I first wrote about Operation: Awesome back in June 2010 but I put the plan laid out in that post into practice much earlier. A lot of 2010 was focused on redefining myself, pushing myself, and changing my entire creative process. I realized how toxic it had become, how little was actually getting done, and I knew I had to do things differently in order to survive in the creative field.
Operation: Awesome was put to test in summer 2010 when I was brought in to work on High Voltage Software‘s Conduit 2. They put a lot of power in my hands and I did not want to disappoint. I worked hard on that game and had a lot of fun doing it. When it came out earlier this year, I was thrilled. I had a video game on the shelf that I could point to and go, “See that? I wrote that.” What an amazing feeling.
That gig was a big test of Operation: Awesome but it was just the beginning. I was still shuffling off a lot of bad habits and baggage. I decided to do some small projects to establish a better writing habit. I launched the Campfire Tales line for Little Fears Nightmare Edition. I originally intended for that series to run twelve straight episodes but had to stall it at three. I can say the reason was at least somewhat noble: I was busy working on the first full-sized supplement for LFNE, Book 2: Among the Missing. I was also doing some freelance work in that time, including fiction for an upcoming tabletop game line, some development work on a (sadly) cancelled project, and contributed to Chuck Wendig and Lance Weiler’s Sundance Film Festival transmedia project Pandemic 1.0/Hope is Missing. I launched Book 2: Among the Missing in March 2011. A ten-year retrospective of the original corebook from 2001 saw release as Happy Birthday, Little Fears over the summer. Also over the summer, I signed a contract with Human Head Studios to work on Prey 2. I was brought on as the Narrative Designer and Writer for the project. In that time, not only did I wrangle the story for Prey 2 but I lent some insight and ideas to a variety of projects.
On top of that, I had some fiction published, did some layout work for friends, and added to some really fun projects such as Clint and Cassie Krause’s Don’t Walk in Winter Wood. I even returned to the Campfire Tales line for three more episodes, putting out Season Two this past fall. No way I would have had the discipline to fit all this into my schedule prior to Operation: Awesome. While I certainly wasn’t a saint in my time management, I did far better than I ever did previously.
A lot of things started to fall into place this past year and I knew it was mine to fumble. I worked hard to make sure I didn’t do that. When my contract at Human Head ended, I began work on getting a new project up, running, and ready for public approval. I took the momentum of joy and satisfaction from working at Human Head and funneled it into new projects aimed at new goals. After launching the Kickstarter for a new Savage Worlds setting called Streets of Bedlam in November, my plan was rewarded almost immediately as generous backers fulfilled the initial goal in under three days. I am still in awe of that.
I’ve changed a lot as a creative and a person since starting Operation: Awesome and it really all came down to taking my ambitions seriously, investing in my dreams, doing the work, and no longer accepting excuses. One of the side effects of that, besides actually releasing product, was I started to expect more and better from others as well. I was fortunate enough this past year to find myself in a room with a half-dozen highly-creative people who were firing on all cylinders, demanding better from everyone else, and the sensation was exhilarating.
I still have a lot to do. I don’t think there is an endgame for Operation: Awesome, only a fail state. And I have no intention of failing.
2011 had a lot of ups and downs but it ended on some very high notes for me. I learned a ton, did some good work, got an award nomination from IGN, and have a lot more projects on my done list. I had some high ambitions for the year and, while I didn’t hit them all, I hit enough to mark the chalk in the win column.
Coming into 2012, I have even higher ambitions with much more at stake. As of this writing, over 150 people have put their money where my mouth is and backed Streets of Bedlam. My dance card for the first three months is almost fully booked with that one project. I’m leaving some wiggle room for a couple sweet pick-up gigs and plotting for the April project but Streets of Bedlam is my main focus for that time. I’m really excited for it.
I plan to spend April and May of next year writing a novel. I haven’t finished a novel since I completed my attempt at a Young Adult book for Little Fears back in 2007. I want published novels under my belt, both lit and genre. I plan to focus on Middle Grade but want to do some adult and YA as well. That may be the biggest test of Operation: Awesome yet. I look forward to it.
I have many other plans beyond as well. And I might even pick up some high-profile gigs, fates willing.
With Operation: Awesome, I took an honest assessment of myself and mapped out a battle plan to start changing who I was into who I wanted to be. For the above reason and beyond, I’m glad I did. Here’s looking forward to 2012 and even more awesome.