Earlier this year the fine folks at Evil Hat Productions put out an open call for freelance writers interested in working on Fate products. Writers wanting to try out were asked to complete a writing sample that had four challenges. The people at Evil Hat reviewed them and invited those who passed to join the stable of writers.
I took the challenge and, after a round of revisions, found out yesterday that I passed. Getting that email was incredible and has added to the list of things that are going my way creatively lately.
Today I want to tell the story of my submission. But it’s not the story with the happy ending above. You see, I almost didn’t send in my writing sample. I almost didn’t even write it.
It would have been easier for me just to let it slide. Hours of work and hammering away at the keyboard would simply have never happened. I wouldn’t have spent two days worrying about my initial submission and going over every word. Fear and anxiety wouldn’t have dominated my life for a week. My wife and I could have gone to dinner one of those nights instead of me typing my way through an anxiety attack.
Screwing up the courage to submit my application was a harder, longer process than actually writing it. I worry a lot about failure, even though I’ve rarely failed when I put my mind to something. My armchair analysis of this is that I don’t really feel like I’ve earned many things; I tend to float to the top in organizations and, honestly, kind of feel like I’ve been failing forward much of my adult life.
The Evil Hat writer search was an opportunity for me to succeed or fail on my own merits. And that scared the shit out of me. It still does, actually. But one thing I have learned is that if I let my fear of failure prevent me from doing something it will turn into a life long regret. That anxiety I feel? That’s temporary. Knowing that I never even tried will eat at me forever. I know this from sad experience.
And failing? That would be fine, I tell myself. I’m still a young pup when it comes to freelancing and writing professionally. Evil Hat is a company with high standards, which is one of the reasons I like them as a publisher. There is no shame in not meeting those standards coming off your first project in the industry.
The writer’s search was open for six or eight weeks. I downloaded the info the first day. I submitted my application two days before the deadline. I only started writing the day before that.
My fear almost won. It made a good race of it to the end.
Thankfully, (I guess?) I’m as prone to drunken bravado as any other young person. There’s a monthly get together in Chicago called CAGWIC (Chicago Area Game Writers I??? Colloquium; I’ve never been given a straight answer on what the I stands for). I was invited to join once I started writing for Firefly. At CAGWIC four days before the deadline, all the writers were discussing the Evil Hat search over several pitchers of beer. We talked about the challenges and ideas we had. A friend I respect quite a lot as a writer mentioned he’d already been rejected. I said that I hadn’t written my application yet but thought I could do a pretty good one. The next day, with just three days to go, I started writing my application because I wasn’t about to mouth off in front of Kenneth Hite and not follow through.
Speak words to power even in pride, I suppose.
My point with this whole story is that creation isn’t easy. Putting yourself out there is hard. Taking a chance and risking failure is scary. But sometime last year I decided to not let fear dictate the course of my life. And things have only gotten better. That’s not to say I am better. I’m still anxious and fearful and a bundle of neuroses but I’m getting work in the games industry and that’s better than being an anxious, fearful, bundle of neuroses that isn’t getting work.