A Year In

Still recovering from an amazing and utterly exhausting GenCon, I realized that I’ve hit a milestone—I’ve been a full time freelance RPG editor for a year now. There have been struggles, such as adapting our budget to the sporadic paychecks of a freelancer. I’m still working on how to manage my time—the flexibility of my schedule means that I can in fact drop what I’m doing to help out friends and family when they need it, but then I have to figure out how to make up that time so I don’t fall behind in my own work. (That same flexibility sometimes makes it hard to ignore the allure of a nap, too, after a particularly busy weekend!) Despite some ongoing adjustments, though, it’s been wonderful.

GenCon drove home what a success this year has been. I don’t mean to brag (too much, anyway!) but the ENnies and the Indie RPG Awards were kind to me and mine again this year. Marvel Heroic Roleplaying won a gold and two silvers at the ENnies and Evil Hat got the silver for Best Publisher. Although I didn’t find out until later, the Fiasco Companion and Bulldogs! did well at the Indie RPG Awards. Bulldogs! and the Smallville High School Yearbook were also both nominated for ENnies—even though this is a bit of a platitude, it really is an honor to have your games included in categories with competition that tough. No, I don’t need awards to make me feel like my work is good and worthwhile, but it’s still a great feeling to have it recognized in that way.

My favorite thing about GenCon, though, is getting to meet up with people that I talk with and work with all year online, but I rarely get to see face to face. It’s really interesting to meet people in person for the first time and feel like you already know them pretty well. Every year my feeling of being an integral part of the community grows, but it really stood out this year—sometimes it felt like I knew everyone at least a little bit, and that was awesome.

My first year as a full time freelancer has expanded the amount of time I spend online (mostly on Twitter) interacting with the community. You guys are essentially my coworkers. You’re the people I chat with in the lunchroom or around the coffee maker. In the past, I’ve mostly only known the people I’ve worked with directly. Over the past year, though, my circles expanded tremendously, and I’m so glad to have gotten to meet so many of you. It was great to interact with you in person and to meet some of your friends who now also feel like my friends. My hangout time was limited to the evenings—and was way too short as there are so many people I wanted to talk to longer—but now it’s mostly a blur of warm fuzzy memories of meals shared, booze shared, games played, lots of cool conversations, and feeling like I really belonged. This is going to sound so cheesy, but to me game conventions really do feel like coming home and being among people who understand my world. I love hanging out with you guys.

The reason that only my evenings were free is that I spent all day every day working the Margaret Weis Productions booth, mostly talking people into buying Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. I never did get to see most of the exhibitors hall because I almost never left the booth. That may sound like drudgery to some of you, but working a booth is one of my favorite things to do. I love being able to talk to people about the games I’ve worked on, and I think I’m really good at it. Large groups of strangers typically wear me out pretty quickly, but when I’m working a booth I gain energy from interacting with people. I was dead on my feet by the end of the day—and my body had paid a price by the end of the week—but being in that booth selling my games was exactly where I wanted to be all day. Aside from conventions, I rarely get to see my books head out into the wild, and there’s no place I’d rather be than helping put them into people’s hands.

It’s always interesting to see the variety of people who play the games. I was thrilled about how many women talked with me about Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. When mixed groups came to look at the game, it was often one of the women who bought the book and was obviously going to run it for everyone else. I’m proud that it’s a game that consciously includes lots of female characters who fill a variety of roles. I’m proud that we did our best to find art that avoids some of the most egregious comic art sins against female characters. And, although some people seemed surprised to realize that I’d worked on the book and that I really knew what I was talking about, I think that was less because I’m a woman and more because they didn’t expect to buy the books from people who’d helped create them. I’ve heard a lot about women being marginalized, objectified, and harassed within the game and comic industries/hobbies/conventions, etc. I’m grateful that this has not been my experience and I hope that safe and accepting environments are slowly becoming more widespread.

Anyway, GenCon was wonderful as usual. I look forward to another year, full of more editing, more conversations, and more conventions (Metatopia in November!). Thanks to all of you for your support—you keep me from feeling alone as I spend my workdays with only the cat as company.

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