The Zen of Pteradax

Hey, hey, I’m back from Monpoc 2010 in beautiful Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Wow.  What a blast.  Really, it might be hard to imagine, for all you non-gamer, non-kaiju fans, to understand, but it was a fantastic weekend of fun, gaming, and grown men reproducing flawless imitations of giant monster battle cries.  Or maybe that last one was just me.  Regardless, it was awesome.

I’d like to give a heap of credit to Covenent Games ( who created a great experience.  And, of course, we can’t forget Privateer Press ( who created the Monsterpocalypse game and even sent a ton of great prizes and a couple of friendly enthusiastic representatives that made the game that much more fun.

I love Monsterpocalypse, and Moncon only made me realize how great a game it is.  I chose the Terrasaur faction with Pteradax, the great flying reptile, as my monster.  I didn’t do very good.  My record was 1-4, but I had some close matches and with all I learned, I believe I would’ve finished much better.  Or maybe not.  Either way, it was a fun time.

My spoils were a signed Monsterpocalypse poster, a Mega Pteradax figure, and a certificate for being the highest ranking Terrasaur faction.  True, there weren’t any other Terrasaur players (or their might have been one other, but if so, he left before the closing ceremonies).  It still counts, and I look forward to many years of reflecting on my victory through my iconoclastic nature.

Have I mentioned I play games, and how much I enjoy them?  I really do.  And it’s not just because games are fun, especially games featuring a kaiju-based theme.  It’s because they help me reflect on life in general.  You can learn a lot about life while playing a game.

The big lesson (and the one I think everyone should learn) is that life is unpredictable, and that your intentions and design, no matter how meticulously crafted, rarely work out the way you expect.  The most skilled players in the Monsterpocalypse tournament seemed always to be the ones that were the most flexible, the most devoted to playing in the moment rather than plotting and strategizing before the game began.  I noticed that I always did better when I was less focused on a particular outcome and more on exploiting the opportunities that presented themselves.

In a way, it’s exactly how I have gotten to this point in my career.  I wanted to be a novelologist, but I didn’t focus on anything too specific.  I just wanted to get paid to write, and while it took a while to happen, I just focused on writing, submitting, and seeking opportunities.  When those opportunities came around, I was ready for them.  But if I’d been looking for specific opportunities, if I’d assumed there was a very straight path to publication, then I could’ve missed my shot.

And, of course, games, just like life, are unpredictable in their outcome.  The one Monsterpocalypse match I did win was a last second hail Mary pass that came literally during the last turn of the game.  With one desperate, calculated gamble, I was able to score a victory.  It wasn’t even planned.  I just saw the opportunity and took it.

Meanwhile, in my own life, I have a lot of things I never imagined.  I have a great group of cool friends, a wonderful fiance, a growing novelology career, and I’m even getting involved a bit in some Hollywood stuff that, frankly, still surprises me.  If my life were a game, I definitely feel like I’m winning it, but I can’t say it’s because of some brilliant master plan.  It’s just luck, readiness, flexibility, and more luck.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to find a place to hang my Friend of Gaia certificate.  I’m thinking above my bed, next to my Alex Award.  Truly, I am a Terran of many accomplishments.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Posted May 24, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Yeah. Ain’t life grand?

    Proud to call you a friend, O Existential Loki.

  2. Rippley
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Bah! You would sing something to the tune of “it just happened that way.” I call bullshit. For one, you wanted to be a novelogist(?) and you became a novelogist. The same talent could have easily been used to concoct a con job, or the development of a computer program, or a board game. You seem like the type of person who is on the verge of developing a MonsterApoc game, anyway? In fact, I think your ability to write is somehow a fluke of playing story based strategy games, as if your brain had been on the verge of some hot new game, but then took a slacker stab the process and, instead, developed a story.

    I mean, check out Alex’s character list and tell me which game you think they spawn from. He’ll deny it tell the end, but evidence is evidence.

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter where your ideas come from, Alex, it’s how you put them together. I would love to know how your brain develops a fully detailed, emotionally charged, suspenseful story in one go around with limited edits in the end. How is it possible? I’m jealous beyond words, if you aren’t pulling my leg. It takes me three to five drafts to fully develop anything worthwhile. And I write all the time.

    Also, how the hell does one get so confident about his/her writing ability that they don’t edited several hundred times before submitting. Am I that neurotic? I guess I am. In fact, everyone I know (including other great, famous writers) are about as neurotic as me, because they have money, or a grade, or a job riding on it.

    Just yesterday, another published writer friend of mine, told me he has to visit the doctor for bleeding ulcers because he gets so nervous and stressed and depressed. He already has two books published and a nice, easy going agent, an editorial staff that works with him. I told him about you. He says, “must be nice to be so comfortable with your surroundings.” We also jokingly made fun of Texans being crazy, aggressive types who lack a true understanding of strategy, but that wasn’t about you.

    • A. Lee Martinez
      Posted May 25, 2010 at 4:33 am | Permalink

      Rippley, I don’t know how many times I have to tell you that I didn’t play D&D. I’ll admit I get my ideas from many sources, but fantasy was around long before D&D (which was actually inspired by that stuff).

      But, seriously, it’s not confidence but a genuine acceptance of the randomness of life. You do what you can, but sweating the details is a waste of time. I do think I’m a good writer, but there are plenty of good writers and there’s nothing special about that. And, yes, I do know many other writers, many who are very afraid.

      Finally, I really do think you’re reading too much into my editing process. I edit. Quite a bit. And I have several other editors who help along the process including my editor, my copy editor, and the fine people at the DFW Writer’s Workshop. I think the only difference between me and many other writers is that I edit a lot while I go, chapter by chapter, rather than do the entire first draft and going back.

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