’m the guy that most freelancers can expect to become if they stick to writing long enough and get a few lucky breaks along the way. Writing doesn’t pay my bills, but it does provide enough supplemental income that I can support a family of four on a single moderate salary. You won’t find my name on many best-seller lists (though my novel Greystone Valley was there for about five minutes), but I’ve now spent a couple of decades sharing my stories with people. And here’s a few things I’ve learned during that time.
Thanks to its roots in pulp fiction, the fantasy gaming genre goes very well with comic books. Sure, the mechanics and the fiction don’t always line up, and yes there are a fair share of duds out there. But overall, comics based on popular role-playing games is a consistent, if not high-profile, part of the industry.
There have been a lot of good fantasy RPG comics, from the fun albeit rough in quality Advanced Dungeons & Dragons series of the 1980s to 2016’s extremely fun Pathfinder: Worldscape, which mashed up the Pathfinder RPG with classic heroes such as Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and Red Sonja. But my personal favorite RPG-based comic is the series that ran in the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition days.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve attended a dance recital where my daughter kinda-sorta showed dancing skills, and baseball games where my son kinda-sorta showed baseball skills. My wife and I gave both kids effusive praise for their efforts. This leads me to wonder: Can you give kids too much praise?
On reflection, I think that’s a stupid question. But it keeps popping up in my head. Ideally, I want my kids to feel confident but not cocky. They should feel like they’re capable of performing at a high level, but also that there’s more to learn.
It’s one of those stupid mental chess games you wind up playing against yourself. There are a lot of moments where I feel like I overthink things as a parent, and this is one of them. It’s silly to give or withhold praise as though it’s a strategic reserve.
(Spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story below.)
My wife and I recently watched Rogue One. Better late than never, after all. Happily, I found it to be a really good movie. That really puts it into above and beyond territory, because it could have been awful and still been worth watching just for the Vader scene at the end.
My daughter had her dance recital over the weekend. I’m sure most parents were happy with the event, which featured lots of cuteness and little stage fright. When you’re dealing with 3- and 4-year-olds, you’re in it for the cuteness, not the precision.
Of course, not everybody is ready to go up on stage and dance in front of a crowd of strangers. While most of the girls did their dance, one child got a particularly bad case of stage fright. She didn’t just freeze up — she cried through the entire routine.
I have a son who is getting interested in role-playing games. He is also extremely interested in the Mario franchise, to the point where he refers to himself as Mario. His sister gets to be Princess Peach, his mother gets to be Princess Daisy, and I’m stuck as Luigi.
Recently, I decided to fuse these two interests together, resulting in a Super Mario Brothers edition of Pathfinder.
The process was actually pretty easy. Since combat and task resolution in Pathfinder are abstract, you can fill the flavor text in yourself. If you hit and do 1d6 bludgeoning damage, what difference does it make if you’re swinging a mace or jumping on bad guys’ heads?