#37: A Change of Course
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue.
Long-time readers may be aware of my ‘life work’ trying to corral published Traveller works into some kind of order, first in The Traveller Bibliography, then The Traveller Periodical Bibliography, and now a work in progress to extend that to a second volume. Along the way I’ve created indexes for starships, careers and skills. I know, I know, it’s the librarian in me. Still, it keeps me off the streets, as my mother would say.
The first edition of The Traveller Book came out in 1997, although I’d been working on it for a long time before that. It originally started as a list of a couple of dozen titles to help a friend know what was what in the Traveller world in the hopes he might referee a Traveller game for me. Back then I had no belief that I could be a good referee myself (I still don’t… but that’s another confession!). Sadly, that game never came to pass, but the bibliographic work took on a life of its own and aside from the odd book review, seemed to be the only Traveller material I could write for publication.
Back in 2011, however, I started to find that I could write other things and dared to send ‘A Helping Hand’ (I think it was) to Mongoose Publishing’s Signs and Portents. I called it ‘A Volunteer is Worth Ten Pressed Men’, but, hey, they published it and it later appeared in Compendium 1 as well. The online version of Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society also published a Darrian character I created, as well as several more afterwards, and Freelance Traveller took a vehicle design. I even wrote my first adventure, Ashfall, although it was a few years before I dared to run it at TravCon and it finally saw light of day as a published entity last year. I wish I could capture whatever it was that triggered this newfound courage, but I can’t recall what it was nearly a decade later.
The snag was that this new found creativity slowed down the bibliography work. Then a couple of years ago I started refereeing regular games – which slowed down the bibliography even more. 2018 saw a further slowing as I tried to write long form fiction for the first time. Now I can barely keep up with adding the articles from the new issues of Freelance Traveller every other month.
So in an idle moment in the middle of the night, I started wondering about whether it might be possible to speed the process up. There’s still a lot of material to cover. Lots of old Freelance Traveller, all of Stellar Reaches and tons – well, kilograms at least – of old 80s fanzines. Not to mention all of the online Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society. How easy would it be to train someone else to do the work?
I’ll reflect on that in another confession, but for now I’d simply encourage anyone who thinks they can only do one thing to think again, you never know where a change of course might lead you!