a rising mist
The Goodly Mist
A Workingblog for Rob Sherman
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The Unseen Sea

January 7, 2014

2013-12-17 14.34.13

The first draft of this post was written at about half-past eight on a Sunday morning in the Midlands. It was winter, and half-past eight is not so long after dawn, at that time of year. I had just completed the countdown that would lead to me getting out of bed, and I almost grizzled at the icy laminate and my dirty toes. Outside the window, the clouds stretched away into the south-east like dunes, and the sun had just made deep, trip-up footsteps on their leading edges. It was hurrying into the world, flinging off all of its frankly Victorian attire, letting it all shine out as it whooped down at the edge of the unseen sea.

I revealed the inside of the window with my breath, as I stood and took all of this in. This was a resolution of mine, as it was the New Year, to witness everything more clearly, and appreciate those times that I was not looking through a screen. On that Sunday morning, when I looked into the glass, I could see all sorts of grease, dotted like microbes across the plate. On both sides of the glazing fingerprints have been dragged, looking like the handiwork of a raptor. The overhead cable that was slung just outside vibrated softly, to the tango of pigeons beyond the curtain, precarious on their tiny raptor feet.

That morning seemed like an auspicious, quiet sort of time, before anybody else was up, to compose my goodbye to you. There have been other drafts since then, in libraries where hundreds of others have hawked and ticked on their own pieces of glass, and now as I finish typing this I am sitting in my bedroom, peeked at by a lime-green poster of the moon and all its seas. If you do not mind, I’ll continue to pretend I’m still there, in that morning, before the kettle had boiled and the heating had gargled on.

For those of you who have been asking, the Black Crown Project, my Sibylline little browser game, now has all the Work that it needs. It is finished. We had the party without you, unfortunately. I made the cake pictured at the top, with too much food colouring, and myself and the editors went on a hike at the edge of London to sluice out our hearts. I shan’t be writing much more, if any. The main shaft of the story is all there, and you can complete it in one of several agonising ways. I may, in the near future, add more endings, or more storylets, or more branches, depending on what I think up at this sort of time in the morning. Keep an eye on the forum. The Hogherd may come, rattling his bucket.

I’m going to make a cup of tea, very quickly, as it is freezing in here; I’ll be very quick.

Now, some of you might feel a little antsy about that. You might feel that you have just gotten a handle on it all, and now, look, in the corners, more stuff networking away from you like fungi, growing when you are not looking. Personally, I think that this is the way that it should be, and I’ll write it and distribute it if it comes to me. It might very well be the case that I never think of anything else interesting ever again. The whole process of creating this J√∂rmungandr (about 500,000 words now, not to mention all the art and the design) has completely ignored its tail and broken me down into thousands of bits, completely transformed me. It has made me complex, troubled, rebarbative, rude and overthought. I need to take a little bit of time to repair myself, and my writing. Just look at this post. Even with editing it is still too thick, too self-aware. I need to become protozoan, like the grease on the windowsill, a microbe instead of a macrobe, just simplify and simplify.

There goes the heating, a purumpurdump coming from its depths. The sun is properly up now, after its dip. It is shaking itself very vigorously.

Regardless of whether there is ever any more content, I will continue to stride around the forum, purumpurdumping myself, answering all of your questions. Please do post there and let me know what you thought of the game, what the experience of playing it was like, what you would have done differently, and all those things that people say they want to hear about their work and secretly do not. I do. I promise.

On a more prosaic note, I will continue to handle any and all bugs, if you can alert me to them, until there are not any more. I will also be looking for paid work doing more of this sort of thing, if you are having issues that you believe that I can solve, like the lack of an epic narrative, or the final decision as to what your character should eat for breakfast before they walk out of the door to murder things.

Excuse the tear; the daybreak just hit me in the eye, through the kitchen skylight. I haven’t cried at all, in this entire process. I won’t miss any of you at all.

Oh, perhaps I will. I could not be this self-indulgent without caring about you an awful lot. I have already said thank you elsewhere, but I will say it again. Since I was very small, I have wanted to do many different things, besides writing, but writing was the only thing that I could ever do with any certainty. Black Crown questioned that certainty, and made me very unhappy, in its own way. However, in futzing my way through I have discovered another love, one which I thought was out of reach. I now know that what I wish to do is design, make games, digital stories, interactive art, ludic expression, whatever you want to call them. I don’t just want my characters and my worlds and my secrets to stand still, to fester for a short time and then be relegated. I want allow people to contort my characters into all sorts of humorous positions, to have the leaves still flutter on the trees in new ways even a hundred years from now, and decide just for myself, once and for all, how much art can be made this way.

I think that I may have already made a little art. I would like to make more. And due to the people I have met, the coterie that I have accrued and the almost constant liquor of advice, support and educations that I have slung back, I have a better chance than most.

So thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for letting me spend a year filling in spreadsheets with plot devices instead of profits, and writing quotes from imaginary books instead of quotes from imaginary customers for some new washing powder. For spending your time being scholars for something that does not matter at all. Thank you for the encouragement, license, advocacy and platform, for letting me speak about what I do, and in the process working out exactly what it is that I do.

Thank you so much for everything, every single one of you. There will be more soon. I do not intend to waste any of it. Ignore how mopey I was being, in an earlier paragraph, even earlier in the morning.

It really is day now, somebody’s getting up, my feet are not so cold, and I think that I have said goodbye properly. The sun has forgotten the ocean, and is coming to see us. So should you, again, and soon.

HYAAAAAAAAAAAA, ____clerks____.

COOM BY