As you can see by looking at the project completion dates, there was an enormous gap in productivity in the 2007-2010 period.
Lots of reasons for that.
By the time the curtain closed on the fourth volume of the epic Candle’Bre story (2007), the curtain was also closing on the game (bearing the same name) as well.
Our team had shrunk from more than thirty, at its peak, down to just three, and soon, it would shrink to just Solver and I.
People still liked the game and wished us well, but the project proved to be much larger, and much more time consuming than volunteers were willing to stick it out for.
We’d often go months with no visible signs of progress, and that took its toll (this was one of the most valuable takeaways from the experience in terms of doing another, by the way…progress should be steady and visible!).
Real life was intruding on the party, and as it did, the party inevitably waned.
I got married.
Had a heart attack, and two other near death experiences besides (and this, in addition to a host of other “colorful life experiences” earlier on).
During the latter stages of the most active portion of the Candle’Bre project (when we began producing playable builds) and my divorce, some four years later…it was a season of madness, and I mean that more literally than you perhaps know.
Most of all though, I was tired and worn thin.
The game and the four book series had taken their toll. The deaths and physical ailments took another sort of toll.
Then came the Great Recession, like a giant, sour cake topper.
Overnight, my comfy life got hit by a wrecking ball, and anything even remotely creative got put on the back burner, as we went from worrying about what to write next to such things as, how to raise fifty bucks for food for another week, and how to keep the house warm during the winter.
There was no time for it.
We were in full on survival mode.
In time, of course, we figured it out. Explored our entrepreneurial sides and learned how to live, not off of whatever pittance the corporations deigned to hand down to their serfs, but by our own pluck, talent, and skills.
Early on, there were lots of “Ramin Noodle Nights,” I can tell you, but it’s funny.
When you start relying on yourself for your success, and stop thinking about that next paycheck you’re shackled to, it opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Before long, we had things firing on all cylindars again, and even better, I was beginning to feel…dare I say…creative?
I thought I’d lost it, but it was back!
Sure, sure, while it was away, I had convinced myself that I was okay with its long absence. That I had a decent body of work behind me, and I’d be content if there was to be no more, but that’s the funny thing about a season of madness.
It has a way (for all its pain and destructive tendencies) of reigniting fires you thought may have gone out for good, and that’s what happened in this case.
This story, “Madness,” as we call it shorthand, it a direct outgrowth of this period, and distills much of my life into book form.
It’s about twenty percent fiction, and eighty percent autobiographical.
To this day, I can’t go back and re-read it.
It’s too raw. Too visceral for me, but everyone who has read it calls it my best work.
It’s elemental. Raw. Chilling.
A psychological thriller, with bits of romance and horror tossed in for grins.
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Project completed, September 2010, on my birthday, the 22nd