The other day a got a reminder of one of the fringe benefits that comes with creating published work, especially adventure writing.
There's no denying that part of the joy of being a writer is knowing others actually read your work (or, dare we say it, enjoy it too). That's where it's at. Getting your name on the cover is cool, and getting the check in the mail ain't bad either, but an unread book or adventure is a play performed before an empty house. Unread work lies, to an author's pain, in the drifty realm of the lost, the abandoned, and the nugatory. The work simply isn't complete until that magical bond between writer and reader is forged. In the case of adventure writing, there exists a further level, because getting them to actually play it becomes the highest pinnacle.
Years ago (many years ago actually, it's scary how they go by) I had a good-length adventure published in Dungeon magazine. Chris Perkins, bless his soul, had recently taken over as editor and took the first thing I sent him. There were bumps in the road—oh yes—my query got misplaced in their offices, I was return-mailed some else's manuscript at one point, and when it was revision time they informed me that their policy had changed and they were now, mid-stream, lowering the maximum length of all adventures, including mine. I had to cut nearly 6,000 words, pages of good material that survived the editor's red pen untouched, from the manuscript. Still, they took it and printed it and I was a very happy camper.
A year or two later (still back in the Milwaukee days) I attended Gen Con with a friend, and I found myself squatting before a vendor's bookshelf loaded with old TSR mags. Next to me a fellow gamer was flipping through the Dungeons and his hand lingered on mine for a moment. I longed to open my mouth and cry "Take that one! Inside is the best damn adventure ever!" but in the end I smiled and turned back to my own shopping (to the best of my knowledge, he bought a different issue).
Two weeks ago I was standing in a hobby store, thumbing through the latest WotC hardcover (they seem to come out on a weekly basis these days) and two gents walked by me, chatting about the Dungeon Crawl Classics line. My ears perked up, and I continued to scan the text before me whilst opening my sound holes a bit wider to catch the drift of what they were saying. They drifted over to a metal rack about 10 feet away, one of those spinning numbers, loaded with DCC adventure modules.
"Yeah, some of them are pretty good," the first guy said. I couldn't hear the reply, but it seemed to be in agreement. He pointed to a module on the far side, out of my viewing range.
"This one was pretty decent," he said, gesturing with an index finger. His eyes moved rapidly over the books, discarding a module and quickly moving to the next. He pointed to another. "And this one was really good..."
I waited as the rack spun and the module I authored came into view.
"And this one was a good one," he said, with a last decisive jab of his forefinger. He was pointing at mine.
And l happily bit my tongue.